An Elegy on the Death of Keats and Brian Jones


Adonaïs: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, Author of Endymion, Hyperion, etc. /ˌædɵˈneɪ.ɨs/, also spelled Adonaies, is a pastoral elegy written by Percy Bysshe Shelley for John Keats in 1821, and widely regarded as one of Shelley’s best and most well-known works. The poem, which is in 495 lines in 55 Spenserian stanzas, was composed in the spring of 1821 immediately after 11 April, when Shelley heard of Keats’ death (seven weeks earlier). The title of the poem is likely a merging of the Greek “Adonis”, the god of fertility, and the Hebrew “Adonai” (meaning “Lord”). Most critics suggest that Shelley used Virgil‘s tenth Eclogue, in praise of Cornelius Gallus, as a model.

 
 

Dressed in a gender-bending white poet’s robe, Jagger quoted Shelley in memory of bandmate Brian Jones at the Stones in the Park concert in 1969. Photo by Mike Randolph

 
 

Before an audience estimated at 250,000 to 300,000, Jagger read the following verses from Adonais:

 
 

“Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep
He hath awakened from the dream of life
‘Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep
With phantoms an unprofitable strife,
And in mad trance, strike with our spirit’s knife
Invulnerable nothings. — We decay
Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief
Convulse us and consume us day by day,
And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.

The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven’s light forever shines, Earth’s shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments. — Die,
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!
Follow where all is fled!”

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