« PreviousContinue »
It was the winter wild,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
With her great Master so to sympathize;
No war, or battle's sound
The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
But peaceful was the night,
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Bending one way their precious influence;
Or Lucifer, that often war'd them thence;
The shepherds on the lawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Was kindly come to live with them below;
As never was by mortal finger strook •
As all their souls in blissful rapture txok:
The oracles are dumb,
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
The parting Genius is with sighing sent:
In consecrated earth,
The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint;
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
Time is, our tedious song should here have ending:
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending,
LYCIDAS." In this Monody, the author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately drowned in his
passage from Chester on the Irish seas, 1637: and by occasion foretells the ruin of our corrupted clergy, then in their highth.
Yet once more, O'ye laurels, and once more,
1 This poem was made upon the unfortunate and untimely death of Mr. Edward King, son of Su John King, Secretary for Ireland, a fellow collegian and intimate friend of Milton, who, as he was go!ng to visit his relations in Ireland, was drowned, August 10, 1637, in the 25th year of his age. Dr Newlon has observed, that Lycidas is with great judgment made of the pastral kind, as both Ms.
I come to pluck your berries harsh' and crude';
Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well,
25 (Under the opening eyelids of the morn,
We drove afield; and both together heard
Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
King and Milton had been designed for holy orders and the pastoral care, which gives a peculiar propriety to several passages in it.
Addison says, " that he who desires to know whether he has a truc taste for history or not, should consider whether he is pleased with Livy's manner of telling a story; 90, perhaps it may be said, that he who wishes to know whether he has a true taste for poetry or not, should consider whether he is highly delighted or not with the perucal of Milton's Lycídas."--J. Warton.
“ Whatever stern grandeur Milton's two epics and his drama, written in his latter days, exhibit; by whatever divine invention they are created; Lycidas and Comus have a fluency, a sweetness, a melody, a youthful freshness, a dewy brightness of description, which those gigantic poems have not ..... The prime charm of poetry, the rapidity and the novelty, yet the natural association of bende tiful ideas, is pre-eminenty exhibited in Lycidas; and it strikes me, that there is no poeni of Milton, in which the pastoral and rural imagery is so breathing, so brilliant, and so new as this."-Sir Egerton Brydges.
" I shall never cease to consider this monody as the sweet eMusion of a most poetic and tender mind; entitled as well by its beautiful melody as by the frequent grandeur of its sentiments and language, to the utmost enthusiasm of adniration."-- Todd.
Line 3. This is a beautiful allusion to the unripe age of his friend, in which death "shattered his leaves before the mellowing year."
L. 15. “The sacred well," Hclicon.
L. 25. “From the regularity of his pursuits, the purity of his pleasures, his temperance, and general simplicity of life, Milton habitually became an early riser; hence he gained an acquaintance with the beauties of the morning, which he so frequently contemplated with delight, and has there fore so repeatedly described in all their various appearances."-T. Warton.
L. 27. “We drove afield,” that is, we drove our flocks afield.
Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel
Bnt, O, the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade; baina € 2,129:
Line 50. “Where were yet" "This burst is as magnificent as it is affecting."-Sir E. Brydges.
L. 58. Reference is here made to Orpheus, torn in pieces by the Bacchanalians, whose murderers are called "the rout." "Lycidas, as a poet, is here tacitly compared with Orpheus: they were both also victims of the water."-T. Warton.
L. 70, &c. "No lines have been more often cited, and more popular than these; nor more justly Instructive and inspiriting."- Sir Egerton Brydges.
L. 76. - But not the praise;" that is, but the praise is not intercepted. “While the poet, in the character of a shepherd, is moralizing on the uncertainty of human life, Phoebus interposes with a sublime strain, above the tone of pastoral poetry: he then, in an abrupt and elliptical apostrophe, at "O fountain Arethuse;' hastily recollects himself, and apologizes to his rural Muse, or in other words to Arethusa and Minclus, the celebrated streams of bucolic song, for having so suddenly departe from pastoral allusions and the tenor of his subject."-T. Warton.
Crearea lurred porose.
Phæbus replied, and touch'd my trembling ears;
kas zem parte 85
Imantan in the glänet &
Two massy keys he bore of muetako twain, abere, ancile 1.10%,
golden , shuts )
Line 91. “The felon winds," that is, the cruel winds.
L. 101. The shipwreck was occasioned not by a storm, but by the ship's being ungt for such a navigation.
L. 103. "Camos." This is the river Cam, on the borders of which was the University of Cambridge, where Lycidas was educated.
L. 104. The "hairy mantle" Joined with the "sedge bonnet" may mean the rushy or reedy banks of the Cam; and the "Agures diin" refer, it is thought, to the indistinct and dusky streaks on sedge leaves or flags when dried.
L. 209. "The pilot of the Galllean lake," the apostle Peter.
L. 114. He here animadverts on the endowments of the church, at the same time insinuating that they were shared by those only who sought the emoluments of the sacred once, to the exclusion of a learned and conscientious clergy. Thus in Paradise Lost, iv. 193, alluding to Satan, he says
So clomb this first grand thief Into God's fold;