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Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more, 165 For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,

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Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth.

Here is an apostrophe to the Angel Michael, whom we have just seen seated on the Guarded Mount. "O Angel, look no longer seaward to Namancos " and Bayona's hold: rather turn your eyes to another object. "Look homeward, or landward, "look towards your own coast now, and view with pity the corpse of the shipwrecked Lycidas floating thither." But I will exhibit the three lines together which from the context. Lycidas was lost on the seas near the coast,

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Where the great vision of the

guarded mount

Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold;

Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth.

The Great Vision and the Angel are the same thing: and the verb look in both the two last verses has the same reference. The poet could not mean to shift the application of look, within two lines. Moreover if in the words Look homeward angel now-the address is to Lycidas, as Mr. Thyer supposed, a violent, and too sudden, an apostrophe takes place; for in the very next line Lycidas is distinctly called the hapless youth. To say nothing, that this new angel is a hapless youth, and to be wafted by dolphins. T. Warton.

163. and melt with ruth:] With pity. Spenser, Faery Queen, b. i. cant. vi. st. 12.


Are won with pity and unwonted ruth.

Fairfax, cant. ii. st. 11.

All ruth, compassion, mercy he forgot.

164. And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth] Alluding to what Pausanias says of Palæmon toward the end of his Attics, "that a dolphin took him up, "and laid his body on the shore "at Corinth where he was "deified." Richardson.

165. Weep no more, &c.] Milton in this sudden and beautiful transition from the gloomy and mournful strain into that of hope and comfort seems pretty plainly to imitate Spenser in his 11th Eclogue, where bewailing the death of some maiden of great blood, whom he calleth Dido, in terms of the utmost grief and dejection, he breaks out all at once in the same manner. Thyer. 165. Spenser's November, Ecl.


Cease now my Muse, now cease thy

sorrowes sourse!

She raignes a goddess now amid the saints,

That whilom was the saint of shepheards light;

And is enstalled now in heavens hight.

No danger there the shepheard can astert,

Fayre fields and pleasant leas there beene,

The fields aye fresh, the groves aye greene.

There lives she with the blessed gods in blisse,

There drinks she nectar with ambrosia mixt, &c.

See the Epitaphium Damonis, v. 201-218. and Ode on the Death of a fair Infant, st. x. T. Warton.


Sunk though he be beneath the wat❜ry floor;
So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,

And yet anon repairs his drooping head,

And tricks his beams, and with new spangled ore 170 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 waves,
Where other groves and other streams along,

With nectar pure his oozy locks he laves,
And hears the unexpressive nuptial song,

166. is not dead, &c.] See Ode on the Death of a fair Infant, v. 29. note. E.

168. So sinks the day-star] The thought of a star's being washed in the ocean, and thence shining brighter, is frequent among the ancient poets: and at the first reading I conceived that Milton meant the morning star, alluding to Virgil, Æn. viii. 589.

Qualis ubi oceani perfusus Lucifer
unda &c.

upon farther consideration I
rather think that he means the
sun, whom in the same manner
he calls the diurnal star in the
Paradise Lost, x. 1069: and
Homer, if the hymn to Apollo
be his, compares Apollo to a star
in mid-day, ver. 441.

Αστερι ειδόμενος μέσῳ ηματι.
168. Compare Gray's Bard.
-Hath quench'd the orb of day?
To-morrow he repairs the golden flood.
T. Warton.

172. Through the dear might of him that walk'd the waves,] A designation of our Saviour by a miracle which bears an imme


diate reference to the subject of the poem. T. Warton.

174. Where other groves and other streams along,] Virgil, Æn. vi. 641.

-solemque suum, sua sidera norunt. And Ariosto, cant. xxxiv. st. 72.

There other rivers stream, smile

other fields

Than here with us, and other plains are stretch'd,

Sink other valleys, other mountains rise. &c.

175. With nectar pure his oozy locks he laves,] Like Apollo in Horace, Od, iii. iv. 61.

Qui rore puro Castaliæ lavit
Crines solutos.

176. And hears the unexpressive nuptial song,] In the Manuscript it was at first List'ning the unexpressive &c. This is the song in the Revelation, which no man could learn but they who were not defiled with women, and were virgins: Rev. xiv. 3, 4. The author had used the word unexpressive in the same manner before in his Hymn on the Nativity, st. 11.

Harping in loud and solemn quire With unexpressive notes to heav'n's new.born heir.

In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love.
There entertain him all the saints above,
In solemn troops, and sweet societies,
That sing, and singing in their glory move,
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.
Now, Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more;
Henceforth thou art the genius of the shore,
In thy large recompense, and shalt be good
To all that wander in that perilous flood.



sang the uncouth swain to th' oaks and rills,

Nor are parallel instances wanting in Shakespeare. As you like it, act iii. s. 2.

