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legend arose that his mother confessed that he was the son of Satan himself. He is placed by Dante, in the Inferno, among the tyrants expiating the sin of cruelty, and his career was the subject of the first modern tragedy, the Eccerinus of Albertino Mussato. The dice play by Sin and Death two Miltonic figures was, according to he poet, to decide whether he should continue his life of sin or die.

11. 256 ff. Padua was the seat of one of the most famous universities of mediæval and early modern times.

P.462. 1. 292. point of heaven's profound, zenith of the fathomless depths of air.

1. 333. Its, the frail bark's (1. 331).

appropriate to his subject; the couplet rhyme gives the stanzaic structure necessary to his plan.

1. 9. Thine azure sister of the spring is not the South Wind, as has sometimes been supposed, for from ancient times the south wind has been dreaded in Italy (see Vergil's Eclogues and Georgics, passim). The wind meant is the West Wind of the Spring, sister to the West Wind of Autumn. P. 463. 1. 21.

Menad. The women who in ecstasy took part in the rites of Dionysus, with fiying hair and flaming torches, were called Mænads (the frenzied ones). Everybody who has not already done so should read Professor Gilbert Murray's translation of the Bacchæ of Euripides.

1. 32. A pumice isle is one formed from the lava of a volcano. Baie, an ancient Roman pleasure resort, is the modern Baja, a few miles west of Naples, in a region where nearly extinct volcanoes still rumble and spurt feebly.



There are several versions of this poem, all apparently originating with Shelley himself. This explains the variant readings, of which there are several, for example: burning for shining (l. 4); As I must die on thine (1. 15); Beloved as thou art (l. 16); press me lo ne own and press it close to thine again (l. 23).


The poet, despondent and empty of energy, appeals for aid to the West Wind of Autumn. Stanzas I, II, and III are successive apostrophes to the Wind in various functions and aspects. In stanzas IV and V he makes his appeal for aid, and as his inspiration glows and his pulses quicken, he passes from appeals that he may be passively subject to the Wind's power -- a leaf lifted and driven before it, or a lyre responding in mighty harmonies to its breath to a prayer for active union in spirit and power to scatter his thoughts among men, and finally reaches a triumphant recognition that the coming of Winter is the promise of Spring.

The poem is very subtly and skilfully constructed. Not only do the last two stanzas recall all the activities of the first three, but ll. 64, 65 are beautifully associated with ll. 2-14, and the triumphant note of ll. 68-70 is prepared for by the words,

“Thou dirge

Of the dying year” (ll. 23, 24). The stanzas are ingeniously formed from the terza rima, the verse of Dante's Divina Commedia. Strictly speaking, the terza rima 1 ends with the thirteenth line of each stanza; Shelley, in order to get a stanzaic effect, adds another line rhyming with the thirteenth. The terza rima gives him the continuity of movement within the stanza

P. 464. 11. 17–30. Shelley conceives of the Lightning as the pilot of the Cloud and as itself following the movements of the genii that move in the sea. Wherever the Lightning dreams, the spirit he loves will be found below

under mountain or stream. But how does the Lightning dissolve in rain (1. 30)? One would expect the Cloud to do that.


1 In terza rima the first rhyme and the last must appear twice and only twice, while each of the others must appear three times. The rhyme formula is ababcbcdc xwxyxyzyz. Terza rima is rare in English. Other examples of it in this volume are Wyatt's Of the Meane and Sure Estate (p. 98) and Rossetti's fragment, Francesca da Rimini (p 629), translated from Dante.

Pp. 465 f. This flood of divine rapture is one of the many wonderful poems in English which have so impressed lovers of the beautiful, that even we Americans, to whom the cuckoo, the English skylark, and the nightingale are entirely unknown, think of these birds as sources of delight, and some of us who "meddle with making," as the old scribbler said have even written about them without ever having heard a song from their throats. Nearly all the poem is devoted to the bird itself — the first six stanzas to pure lyric outcries, the second six to lyric comparisons with other forms of beauty, then six to a contrast of the bird's song of unalloyed happiness with human music with its constant undertone of incompleteness and longing; in the last three stanzas, reverting to the appeal of 11. 61-62, the poet longs for the skill of the bird.



