Adonaïs  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Adonaïs: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats" (Adonaies) is a pastoral elegy written by Percy Bysshe Shelley for John Keats in 1821, and widely regarded as one of Shelley's best works. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones read a part of Adonais on the Brian Jones memorial concert at Hyde Park on July 5, 1969. Jones, founder and guitarist of the Stones, had drowned July 3, 1969 in his swimming pool.

The poem, which is in 495 lines in 55 Spenserian stanzas, was composed in the spring of 1821 immediately after April 11, when Shelley heard of Keats' death some three months earlier. It is a pastoral elegy, in the English tradition of John Milton's Lycidas. Shelley had studied and translated classical elegies. 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.

It was published by Charles Ollier in July 1821 with a preface in which Shelley made the mistaken assertion that Keats had died from a rupture of the lung induced by rage at the unfairly harsh reviews of his verse in the Quarterly Review and other journals. He also thanked Joseph Severn for caring for Keats in Rome. This praise increased literary interest in Severn's works.

Shelley was introduced to Keats in Hampstead towards the end of 1816 by their mutual friend, Leigh Hunt, who was to transfer his enthusiasm from Keats to Shelley. Shelley's huge admiration of Keats was not entirely reciprocated. Keats had reservations about Shelley's dissolute behaviour, and found some of Shelley's advice patronising (the suggestion, for example, that Keats should not publish his early work). It is also possible that Keats resented Hunt's transferred allegiance. Despite this, the two poets exchanged letters when Shelley and his wife moved to Italy. When Keats fell ill, the Shelleys invited him to stay with them in Pisa but Keats elected to travel with Severn. Despite this rebuff, Shelley's affection for Keats remained undimmed until his death in 1822 when a copy of Keats' works was found in a pocket on his drowned body. Shelley said of Keats, after inviting him to stay with him in Pisa after Keats fell ill: "I am aware indeed that I am nourishing a rival who will far surpass me and this is an additional motive & will be an added pleasure."

Notable Performances

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones read a part of Adonais on the Brian Jones memorial concert at Hyde Park on July 5, 1969. Jones, founder and guitarist of the Stones, had drowned July 3, 1969 in his swimming pool.

The poem has also figured prominently in the traditions of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity.

Star Trek Episode

"Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats" by Percy Bysshe Shelley was referenced in "Who Mourns for Adonais?", a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. It was episode 31, first broadcast on September 22, 1967 and repeated May 10, 1968 on NBC. The episode was written by Gilbert Ralston and Gene L. Coon, and directed by Marc Daniels. The title is derived from line 415 of the Shelley elegy. In Greek mythology, Adonis was the god of fertility.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Adonaïs" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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