by John Milton
Lycidas Death Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with th' abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life (73-76)
Gee, aren't we pessimistic? According to our speaker, whenever we think we're about to achieve fame, fate comes by and kills us. Harsh. To him, life is fragile ("thin-spun"), and death comes to us all, regardless of who we are. That's why that pesky Fury is blind.
To strew the laureate hearse where Lycidas lies.
For so to interpose a little ease (151-2)
The speaker calls on the "valleys low" (136) to send flowers to place on Lycidas' "laureate hearse." The thing is, there is no "hearse" or coffin, because his body is somewhere beneath the ocean. So what's plan B? Honestly, it doesn't seem like there is one. Instead, it seems like the poet has to imagine that Lycidas' body has been recovered in order to say a proper goodbye.
Weep no more, woeful shepherds weep no more,
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
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
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky. (165-171)
These are some of the most important lines in the poem, since they are the first moment we can detect some sense of consolation. Finally. Lycidas isn't really dead, the speaker is saying, because he has gone to a better place (which we find out a few lines later). The simile used here – Lycidas is like a sun that sets and then rises again – is odd because it implies that Lycidas, even though he has risen, will sink again. How does that work? Can someone die again after they're already dead?