Adonais: Poem No. 7 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 7
Line 55-63
To that high Capital, where kingly Death
Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay
He came; and bought, with price of purest breath,
A grave among the eternal.—Come away!
Haste, while the vault of blue Italian day
Is yet his fitting charnel-roof, while still
He lies, as if in dewy sleep he lay,
A wake him not! surely he takes his fill
Of deep and liquid rest, forgetful of all ill.

Summary

      Adonais came to Rome which is a splendid ruin of beautiful work of art. Among great men made immortal by their works, he secured a place by playing a high price with his. Before his grave is filled in, let the mourners come to the cemetery to lament him, for he now seems to sleep under the vault of the sky; forgetful of all the ills of life.

Explanation

      L. 55. High Capital—great and famous town of Rome. The phrase is from Milton's L. 57-56—"high capital of Satan." Where Kingly Death....decay— Death in a royal manner holds his ghostly court in the midst of the beauty of Nature and of artistic monuments which are moldering into ruins. Rome, the great city full of the artistic monuments which are decaying, full of the memories of the past, is properly described as the Court of Death, who is the fitting King there.

      L. 57. He came—Keats came to Italy in the autumn of 1820, stayed at Naples and then went to Rome, gently declining an invitation from Shelley to come to Pisa. He died at Rome on Feb. 23, 1821, and was buried in the Protestant cemetery there. LI. 57-58 And bought...eternal—Keats secured a place in the famous cemetery of Rome by paying the price with his life; as if the privilege of a place for himself among the graves of immortal artists, poets, etc., is such an honor that it required so high a price. Come away—Shelley addresses imaginary mourners (or Urania alone) to speed to the graveside of Keats to mourn him before he is buried.

      LI. 59-60. Haste, while...charnel roof—Shelley imagines that the dead body of Keats lies for a time by the grave, and the earth has not been filled in as yet. The blue dome of the Italian sky (always fair and sunny) is as the dome of a tomb over him, a fitting roof to a poet of Nature like Keats. Let the mourners (or Urania) haste to the side of the grave and have a last look at the dead poet.

      L. 60. Charnel roof—roof over the grave. L. 61 Dewy sleep—soft refreshing slumber. Keats seems to sleep in peace. L. 61. He takes his fill of—enjoys to his heart's content. Liquid rest—rest or sleep is here compared to a precious wine of which "he takes his fill." All ill—ills of life; "the weariness, the fever and the fret" of life, of which Keats speaks in the Ode to a Nightingale.

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