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LYCIDAS.*—John Milton. JOHN MILTON (1608-1674) among English poets ranks next to Shakspeare. His youth was spent in long and very earnest study; and to what he thus acquired, he added still more by travelling in foreign countries. He was Latin Secretary to Oliver Cromwell, and for the last twenty-two years of his life was totally blind. Chief poems : L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, Comus, Lycidas, Samson Agonistes ; Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, in which he has discarded rhyme, and given us the most splendid specimen of blank verse in the language. Laurel is a symbol YEt once more, O ye laurels,* and once more, of glory. Myrtle, dedicated to Ye myrtles * brown, with ivy * never sere, * Venus, was symboli. I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude ; *

And, with forced fingers rude, Ivy, represented lasting friendship

Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year. 5 Sere, dry, faded, Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear, withered. Crude, unripe.

Compels me to disturb * your season due: To disturb, &c., to For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime, disturb before

Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:
season, before
proper time.

Who would not sing for Lycidas ? he knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.

He must not float upon his watry bier
Welter, roll to and

Unwept, and welter * to the parching wind, Meed, reward.

Without the meed * of some melodious tear. * Melodious tear, a la- Begin then, Sisters * of the sacred well, 15 mentation in verse.

That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring; Sisters, &c., the nine Muses, supposed to Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string; have lived at the foot Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse : the classical abode of So may some gentle Muse the gods.

With lucky words * favour my destined urn; Muse, poet.

And, as he passes, turn, Lucky words, &c., with words of good And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.* omen do the same

For we were nursed upon the selfsame hill, kindly office for me when I am in my

Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill. grave.

Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd
Sable shroud, my dark Under the opening eyelids of the morn,
Opening, &c., at day- We drove afield,* and both together heard

What time the grey fly winds her sultry horn,
Afield to the fields.
Battening, feeding or Battening * our focks with the fresh dews of
fattening.

night,

Oft till the star, that rose evening bright, Westering, going to Toward heaven's descent had sloped his westering* wards the west.

fro.

*

20

25

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break.

30

wheel.

* Lycidas : in this poem Milton bewails a learned friend, Edward King, unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester, on the Irish Sea, 1637. The name Lycidas was adopted from the Greek poet Theocritus.

*

a

lamb

over

the

Druid

Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
Temper'd to the oaten flute;

[heel Oaten Aute, the shep

herds' pipe, made of Rough Satyrs * danced, and Fauns * with cloven dry oat straws. 35 From the glad sound would not be absent long; Satyrs. and Fauns, And old Damætas * loved to hear our song.

according to the an

cients, were demiBut, О the heavy change, now thou art gone, gods, half man, halt Now thou art gone, and never must return !

goat, who attended

upon Bacchus, Thee, shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves, Damætas, one of Vir40 With wild thyme and the gadding* vine o'ergrown, gil's characters, but And all their echoes, mourn :

here referring to their

college tutor. The willows, and the hazel copses green,

Gadding, winding Shall now no more be seen

about, straggling. Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays. 45 As killing as the canker * to the rose,

Canker, something Or taint-worm to the weanling * herds that graze, away.

that gnaws, or eats Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, Weanling, When first the white-thorn blows;

newly weaned. Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherds' ear. 50 Where were ye, nymphs,* when the remorseless Nymphs, goddesses

who watched
deep

different places.
Closed o’er the head of your loved Lycidas ?
For neither were ye playing on the steep,
Where your old bards,* the famous Druids, lie,

Bards,

poets. Nor on the shaggy top of Mona * high,

Mona, the Isle of 55 Nor yet where Deva * spreads her wizard stream: Anglesea.

Deva, the river Dee, Ay me! I fondly dream,

in olden times said Had ye been there : for what could that have done? to have What could the Muse herself that Orpheus * bore, brpheus was the son

The Muse herself, for her enchanting son, of Calliope, the Muse 60 Whom universal nature did lamen

of Epic poetry.
When, by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His gory visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus * to the Lesbian shore ? Hebrus (the Maritza),
Alas! what boots * it with incessant care

a river in the south

of Turkey. 65 To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade, Boots, here

And strictly meditate the thankless Muse ? profits.
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,

Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair ?
70 Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise

(That last infirmity of noble minds)
To scorn delights and live laborious days ;
But the fair guerdon * when we hope to find, Guerdon, a reward

And think to burst out into sudden blaze, 75 Cornes the blind Fury * with the abhorred shears, Fury, Atropos, one And slits the thin - spun life. “But not the

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fortune.

Phobus, Apollo, the Phæbus * replied, and touch'd my trembling
zod of poetry.

“Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies : 80

But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes,
Joue, was king of And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
the "gods on Mount As he pronounces lastly * on each deed,
Olympus.

lastly, Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed.” gives a final decision.

O fountain Arethuse, * and thou honour'd flood, 85 Arethuse, a celebrated fountain" near Syra- Smooth-sliding Mincius,* crown'd with vocal

reeds! coast of Sicily.

That strain I heard was of a higher mood :
Mincius, the river
Mincio, near Mantua, But now my oat proceeds,
where Virgil was And listens to the herald of the sea
Neptune, the god of

That came in Neptune's * plea ;

He ask'd the waves, and ask'd the felon * winds, Felon, wicked, cruelWhat hard mishap * hath doom'd * this gentle Mishap, ill-luck, mis

swain ? * Doomed, condemned And question'd every gust of rugged wings Swain, a young man. That blows from off each beaked

promontory: His story, what had They knew not of his story ;

95 happened to him.

