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been derived from Bellerus, though no such name occurs in the catalogue of the old Cornish giants. There was, however, a giant named Corineus, said to have come into Britain with Brute, and in his first draft of the poem Milton wrote ‘Corineus,' not * Bellerus’ (pron. Bellérus).
161. great Vision of the guarded mount. The 'guarded mount' is St. Michael's Mount, near Land's End, on which there is a crag called St. Michael's Chair. The tradition is that the 'vision' (or apparition) of the Archangel had been seen seated on this crag Milton, therefore, speaks of the Mount as 'guarded' by the Archangel.
162. Looks toward Namancos, etc. Namancos is in the province of Gallicia, near Cape Finisterre, in Spain (the name being found in old maps). Bayona is also in Gallicia.
“It was a boast of the Cornish people that there was a direct line of seaview from Land's End passing France altogether and hitting no European land till it reached Spain ” (see map of Europe).
hold = stronghold, castle. 163. Angel, i.e. St. Michael, who is here asked to cease looking towards Spain and to turn his gaze to the seas around him, where the shipwrecked Lycidas lies. Some would take ‘Angel' as addressed to Lycidas, who would then be regarded as a glorified spirit looking down upon his weeping friends: that this is not the meaning is evident from the language of 1. 164.
ruth, pity : comp. Son. ix. 8. 164. dolphins, sea-animals ; here alluded to because Arion, an ancient Greek bard, when thrown overboard by sailors on a yoyage to Corinth, was supported on the backs of dolphins whom he had charmed by his music.
waft, a word generally applied to winds, sometimes also to water, is here used of the dolphins to signify their swift passage through the sea.
165. The poem here becomes a strain of joy (see Analysis), which may be compared with that which closes Milton's other famous elegy on the death of Charles Diodati two years after Lycidas was composed. The following extract from the latter (Cowper's translation) will partly enable the student to compare the two pieces
“ Cease then my tears to flow !
Thou in immortal nuptials shalt rejoice,
woful, also spelt 'woeful.' 166. your sorrow, object of your sorrow; by synecdoche the name of a passion or emotion is often put for the object that inspires it, e.g. joy, pride, delight, care, hope, etc.
is not dead, i.e. he lives in Paradise. 167. watery floor, the surface of the sea : comp. "level brine," 1,98, and the Lat. aequor (a level surface) applied to the sea. Shakespeare calls the sky the “floor of heaven.
168. day-star, the sun, which, to one looking seaward, seems to sink, at setting, into the ocean. Comp. Com. 95–
“And the gilded car of day
His glowing axle doth allay
In the steep Atlantic stream.” 169. anon, after a short time, i.e. at sunrise. Comp. L'Alleg. 131.
repairs his drooping head, renews his brightness. 170. tricks ; here used transitively in the sense of 'to display': see Il Pens. 123, note.
new-spangled ore, bright golden rays. Ore' = metal, the newly-risen sun being like a ball or disc of gold. Spangled'
sparkling : a spangle is strictly a small plate of shining metal used as an ornament, and hence in poetry it is common to speak of the stars as spangles, and of the sky as 'spangled with stars.' Comp. Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, iv. 5. : see also Par. Lost, xi. 128.
172. 8o. The meaning is, 'As the sun sinks into the sea in the evening but rises again in the morning with renewed beauty, 80 Lycidas sank low into the sea, but rose again through the saving power of Christ, to take his place in Paradise.
'Sunk' = sank: see l. 102, note.
173. the dear might of Him, etc. = the power of that dear Saviour over whom the waves of the sea had no power. Milton thus appropriately illustrates Christ's power by a reference to that one of his miracles which shows his rule over the waters. See Matt. xiv. 22.
• Walked': here used transitively; comp. Il Pens. 156. 174. Where, i.e. 'mounted high (to that place) where,' etc.
along, a preposition governing 'groves' and 'streams.' 175. His locks that were wet with the sea ooze he washes with the pure nectar of heaven.
Oozy,' slimy ; 'ooze' is the soft mud found at the bottom of the sea.
"To ooze' is to flow gently, as ooze would do. ‘Nectar,' the drink of the gods : in Death of a Fair Infant, Milton speaks of the “nectared head” of a goddess, and in Par. Lost, he tells us that there is a “nectarous humour" in the veins of the angels.
176. unexpressive nuptial song, i.e. inexpressible marriage song: see Rev. xix. 9, where all true believers are spoken of as bidden to the marriage feast of the Lamb of God. In the two preceding lines the language of Lycidas is that of classical mythology; in this line and the six following, the imagery is Christian ; and then the poet reverts to mythology. might say that these things are ill-fitted to each other.
So they would be, were not the art so fine and the poetry so overmastering; were they not fused together by genius into a whole so that the unfitness itself becomes fascination.” (Brooke.)
Unexpressive': both Shakespeare and Milton use adjectives with the termination -ive where we now use -ible or -able. Comp. incomprehensive, plausive, insuppressive, etc., occurring in Shakespeare. For the prefix -un see note on l. 64 above. The word unexpressive' has therefore, in modern English, become in-express-ible. “Nuptial' is from Lat. nubere, to marry; comp. 'connubial.' 177. For the order of the words comp. L'Alleg. 40.
kingdoms meek, abodes of the meek. 178. There all the saints above entertain him.'
179. sweet societies. What Milton here calls 'sweet societies' of angels, he calls (in Par. Lost, xi. 80) ‘fellowships of joy. Milton believed in a complete angelic system, with a most elaborate division into orders and degrees of rank-a system widely recognised in mediæval Christian tradition. In Par. Lost he makes large use of this belief; in this poem it is merely hinted at.
181. The language of this line is taken from the Scriptures : see Isaiah, xxv. 8, and Rev. vii. 7, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
for ever, once and for all. 182. This line is to be compared with line 165.
183. the Genius of the shore : see Arc. 25, 26; Il Pens. 154. It is common in Latin poetry to represent a drowned person as becoming the genius or guardian spirit of the locality where he met his fate, his office being to prevent future voyagers from a like disaster ; hence Milton says, “ (thou) shalt be good (i.e. propitious) to all that wander,” etc. The Latin bonus occurs in the sense of 'propitious,' Virgil's Ecl. v. 64.
184. In thy large recompense, i.e. as a great recompense to thee. “ The use of the possessive pronouns and of the inflected possessive case of nouns and pronouns was, until a comparatively recent period, very much more extensive than at present, and they were employed in many cases where the preposition with the objective now takes its place” (Marsh).
185. wander in that perilous flood, i.e. sail over that dangerous
186. The epilogue begins here (see analysis): its separateness from the rest of the poem is indicated by the fact that in it Milton lays aside his "oaten flute” and resumes his own person. ality, and by the metrical and rhyming structure of the eight lines of which it consists. It is, in fact, a stanza in Ottava Rima, the arrangement of rhymes being abababcc.
uncouth : see note, L'Alleg. 5. 187. with sandals grey, i.e. at the grey dawn. Comp. "greyhooded even,” Com. 188. The shepherd had begun to sing at daybreak, but in his eagerness he had continued till evening.
188. He touched the tender stops of various quills, i.e. throughout his song he had passed through various moods and had sung in various metres. Quill’ is here used in its primary sense,=a reed, which Milton has already called 'oaten pipe’: the application of this word to the feather of a bird is secondary. The stops' of a reed or flute are the small holes over which the fingers of the player are placed, also called vent-holes or (as in Shakespeare) 'ventages': comp. Com. 345, “pastoral reed with oaten stops.
The epithet ‘tender' is here transferred from the music itself to the stops, from the effect to the cause.
189. thought, care: comp. Matt. vi. 25, “ Take no thought for your life," etc.
Doric lay, pastoral song, so called because Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus wrote their pastorals in the Doric dialect of the Greek tongue : see note on L'Alleg. 136.
190. The sun, being low, had lengthened the shadows of the hills.' Comp. Virgil, Ecl. i. 83.
191. was dropt, had dropt : see note, 1. 97, and Son. ii. 6. 192. twitched, plucked tightly around him.
his mantle blue. The colour is that of a shepherd's dress, hence the allusion. It is very improbable that any allegorical sense is intended. 193. To-morrow, etc. : comp. the Purple Island, by Fletcher
Hoine, then, my lambs : the falling drops eschew :
On this poem Mr. Palgrave has the following note :-Strict Pastoral Poetry was first written or perfected by the Dorian Greeks settled in Sicily ; but the conventional use of it, exhibited more magnificently in Lycidas than in any other pastoral, is apparently of Roman origin. Milton, employing the noble freedom of a great artist, has here united ancient mythology-or what may be called the modern mythology of Camus and Saint Peter—to direct Christian images. Yet the poem, if it gains in metrical interest, suffers in poetry by the harsh intrusion of the writer's narrow and violent theological politics. The metrical structure of this glorious elegy is partly derived from Italian models.
ON THE TOMBS IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
This poem and the two that follow it should be made to illustrate one another. Perhaps the best commentary on all three is found in Addison's reflections in Westminster Abbey: “When I am in a serious humour I very often walk by myself in Westminster Abbey, where the gloominess of the place, and the use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building and the condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable ... Upon my going into the church, I entertained myself with the digging of a grave; and saw in every shovelful of it that was thrown up, the fragment of a bone or skull, intermixed with a kind of fresh mouldering earth, that some time or other had a place in the composition of a human body. Upon this I began to consider with myself what innumerable multitudes of people lay confused together under the pavement of that ancient cathedral ; how men and women, friends and enemies, priests and soldiers, monks and prebendaries, were crumbled amongst one another, and blended together in the same common mass ; how beauty, strength and youth, with old age, weakness and deformity, lay undistinguished in the saine promiscuous heap of matter."
We may compare also Herbert's beautiful poem entitled Church Monuments, No. xli. in Palgrave's “ Treasury of Sacred Song.” The simple majesty of Beaumont's lines is the more remarkable in that the piece consists of ordinary rhyming couplets of four accents; the initial trochaic effect should be noticed.
1. Mortality: abstract for concrete. Addison calls Westminster Abbey a magazine of mortality”: comp. also Byron's Ode to Napoleon, “Thy scales, Mortality, are just.“