Adonais: Poem No. 49 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 49
Line 433-441
Go thou to Rome,—at once the paradise,
The grave, the city, and the wilderness;
And where its wrecks like shattered mountains rise,
And flowering weeds and fragrant copses dress
The bones of Desolation's nakedness,
Pass, till the Spirit of the spot shall lead
Thy footsteps to a slope of green access,
Where, like an infant's smile, over the dead
A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread;


      Rome is at once a living town and a grave of the past. In the city there are many ruined monuments and flowering plants over many ruins. In a slope of green space full of flowers is the cemetery where Adonais lies buried.


      L. 433-434. At once...wilderness—Rome with its immortal works of art and its genial sun and pleasant climate is as beautiful as Paradise; it is at the same time one vast graveyard of men of the past and of many past glories, it is again a city full of the bustle of life, it is as a desert where the ruins of the past make it salutary to the thoughtful mind. Addressing Rome, Byron says, "The orphans, of the heart must turn to thee."

      L. 435. Where—read with "pass' in. Its wrecks—ruined monuments—buildings, theatres, columns, etc. Shattered—broken. Shelley here refers to what he wrote about in his letters to Peacock—the Coliseum, the Column of Hardrian, etc. which are impressive ruins of vast architecture of old Rome.

      L. 436. Flowering....dress—plants with their flowers and bushes of wild flowering shrubs adorn, "wild live and myrtle and intricate brambles" grow in the cracks and crevices of these stone buildings. L. 437. Bones of....nakedness—i.e., the broken, weather-beaten surfaces of these ruins. L. 438. Pass—pass by (do not wait by). Till...footsteps—i.e” until you come to the Protestant cemetery where Keats is buried. L. 438. The—the unseen presiding deity of the graveyard where Keats is buried. L. 439. Slope...access—green space situated on the slope of highland. L. 440. Dead—dead persons buried in their graves.

      L. 441. Light—beauty. Do not stop anywhere till you come to the Protestant cemetery in Rome. Here Keats and, before him, Shelley's little son, and, after him, Shelley himself were buried. In his preface to Adonais, Shelley describes the place as one which ' "might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place."

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