Adonais: Poem No. 8 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 8
Line 64-72
He will awake no more, oh never more!— Within the twilight chamber spreads apace
The shadow of white Death, and at the door
Invisible Corruption waits to trace
His extreme way to her dim dwelling-place;
The eternal Hunger sits, but Pity and Awe
Soothe her pale rage, nor dares she to deface
So fair a prey till darkness, and the law
Of change, shall o'er his sleep the mortal curtain draw.


      Adonais, however will not wake anymore. In the place where his dead body lies—not yet covered under earth—the shadow of Death seems to spread itself. Corruption wants to make her way into the grave, but dare not touch the dead body but of pity till the darkness of the grave closes over it.


      L. 65. Twilight chamber—the dimly-lighted hollow of the grave, which is yet open and in which the dead body of Keats is to be laid. "The vault of the blue Italian day" (L.59) being yet open above the "chamber", it can only mean the hollow of the grave here, and not the room in which Keats died. "The death-chamber" of St. XXV. may be taken to refer to the room. Spreads apace—quickly spreads. L. 66. The shadow...Death—(he influence of the pale figure of Death; here the decay and dissolution of the body are visualized by anticipation. At the door—outside the grave.

      L. 67. Corruption—putrefaction; rotting, personified. Waits to trace...dwelling-place—waits to follow Keats in his last journey into the dark which is corruption's usual habitation; i.e., corruption which accompanies death has not yet begun its work; it waits to have its fun sway on the body as soon as it is buried underground.

      L. 69. Eternal Hunger—the inevitable law of decay and dissolution personified as a hungry; greedy spirit, it is the same person as Corruption. Sits—i.e., watches eagerly to begin her work. Pity and awe...rage—but she is restrained by the angelic spirits, Pity and Fear. L. 70. Deface—corrupt. Law of change—eternal law of transformation of matter.

      LI. 71-72. Till over.....draw—i.e., "till the darkness of the grave and the law of dissolution cover his sleep not with the semblance of life but with corruption," as an indication that he belongs no more to life but to death. Mortal curtain—dissolution which ends the 'mortal' remains.

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