Pp. 466 ff. There has been much discussion as to the formation of this name, but no entirely satisfactory suggestion has yet been made. The suggestion that it is formed on the model of Thebais, a poem by Statius about Thebes, is obviously unacceptable, as Adonais is primarily the name, not of the poem, but of the subject of it. The

- pronounced, of course, as four syllables — is at any rate formed from Adonis (sce note on 1. 12), and is intended to suggest his beauty and lamentable fate.

Neither Shelley nor Byron approved of Keats's early poems. But Shelley, at least, said of the fragment Hyperion that it was "second to nothing that was ever produced by a writer of the same years," and he was sincerely concerned when he heard that Keats was ill. He wrote to Mrs. Leigh Hunt: “Where is Keats now? I am anxiously expecting him in Italy, where I shall take care to bestow every possible attention on him. ... I intend to be the physician both of his body and his soul. ... I am aware indeed, in part, that I am nourishing a rival who will far surpass me; and this is an additional motive, and will be an added pleasure.” Keats, however, went to Rome, and Shelley, who was in Pisa, knew of his death only by report, which, as he says in his preface, accounts for the fact that he did not celebrate in the poem the friendship and care of the painter Severn, who “almost risked his own life and sacrificed every prospect to unwearied attendance upon his dying friend." The poem is no less the product of Shelley's indignation against reviewers in general and the writer of the savage criticism of Endymion in the Quarlerly Review in particular, than of his sorrow for the death of Keats. And it perhaps suffers from what Shelley himself calls the “interposed stabs on the assassins of his peace and of his fame.” Shelley was, of course, wrong in supposing that the unfavorable criticisms of the Quarterly Review (or the still more savage ones of Blackwood's Magasine) seriously affected the health of Keats. Keats himself said: “Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic of his own

works. My own domestic criticism has given me pain without comparison beyond what Blackwood's or the, Quarterly could possibly inflict and also when I feel I am right, no external praise can give me such a glow as my own solitary reperception and ratification of what is fine. J. S. is perfectly right in regard to the slipshod Endymion.

Adonais, though one of the most beautiful poems in the language, is one of the most difficult to read with thorough comprehension. This arises from two facts. In the first place, Shelley was at this time steeped in classical literature, and not only is his verse packed with classical allusions and reminiscences, but his diction also is subtle and often affected by classical usage. His confidence that the poem had not been “born to an immortality of oblivion” has, of course, been fulfilled. He was no less right in calling it a highly wrought piece of art than in declaring that “it is absurd in any review to criticise Adonais and, still more, to pretend that the verses are bad.” In the second place, the mysticism of the poem, based in large part upon the ideas of Plato, though perhaps furnishing the sincerest and most effective stanzas, involves many difficulties of thought for readers who have not already become somewhat familiar with these ideas. The best, indeed the indispensable, method of understanding and appreciating the poem thoroughly is to read for the classical allusions and reminiscences Bion's Lament for Adonis (Idyl I), Moschus's Lament for Bion (Idyl III), Theocritus's Song of Thyrsis (Idyl I), Vergil's Eclogues V and X, and Milton's Lycidas; and for the mystical ideas, Plato's Timæus, Phadrus, and Phedo, Spenser's Hymn in Honor of Beauty (p. I 20), and Hymn of Heavenly Beauty (p. 121), and Wordsworth's Lines Composed Above Tintern Abbey, ll. 93–102 (p. 385). For the doctrine of Plato's ideas, some readers may prefer to consult, instead of Plato himself, the summary and discussion by Walter Pater in Plato and Platonism, Chap. VII. It is not enough to consult the works enumerated above, when references are given in the notes. They should be read after the poem has been read carefully at least once, and then the poem should be read again; for the study of literary relationships becomes vital only when it is a study of related wholes, not of minor details.

The verse is the well-known Spenserian stanza. It is interesting to contrast the effect of it as used by Shelley with its effect as used by Spenser, on the one hand, and Byron, on the other. Although the same metrical scheme is used by each of these writers, the effects produced are as different as if the metrical schemes were entirely different.

1. 39.

