Essay on A Formalistic Reading of John Milton's Lycidas

2652 Words May 6th, 2011 11 Pages
John Milton is one of the greatest stars in the sky of English literature. He is mostly known because of his well-known masterpiece “Paradise Lost”. Though some critics state that Shakespeare was more powerful than him, but making comparison between a playwright whom by the use of his powerful pen became famous and rich, with a literary man who wrote the greatest English epic, is not true and justifiable. My purpose of writing this research paper is to criticize his world-famous elegy – Lycidas. Milton after two years living in Horton, in the November 1637 when his poetic exercises and studies were finished, took a trip to Italia and wrote Lycidas to elegize the death of his friend “Edward King” _ four years younger than Milton, was …show more content…
1.6. The sixth stanza

In the lines sixty-eight to sixty-nine, “Amaryllis” and “Neaera” (Nee-eye-ra), are conventional names for pretty shepherdesses, a passing hour’s diversion for idle shepherds. The lines seventy-six to eighty-four, is a chef-d’oeuvre of the combination of Greek mythology with Christian beliefs. In these lines, Phoebus Apollo, is the god of poetic inspiration. Touching the ears of one’s hearers was a traditional Roman way of asking them to remember something that has been said (Ibid 661).

1.7. The seventh stanza

At the beginning of the second part of the poem in line eighty-five, Milton by the use of the pastoral images returns to his original theme of the elegy. He repeats his question once again: “who is responsible for the death of Lycidas?” His question means that the Apollo’s response (answer) didn’t convince him. “Arethusa” was a fountain in Sicily, Mincius a river in Lombardy, the former associated with the pastorals of Theocritus, the latter with those of Virgil. Arethusa was originally a nymph who went bathing in the river Alpheus, in Arcadian Greece. The river god grew enamored, and gave chase; she dove into the ocean and fled undersea to Sicily, where she came up as a fountain. Milton plays here with the idea of his pastoral going underground while the “strain of a higher mood” (line 87) is heard (Ibid 661). In lines 100 to 102, he blames fate as the

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