Yet once more, O ye Laurels,
and once more
Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never sear,
I com to pluck your Berries harsh and crude,
And with forc’d fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.
For Lycidas is dead and claims his meed of song.
Begin then, Sisters of the
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring;
Begin, and somwhat loudly sweep the string.
Sing first their friendship, nursed upon the self-same hill, their youth spent together. But oh! the heavy change; now the very caves and woods mourn his loss. Where then were the Muses, that their loved poet should die? And yet what could they do for Lycidas, who had no power to shield Orpheus himself,
When by the rout that made
the hideous roar,
His goary visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore.
What then avails the poet’s toil? Were it not better to taste the sweets of love as they offer themselves since none can count on reward in this life? The prize, however, lies elsewhere—
Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil.
But such thoughts are too lofty for the swains of Arethusa and Mincius. Listen rather as the herald of the sea questions the god of winds about the fatal wreck. It was no storm drove the ill-starred boat to destruction:
The Ayr was calm, and on the
Sleek Panope with all her sisters play’d,
sounds the reply. Next, footing slow, comes the tutelary deity of Alma Mater, and in one sad cry mourns the promise of a life so soon cut short. Lastly, ‘The Pilot of the Galilean lake,’ with denunciation of the corrupt hirelings of a venal age, laments the loss of the church in the death of Lycidas. As his solemn figure passes by, the gracious fantasies of pastoral landscape shrink away: now
Return Alpheus, the dread
voice is past,
That shrunk thy streams,
bid the nymphs bring flowers of every hue,
To strew the Laureat Herse where Lycid lies—
and yet indeed even this comfort is denied, we dally with false imaginings,
Whilst thee the
shores, and sounding Seas
Wash far away, where ere thy bones are hurld,
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
Visit’st the bottom of the monstrous world,
or on the Cornish coast,
Where the great vision of
the guarded Mount
Looks toward Namancos and Bayona’s hold.
Weep no more, woful Shepherds
weep no more,
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watry floar,
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.