Study Guide

Adonais Stanza 34

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Stanza 34

Lines 298-306

    All stood aloof, and at his partial moan
    Smil'd through their tears; well knew that gentle band
    Who in another's fate now wept his own,
    As in the accents of an unknown land
    He sung new sorrow; sad Urania scann'd
    The Stranger's mien, and murmur'd: "Who art thou?"
    He answer'd not, but with a sudden hand
    Made bare his branded and ensanguin'd brow,
Which was like Cain's or Christ's—oh! that it should be so!

  • Everyone is treating this stranger as if he is an outsider. He stands "aloof," outside of the group, and moans with sorrow. The band of mourners understand his grief, though. 
  • Urania hears the man's moan and looks at him, "scanning" his "mien" (mood). She doesn't recognize the stranger, and asks who he is.
  • He doesn't answer, though. Instead, he shows her the mark on his forehead, which the speaker compares to that of Cain or Jesus Christ. 
  • Say what? Well, in the Old Testament, Cain was banished from the Garden of Eden for killing his brother. So, this stranger been banished from something. But what about the Christ reference? 
  • Perhaps he was unfairly banished, or perhaps he chose it himself. All we know is, he's a stranger with some type of dark past. Let's keep reading…

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