Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Consideration of the mannerist characteristics of Lycidas as a means of solving some of the poem’s "problems" le Nobel, Joan 1974

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata


831-UBC_1974_A8 L45.pdf [ 6.12MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0099954.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0099954-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0099954-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0099954-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0099954-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0099954-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0099954-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

/ A CONSIDERATION OF THE MANNERIST CHARACTERISTICS OF LYCIDAS AS A MEANS OF SOLVING SOME OF THE POEM'S "PROBLEMS" by JOAN le NOBEL B.A., University of British Columbia, 1968 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 1974 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make i t freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of English The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date: August 1974 Abstract The wide spectrum of scholarly opinion on various facets of Lycidas suggests the need for a different c r i t i c a l approach. Mannerism offers a possible new approach. Mannerism originated in Italy during the early sixteenth century. Two sets of cri t e r i a exist for distinguishing mannerist characteristics; one emphasizes maniera or style in the absolute sense; the other inner tension. The two aspects are not necessarily antagonistic but can exist in the same work as instanced in Bronzino's London Allegory. All c r i t i c s agree that mannerist art is subjective. The style resulted in part from impact on sensitive personalities of unstable local conditions and uncertainties arising out of world developments. Milton's vulnerability was doubtless influenced by his personal l i f e . Lycidas expresses not only conventional grief but Milton's deep-rooted uncertainties. Deaths significant to Milton marked 1637. He was under serious prolonged strain when he wrote Lycidas. The invitation to contribute to a memorial volume provided an opportunity to express his thoughts. Milton created a uniquely personal poem while incorporating motifs from earlier pastorals spanning the whole history of form. Three poets played major influential roles: Theocritus, V i r g i l , Spenser. Milton based his choice of pastoral on current popularity of form and implicit promise therein of resurrection. Deceased fitted perfectly the shepherd-poet-pastor role traditionally assigned to the subject of a pastoral elegy. i i The question of Lycidas' subject evokes various, sometimes con-f l i c t i n g answers, indicating central ambiguity characteristic of manner-i s t works. Rejection of Lycidas as subject rests partly in matter of perspective and scale. Lycidas is always seen as small-scale, far-off figure. Diminution of central figure is literary manifestation of recur-ring practice in mannerist painting. Lycidas is relegated to the back-ground, while the foreground is peopled with figures more interesting to Milton. Milton allows his own concerns to take precedence over the poem's nominal subject, demonstrating a practice common to mannerist artists. Familiarity with pastoral tradition makes the reader aware of Milton's unfamiliar usage. He demonstrates principle of disegno interno, making abundant references to his predecessors but presenting them in a form totally different from that sanctioned by tradition. He makes his own rules for Lycidas' versification out of his knowledge and enjoyment of the strictest Italian practice. His juxtaposition of six- and ten-syllable lines creates a psychological effect comparable to that gener-ated by Michelangelo's treatment of classical architectural elements in the Laurentian Library anteroom. The strength of Milton's emotion is unescapable, unalienated by soothing effect of rhythm and rhyme. The question of unity in Lycidas is troubling. Scholarly discus-sion divides the poem into parts but does not explain discrepancies in mood, scale and subject matter within divisions. Such shifts encourage the notion of Lycidas as mannerist. Mannerism depends in part on "violent yoking together of apparently unrelated elements." The few iv scholarly discussions of Lycidas which address themselves directly to the question of the poem's unity suggest a kind of unity which accords with mannerist c r i t e r i a . Lycidas f u l f i l s c r i t e r i a of virtuoso performance. Milton invests old poetic form with new v i t a l i t y , making i t memorable with passages of pathos and beauty. He joins sound and sense to achieve powerful, expres-sive effects. Presence of inner tension in poem is significant mannerist element. Concluding eight lines of Lycidas differ in form, mood and point-of-view from lament proper. Mood of cheerful confidence is attributed to poet's natural sense of satisfaction at successful conclusion of task undertaken reluctantly. Milton has transcended the problems that King's death forced him to confront. His self-preoccupation in the final stanza reflects self-conscious concern of mannerist a r t i s t with the practical side of his own techniques. Mannerist c r i t e r i a can reconcile disparate points of view on various facets of the poem. Contents Chapter Page 1. INTRODUCTION 1 2. A CONSIDERATION OF THE MANNERIST STYLE 4 3. MILTON: THE YEARS PRECEDING LYCIDAS 20 4. THE PASTORAL MODE 34 5. THE SUBJECT OF LYCIDAS 56 6. RHYME AND RHYTHM IN LYCIDAS 72 7. UNITY IN LYCIDAS 89 8. GRACE AND ELEGANCE vs. TENSION IN LYCIDAS . 