John Milton's Poem: An Analysis Of Closure In Lycidas
Closure in Lycidas
What is the right response to death? How and to what extent should we mourn the ones we love? When John Milton's college friend, Edward King, drowned off of the Welsh coast 1,
Milton wrote Lycidas in memoriam. A pastoral elegy, the poem represents King as the lost shepherd Lycidas and uses agricultural imagery to portray loss. The majority of the poem is spent highlighting the irrevocability and completeness of death, that is until lines 165-168: "Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more,/For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,/Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor,/So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed..."2 These lines employ metaphors, repetition, alliteration, and a mood and tonal shift to bring closure to readers, showing them that grief does not have to be perpetual.
The shift in tone and mood adds a new hope into the poem. Earlier in the poem, Milton used grim and depressing language to grieve mortality and make the readers feel the helplessness of death. Using pathetic fallacy, he described how the whole landscape felt Lycidas's loss, that even "all their echoes mourn[ed]" (2. 11) This environment creates a mood of complete devastation. As we imagine the whole environment bemoaning King's passing, we not only feel it as well, but become surrounded in it. Moreover, throughout the poem, multiple speakers, including Neptune and Camus, lament how this could have happened. The narrator, himself, calls upon the nymphs to demand where they were and…