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by John Milton

Lycidas Theme of Death

This one's an elegy folks, which means that it's all about lamenting someone's death. Okay, we get that, but besides Lycidas' death, what else is there? A lot more death, that's what. Just about everybody and everything is mourning the death of Lycidas – the gods and goddesses, the natural world, and of course, the speaker. But the speaker also seems a bit worried about his own death. Lycidas was a poet, and the speaker is a poet, so what if he (the speaker) also dies "ere his prime"(8)? In short, "Lycidas" is all about someone who is dead, someone who's afraid to die, and a world around them that is filled with death, too.

Questions About Death

  1. Does the uncouth swain really care about Lycidas' death, or is he more worried about his own?
  2. If the speaker (the uncouth swain) believes in some kind of rebirth, why is he so upset about Lycidas' death?
  3. Do you think the speaker thinks Lycidas' death was unfair?
  4. Does anything good come of Lycidas' death? Or is it all bad news?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

While the speaker is totally bummed about the death of his friend, the poem is really not about death, but rather rebirth.

The fact that the shepherds don't stop weeping until the end of the poem shows us that time and hard work are all a part of mourning.

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