Saturday, September 26, 2015
Last Lines of Lycidas
Let’s look at the last section of the poem (lines 186-193):
Thus sang the uncouth Swain to th' Okes and rills,
While the still morn went out with Sandals gray,
He touch'd the tender stops of various Quills,
With eager thought warbling his Dorick lay:
And now the Sun had stretch'd out all the hills,
And now was dropt into the Western bay;
At last he rose, and twitch'd his Mantle blew:
To morrow to fresh Woods, and Pastures new.
I feel that Swain refers to a Sheppard here due to the pastoral context, but it could also refer to a young person. Milton, at this point, identifies himself as the speaker of the poem: an untrained sheppard that sung his song about his fellow poet, who is now in heaven. Milton takes on the identity of a sheppard, even though he lived in the city (London) rather than the country. And he saves this reference about his identity until the end of this short (193 lines) poem.
So Milton, the unready poet, rises at the end of Lycidas to find something new. He has already finished this pastoral poem, and so, after that, he embarks in 1638 on a tour of the Continent. He travels through France and Italy to meet up with other influential people such as Hugo Grotius and Galileo. So once Lycidas is written, then Milton travels through Europe to visit her famous people and places such as Florence and Rome. So after work, he leaves for his grand tour.