“Lycidas” Handout

English 513/622

Dr. Fike




Introduction:  1-24

Meditation on true fame:  25-84

Prophecy of the run of the corrupted clergy:  85-131

Bridge/transition:  132-64

Deification of Lycidas:  165-84

Conclusion:  186-93


Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent”


“Tradition is a matter of much wider significance.  It cannot be inherited.  It involves, in the first place, the historical sense, which we may call nearly indispensable to anyone who would continue to be a poet beyond his twenty-fifth year; and the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence; the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order.  This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional.  And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his own contemporaneity.”


Bible Verses


Line 1, cf. Hebrews 12:26-28:  “His voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.’  This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of what is shaken, as of what has been made, in order that what cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”  Cf. Reason of Church Government, pages 922 and 924 (left column in both cases).


Line 110, cf. Matthew 16:19:   “‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’”  Cf. PL 2.327-28 and page 503, note 249.


Line 115, cf. John 10:1:  “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.’”


Line 118, cf. Matthew 22:8:  “they that were bidden [to the feast] were not worthy.”


Line 119, Isaiah 56:10-57.1:  “His watchmen are blind…The shepherds also have no understanding…..The righteous man perishes….”


Line 128, re. wolves, cf. PL 4.182-92 and 12.507-14.  The arms of St. Ignatius Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) included two gray wolves.


Line 193, cf. Exodus 28:31:  “‘And you shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue.’”



Elements of Pastoral Elegy



The “Two-Handed Engine”


From Virgil's 3rd Eclogue:

O every way
Unhappy sheep, unhappy flock! while he
Still courts Neaera [nee AIR ah], fearing lest her choice
Should fall on me, this hireling shepherd here
Wrings hourly twice their udders, from the flock
Filching the life-juice, from the lambs their milk.


Well, then, shall we try our skill
Each against each in turn? Lest you be loth,
I pledge this heifer; every day she comes
Twice to the milking-pail, and feeds withal
Two young ones at her udder: say you now
What you will stake upon the match with me.


Thou him in singing? or hadst thou ever a waxen-bound pipe? Wert not wont in the cross-roads, blockhead, to mangle a wretched tune on a grating straw?