106 9. THE OTTAVA RIMA 127 10. CONCLUSION 131 SOURCES CONSULTED 134 v A l l quotations from the poetry and prose of John Milton are taken from John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose, ed. by Merritt Y. Hughes with notes and introductions by the Editor (New York: The Odyssey Press, 1957). vi A CONSIDERATION OF THE MANNERIST CHARACTERISTICS OF LYCIDAS AS A MEANS OF SOLVING SOME OF THE POEM'S "PROBLEMS" , . . the form, structure, and mood of an a r t i s t i c statement cannot be separated from i t s meaning, i t s conceptual content; simply be-cause the work of art as a whole is_ i t s meaning, what is said in i t is indissolubly linked with the manner in which i t is said, and cannot be said in any other way. Libraries have been f i l l e d with attempts to reduce the meaning of a play like Hamlet to a few short and simple lines, yet the play i t s e l f remains the clearest and most concise statement of i t s meaning and message, precisely because i t s uncertainties and irreducible ambiguities are an essential element of i t s total impact. These considerations apply, in varying degrees, to a l l works of creative literature, but they apply with particular force to works that are essentially concerned with conveying their author's sense of mystery, bewilderment, and anxiety when confronted with the human condition Martin Esslin. The Theatre of  the Absurd. Revised and enlar-ged Edition, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1968, p. 43. v i i i Chapter One INTRODUCTION During the three centuries that have elapsed since Milton's death, Lycidas has been, and continues to be, the subject of much scholarly c r i -ticism. Over the years, the tenor of this criticism has changed markedly. Today, no serious student of English literature would agree with Dr. Johnson's scathing dictum of two centuries ago, that "no man could have fancied that he read Lycidas with pleasure had he not known i t s author." Most would support a more sympathetic point of view, perhaps that which sees the poem as "the most poignant and controlled statement in English poetry of the acceptance of that in the human condition which seems to man unacceptable,"^ or perhaps that which, more simply, praises Lycidas p as "one of the greatest poems in English." However, this general accord does not extend beyond agreement on the excellence of the poem i t s e l f , but subsumes a wide spectrum of opinion on the various facets of the poem. The true, as opposed to the ostensible subject of Lycidas; the pastoral form and Milton's deviations from i t ; the question of the poem's unity; the varying tones in which the verse speaks, from the virulence of the poet's attack on the clergy to the delicacy of the flower catalogue—these are aspects of the poem that continue to invite consideration. Of course, complete unanimity of opin-ion on every element of Lycidas, as of any poem, is as undesirable as i t is unlikely. Differences in interpretation of, for instance, various images serve most often to enhance and illuminate one another, and testify 1 2 to a richness of poetic texture. But differences of opinion embracing such basic elements as subject, theme and structure suggest a work of a quality somehow outside the range of hitherto accepted poetic c r i t e r i a , a work which demands a different approach—one which does not attempt to explicate Lycidas according to conventional standards, or to force i t into the pattern of a conventional genre (after making due allowance for deviations by its author). Such a new approach has been sug-gested, and tentatively explored, during the past two decades, notably by Wylie Sypher in Four Stages of Renaissance Style, and by Roy Daniells in Milton, Mannerism and Baroque. Both Sypher and Daniells see Lycidas as an example in English literature of that s t y l i s t i c category hitherto acknowledged chiefly in Italian visual arts of the Cinquecento and known as Mannerism. This relatively new way of looking at Lycidas is as yet only a lightly trodden path, and the efforts of many students are needed to smooth i t into an easier road to understanding. This paper, then pro-poses to open up the way a l i t t l e to an increased understanding of both the general—mannerism as a possible approach to literature, and the particular—Lycidas as perhaps the most significant example of mannerist 1iterature. 3 Footnotes Rosemond Tuve, Images and Themes in Five Poems by Milton (Cam-bridge: Harvard University Press, 1957), p. 73. 2 E. M. W. Tillyard, "from Milton," London, 1930, pp. 79-85, rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 63. Chapter Two A CONSIDERATION OF THE MANNERIST STYLE. Mannerism is a term that has only recently entered the vocabulary of literary criticism, and cri t e r i a for i t s application to literature are at present s t i l l in a state of emergence, far from f u l l y , or even ade-quately, defined. Although now recognized as offering a significant and helpful approach to early and middle seventeenth century English l i t e r a -ture hitherto regarded as d i f f i c u l t , strange or in some fashion deviant from what is thought of as "normal," or as a pathway to levels of meaning not yet explored, mannerism has received l i t t l e serious attention by recognized English scholars, and the student who attempts to examine seventeenth-century poetry for evidence of mannerism must therefore turn f i r s t to the f i e l d of visual and plastic art and to scholarly investiga-tion thereof, for i t was in this f i e l d that the movement now acknowledged as mannerist was f i r s t recognized, and i t s origins, probable causes and dis-tinguishing characteristics were defined.. Even here, however, disagreement on many aspects of the style ^ confuses the scene. Some of these disagree-ments, relating to the time and place of mannerism's beginnings, are of minor importance in the context of this study, but those differences of opinion surrounding a definition of the style and i t s probably causes are of major significance and must be looked at in some detail.. But let us consider f i r s t the question of mannerism's beginnings. Students of the style agree that i t originated in Italy during the early sixteenth century, although a.difference of opinion exists as 4 5 to whether Rome or Florence was the actual birthplace of mannerism. Dr. Walter Friedlaender, who in 1914 pioneered the