And sage Hippotades * their answer brings, Hippotades, Æolus,

That not a blast was from his dungeon * stray'd : Dungeon,

close, The air was calm, and on the level brine deep prison. Panope, one of the Sleek Panope * with all her sisters play'd. fifty sea-nymphs. It was that fatal and perfidious * bark, Perfidious, treach

Built in the eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,

That sunk so low that sacred head of thine. Camus, river Next Camus,* reverend sire, went footing slow, * bridge is built.

His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge, Footing slow, allud. Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge 105 ing to the slow, slug. Like to that sanguine flower * inscribed with woe. gish course of the Cam.

“Ah! who hath reft," quoth he, “my dearest Sanguine flower, the hyacinth. Pledge, child,

Last and last did go.

came, Pilot, &c., St. Peter, The pilot * of the Galilean lake ;

the Two massy keys he bore of metals twain Church, who had a boat on the Sea of (The golden opes, the iron shuts amain), * Galilee.

He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake : Amain, with force.

“How well could I have spared for thee, young

swain, Enow, enough, Enow * of such, as for their bellies' sake plenty:

Creep. and intrude,* and climb into the fold ! Intruder to

115 without permission.

Uf other care they little reckoning make,
Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast,
And shove away the worthy bidden guest;

ruler of the winds.

a

100

erous.

the Cam, on which Cam.

pledge ?"*

the

head

of

110

enter

or

smell.

*

flowers,

*

Blind mouths ! that scarce themselves know
how to hold

Sheep-hook, alluding 120 A sheep-hook,* or have learn'd aught * else to the bishop's crozier, the least

which is in shape like

a shepherd's crook. That to the faithful herdsman's art belongs ! Aught, anything. What recks it them ?* What need they? They What recks, &c., what

does it matter to are sped ;

them. And, when they list, their lean and flashy * songs Sped, provided for. Grate on their scrannel * pipes of wretched straw; Flashy, showy, with

out any real value. 125 The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,

Scrannel, producing But, swollen with wind and the rank * mist they a weak screeching

sound.
draw,*

Rank, here means a
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion * spread : very bad taste
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing said:

Draw, breathe into.

Contagion, a catching 130 But that two-handed engine at the door

disease. Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.”

Return, Alpheus,* the dread voice is past, Alpheus, a stream in That shrunk thy streams; return, Sicilian Muse, be connected with

And call the vales, and bid them hither cast Arethusa. 135 Their bells and flowerets * of a thousand hues. Flowerets, little

Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use
Of shades, and wanton* winds, and gushing brooks, Wanton, wandering
On whose fresh lap the swart star* sparely

Swart star, the dog.
looks ;
Throw hither all your quaint * enamellid * eyes,

Sparely, rarely, sel

dom, sparingly. 140 That on the green turf suck the honey'd showers, Quaint, curious lookAnd purple all the ground with vernal flowers. ing, fanciful,

Enamelied,
Bring the rathe * primrose that forsaken dies,

and glossy
The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,

Rathe, early. The white pink, and the pansy freak'd * with jet, Freaked, spotted on 145 The glowing violet,

streaked.
The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine,
With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head, Wan, pale.
And every flower that sad embroidery* wears : Sad embroidery,
Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed,

mourning attire 150 And daffodillies fill their cups with tears, To strew the laureat hearse

* where Lycid lies.

Laureat hearse, anFor, so to interpose a little ease,

ciently a monument

to the memory of the Let our frail* thoughts dally* with false surmise; dead, the laurel-covAy me! whilst thee the shores and sounding seas

ered bier.

Frail, weak. 155 Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurld, Dally, delay, linger. Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,

Hebrides, two groups

of islands on the west
Where thou perhaps, under the whelming tide, of Scotland.
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world ; Bellerus, St. Michael's
Or whether thou, to our moist vows denied,

Mount, Cornwall :

anciently called Bel. 160 Sleep’st by the fable of Bellerus * old,

lerium.

star.

smooth

*

of the whale tribe.

when he sets.

the

on the sea,

Where the great vision of the guarded mount Namancos, near Cape Looks toward Namancos * and Bayona's * hold: Finisterre, in Spaion Look homeward, angel, now, and melt with ruth :* the south-west coast And, O ye dolphins,* waft the hapless youth. of France. Ruth, pity, mercy.

Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more, 165 Dolphin, an animal For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead, about ten feet long, Sunk though he be beneath the wat’ry floor ; Day star, the sun,

So sinks the day-star * in the ocean bed,

And yet anon * repairs his drooping head,
Anon, soon, quickly. And tricks * his beams, and with new-spangled ore 170
Tricks, adorns.

Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,

Through the dear might of Him that walk'd the
That walked

waves; waves, the miracle of our Lord walking Where, other groves and other streams along,

With nectar * pure his oozy * locks he laves, 175 Nectar, the drink of And hears the unexpressive * nuptial song, the gods ; very pleasant, sweet drink In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love. Oozý, muddy, slimy. There entertain * him all the saints above, Laves, washes. Unexpressive, not to

In solemn troops, and sweet societies, be expressed, beyond That sing, and, singing, in their glory move, 180 description.

And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes. Nuptial song, song a wedding.

Now, Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more ; Entertain, to amuse Henceforth thou art the genius * of the shore, Genius, the guardian In thy large recompense, and shalt be good spirit.

To all that wander in that perilous * flood. 185 Perilous, dangerous.

Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and

rills,

While the still morn went out with sandals gray;
Stops, holes.
He touch'd the tender stops

of various quills, Quills, pipes. Þoric, one of the four With eager thought warbling his Doric* lay : dialects of the ancient And now the sun had stretch'd out all the hills, 190 Greek language.

And now was dropt into the western bay :
At last he rose, and twitch'd his mantle blue:
To-morrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.

of

or receive.

*

CHARACTER.-Shakspeare.

Good name, in man and woman,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse, steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands :
But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

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