O.Wilde, Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. (...)
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (...)

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. (...)
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself...

O. Wilde (1854-1900),
Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

P.B. Shelley, Adonaies

Percy Bysshe Shelley 


major English Romantic poet
(2nd generation)


In  the spring of 1821 Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the pastoral elegy Adonaïs: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, Author of Endymion, Hyperion, etc. (Adonaies) in memory of his friend  John Keats . This elegy,  which is in 495 lines, is nowadays widely regarded as one of Shelley's best and most well-known works. The poem 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. In it, Shelley also thanked the painter Joseph Severn for caring for Keats in Rome. This praise increased literary interest in Severn's works.
Shelley had met Keats in Hampstead towards the end of 1816 thanks to their mutual friend, Leigh Hunt, who was soon 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, but it is also possible that Keats resented Hunt's transferred preference. Despite this, the two poets exchanged letters when Shelley and his wife Mary Shelley moved to Italy. When Keats fell ill, the Shelleys invited him to stay with them in Pisa but Keats decided to travel with Severn.
Despite all this,  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.

Here it follows a part of Shelley’s elegy. Such a fragment of Adonais was read by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones on the Brian Jones memorial concert at London's Hyde Park on July 5, 1969. Jones, founder and guitarist of the Stones, had drowned July 3, 1969 in his swimming pool.
Before an audience of about  250,000 / 300,000 people, 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! — Rome's azure sky,
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.

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