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It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature, in awe to him,
Had dolT'd her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize;
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.


No war, or battle's sound

Was heard the world around, < The idle spear and shield were high up hung;

The hooked chariot stood

Unstain'd with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;

And kings sat still with awful eye,

As if they surely knew their sovereign Lord was by.


But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of Light

His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,
SinooUily the waters kist.

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,

While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.


The stars, widi deep amaze,
Stand lix'd in steadfast gaze,

Bending one way their precious influence;
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,

Or Lucifer, that often wam'd them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord himself bespakc, and bid them go.


The shepherds on the lawn,
Or e'er the point of dawn,

Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they than,
That the mighty Pan

Was kindly conic to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keofj.


When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet,

A» never was by mortal finger strook •

Divinely-warbled voice
Answering the stringed noise,

As all tlieir souls in blissful rapturo took:
The air, such pleasures loath to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.


The oracles are dumb,
No voice or hideous hum

Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,

With hollow shriek the steep of Dclphos leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.


The lonely mountains o'er
And the resounding shore,

A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring and dale,
Edged with poplar pale,

The parting Genius is with sighing sent:
With flower-inwoven tresses torn,

The Nymphs, in twilight shade of tangled thickets, mourn


In consecrated earth,
And on the holy hearth,

The Lars and Lemurcs moan with midnight plaint;
In urns and altars round,
A drear and dying sound

Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar Power foregoes his wonted seat


But see, the Virgin bless'd
Hath laid her Babe to rest;

Time is, our tedious song should here have ending:
Heaven's youngest-teemed star
Hath fbc'd her polish'd car,

Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending.
And all about the courtly stable
Bright-harness'd angels sit in order serviceable.


In this Monody, the author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately drowned in mi 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, 0 yo laurels, and once more,
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere,

1 Tula poem was made upon the unfortunate and untimely death of Mr. Edward King, son of Sn John Kine, Secretary for Ireland, a fellow collegian and intimate friend of Mtlton, who, an he was going to visit hla ndaUons In Ireland, was drowned, August 10, 1637, In the 2Sth year of his age. Dr KcwtOD baa observed, that Lycidas is with great judgment made of the pastoral kind, as both Mr

I come to pluck your berries harsli and crude;
And. with forced fingers rude,

Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year: 5
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due:
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:

Who would not sing for Lycidas'? he knew lO
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his watery bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.

Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well, 1 ft

That from beneath the scat of Jove doth spring!
Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse:
So may some gentle Muso

With lucky words favor my destined urn; 20

And, as he passes, turn,

And bid fair peace be lo my sable shroud.

For we were nursed upon the self-same hill,

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

Together both, ere the high lawns appear d 25

Under the opening eyelids of the morn,

We drove afield; and both together heard

What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,

Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,

Oft till the star, that rose at evening, bright, 30

Toward Heaven's descent had sloped his westering wheel.

Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,

Temper'd to the oaten flute;

King and Muton had been designed tor 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 true taste tor history or not, should consider whether he Is pleased with Llvy's manner of telling a story; so, perhaps It may be sahl, tliat he who wishes to know whether he has a true taste for poetry or not, should consider whethrt he Is highly delighted or not with the perusal of Milton's Lycidas."—/. Wurton.

"Whatever stern grandeur Milton's two epics and his drama, written in his latter days, exhibit; by whatever divine Invention they arc created; Lycidas and Comas have a fluency, a sweetness, n 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 beautiful Ideas, Is pre-eminenUy exhibited In Lycidas; and it strikes me, that there Is no poem of Milton, In which the pastoral and rural imagery is so breathing, so brilliant, and so new as this."—Sir Egtrto*


"i shall never cease to consider this monody as the sweet effusion of a most poetic and tender mind; enUtleil as well by its beautiful mclojy as by the rrequent grandeur of Its scnUmcnts and language, to the utmost enthusiasm of admiration."—Todd.

Line 3. This is a bcauUful allusion to the unripe age of his friend, In which death "shatterM hut k*n7es before the mellowing year."

L. 15. "The sacred well," Helicon.

L. 35. "Prom 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 Uie beauties of the morning, which he so frequcnuy contemplated with delight, and has therefore so repeatedly described In all their various appearances."— T. Warton.

I.. 37. "We drove arte Id," that Is, we drove our flocks afield.

