Adonais: Poem No. 46 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 46
Line 406-414
And many more, whose names on earth are dark,
But whose transmitted effluence cannot die
So long as fire outlives the parent spark,
Rose, robed in dazzling immortality.
'Thou art become as one of us' they cry,
'It was for thee yon kingless sphere has long
Swung blind in unascended majesty
Silent alone amid an Heaven of Song.
Assume thy winged throne, thou Vesper of our throng!'


      Many others whose names are less known on earth but whose glory cannot die rose to welcome Adonais. They pointed to a celestial body (star) as the throne of Adonais which would burst into song at his advent.


      L. 406. Many more—many other poets of genius. Whose...dark—whose memory is faded in the world but whose influence is yet felt in poetry— such little known or almost forgotten great poets of old as Orpheus, Musaeus, etc.

      LI. 407-408. But whose...spark—but the radiating light (i.e, inspiring influence) of whose poetry still continues on earth, just as the fire kindled by a spark continues to burn when the spark itself burns no more. Transmitted— emitted. Effuence—lit. 'flow'; radiation of light; i,e, poetic influence.

      L. 409. Rose—came to great Adonais. Robed...immortality—invested with the glory and beauty of their immortal poetic genius. L. 410.—you are now become an immortal spirit like us—a dazzling, beautiful spiritual figure. L. 411. It was for thee—i.e., so long waiting for you. Yon kingless sphere—that celestial sphere (star) which has been without a suitable spiritual ruler. Long— i.e, through the age. L. 412. Swung blind—spun without light. In unascended majesty—with its glory diminished for want of a worthy presiding deity to guide and control it.

      LI. 411-414. It was for thee....our throng. As the soul of Adonais (Keats) rose through death to the infinite, the soul of many geniuses who had gone before him, rose from the respective spheres over which they presided and welcomed him. They pointed out a star which spun through the infinite space without a presiding deity; wanting such a guiding, inspiring spirit, the star had so long been lacking in light and glory in spite of its impressive character. Of all the spheres that sirig together in their motion and raise the music of the spheres, that gloomy star alone had so long remained silent. It had been reserved as the domain of the musical soul of Adonais, and with his assumption of the charge of that spinning orb, it, too, would burst into light and song. So, Adonais, who is the latest of the great poets to pass into the region of the immortals, should now assume his place as a King and occupy his throne.

      L. 413. Silent—that kingless sphere, as if in sorrow for want of a presiding deity; was the only songless sphere among all the celestial spheres which together set up a noble harmony in the empty space; the empty space resounding with the choric harmony is called a 'Heaven of Song'. Shelley here refers to the Pythagorian doctrine adopted by Plato about the "music of the spheres." The theory was that the solar system consisted of nine concentric spheres, each within the other; with the earth at the center. Each was presided over by a siren. As the spheres whirled round and round, they set up a harmony too sweet for human ears to hear. Shakespeare refers to it in The Merchant of Venice, V.i. Shelley also remembers Job 287—"The morning stars sang together.

      L. 414. Assume...throne—take possession of the star which is your throne flying through space. Vesper—evening star. Throng—company Keats is called the 'evening star' of this company of poets, because he was the latest of them; or perhaps, because he was the most glorious among them as Venus is the brightest star in the evening sky; the first to attract the gaze of all.

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