The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she.

And in like manner insuppressive is used for not to be suppressed. Julius Cæsar, act ii. s. 2.

Nor th' insuppressive mettle of our spirits.

176. So in the Latin poem, Ad Patrem, v. 37.

Immortale melos, et inenarrabile car


T. Warton.

177. In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love.] That is, in the blest kingdoms of meek joy and love; a transposition of the adjective, which we meet with also in the Paradise Lost, ix. $18.

So spake domestic Adam in his care, in which verse domestic is with out doubt to be joined to care, and not to Adam, as the common opinion is. So also in the same book, ver. 225.

-and th' hour of supper comes unearn'd. Thyer.

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While the still morn went out with sandals gray,
He touch'd the tender stops of various quills,
With eager thought warbling his Doric lay:

And now the sun had stretch'd out all the hills, 190

188. He touch'd the tender stops of various quills,] By stops he means not such stops as belong to the organ, but what we now call the holes of any species of pipe or flute. Thus Browne, Britan. Past. b. ii. s. 3.

What musicke is there in a shepherd's quill,

If but a stop or two therein we spie? And Drayton, Mus. Elys.

Teaching every stop and kay,

To those that on the pipe do play.

So in Hamlet, where the Players

enter with the Recorders, "Govern "these ventages with your finger "and thumb:-look you, these stops." T. Warton. are the

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189. With eager thought warbling his Doric lay:] He calls it Doric lay, because it imitates Theocritus and other pastoral poets, who wrote in the Doric dialect. Though Milton calls himself as yet uncouth, he warbles with eager thought his Doric lay; earnest of the poet he was to be, at least; as he promises in the motto to these juvenile poems of edit. 1645.

-baccare frontem

and Moschus had respectively written a bucolic on the deaths of Daphnis and Bion. And the name Lycidas, now first imported into English pastoral, was adopted, not from Virgil, but from Theocritus, Idyll. vii. 27.

ΛΥΚΙΔΑ φιλε, φαντι το παντες Εμμεν ΣΥΡΙΤΑΝ μεγ ̓ ὑπειροχον, εντε


Εν τ' αμητηρεσσι.

His character is afterwards fully justified in the Song of Lycidas. And he is styled dear to the


Muses," v. 95. And our author's shepherd Lycidas could "build the lofty rhyme." A Lycidas is again mentioned by Theocritus, Idyll. xxvii. 41. And a Lycidas supports a Sicilian dialogue in one of Bion's Bucolics, vii. See Epitaph. Damon. v. 132. T. Warton.

190. And now the sun had stretch'd out all the hills,] He had no doubt Virgil in his eye, Ecl. i. 83.

Et jam summa procul villarum cul-
mina fumant,
Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus


Cingite, ne vati noceat mala lingua Virgil's is an admirable descrip


This looks very modest, but see what he insinuates. The first part of Virgil's verse is,

Aut si ultra placitum laudarit baccare frontem &c.


See note on v. 2. This is a Doric lay, because Theocritus

tion of a rural evening, but I know not whether Milton's is not setting so by degrees, better, as it represents the sun

And now the sun had stretch'd out all the hills,

And now was dropp'd into the western bay:

though it must be said that the image of the smoke ascending

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

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Mr. Richardson conceives, that by this last verse the poet says (pastorally) that he is hastening to, and eager on new works: but I rather believe that it was said in allusion to his travels into Italy, which he was now meditating, and on which he set out the spring following. I will conclude my remarks upon this poem with the just observation of Mr. Thyer. The particular beauties of this charming pastoral are too striking to need much descanting upon; but what gives the greatest grace to the whole is that natural and agreeable wildness and irregularity which runs quite through it, than which nothing could be better suited

to express the warm affection which Milton had for his friend, and the extreme grief he was in for the loss of him. Grief is eloquent, but not formal.

It must be owned, however, that grief is not so learned as is this poem, nor does it incline the heart to bitter sarcasms upon persons little, if at all, connected with the subject of sorrow.


I see no extraordinary wildness and irregularity, according to this little poem. It is true there Dr. Newton, in the conduct of is a very original air in it, although it be full of classical imitations: but this, I think, is owing, not to any disorder in the plan, nor entirely to the vigour and lustre of the expression, but, in a good degree, to the looseness and variety of the metre. Milton's ear was a good second to his imagination. Hurd.

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 of Milton's Lycidas. If I might venture to place Milton's Works, according to their degrees of poetic excellence, it should be perhaps in the following order; Paradise Lost, Comus, Samson Agonistes, Lycidas, L'Allegro, Il Penseroso. The three last are

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