twentieth century's study of mannerism, considers i t s creation as an "essentially Tuscan accomplish-ment,"^ a view endorsed by Arnold Hauser as recently as 1965. Hauser explains i t s emergence there as resulting from the removal to Rome of Michelangelo and Raphael, and the consequent establishment of that city as . . . the real home of classical art, while Florence was now able to move more freely of the hitherto prevailing tradition. But, to under-stand subsequent developments, i t is necessary also to recall that after the sack of Rome Florence regained something of i t s former importance as an a r t i s t i c centre, and the seeds of the new style that took root at the time of Guiliano's seizure of power were able to come to f u l l blossom there. In any case, the lavish patronage prac-tised by the usurper and i t s accompanying ambiguity were not entirely inappropriate to the complex and contradictory nature of the style.2 On the other hand, John Shearman, whose study, Mannerism, is one of the latest in the f i e l d , points to Rome as the place where mannerism " f i r s t 3 reared i t s beautiful head," spreading out from there as its practi-tioners travelled to other parts of Italy. He cites the plague of 1522 and the sack of Rome in 1527 as two major events that drove a r t i s t s , among other citizens, from Rome and consequently brought about the dis-semination of the style. But i t is not necessary to pursue this disagreement here, since both cities are prominently associated with Italian a r t i s t i c achievement and each was the scene of subsequent s i g n i f i -cant/mannerist development. Most students of the trend agree that mannerism as a definite style began in 1520, the year that was marked by the death of Raphael and the end of the High Renaissance, but since changes of style seldom 6 occur abruptly without giving some hint of their imminence, an unequivocal dating of the beginnings of this style as 1520 seems too arbitrary, and common sense supports those c r i t i c s who point to foreshadowings as early as the f i r s t decade of the sixteenth century. Mannerist tendencies can be detected in work of Michelangelo as early as 1504, and in several Raphael madonnas executed prior to 1510. As to the duration of the style, c r i t i c s do not agree on an exact terminal date, but generally concede that sometime after 1600 and not later than 1610 marks the end of the mannerist period in the Italian visual arts. More important for this study, however, than disagreement as to exactly where mannerism originated and i t s chronological limits are the differing opinions as to i t s distinguishing characteristics. Among art c r i t i c s of the twentieth century two main areas of discrimination exist. One emphasizes the derivation of the term from the Italian word maniera, meaning style in i t s absolute sense, style characterized by grace, elo-quence, refinement of finish and implied ease of execution and other attributes of the highly cultured, sophisticated courtly society which sponsored and supported mannerism's development. A second point of view maintains that the essence of mannerism rests in an inner tension which expresses i t s e l f in a variety of ways. Mannerist art reveals the pre-sence of this tension by a discordance between the ostensible subject and it s formal realization, by a lack of focus in the sense that a l l parts are not apparently directed towards the organic development of one central conception and by a seeming lack of unity arising out of this failure to focus on a central theme. Mannerist art disregards or opposes 7 the Renaissance ideals of balance, proportion and scale, and exhibits a wilful refusal by the a r t i s t to subordinate his own personal expressive-ness to the expectations of his audience. The notion of tension as the single most important distinguishing feature of mannerist art wins support from scholars, who approach its study from a variety of viewpoints. Erwin Panofsky, who discusses the philosophical tenets underlying mannerism in the visual arts; Arnold Hauser, who examines the trend from the point of view of the art his-torian; and Wylie Sypher, who discusses the style from the perspective of English literature, a l l point to the presence of tension as an inalien-able characteristic of mannerism. In opposition to their views, however, is the opinion of art c r i t i c John Shearman, who ex p l i c i t l y rejects this notion and states unequivocably that "there is as l i t t l e necessity as excuse for an explan-4 ation of Mannerism in terms of tension . . . ." He insists instead on 5 "refinement, elegance and grace . , . ," on mannerism as "an extreme manifestation of c i v i l i z e d l i v i n g , " the product of an Epicurean society who desired and cultivated beauty in every aspect of i t s existence. Shearman's position stems from a refusal to acknowledge the influence on a r t i s t i c expression of events in the world at large, and from an insistence on recognizing mannerism as the manifestation of a culture centered in the sophisticated, insulated l i f e of the Italian ducal courts. But his argument is weakened by the nature of the examples he chooses to support i t . He pays only limited attention to painting (probably the most expressive and certainly the most influential art 8 form), virtually ignores some painters (Pontormo, Beccafumi, El Greco among others) recognized elsewhere as the most, significant figures of the period, and, with relatively few exceptions, concentrates on the minor works of the most important artists or on examples taken from the reper-toire of those individuals who can best be described as craftsmen—dis-tinguished, gifted, capable of the most exquisite refinement both in conception and execution, but nevertheless not worthy to be numbered among the truly great artists of the period. The courtly aspect of mannerism has not gone unrecognized by other c r i t i c s . Hauser describes mannerism as "the courtly style par  excellence, in the sense of exclusivity and