On 5 July 1969, The Rolling Stones performed at a free festival in Hyde Park, London, in front of an audience between 250,000 and 500,000 fans, Since the show was free accurate crowd estimates are vague
It was the Stones’ first public concert in over two years and it had been originally intended as a way of introducing their new guitarist, Mick Taylor. Instead, their founding member and former guitarist Brian Jones had drowned in his swimming-pool just two days earlie and what was supposed to have been a party became a memorial.
Before the concert started, Jagger took to the stage, asked for silence, and read two stanzas from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s elegy “Adonais”, written on the death of John Keats
After this recital, hundreds of white butterflies were released into the summer air.
Here are the stanzas Jagger read:
Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep,
He hath awaken’d 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-colour’d 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!…
Pace, pace! non è morto, non dorme,
si è svegliato dal sogno della vita;
siamo noi che, persi in incubi tempestosi, manteniamo
con i fantasmi una futile lotta,
e nel folle sonno ipnotico colpiamo con il coltello del nostro spirito
nullità invulnerabili. Imputridiamo
come cadaveri nel sepolcro; terrore e dolore
ci sconvolgono e ci consumano giorno dopo giorno,
e le gelide speranze brulicano come vermi nella nostra viva creta
L’Uno rimane, i molti mutano e passano;
la luce del Cielo risplende per sempre, le ombre della Terra volano via,
la Vita, come una cupola di vetro variopinto,
macchia il bianco splendore dell’Eternità,
finché la Morte non la frantuma— Muori,
se tu vuoi essere con ciò che cerchi!
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