Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais

Mark Sandy (University of Durham)
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Adonais

was occasioned by the death of John Keats on 23 February 1821 and is ranked alongside John Milton's

Lycidas

(1638), Philip Sydney's

Astrophel

(1595), and Thomas Gray's

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

(1751) in the great tradition of English pastoral elegy. Shelley started writing

Adonais

some time after Keats's death, as he did not learn of the tragic event until 11 April 1821. Composition of his elegy for Keats was rapid and Shelley wrote, on 8 June 1821, to his publisher, Charles Ollier, that he had completed a poetical lament “of about forty Spenser stanzas” (

Letters

, 2, 297). To ease metrical scansion, Shelley added an extra vowel to the name of his poem's title and derived “Adonais” from “Adonis”. On a mythological level, Shelley's choice of “Adonais”…

2398 words

Citation: Sandy, Mark. "Adonais". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 September 2002 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=6843, accessed 05 March 2024.]

6843 Adonais 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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