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The general outline of the poem may be briefly indicated. ll. 1-9, The subject stated. 11. 1072, Appeal to Urania to come where Adonais lies. II. 73–153, The lamentations of Dreams, Desires, Adorations, Morning, Ocean, Echo, Spring, and the Nightingale. ll. 154-189, Contrast between the renewal of nature and the fate of man. 11. 190261, The visit of Urania to the bier of Adonais, and her lament. 11. 262—315, The visit of the “mountain shepherds.” 11. 316-342, Attack upon the critic of the Quarlerly. 11. 343-369, Denial that the passing away from earth is death. 11. 370-396, The incorporation of Adonais with “the loveliness which once he made more lovely" as his part in the work of the “One Spirit.” 11. 397-414, The welcome accorded him by “the inheritors of unfulfilled renown.” 11. 415-459, Re any one so foolish as not to recognize the fate of Adonais as a blessed one. 11. 460-495, The thirst of the soul for the Absolute, — the Eternal Beauty, Light, and Truth. 1. 1. Cf. Bion, ll. 1 ff.

so dear a head. Horace's Odes, I, xxiv, 2. 1. 4. Hour. Not one of the classical Horae, but a personification of the hour made illustrious by the death of Keats (cf. obscure in the next line).

Where wert thou. Cf. the Song of Thyrsis (Theocritus, Idyl I) and Eclogue X.

1. 12. Urania is clearly the Uranian Aphrodite discussed in Plato's Banquet, 180, 187, etc., and there identified with the Muse, who is mentioned in the Phædrus in the following terms: “But to Calliope, the eldest, and Urania, the second of the nine, they bare tidings of those who pass their lives in philosophic study and the observance of their peculiar music, these we know being the muses who having heaven for their special sphere, and words both divine and human, pour forth the gladdest strains.” It is the Uranian dite who is the mighty mother of all living things (1. 10). This phase of Aphrodite, or Venus, is not only celebrated by Plato and Greek poets, but is also the subject of the magnificent lines with which Lucretius begins his De Rerum Natura. This explains why Adonais is made the son of the Uranian Aphrodite in contrast to Adonis, the lover of the Pandemian Aphrodite.

1. 16. melodies, referring not merely to the Ode to the Nightingale, but to all the poems written by Keats after he became aware of his condition.

wake and weep. Cf. Bion, ll. 3, 4. 1. 24. where all things wise and fair descend. Cf. Bion, l. 55.

1. 29. He died. Cf. Moschus, 11. 71 ff., who celebrates Homer as Shelley here does Milton.

P. 467. 1. 36. the third. The other two are certainly Homer and Dante. See Shelley's Defense of Poetry, where he not only calls Homer, Dante, and Milton the three great epic poets, but speaks of Vergil as not among the highest.

“Those who recognize their limitations”; perhaps a reminiscence of the words of Socrates in the Phædrus: “I possess something of prophetic skill, though no very great amount, but like indifferent writers just enough for my own purposes.'

1. 46. Cf. Moschus, 11. 74, 75. 1. 47. Cf. Bion, l. 59. 11. 48–49. A reference to Keats's poem Isabella. 1. 55. Cf. ll. 424-437. 1. 61. Cf. Bion, 11. 71 ff. I. 63. liquid

Cf. Vergil's Georgics, IV, 59; Æneid, X, 272.

1. 69. The eternal Hunger, the same as invisible Corruption (1. 67).

1. 73. The quick Dreams, the poetical conceptions of Keats, here take the place of the Graces, the Muses, etc., of Bion and Moschus.

1. 78. Cf. “Those thoughts that wander through eternity,Paradise Lost, II, 148.

1. 88. Cf. 1. 14.

P. 468. 1. 127. Lost Echo. Cf. Bion, ll. 35 ff., and Moschus, 11. 30-31.

11. 133, 140, 141. The well-known stories of Echo, Narcissus, and Hyacinthus may be found in Gayley's Classic Myths or any classical dictionary.

1. 145. Moschus (11. 9 ff., cf. 11. 45 ff.) also calls upon the nightingale to lament for Bion, but Shelley has in mind Keats's Ode to a Nightingale, as is shown by thy spirit's sister.

11. 154 ff. The contrast between the yearly renewal of the flowers and the finality of human death is also the subject of one of the finest passages in the Lament for Bion, ll. 101 ff. P. 469.

The leprous corpse, i.e., earth.

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1. 186. Mr. W. M. Rossetti's explanation that “in this our mortal state death is the solid and permanent fact ... the phenomena of life are but like a transitory loan from the great emporium, death,” seems out of harmony with the context. Throughout the stanza Shelley is talking about grief. Read the whole stanza carefully and note the must in l. 188 as well as in l. 186.