fastidiousness,"^ the style which held the foremost position in a l l the leading European courts of the sixteenth century, and more inclusively, "the a r t i s t i c language of P the intellectual, international e l i t e . " In fact, the two aspects of mannerism are not necessarily antagonistic. The criteria of grace, elegance, fineness, of f i n i s h , can be subsumed in the more essential quality of tension. Even among Shearman's examples, chosen to illustrate the beauty of form and refine-ment of execution which for him above a l l else typify mannerist achieve-ment, are to be found many which exhibit the element of tension—in material strained to i t s utmost potential (the Bologna Mercury, p. 89); in decoration so overwhelming that i t threatens the stability of the form (doorway, Dietterlin, p. 123) and in delicacy of line rendering a subject in i t s e l f gross (Flagellati on—Michel angel o, p. 55). Similarly, in the more imposing works of the Mannerist period, 9 the overpowering presence of tension does not preclude grace, elegance and refinement as integral elements making an essential contribution to the total impact. For an instance of this, let us look briefly at the so-called London Allegory of Bronzino, painted around 1546, mid-point in the mannerist era, and typically mannerist in its lack of focus or cen-tral ity and i t s overabundance of apparently unrelated forms. Its lineage is decidedly courtly—painted for Duke Cosimo de Medici as a g i f t to Francis I of France. Intimate in scale, i t f u l f i l l s Shearman's criteria of elegance, grace and refinement of finish. The body contours of the principal figures are gracefully rendered. The colours are cool and clear. The flesh of Venus, Cupid and the putto has a porcelain-like texture, and the painting as a whole is rich in finely depicted detail. Venus' delicate tiara, the jewelled clasp that fastens Cupid's quiver and the hands of the various figures provide a series of exquisite studies. Yet the painting is f u l l of tensions, of which the unstable postures of the Venus-Cupid configuration, the contrast between the coarsely muscled arm and shoulder of the figure at top right and the delicately rendered bodies of Venus, Cupid and the putto, and the ambig-uous relationship of Venus and Cupid suggested by Cupid's u n f i l i a l embrace of his mother,, are three examples. Another source of tension in Bronzino's Allegory, as in mannerist art generally, arises out of i t s disregard for or opposition to the Renaissance ideals of balance, harmony and symmetry. Renaissance composi-tional rules would have placed the embracing Venus and Cupid, as "subject," in the centre of the canvas, and arranged the remaining subordinate 10 figures in a balanced and harmonious relationship to them. In Bronzino's painting, however, the "central" figures are not "central" at a l l , but dominate the lower l e f t of the picture, f i l l i n g the front of the picture plane and forcing an uncomfortably close relationship between themselves and the viewer, whose attention is at the same time diverted by the strongly articulated arm and head of Time, extending across the top right, and the gesticulating putto beneath him. No one compositional element serves as a focal point. . These unco-ordinated spatial relationships suggest a lack of unity. Both the meaning of and the connection between the various motifs are obscure, and, in the absence of any single spatially ordering arrange-ment, they tend to stand as individual elements rather than coalesce into a unified whole. This tendency of mannerist artists to reject renaissance rules of composition is discussed by Panofsky in Idea, a study of the changing definition of the relationship between the a r t i s t and his material over a period extending from Roman antiquity to the late seventeenth century. Panofsky notes that the mannerist era is marked by a "general and almost 9 passionate rebellion against a l l rigid rules. The ar t i s t chose instead to depend on his own divinely inspired "inner idea" or disegno interno. This insistence on the "inner idea" and the assumption by the a r t i s t of the right to use his material in whatever way best expressed i t , regard-less of established precedent, was not stated formally until nearly a century after mannerism had become the dominant style, when in 1607 Federico Zuccaro published his L'Idea de P i t t o r i . Nevertheless, practice 11 long anticipated his premise that a r t i s t i c creation was not a science, subject to mechanical rules, but an external realization of the design directly engendered in the artist's mind. Zuccaro does not limit the operation of disegno interno to the art of painting alone, but sees i t as operating in " a l l worthwhile accomplishments of the human intellect •.IO This subjectivity of mannerist art is a characteristic that a l l c r i t i c s , whatever their special f i e l d of interest, point to. Walter Friedlaender, who begins the twentieth century's study of mannerism with a discussion of painting, says of mannerist art that i t "is basically subjective, since i t would construct and individually reconstruct from the inside out, from the subject outward, freely, according to the rhythmic feeling present in the a r t i s t . . . . E. K. J. Reznicek, also concerned with painting but writing f i f t y years after Friedlaender, defines the mannerist a r t i s t as "one who consciously opposes the tenets of the Renaissance, who rejects i t s teaching concerning proportion and perspective, and who chooses unlimited imaginative creation rather than a s t r i c t dependence on what he sees. This [is an] art of the inner vision, not concerned with descriptive objectivity, but with evocative 12 suggestion by the mind's eye . . . ." Nikolaus Pevsner, in An Outline  of European Architecture, implies a subjective art when he discusses the new awareness in the arti s t of the virtues of eclecticism, and substi-tuting for a merely imitative pattern "the capricious, the demonstrative 13 or the daring, . . . ." Wylie