Study Guide

Adonais Stanza 27

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

Stanza 27

Lines 235-243

    "O gentle child, beautiful as thou wert,
    Why didst thou leave the trodden paths of men
    Too soon, and with weak hands though mighty heart
    Dare the unpastur'd dragon in his den?
    Defenceless as thou wert, oh, where was then
    Wisdom the mirror'd shield, or scorn the spear?
    Or hadst thou waited the full cycle, when
    Thy spirit should have fill'd its crescent sphere,
The monsters of life's waste had fled from thee like deer.

  • The "trodden paths of men" are the places that we humans go. Urania wonders why he had to leave these earthly places so soon. 
  • Here, she even blames Adonais-Keats a little for his death, asking him why he tempted the "unpastur'd dragon" (unpastured means "set free") in his den. Here, Shelley is using a metaphor; the dragons are the critics. 
  • He says that Keats was defenseless against these critics, and didn't have wisdom to act as a shield, or scorn to return their criticism. 
  • Shelley thinks that Keats should have waited "the full cycle" before releasing his work to the public. Basically, he feels that Keats should have matured a little so that he could have handled criticism better. If he had waited, he would have made these critics flee "like deer" from him.

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