11. 212–213. Cf. what Agathon says of the feet of Love in Plato's Banquet, 195.

1. 219. Blushed to annihilation. The figure is rather difficult until one remembers that the essential nature of death implies paleness. Blush

1. 172.

1. 20.


composed of English poets, not of the classical personages earlier invoked.

. 11. 307-315. Leigh Hunt. Shelley explains in his preface that he did not know of the services of Severn when the poem was written,

1. 316. Shelley returns to the attack on the critic of the Quarterly. Bion is also said by Moschus to have drunk poison, whether literally, or, like Keats, figuratively, is unknown.

I. 325. The critic, because he is anonymous, has not even the fame of infamy, as the burner of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus has (cf. p. 183).

11. 338 ff. The remainder of the poem is largely indebted to Plato. The indebtedness is so general and pervasive that to appreciate it the reader must familiarize himself with the Platonic ideas of beauty, love, and the soul. Only a few special points will therefore be noted.

11. 343-357. Cf. the words of Socrates in the Phædo, 106-110, 114-116.

11. 345-348. The figure may have been suggested by the action of the raving Pentheus in the Bacchæ of Euripides. Dionysus says:

ing would imply the annihilation of death by changing it into life.

1. 224. The distress of Urania gives encouragement to Death, who becomes himself again.

1. 227. A literal translation from Bion, 11. 45, 46.

P. 470. 1. 238. The unpastured dragon is the critic of the Quarterly, hungry for victims; but, as l. 240 shows, Shelley had in mind the story of Perseus and the dragon which was to devour Andromeda.

1. 240. Wisdom, the mirrored shield, is suggested by the polished shield of Athene (Goddess of Wisdom), which Perseus used as a mirror when he slew Medusa.

II. 244 ff. The wolves, ravens, and vultures are the detractors of poets in general.

1. 250. The Pythian of the age is Byron; and the one arrow, his famous English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.

1. 261. Poets akin to the god-like mind of l. 258 as the immortal stars of l. 256 are to the sun of l. 253.

1. 262. The shepherds come to lament Daphnis in Theocritus, and Lycoris in Vergil, as Keats's fellow poets (poetically called shepherds) come to lament him.

1. 264. The Pilgrim of Eternity is Byron. The phrase was doubtless suggested by Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto III, 1. 629 (see p. 448).

1. 268. Ierne = Ireland.

1. 269. Thomas Moore wrote many songs about the ancient glories and modern sorrows of Ireland. Her saddest wrong refers not to any particular event, but to her calamitous history in general.

11. 271-306. Shelley himself is the subject of these lines, which emphasize his love of beauty and his

of ineffectiveness. Curiously enough, some of them, as well as the final lines of the poem, are strangely prophetic of the fate which actually overtook him.

1. 276. The fable of Actæon, who was changed into a stag and destroyed by his own hounds because he had gazed upon Artemis (Diana) bathing, may be found in Gayley's Classic Myths.

11. 289–295. This picture seems strangely suggestive of the god Dionysus, whose mission as set forth in the Bacche of Euripides must have seemed to Shelley to resemble his own.

1. 298. What does partial mean here?

P. 471. 1. 301. The accents of an unknown land most probably means “in imitation of Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus”; for the gentle band (I. 299) is

“On that he rushed, and there, As slaying me in vengeance, stood stabbing the

thin air."


P. 472. 1.381. plastic, moulding, shaping. The one Spirit is the absolute existence, the “One” of Plato's philosophy as opposed to the "Many,” i.e., the phenomena of this world, all of which are manifestations of this “One." Cf. Spenser's Hymn in Honor of Beauty, 11. 29-49 (p. 120).

11. 399 ff. Chatterton, Sidney, and Lucan are all appropriately mentioned as "inheritors of unfulfilled renown,” because all of them were cut off by death in early manhood. Perhaps few will agree with Shelley in feeling that Lucan's suicide atoned for his willingness to betray his fellow conspirators, though Shelley may have felt that he was justified in the conspiracy. Shelley may have been influenced by Plato in ascribing conscious immortality to the souls of these and the many whose names on earth are dark (l. 406).

1. 412. blind dark.

