Adonais: Poem No. 6 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 6
Line 46-54
But now thy youngest, dearest one has perished,
The nursling of thy widowhood, who grew
Like a pale flower by some sad maiden cherished,
And fed with true-love tears, instead of dew; Most musical of mourners, weep anew!
Thy extreme hope, the loveliest and the last,
The bloom whose petals, nipped before they blew;
Died on the promise of the fruit, is waste;
The broken lily lies—the storm is overpast


      Adonais was the youngest of the sons of Urania. He was a tender, lovely youth—her last hope; he was cut off just when he was showing signs of doing something much greater than he did.


      L. 46. Thy youngest—Keats was the youngest son of Urania in the sense that he was the last poet in these degenerate times, when truly inspired poetry is rare.

      L. 47. Nursling...widowhood—Keats was a tender young poet born shortly before Urania became a widow—hence her 'dearest' and the 'last'; in other words, he was a true poet in an unpoetic age. Without forcing the imagery of 'widowhood' to a literal interpretation, we may take Shelley to refer to "the barren period since the death of Milton" (Hughes).

      L. 48-49. Like a pale...dew—this is a beautiful image to suggest the tenderness of Keats, his youth, loveliness and paleness due to disease towards the close of his life. Keats was like a pale flower carefully nursed by a maiden who bathes it with tears of love. Shelley here has in mind Keats's romantic narrative Isabella or the Pot of Basil. Isabella, a Florentine girl, recovered the head of her murdered lover, put it in a pot of basil and daily wept over it. L. 51. Extreme hope—last hope. L. 52. Bloom—Keats is compared to a budding flower L. 53. Died on...fruit—died just when he was about to yield mature production of his art. Shelley had a very high opinion of Keats's Hyperion, his last great poem. L. 54. The storm is past—the storm which broke the lily is over; but the lily will not revive; i.e., the malicious criticism is now over with Keats's death, but Keats will not come back to life.

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