Lycidas Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


In this Monody the author bewails a learned Friend unfortunatelyA
drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish SeasB
and by occasion foretells the ruin of our corrupted ClergyA
then in their heightC
Yet once more O ye laurels and once moreD
Ye myrtles brown with ivy never sereE
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crudeF
And with forced fingers rudeF
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing yearE
Bitter constraint and sad occasion dearE
Compels me to disturb your season dueG
For Lycidas is dead dead ere his primeH
Young Lycidas and hath not left his peerE
Who would not sing for Lycidas he knewG
Himself to sing and build the lofty rhymeH
He must not float upon his watery bierI
Unwept and welter to the parching windJ
Without the meed of some melodious tearK
Begin then Sisters of the sacred wellL
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth springM
Begin and somewhat loudly sweep the stringM
Hence with denial vain and coy excuseN
So may some gentle MuseO
With lucky words favour my destined urnP
And as he passes turnP
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroudQ
For we were nursed upon the self same hillR
Fed the same flock by fountain shade and rillR
Together both ere the high lawns appearedS
Under the opening eyelids of the MornT
We drove a field and both together heardU
What time the grey fly winds her sultry hornT
Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of nightC
Oft till the star that rose at evening brightC
Toward heaven's descent had sloped his westering wheelV
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not muteW
Tempered to the oaten fluteW
Rough Satyrs danced and Fauns with cloven heelV
From the glad sound would not be absent longX
And old Damoetas loved to hear our songX
But oh the heavy change now thou art goneY
Now thou art gone and never must returnP
Thee Shepherd thee the woods and desert cavesZ
With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrownP
And all their echoes mournP
The willows and the hazel copses greenP
Shall now no more be seenP
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft laysA2
As killing as the canker to the roseB2
Or taint worm to the weanling herds that grazeA2
Or frost to flowers that their gay wardrobe wearK
When first the white thorn blowsB2
Such Lycidas thy loss to shepherd's earI
Where were ye Nymphs when the remorseless deepC2
Closed o'er the head of your loved LycidasB2
For neither were ye playing on the steepC2
Where your old bards the famous Druids lieD2
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona highD2
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard streamE2
Ay me I fondly dreamE2
RHad ye been there S for what could that have doneP
What could the Muse herself that Orpheus boreD
The Muse herself for her enchanting sonP
Whom universal nature did lamentF2
When by the rout that made the hideous roarD
His gory visage down the stream was sentF2
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shoreD
Alas what boots it with uncessant careK
To tend the homely slighted shepherd's tradeG2
And strictly meditate the thankless MuseB2
Were it not better done as others useB2
To sport with Amaryllis in the shadeG2
Or with the tangles of Neaera's hairK
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raiseB2
That last infirmity of noble mindJ
To scorn delights and live laborious daysB2
But the fair guerdon when we hope to findJ
And think to burst out into sudden blazeB2
Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shearsB2
And slits the thin spun life RBut not the praiseB2
Phoebus replied and touched my trembling earsB2
RFame is no plant that grows on mortal soilH2
Nor in the glistering foilH2
Set off to the world nor in broad rumour liesB2
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyesB2
And perfect witness of all judging JoveD2
As he pronounces lastly on each deedI2
Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meedI2
O fountain Arethuse and thou honoured floodI2
Smooth sliding Mincius crowned with vocal reedsB2
That strain I heard was of a higher moodI2
But now my oat proceedsB2
And listens to the Herald of the SeaB2
That came in Neptune's pleaB2
He asked the waves and asked the felon windsB2
What hard mishap hath doomed this gentle swainP
And questioned every gust of rugged wingsB2
That blows from off each beaked promontoryK
They knew not of his storyK
And sage Hippotades their answer bringsB2
That not a blast was from his dungeon strayedI2
The air was calm and on the level brineP
Sleek Panope with all her sisters playedI2
It was that fatal and perfidious barkJ2
Built in the eclipse and rigged with curses darkJ2
That sunk so low that sacred head of thineP
Next Camus reverend sire went footing slowK2
His mantle hairy and his bonnet sedgeL2
Inwrought with figures dim and on the edgeL2
Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woeK2
Ah who hath reft quoth he Rmy dearest pledgeL2
Last came and last did goK2
The Pilot of the Galilean LakeM2
Two massy keys he bore of metals twainP
The golden opes the iron shuts amainP
He shook his mitred locks and stern bespakeM2
RHow well could I have spared for thee young swainP
Enow of such as for their bellies' sakeM2
Creep and intrude and climb into the foldI2
Of other care they little reckoning makeM2
Than how to scramble at the shearers' feastI2
And shove away the worthy bidden guestI2
Blind mouths that scarce themselves know how to holdI2
A sheep hook or have learnt aught else the leastI2
That to the faithful herdman's art belongsB2
What recks it them What need they They are spedI2
And when they list their lean and flashy songsB2
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched strawK
The hungry sheep look up and are not fedI2
But swoln with wind and the rank mist they drawK
Rot inwardly and foul contagion spreadI2
Besides what the grim wolf with privy pawK
Daily devours apace and nothing saidI2
But that two handed engine at the doorK
Stands ready to smite once and smite no moreK
Return Alpheus the dread voice is pastI2
That shrunk thy streams return Sicilian MuseB2
And call the vales and bid them hither castI2
Their bells and flowerets of a thousand huesB2
Ye valleys low where the mild whispers useB2
Of shades and wanton winds and gushing brooksB2
On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looksB2
Throw hither all your quaint enamelled eyesB2
That on the green turf suck the honeyed showersB2
And purple all the ground with vernal flowersB2
Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken diesB2
The tufted crow toe and pale jessamineP
The white pink and the pansy freaked with jetI2
The glowing violetI2
The musk rose and the well attired woodbineP
With cowslips wan that hang the pensive headI2
And every flower that sad embroidery wearsB2
Bid amaranthus all his beauty shedI2
And daffadillies fill their cups with tearsB2
To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid liesB2
For so to interpose a little easeB2
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmiseB2
Ay me whilst thee the shores and sounding seasB2
Wash far away where'er thy bones are hurledI2
Whether beyond the stormy HebridesB2
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tideI2
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous worldI2
Or whether thou to our moist vows deniedI2
Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus oldI2
Where the great Vision of the guarded mountI2
Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's holdI2
Look homeward Angel now and melt with ruthN2
And O ye dolphins waft the hapless youthN2
Weep no more woeful shepherds weep no moreK
For Lycidas your sorrow is not deadI2
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floorK
So sinks the day star in the ocean bedI2
And yet anon repairs his drooping headI2
And tricks his beams and with new spangled oreK
Flames in the forehead of the morning skyM2
So Lycidas sunk low but mounted highM2
Through the dear might of Him that walked the wavesB2
Where other groves and other streams alongM2
With nectar pure his oozy locks he lavesB2
And hears the unexpressive nuptial songM2
In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and loveD2
There entertain him all the Saints aboveD2
In solemn troops and sweet societiesB2
That Sing and singing in their glory moveD2
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyesB2
Now Lycidas the shepherds weep no moreK
Henceforth thou art the Genius of the shoreK
In thy large recompense and shalt be goodI2
To all that wander in that perilous floodI2
Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and rillsB2
While the still morn went out with sandals greyK
He touched the tender stops of various quillsB2
With eager thought warbling his Doric layK
And now the sun had stretched out all the hillsB2
And now was dropt into the western bayK
At last he rose and twitched his mantle blueG
Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures newG

John Milton


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