I. 23. The "sultry horn," is the sharp hum of this Insect at noon.

Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel

From the glad sound would not be absent long; 35

And old Damretas loved to hear our song.

But, O, the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Now thou art gone, and never must return I
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, and desort caves,
With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown, 40
And all their echoes mourn:
The willows, and hazel copses green,
Shall now no more bo seen,
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.

As killing as the canker to the rose, 45
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear,
When first the white-thorn blows;—
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear.

Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep 50
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,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,

Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream. 35
Ay me! I fondly dream!

Had ye been there—for what could that havo done?
What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore,
The Muse herself, for her enchanting son,

Whom universal Nature did lament, CO
When by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His gory visage down tho stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore?

Alas! what boots it with unccssant care
To tend the homely, slighted shepherd's trade, grj
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with tho tangles of Neara's hair?

Fame is the spur that tho clear spirit doth raise, 70

(That last infirmity of noble mind)

To scorn delights, and live laborious days;

But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,

And think to bnrst out into sudden blaze,

Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears, 75
And slits the thin-spun lifo. "But not the praise,"

Line So. "Where were yet" "This burst In as magnificent as It Isanoctlng."— Sir E. Brydgti.

r_ as. Reference Is here made to Orpheus, torn In pieces by the Bacchanalians, whose murdere. s are called "the rout." "Lycidas, as a poet. Is here tacitly compared wtUi Orpheus: they were both also victims of the water."—T. H'urton.

L. 70, sc. "No lines have been more often cited, and more popular than these; nor more Justiy Instructive and Inspiriting."— Sir Egerton Brydgt*.

L. 70. "But not the praise;" that is, but the praise ts not Intercepted. "While the poet, in Oie character of a shepherd, Is moralizing on the uncertainty of human life, Phoebus interposes with a suhlitne strain, above the tone of pastoral poetry: he then, in an abrupt and elliptical apostrophe, at *o fountain Arethusehastily recollects himself, and apologizes to his rural Muse, jrin other words to Arethnaa and Mlncius, the celebrated streams of bucolic song, for having so suddenly departed from pastoral allusions and the tenor of h> subject."— V. Wiirtm.

Phoebus replied, and touch'd my trembling cars;
"Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil

Set off to the world, nor in broad rumor lies; 80

But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes,

And perfect witness of all-judging Jove:

As he pronounces lastly on each deed,

Of so much tame in Heaven expect thy meed."

O fountain Arethuse, and thou honor'd flood, 85
Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocal reeds,
That strain I heard was of a higher mood:
But now my oat proceeds,
And listens to the herald of the sea

That came in Neptune's plea: 9 J

He ask'd the waves, and ask'd the felon winds,

What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain 1

And question'd every gust of rugged wings

That blows from ofl" each beaked promontory:

They knew not of his story; 95

And sage Hippotades their answer brings,

That not a blast was from his dungeon stray'd;

The air was calm, and on the level brine

Sleek Panope with all her sisters play'd;

It was that fatal and perfidious bark, 1 DO

Built in the eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,
That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.

Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow,
His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge,

Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge 105
Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe.
Ah! who hath reft (quoth he) my dearest pledge?
Last came, and last did go,
The pilot of the Galilean lake;

Two massy keys he bore of metals twain, 110

(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain,)

He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake:

How well could I have spared for thee, young swain,

Enow of such, as for their bellies' sake

Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold? 115

Line 91. "The felon winds," that Is, the cruel winds.
L. 94. "A beaked promontory" la one projecting like the beak of a bird.
L. 96. "Hlppotadea," a patronymic noun, the son of Hlppotas, that la, Mollis.
L. 101. The shipwreck was occasioned not by a storm, but by the ship's being unfit for such a

L. los, "Camus." This Is the river Cam, on the borders of which was the University of Cambridge, where Lycldas was educated.

L. 104. The "hairy manUc" Joined with the " sedge bonnet" may mean the rushy or reedy banks of the Cam; and the "figures dint" refer, It Is Uiought, to the indistinct and dusky streaks on sedge leaves or flags when dried.

L. 109. "The pilot of the Galilean 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 office, to the exclusion of a learned and conscientious clergy. Thus In Paradise Lost, lv. 195, alluding I? Satan, he says :—

So clotnb this first grand thief Into God's fold;

So since Into his clmrth lewd l.lrelings climb.

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