Sypher, concerned with analogies between mannerist art and literature, confirms this subjective quality of the 12 style when he writes: "Mannerist painters and poets alike defy rules of proportion and perspective to satisfy the needs of their subjective view of reality. . . . each painting, statue, facade, each poem and play, is a special case, a personal manipulation of design, material, situation, i „14 language, response. The question now arises as to the reasons underlying this new a r t i s t i c approach. Why should this reliance on self, this eclecticism, this determination to proceed according to a personal vision, manifest i t s e l f at this particular time? It seems probable that this change was one of the many which occurred in the early years of the Cinquecento, resulting from the accep-tance of painters and sculptors as practitioners of liberal rather than mechanical arts. This new status, for which artists had fought a l l during the previous century, differentiated them from mere craftsmen, mechanically carrying on a trade. Along with this change came an emanci-pation from the guilds, under whose direction a r t i s t s , as long as they were regarded as craftsmen, had worked like any other craftsmen. But by the end of the fifteenth century artists had become accepted as freely educated individuals working in harmony with other men of learning. Not surprisingly, along with this rejection of the guilds went a rebellion against the technical tradition that they had established; rules which maintained that art was a science based on mathematical and geometric principles, dependant on observation and measurement, were discarded, and the internal spiritual image rather than the external perceivable reality became increasingly the subject for a r t i s t i c representation. As 13 the century progressed the artist's status was further enhanced and his right to proceed subjectively confirmed by the belief that his a b i l i t y to conceive this inner spiritual image, or disegno interno, was a direct g i f t of God endowing him with powers similar to God's, and evidence of the Godlike nature of man. We might note here that this concept of disegno interno is formulated, although not named, in the earliest English literary criticism extant. Sir Philip Sidney, in his Apology for Poetry, notes that the poet is not bound by what he observes in nature, but " l i f t e d up with the vigour of his own invention," searches 15 freely for inspiration "within the zodiac of his own wit." The question now arises as to why many (although not a l l ) artists chose to exercise their new found freedom of expression in distorted, ambiguous, unstable works r i f e with tension; works which are in direct contradiction to the art of the preceding generation which pictured a world characterized by clarity and order, balance and symmetry, an all-pervading harmonious unity of design and purpose. The answer is to be found in part at least in the conditions prevailing in the world of which they were part. The mannerist style is one result of the impact on sensitive personalities of both unstable (in some cases chaotic) local conditions, and, more importantly, uncertainties (not confined by national boundaries) which had invaded many aspects of man's existence. The sensitivity of the a r t i s t i c temperament is not a matter of mere con-jecture. The records show that many of mannerism's early practitioners, those whose work is most strongly marked by anti-classicism, were strange, neurotic creatures. Pontormo, shy and introverted, withdrew for long 14 periods from a l l social contact. His favorite pupil and adopted son, Bronzino, recorded in his diary and his poetry an intense loneliness and sadness of s p i r i t . Parmigianino, haunted in his youth by religious prob-lems, spent his last years a lonely recluse, careless alike of his personal appearance and his contractual obligations. Michelangelo, although his art cannot be summed up as exclusively or even mainly man-nerist, l e f t a heritage of undeniably mannerist works expressing the agonies of s p i r i t of a personality subject to violent changes of mood and seemingly at war both with himself and with the world. For these artists and their contemporaries coming to maturity in the early decades of the Cinquecento, living and working mainly in Rome and Florence, violent change was a fact of l i f e , involving both invasion from without and pol i t i c a l upheaval from within: The overthrow of the Florentine republic and the sack of Rome in 1527 are only the most obvious of many political disorientations. (A local mob led by the Colonna had sacked the Vatican in 1526.) Such remote figures as Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Luther were undermining Italian supremacy, and more immediately, both France and Spain in-truded with military and diplomatic force into the Italian scene.16 But more significant and far-reaching in its consequences than the political and economic upheavals in Italy was a series of develop-ments during the sixteenth century which affected every f i e l d of human interest and endeavor, developments which conspired to undermine the individual's faith in himself and in the sta b i l i t y of his world. Although i t is d i f f i c u l t and perhaps ill-founded to assess any one of these developments as more or less important in i t s effects, cer-tainly one of the more far-reaching was the displacement of the Ptolemaic 15 system of astronomy, which, had upheld the motion of the earth as the centre of the universe, around which revolved the sun, the stars and the other planets, by that of Copernicus, which propounded the theory that the sun was the centre around which moved the other heavenly bodies, of which the earth was now but one planet among many. The shock of this new concept was extended in the second half of the century when Bruno f i r s t questioned the notion of the universe as f i n i t e . Man now stood poised on the brink of an infin i t e universe, the point at which he stood