Adonais: Poem No. 53 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 53
Line 469-477
Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart?
Thy hopes are gone before: from all things here
They have departed; thou shouldst now depart!
A light is passed from the revolving year,
And man, and woman; and what still is dear
Attracts to crush, repels to make thee wither.
The soft sky smiles,—the low wind whispers near:
'Tis Adonais calls! oh, hasten thither,
No more let Life divide what Death can join together.


      The poet now turns to himself and says that it is now high time for him to depart from the world and join Adonais. His hopes are gone, and what remains to him of earthly joy attracts only to crush him. Death can join him and Adonais together.


      L. 469. Linger—hold back; wait on earth as if unwilling to leave it. Why shrink—Why are you afraid to meet death? L. 470. Thy....all that you held (O my heart!) dear on earth are gone from you; what remains is sorrow. Shelley, though always unreasonably melancholy, had his share of very real sorrows. His first wife committed suicide; his two children by his first wife were taken away by law from him. His child by his second wife died. His love and friendship with Emilia Viviani, a charming Italian girl, came to a tragic close. LI. 470-471. From all...departed—my hopes are gone from all earthly tilings. LI. 472-473. A light...woman—a joy has departed in this year from me, from men and women. Shelley may be referring to the death of Keats: or, he generally laments, as he does in a poem written in the same year, on the loss of the joys of his life:

Out of the day and night
A joy has taken flight.

      LI. 473-474. What is still....crush—what you love as yet attracts you (O, my heart!) only to crush you, to fill you with denial and disappointment. Shelley may be referring to the unhappy turn of his friendship with Emilia Viviani. Repels....wither—shocks you (the heart) with denial only to depress you.

      LI. 475-476. The soft sky.....calls—according to the pantheism elaborated in the previous Stanza, Shelley takes the beauty of the blue sky and the gentle whisper of the wind to be the spiritualized call of Adonais, because he is now made one with the Universal Spirit. L. 477. No more...join together—let not life in me continue anymore and keep me separate from Adonais, while through death my soul can be united to his, and both to Eternity.

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