Shelley at Work: A Critical Inquiry

By Neville Rogers | Go to book overview

15. Adonais: Keats to Intellectual Beauty and the One

To Shelley who thought in symbols the Poet was many things but above all a light:1

*Hold--divine image
Eclipsed Sun--planet without a beam
Wilt thou offend the Sun thou emblemest
By blotting out the light of written thought?*

Thus he had exhorted himself when in 1819 death took his child and the reviewers threatened his poetry and in the end, strong in his ἀρετή, he had prevailed over despair and continued to write. In 1820-1 together with a personal affection for Keats went a sense of Keats's symbolical significance and, projecting his own moods on to his notion of his friend, he came easily to credit a man who in health was robust in mind and spirit with a nature more vulnerable than his own. Hence--and this explains the depth of the feeling as well as the intellectual power of Adonais-- Keats gradually became aligned in his mind with himself; already by May 18202 he wrote of him as a poet ready 'like the sun to burst through the clouds' and the very metaphor contains the essentials of the eclipse-image. Thenceforward the Platonic opposition of the light of Poetry to the darkness that threatened to enfold it is constantly present in his words and thoughts about Keats. Despite Keats's courteous refusal in August of his invitation of 27 July he continued to hope to see him, more especially after reading the Lamia volume which reached him some time3 in October: his praise of 'Hyperion' at the expense of the other fine poems may perhaps be partly accounted for by his characteristic delight in the allegory of the Sun-god and it may be fair to suspect that this too merged into the general colour of his thinking, as for instance in Adonais XLIV, about splendid things and people who may be eclipsed rather than extinguished. Late in

____________________
1
See above, p. 218.
2
Jul. x. 168.
3
Jones, Mary Shelley's Journal, p. 139: 'Oct. 18 . . . Shelley reads "Hyperion" aloud.'

-255-

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Shelley at Work: A Critical Inquiry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xiii
  • MANUSCRIPTS xv
  • Bibliography xvii
  • Part One - 'The Wanderings of Careful Thought' 1
  • 1. Shelley's Notebooks: 'Method in his Madness' 1
  • 2. The Mind and Its Path. Philosophy and Symbolism in Shelley's Poetry 15
  • 3. Thought, Feeling, and Symbols. Necessity and the New Birth 24
  • 4. 'Ariadne'. Love and Intellectual Beauty; Virtue and Power 37
  • 5. Daemons and Other 'Monsters of His Thought' 64
  • 6. Boats. Isles 91
  • 7. The Dome. The Eye and the Star. The Philosophic Imagination 105
  • 8. The Veil. Mutability 120
  • 9. The Cave 147
  • 10. The Dream of Life 169
  • Part Two - The Wind, the lyre, and the Labour 195
  • 11. Shelley at Work: A Closer View 195
  • 12. Shelley and the West Wind 211
  • 13. Italian Platonics and Epipsychidion 230
  • 14. 'Ginevra': Emilia to Keats 249
  • 15. Adonais: Keats to Intellectual Beauty and the One 255
  • 16 From Hellas to 'the Triumph of Life' 273
  • 17. Poetry and the Power of Mind 305
  • APPENDIXES 327
  • Appendix I 328
  • Appendix II 329
  • Appendix III 334
  • Appendix IV 339
  • Appendix V 340
  • Index 344
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