no longer absolute, the centre and summit of God's creative purpose on an earth central to a bounded universe, but occupying a position that could be determined only relative to the other elements in the cosmic system. The sixteenth century also saw the religious world shaken as Luther sought to establish man in a new, direct relationship to God, divorced from the Catholic position in which the church stood as inter-mediary between God and man. Coincident with this changing relationship the theory of predestination developed, which postulated a God not bound by the humanistic considerations hitherto thought to govern the divine w i l l , but arbitrarily dispensing damnation or grace without regard to human standards of morality or reason. Man was free to interpret the word of God according to his own understanding, but at the same time he was bereft of the intercessory powers of the Church and i t s sacraments. The idea of a fixed moral standard to which man strove to adhere, and from which he deviated at his p e r i l , was undermined and the notion of right and wrong as relative to the requirements of particular . 16 circumstances was put forth by Machiavelli in The Prince, and the uncer-tainties which arose out of Machiavelli's thesis were compounded late in the century in the Essays of Montaigne, with their questioning of a l l absolute values, general truths and moral commandments. These new and radically different concepts in science, religion and morality were the more shattering in that they came into being at a time when corruption in the church was widespread and had not yielded to attempts at reform during the previous century, and at a time also when the disintegration of the feudal social and economic system (marked by the increasing mechanization of labour as capitalism developed beyond i t s primitive beginnings) had exposed man to forces which negated his worth and importance as an individual. The artist's newly won freedom from the confinements of tradition was not without i t s price. The breakdown of the feudal guilds and their replacement by the right to work according to the demands of his own individual personality meant surviving in an increasingly competitive society, meeting the demands of a market-place that saw art less as a source of spiritual satisfaction and of educational value and more as a commodity, a commodity beautiful and aesthetically satisfying, to be enjoyed for i t s own sake, but nevertheless sold in the market-place in competition with others. The cumulative effect of these changes was to induce in society a state of alienation, with i t s corresponding state in the individual of narcissism, a condition compounded of disorientation, spiritual c r i s i s and a sense of helplessness in the individual who f e l t himself at the mercy of impersonal forces outside his comprehension or control, existing I 17 in a precarious relationship to society, to the world and to God. The value of these two concepts—alienation and narcissism—to the student of mannerism lies in their providing an underlying cause to which can be related a l l manifestations of the style. They are the source of a spiritual malaise of which mannerism is symptomatic. The fact that the actual formulation of theories of science, p o l i t i c s , religion and morality postdated the f i r s t creative era of mannerist art does not lessen their responsibility, for, as Hauser points out, ". . . chronology . . . is not always conclusive in the history of ideas. A r t i s t i c developments often anticipate ideas that have not yet been formulated, but are 'in the air.' Thus, in tracing the history of ideas we are confronted just as often with correlations as with causal con-+ . „17 nections, . . . . There is certainly no problem reconciling these developments with the manifestation of mannerism in English.literature. This was a seventeenth-century phenomenom, by which time the new ideas in science, religion, politics and morality put forward during the Cinquecento had become well established. Luther's doctrines, to cite one instance, which were hardly known and l i t t l e understood in Italy at the beginning of the mannerist period, had crystallized in England with the rapid growth of Puritanism during the early seventeenth century. As Roy Daniells notes in discussing the lateness of English mannerism, "The religious problems arising in Italy in Michelangelo's day were being fought out in England 1 o by the friends and enemies of Milton." And although The Prince was not translated into English until 1640, i t was well known in England from 18 about the beginning of the century, thanks to the translation of selected parts into French and repeated reference to i t in Elizabethan drama. The effect of new and revolutionary ideas on any one individual is d i f f i c u l t , i f not impossible, to judge. Any attempt at a distance of three hundred years to assign to them even partial responsibility for an individual's state of mind perhaps provides an insubstantial basis for argument. Yet i t seems unlikely that Milton, the student, with his per-ceptive mind and wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, was unaware of these new currents of thought; or that Milton, the poet, with his demon-strated a r t i s t i c sensitivity, was unaffected by them. The uncertainties that they raised in the general intellectual climate might hover like phantoms on the fringes of his awareness, but the probability exists that these uncertainties played at least some part in shaping the poet's consciousness. The degree of his vulnerability would doubtless be influenced by the tenor of his personal l i f e . Let us then turn to the next chapter, and a consideration of the events and circumstances of Milton's l i f e and the strain which they may well have imposed on the poet, in the years preceding the writing of Lycidas. 19 Footnotes ^ Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting (New York: Schocken Books, 1965), p. xiv. Mannerism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965), I, 181. Style and Civilization Series (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1967), p. 23. 