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"One ear tingles; some there be
That are snarling now at me." - Herrick, Hesperides.
36. glistering foil. Alluding to the tinsel or metallic leaf used for "setting off" jewels. The connection here is: "Fame is . . . not set off to the world in glistering foil, nor does it lie in broad humor, etc."
37. pure eyes. See Habakkuki. 13: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil.”
38. Arethuse. See note 15, page 17. The allusion here is to pastoral poetry as exemplified by Theocritus and other Sicilian poets. See also note 53, below. Mincius. A river in northern Italy, tributary to the Po. The poet Virgil's birthplace was on its banks. smooth-sliding. Smoothly gliding.
39. oat. See note 1, page 66.
40. herald of the sea. Triton, the son of Neptune. He came to plead Neptune's innocence of the death of Lycidas. He calls in the winds as witnesses for the defence. Compare with A Pastoral Æglogue, 95.
41. rugged wings. Turbulent winds.
42. Hippotades. Æolus, the god of the winds, son of Hippotes, "the horseman."
43. Panope. One of the sea-nymphs, daughter of Nereus and Doris. Her sisters were the Nereides.
44. eclipse. It was a popular superstition that a curse rested upon whatever was done during an eclipse. Compare Paradise Lost, i. 597:—
"As when the sun...
... from behind the moon
In dim eclipse disastrous twilight sheds."
See also Shakespeare, Macbeth, iv. 1, 28.
The conclusion of Triton's investigations concerning the causes of the wreck is that the ship on which Lycidas had embarked was unseaworthy, and that she sank in calm waters.
45. Camus. The genius of the river Cam, on which is situated Cambridge, and the university wherein Lycidas was nurtured, - hence called "reverend sire." Compare with The Mourning Muse of Thestylis (1587):
"The Thames was heard to roar, the Reyne, and eke the Mose,
In further explanation of this passage Plumptre says: "The 'mantle' is as if made of the plant ‘river-sponge,' which floats copiously in the Cam; the bonnet' of the river-sedge, distinguished by vague marks traced somehow over the middle of the leaves after the fashion of the at, at, of the hyacinth." See note 2, page 44.
46. pilot. St. Peter. In Christian art he is represented, as here, with two keys; hence, two keys, borne saltire-wise, are the insignia of the Pope. The bishops of Winchester, Gloucester, Exeter, St. Asaph, and Peterborough, in England, also bear two keys. The leading thought in the next twenty-three lines seems to be the loss which the church sustained by the death of Lycidas.
47. climb into the fold. See John x. 1. "He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." Milton refers to false teachers and preachers, and especially to the corruptions existing in the church. His sympathies are with the Puritans, just then rising into power, as opposed to the ritualism which was then being enforced by Archbishop Laud.
48. blind mouths. "A singularly violent figure, as if men were mouths and nothing else."— Masson.
49. recks. Concerns. "What do they care?" From A.-S. recan, to care for. Compare with Milton's Comus, 404:
"Of night or loneliness it recks me not."
sped. Provided for. Compare with Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, ii. 9, 72: "So, begone; you are sped."-list. Wish, choose. That is, when they choose to exercise the herdsman's art. scrannel. Akin to scrawny, lean, thin, insufficient.
50. hungry sheep. Compare this entire passage with Spenser, Shepheards Calender, May:
"Thilke same bene shepheardes for the devils stedde,
But they bene hyred for little pay
Of other, that cared as little as they
What fallen the flocke, so they hau the fleece."
51. grim wolf. Probably an allusion to the Catholic Church, which was at that time having many accessions.
52. two-handed engine. "He means to say generally that the time of retribution is at hand. Some commentators, unwisely in my opinion, take the words as a definite prophecy of Laud's execution (in 1645). Certainly they could never have been understood in that sense at the time of the poem's first publication 'under the sanction and from the press of one of our universities,' and when 'the proscriptions of the Star Chamber and the power of Laud were at their height.' Hales. Compare with Matt. iii. 10. "And now also the axe is laid at the root of the trees." Luke iii. 9.
53. Alpheus. See note on Arethusa, above. In the Arcades, Milton refers to the
"Divine Alpheus, who by secret sluice
The name is used here, however, simply as a personification of pastoral poetry, and Milton means that after his digression on churches and pastors he will now return to his original strain.
54. flowrets. Compare this entire passage with the passages quoted or referred to in notes 15 and 16, pages 33 and 34.
55. rathe. Early. Still retained in its comparative form, rather. 56. laureate hearse. Poet tomb. Compare with Milton's Epitaph on the Marchioness of Winchester :·
"And some flowers and some bays
57. Let our frail thoughts, etc. That is, let us imagine that Lycidas really lies in a tomb and is not lost in the vast ocean.
58. monstrous world. World of monsters.
59. Bellerus. A Cornish giant. "Bellerium was the name formerly given to the promontory of the Land's End. It was the home of a mighty giant, after whom, in all probability, the headland was called."- Hunt's Romances of the West of England. Milton at first wrote it Corineus, a giant from whom the name Cornwall was derived. — guarded mount. Mount St. Michaels, a steep rock near Penzance in Cornwall. Warton says: "There is still a tradition that a vision of St. Michael seated on this crag, appeared to some hermits." The land here looks almost directly towards Namancos and Bayona near Cape Finisterre.
60. angel. St. Michael. That is, turn your gaze away from the distant Spanish coast and look towards the shores where doubtless the body of Lycidas lies.
61. Weep no more, etc. See The Sorrow of Daphnis, page 12. 62. not dead. See Adonais, xxxix. 1. Compare with the Countess of Pembroke's Dolefull Lay of Clorinda :
Ay me, can so divine a thing be dead?
63. drooping head. Compare with Gray's Bard:
"To-morrow he repairs the golden flood."
64. unexpressive. Inexpressible. -nuptial song.
See page 36.
65. There entertain him, etc. Compare this entire passage with The Dolefull Lay of Clorinda :
"There liveth he in everlasting blis,
Also with Pastorall Æglogue, line 136; also The Faerie Queene, iii. 6, 48:
"There now he liveth in eternal blis,
Also Paradise Lost, xi. 82:
"By the waters of life, where'er they sat
Also The Shepheards Calender, November:
"There lives shee with the blessed gods in blisse,
66. wipe the tears.
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Compare with Revelation vii. 17:
67. Genius. Good spirit, guardian angel.—recompense. That is, in the great compensation or reward which is thine. Compare with Shakespeare, The Tempest, iv. 1, 1:—
"If I have too austerely punished you,
Your compensation makes amends."
Uncultivated, rude; perhaps rather in the sense of
69. Doric lay. See note 5, page 45.
70. And now, etc. Compare with Jeremiah vi. 4: "For the shadows of the evening are stretched out." Also with Pope's Pastorals, iii.: —
"Thus sung the shepherds till the approach of night,
When falling dews with spangles deck'd the glade,
And with Virgil, Eclogue i. 83: "And now the high tops of the villages smoke afar off, and longer shadows fall from the lofty mountains."
71. At last. Compare with Fletcher, The Purple Island:
"Hence, then, my lambs; the falling drops eschew: