"Lycidas" is an elegy in the sense that it regrets the death of its subject. It's also a pastoral elegy, set in an idyllic rural environment populated by nymphs, muses, and other figures from Greek mythology. Pastoral poetry was popular among ancient poets; patrons would pay them to write poems describing their estates or critiquing its inhabitants.
The poem begins with the poet lamenting the death of a fellow aristocrat, named Linus, who has been killed by pirates. The poet then turns his attention to the laurel tree under which they had pledged their friendship, asking what kind of life has ended for itself alone. This invocation of the laurel tree is typical of pastoral poetry.
Pastoral poetry was very popular in ancient Greece. It described the deeds of shepherds and their adventures in order to entertain audiences with stories that were often sad but necessary to explain certain rituals or religious practices. These poems were usually written in dactylic hexameter (six-foot lines) and concerned mainly with mythological subjects. However, some pastoral poets did write about real people and events too. One such poet is Theocritus, who lived in Sicily around 300 B.C. He wrote about ten poems called Idylls, which are considered some of the best examples of this genre.
"Lycidas" (/'[email protected]/) is a pastoral elegy composed by John Milton in 1637. It is one of his pastorals, poems in praise of rural life and inspired by the work of Virgil.
This poem, along with "Epitaphium Damonis", was written as a response to the death of King Charles I of England. Milton wrote both poems to be used for their respective subjects'. "Epitaphium" was chosen for Charles's memorial and "Lycidas" for that of Sir Humphrey Davy, another friend of Milton's who died the same year as its author.
The poem uses formal imitations of ancient Greek poetry to express grief over two recent deaths: that of Milton's wife, whom he married in 1625 and whose name is not known; and that of Davy, a scientist who had been good friends with Milton since they were young men working together on a publication called "The Readie and Easie Way to an Estate".
Davy had recently returned from France where he had been conducting scientific experiments and was about to publish new findings when he died.
The poem laments the death of a decent and bright young man who was ready to begin a career as a clergyman. Milton thinks about renown, the meaning of existence, and celestial judgment, using the patterns of ancient pastoral elegy (Lycidas was a shepherd in Virgil's Eclogues).
Milton uses various figures to make his point: similes (likening one thing to another), metaphors (using one word or idea to represent another), and anadiplosis (repeating the last part of a sentence at the beginning of the next). He also writes in iambic pentameter, which is the meter of classical English poetry.
In the first stanza, he compares Lycidas to a nightingale because both are beautiful creatures that sing beautifully for their own pleasure. But while the nightingale's song brings joy to those who hear it, the lament of Lycidas has become famous - so much so that it has become a song sung by others instead of just one person singing alone.
Milton uses this idea again in the second stanza when he says that "the breath of morn" has awakened Lycidas. Here, "breath of morn" is used as a metaphor for the morning sun. It can also mean the wind blowing away the clouds from heaven with its fresh air.
Grief. More than only Milton's sadness at the loss of his friend Edward King, "Lycidas" is about the history of writers mourning through poetry. Milton relates his poem to a long history of poets writing in reaction to death through imaginary discussions between shepherds. It begins: "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; / Or close the wall up with our English dead."
Milton calls for another expedition against France but adds that if they fail he will write a poem commemorating those who died during the last war.
The poem is written in iambic pentameter and describes the fall of Troy in terms of ancient Greek warfare. It was originally published along with other poems by John Milton in 1645 as part of a collection called "Poems by Several Hands".
Milton uses the story of Lycidas, a shepherd who was killed by pirates while bringing home news of Athens' defeat by Sparta, as a pretext for writing about the dangers of tyranny. He imagines that two nymphs, Clio (History) and Phoebe (Justice), talk to him as they walk among the trees near Cambridge where he lives. The nymphs tell him that many great men have been murdered when they were accused by evil rulers of conspiring against them. They ask Milton to warn the people against repeating these mistakes.
The Pastoral elegy is a poem about dying as well as pleasant country living. Shepherds are frequently featured in pastoral elegy. The elegy is a subgenre of pastoral poetry, since it takes pastoral features and applies them to expressing sadness over a loss.
Pastoral poems are poems that discuss the pleasures and problems of country life. They often feature shepherds, but not always. This type of poem was very popular in Europe from the 13th century until the 17th century. Many great poets such as John Milton, George Herbert, and Philip Sidney wrote pastoral poems.
Shepherds are common figures in pastoral poems because they live their lives far away from civilization. They are also poor people who cannot afford city living. Although rich landowners own most of the land, shepherds can work it because they need it accessible by foot or horse so they can look for new grazing areas when needed.
In general, pastoral poems focus on the joys and problems of country living. They use this setting to express ideas about death. Shepherds are used because they face these issues daily. Also, they are usually poor compared to the rich landowners so many metaphors relating to poverty or riches can be found in these poems.
Pleasant country living refers to the fact that most farmers enjoy some degree of prosperity.
Elegy is a type of literature that is described as a poem or song composed in the style of elegiac couplets in memory of someone who has died. It generally laments or mourns the individual's demise. Elegy comes from the Greek word elegus, which means "bereavement song performed with a flute." Thus, elegy is a type of poetry that expresses grief and loss through poetry.
In classical Greece, elegy was popular among poets because it could be written quickly as a response to a sudden death. These poems were usually sung (by musicians) at religious rites or public ceremonies to honor the dead.
Elegies were often mistaken for hymns by people who did not know they were mourning songs until after the fact. Even today, some people may call any poem expressing sorrow for someone who has died "elegiac." That term should be used only for poems that follow the form and content of classical elegies.