4 Shearman, p. 171. 5 Ibid., p. 177. 6 Ibid., p. 188. 7 Hauser, I, p. 153. 8 Ibid., p. 152. 9 / Erwin Panofsky, Idea (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1968), p. 72. r 1 0 Panofsky, p. 88. '' Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting, p. 10. 12 "Realism as a 'Sideroad or Byway' in Dutch Art," The Renais- sance and Mannerism. Acts of the Twentieth International Congress of the History of Art, II (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963~J\ 250. 1 3 Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1943, p. 155. ^ Four Stages of Renaissance Style (New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1955), p. 120. 15 The Major Cri t i c s : The Development of English Literary  Criticism, ed. Charles S. Holmes, Edwin Fussell, Ray Frazer (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957), p. 50. 1 c Roy Daniel Is, "The Mannerist Element in English Literature, 1 rpt. from University of Toronto Quarterly, XXXVI, No. 1 (Oct. 1966), 4. 1 7 Hauser, p. 74. 18 'The Mannerist Element in English Literature," p. 10. Chapter Three MILTON: THE YEARS PRECEDING LYCIDAS . . . mannerism has two modes, technical and psychological. Behind the technical ingenuities of mannerist style there usually is a personal unrest, a complex psychology that agitates the form and the phrase. Wylie Sypher, Four Stages of  Renaissance Style, p. 116. Roy Daniells, discussing Lycidas in Mi 1 ton, Mannerism and Baroque, notes that "There is no di f f i c u l t y in conceding that Milton, . . . as in Lycidas he recorded a confronting of the disordered world of action, was in fact recording true experience of a piercing and personal kind. This experience included a sense of deep uncertainty and helplessness, . . . ." Certainly the poem is more than the conventional expression of grief for a lost friend. Milton could, and did, write a conventional elegy only a few years later to mark the death of a friend of his school days, Charles Diodati, who died in 1638 while Milton was in Italy. Diodati was much more beloved by Milton than Edward King, and his death a loss far more grievous to Milton than that of King. But whereas Milton's lament for Diodati, Damon's Epitaph, is marked by a tone of quiet sorrow that recog-nizes but accepts his loss, and of assurance in his friend's immortality, Milton's elegy for King is imbued with emotion, rebellion and doubt. What prompted Milton to choose the occasion of the memorial volume to Edward King to write a poem expressing not just sorrow at an untimely and irrational death, but his own deep-rooted uncertainties con-cerning death and the threat that i t poses, and, more significantly, his 20 21 uncertainties concerning l i f e ? Events of the year 1637, the year in which Lycidas was written, had no doubt played their part in fostering Milton's doubts. For while the death of King in August of that year was the specific event that prompted the poem, the death a few months earlier of Milton's mother; the death of the poet-laureate, Ben Jonson; the death-dealing presence at Horton of the plague, may well in their total effect have impressed on the young poet's mind the unpredictability and fi n a l i t y of death and the uncertainty of l i f e . But the poem expresses more than abstract concern. Lycidas raises questions that cast doubts on the value of the way of l i f e that Milton himself has chosen, on the goals to which he aspires and on the wisdom of the course that he has been f o l -lowing since his graduation from Cambridge more than five years previously. Now, suddenly, at the prompting of an event that one might expect to have l i t t l e more than a casual claim on his interest, a l l this comes under his serious and disturbed scrutiny. Perhaps a consideration of the c i r -cumstances of the five years preceding the writing of Lycidas w i l l throw a significant light on the poet's state of mind as he set about writing his contribution to the King memorial volume. There can be l i t t l e doubt that Milton was under serious, prolonged strain at the time Lycidas was written. He had been for over five years pursuing a course of solitary study, undertaken to supplement the inade-quacies of his Cambridge education, and to prepare himself for the minis-terial role for which he had been destined since childhood. His concep-tion of his calling was a high one, demanding both intellectual and spiritual maturity: 22 . . . at twenty-four he considered himself s t i l l a "youth" and only arrived "near" manhood. He f e l t that he was lacking in the "inward ripeness," the intellectual and spiritual maturity, necessary to an effective ministry. So he confessed in his seventh sonnet.2 I n i t i a l l y his interest and enthusiasm had been directed toward f u l f i l l i n g his desire to serve God in a formal capacity as a member of the Protestant clergy, but, as the years of study went by, he became more and more aware of his poetic a b i l i t i e s . His pleasure in his develop-ment as a poet must have been augmented by his very real ambition for 3 fame, for the realization of this ambition could now be seen as a probable outcome of his poetic endeavours. He had already tasted the pleasure of having his work accepted outside his own circle of family and friends. He had seen his work in print in company with that of Ben Jonson when his sonnet, On Shakespeare, was included in the commendatory verses in the second fo l i o edition of Shakespeare's plays published in 1632. This was a significant mark of recognition for his verse, even though i t was printed anonymously. And he had been offered, and had accepted, an invitation to write a masque for the Earl of Bridgewater on the occasion of his appointment as new Lord President of Wales, an invitation which Jonson himself might well have been pleased to accept. The assignment was a d i f f i c u l t one, but Milton had acquitted himself well, and in a way that augured well for his future as a poet. Comus, as the masque Milton wrote 1for this occasion has come to be known, was not an elaborate production with skilled actors and dancers performing in a costly setting, but relied instead on the beauty of the poetry to make the entertainment a success. 