Adonais: Poem No. 9 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 9
Line 73-81
Oh, weep for Adonais—The quick Dreams,
The passion-winged Ministers of thought,
Who were his flocks, whom near the living streams
Of his young spirit he fed, and whom he taught
The love which was its music, wander not—
Wander no more from kindling brain to brain,
But droop there whence they sprung; and mourn their lot
Round the cold heart where, after their sweet pain,
They ne'er will gather strength or find a home again.


      Among the mourners, the first to come was a number of the images and fancies in their bright aerial forms. They were the flocks of which Adonais was the shepherd, he fed them with the sentiments of his heart. They now droop in sorrow and lament their lot that they will no more derive their strength from the cold heart of the poet.


            LI. 73-81. The quick Dreams....a home again. Shelley is introducing the first group of mourners over the dead Adonais, takes to the conventional pastoral motif in his elegy after Moschus. He speaks of the images and fancies of the dead poet (Keats) as his sheep mourning over their dead shepherd and drooping round him. The fancies of the poet, passionately conceived, served to clothe his poetic thoughts in communicable forms and were like the flocks of the dead poetshepherd. As a shepherd feeds his flocks on the green pastures, by some fountain currents, so also the poet nursed and enriched these fancies by the warmth of his young poetic soul; these fancies were made sweet and lovable by the poet's art of communicating to them, the feeling of love which inspired his tender heart as if with the influence of sweet music. As the mourning sheep of a dead shepherd wander no more in their pastures, so the fancies of the poet no more pass from his brain, which had the power of inspiring the brains of his readers. Now, Adonais being dead, his fancies faint and perish in his heart from where they used to spring. They lament their sad lot round the dead heart of the poet, knowing that they; too, are now doomed to die. When he was alive, they were born in his heart with a sort of pleasing pain—'pleasing' because they felt the joy of coming into existence, and 'pain' because of the struggles of taking birth. Now that the poet is dead and his heart is not conceiving, the fancies feel that they will no more rise from his heart; they will no more derive clarity and vigor from that heart, nor will they nestle there after doing their work of communicating his thoughts to others. In other words, Keats being dead, his fancies and images also pass away and will no more give delight to his readers.

      Note that here Shelley takes to the pastoral imagery of Moschus's Lament for Bion; but at the same time, he imitates Bion and substitutes his 'Loves’ by the "Dreams'. By these 'Dreams' Shelley means the highly fanciful, poetical imagery of Keats; his images are spiritual beings—lovely, vanishing, ethereal figures which, of all poets, Shelley knew best how to conjure up as personified abstractions.

      L. 73. Quick Dreams—the poetic images and fancies full of moving vitality which Keats nursed in his brain and brought out in his poetry L. 74. The passion—winged Ministers of thought—this phrase is used here in apposition with 'quick Dreams'; the poetic fancies (of Keats) were the servants of his thought and had wings of passion; i.e., the fancies and imageries were conceived with passion (high poetic inspiration) and served to give a communicable shape to the thoughts of his mind. L. 75. Who....flocks—Keats is here conceived as a shepherd and his Dreams as his flocks. LI. 75-76. Whom near...he fed—as a shepherd feeds his flocks on green pastures by a river-side, so Keats nursed these dreams in the rich recesses of his young heart. LI. 76- 77. Whom he—these dreams were made lovely because of the love (for beauty) which filled his heart as if with sweet music. L. 78. Wander ”o more...brain—the dreams (fancies) of Keats no more pass from his brain which had the power of inspiring (kindling) the brain of the readers and communicating those dreams to them. L. 29. But droop...sprung—these dreams (now that Keats is dead) perish (i.e., remain insipid and inactive) in the heart which used to conceive them. Mourn their lot—lament their sad fate. L. 80. Cold heart—dead heart which nursed and cherished them when living. After their sweet pain—after the joy of their birth which is always accompanied by some amount of pain. The dreams when they were first born in the heart had to feel the struggle of birth though at the same time they experienced the delight of taking shape in a communicable form. L. 81. They ne'er...again—the dreams will no more find nourishment in the heart of Keats, nor will they make it their abode as they used to do when he was alive.

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