11. 422-423. Apparently the meaning is “Keep thy heart light, lest thou be overwhelmed with a sense of the pettiness of earth and be tempted to follow Adonais."

11. 438-449. This is a beautiful description of the place in which Keats lies buried, “the romantic and lonely cemetery of the Protestants in that city, under the pyramid which is the tomb of 11. 11-20. The draught that is to transport the poet away from the weariness and sorrow of life

Cestius, and the massy walls and towers, now mouldering and desolate, which formed the circuit of ancient Rome. The cemetery is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place." — Shelley's Preface to Adonais.

P. 473. 1. 460. Cf. the note on l. 381.

1. 461. The same idea in different words. That earthly phenomena are shadows cast by the Heavenly Light is set forth in the seventh book of Plato's Republic.

1. 463. The white radiance of eternity was doubtless suggested by the description of heaven in Plato's Phædrus. “Real existence, colorless, formless, and intangible, visible only to the intelligence which sits at the helm of the soul ... has its abode in this region.” The comparison of life to a dome of many colored glass may conceivably have been suggested by the fable which Socrates tells Simmias in the Phædo to the effect that “this earth, if any one should survey it from above, is like one of those balls covered with twelve different pieces of leather, variegated and distinguished with colors,” though that of course is really a different conception from this.

11. 478-486. The ideas of this stanza are all Platonic.

plicity and delight; the great adventures of the search for the Golden Fleece, the descent of Orpheus to Hades to release his lost Eurydice, the return of Ulysses, shall all be relived.

P. 474. ll. 19-24. Pursuing the same idea, the poet is shocked by the thought that the evil of the past will also be renewed — the Trojan War, the dark tragedy of Edipus — and he prays that this may be averted.

11. 31–34. “Saturn and Love were among the deities of a real or imaginary state of innocence and happiness. All those who fell, or the gods of Greece, Asia and Egypt; the One who rose, or Jesus Christ, at whose appearance the idols of the Pagan World were amerced of their worship; and the many unsubdued, or the monstrous objects of the idolatry of China, India, the Antarctic islands, and the native tribes of America, certainly have reigned over the understandings of men, in conjunction or in succession.” — Shelley's Note.



Hellas is a lyrical drama inspired by the proclamation of Greek independence in 1821 and celebrating this event as preluding the return of the “Golden Age." Shelley tells us in a note that the Final Chorus was suggested by the prophetic visions of Isaiah and Vergil, that is, especially the sixty-fifth chapter of Isaiah and the fourth Eclogue of Vergil. The student may also compare Pope's Messiah, which was likewise suggested by Isaiah and Vergil.

11. 1-18. A belief of the ancients was that at the end of many thousand years all the heavenly bodies would have returned to the positions they occupied at creation and the events of history would begin to repeat themselves. As the Golden Age of innocence and happiness was, in poetry and mythology, placed in the first age of the world, its return was also looked for. In this poem Shelley develops in detail this ideal of historic recapitulation. A Greece (Hellas) shall arise with all the beauties and glories of ancient Greek history and poetry: the river Peneus, the vale of Tempe, the islands of the Cyclades shall again be scenes of pastoral sim

ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE The poet, listening to the song of the nightingale, is affected to a passion of tearful delight in the happiness of the bird (11. 1-10), and longs for a magical draught of summer that will cause him to follow the bird (ll. 11-20), leaving behind the dever and fret of the world (11. 21-30). Imagination fulfils his desire, and he finds himself in the forest of his fancy (11. 31-40), a place lighted only by moon-beams, and so dim that he discerns the flowers about him only by their odors (11. 41-50).

Resuming the theme of the first stanza, he declares that, as he listens in the dark, death seems richer and sweeter at the thought that the bird's song is immortal (ll. 51–70).

His thoughts are brought back to himself and his sorrows by the word “forlorn,” and as the song of the bird fades away in the distance, he questions whether it may not have been “a vision or a waking dream.”

In music and suggestiveness of diction, in beauty of imagery, in sensuous richness of conception, this poem has never been surpassed even by Keats himself. It must be read often and in many moods, for though its magical charm can be felt at a single reading, every rift, to borrow a phrase from Keats's advice to Shelley, is loaded with ore.

P. 475. 1. 9. The shadows are those cast by the full moon (see l. 36).


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