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1. It was the winter wild, While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
With her great Master so to sympathize;
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,
The stars, with deep amaze,
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 all their souls in blissful rapture took:
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
A voice of weeping heard and loud lainent;
The parting Genius is with sigling sent:
In consecrated eartlı,
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.
LYCII In this Monody, the author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately drowned in nis
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 Sit John King, Secretary for Ireland, a fellow collegian and Intimate friend of Milton, who, as he was going to visit his relations in Ireland, was drowned, Angust 10, 1637, in the 25th year of his age. Dr Newton has observed, that Lycidas is with great judgment made of the pastoral kind, as both Mr
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude;
Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well,
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 true taste for history or not, should consider whether he is pleased with Livy's manner of telling a story; so, 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 perusal or Milton's Lycidas."--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 Comos 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 beau. tiful Ideas, is pre-eminently 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 brillant, and so new as this."-Sir Egerton Brydges.
“I shall never cease to consider this monody as the sweet effusion of a most poetic and tender mind; entitled as well by its beautiful melody ns by the frequent grandeur of its sentiments and language, to the ntmost enthusiasm of admiration."- Todd.
Line 3. This is a beautiful allusion to the unripe age of his friend, in which death “shatter'd his lea zes before the mellowing year."
L. 15. "The sacred well," Helicon.
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. Wartor.
I.. 27. “We drove afield," that is, we drove our flocks afcld.
Rough Satyrs (lancel, and Fauns with cloven heel
But, 0, the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
0. “Where were ye?" "This burst is as magnificent as it is affecting."-Sir E. Brydges.
erence is here made to Orpheus, torn in pieces by the Bacchanalians, whose murdere. s
ne rout." "Lycidas, as a poet, is here tacitly compared with Orpheus: they were both also victims of the water."-T. Warton.
No lines have been more often cited, and more popular than these; nor more justay instructive and inspiriting."-Sir Egerlon Brydges. L. 76. "But not the praise;" that is, but th
not the praise;" that is, but the praise is not intercepted. “While the poet, in the character of a shepherd, is moralizing on the
« Shepherd, is moralizing on the uncertainty of human life, Phoebus interposes with a
, above the tone of pastoral poetry: he then, in an abrupt and elliptical apostrophe, at "O fountain Arethuse;' hastily recollects himse
thuse;' hastily recollects himsell, and apologizes to his rural Muse, or in other words to Arethusa and Mincius, the celebrated streams
nd Mincius, the celebrated streams of bucolic song, for having so suddenly departo from pastoral allusions and the tenor of b's subject.” . War
Phæbus replied, and touchd my trembling cars;
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honord flood,
Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow,
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 undt for such a navigation.
L. 103. “Camus." 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 "figures dim" refer, it is thought, to the indistinct and dusky streaks on sedge leaves or flags when dried.
L. 209. "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 omce, 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;