23 The necessities of the situation placed a heavy burden upon the poetry of Comus, as poetry. Lacking masquers, and eye-filling spec-tacle, and trained actors, and choral singing, Milton had to delight his auditors chiefly with the magic of words. Apart from the children, a few songs set to music by Lawes, and a simple plot, the success of Comus as entertainment depended upon language charged with power and beauty, depended upon eloquence and fervour and l y r i c f l i g h t s . 4 That Comus is s t i l l read with pleasure for the charm and beauty of i t s poetry is a testimonial to Milton's achievement. His satisfaction in this venture must have been warm in his mind in November of 1637, for plans were even then under way for the publication of the text, plans of which Milton was aware. Yet despite the success which had attended the'writing and pro-duction of Comus, three years had elapsed since the occasion of i t s pre-sentation, and there had been no further poetry since. Was there a significant reason for this long silence? Had something happened to make Milton suppress his creative powers and instead direct a l l his energies towards the single goal of preparing for the ministry? W. R. Parker, in his biography of the poet, suggests as the explanation for this failure of the poet to use his creative gifts for so long the possibility that a conflict had occurred between Milton and his father over the writing of Comus. Parker postulates that this commission from an aristocratic family to write, and to be involved in the presentation of, so worldly an entertainment could well have seemed to the elder Milton a dangerous .distraction from his son's goal, as well as one at odds with his own non-conformist principles. The expensive schooling, the program of continued study which the father had supported, had been directed towards one end--24 preparation for the ministry. The writing of a masque was irrelevant to such an objective; indeed, possibly a threat to its achievement. For evidence to support his hypothesis (and he quite frankly admits that i t is an hypothesis) Parker turns to Ad Patrem, the poem which Milton wrote to honor his father. Parker conjectures that this tribute was written in the f i r s t part of 1634, about the time that Milton 5 accepted the invitation to write Comus, and records a serious disagree-ment between father and son. A conflict is explic i t l y stated in Ad Patrem; i t is not implied or suggested; no reading between lines is necessary. Milton did not write Ad Patrem simply because he f e l t like praising his father. He did not write i t because he was fi n a l l y bursting with gratitude for favours past. The poem is an argument, carefully developed, tact-fu l l y phrased, shrewdly climaxed with a flattering promise. It is a smiling, urbane attempt to persuade an old man to change his mind. The retired scrivener had expressed himself as "despising" poetry (line 17). He held i t in "contempt" counting i t " f u t i l e and useless" (56-57). He "hated" i t (67). Milton records his father's attitude bluntly.6 We do not know the father's response to his son's persuasion; Parker suggests that the matter ended in compromise—Milton proceeded with Comus, and thenceforth concentrated a l l his efforts on his studies. The implication is that the conflict was resolved by an agreement on the part of the younger man to write no more such poetry. If the language of Ad Patrem is blunt in its references to the senior Milton's attitude to poetry, the poem's tone is conciliatory. The poet early indicates his uncertainty as to the reception his verse w i l l receive: "The song that she [my Muse] is meditating is a poor attempt, dearest father, and not at a l l certain to please you."7 He 25 closes with a compliment to his father as benefactor and a reference to his awareness of his father's generous support: "But to you, dear father, since no requital equal to your desert and no deeds equal to your gifts are within my power, let i t suffice that with a grateful mind I remember and t e l l over your constant kindnesses, and lay them up in a loyal heart." 8 Parker's conjecture seems to be supported by the verse, and i f true, offers a reasonable explanation for Milton's failure to exercise his creative gifts particularly in view of the fact that this long poetic drought came at a time in his l i f e when we might justifiably have expected to see his poetic powers developing actively towards their f u l l potential. It was also a time in the poet's l i f e when another strong, and more commonly f e l t urge than that to write poetry, had needed to be checked as incompatible with his program of self-education. In a "Letter to an Unknown Friend," written sometime in 1633, he confessed his awareness of the "potent inclination, and inbred, which about this time of a man's l i f e s o l i c i t s most, the desire of house and family of g his own." The notion of this "desire of house and family of his own," as an important and legitimate one was doubtless fostered by the "dedica-tion of the Puritan clerical caste to the conjugal l i f e . . . .""^  The popularity of the merits of matrimony as a topic for the Puritan preachers, who "set forth an ideal pattern of love and marriage based on traditional Christian morality . . . could only have increased Milton's natural yearnings. In the course of the careful religious training which marked 26 12 his early years he must have listened to many sermons developing this theme. Such teachings could not f a i l to stimulate the young man's natural interest in sex and sexual satisfaction, and, at the same time, to foster his awareness that spiritual as well as physical solace was denied him. It is revealing that when in Lycidas he questions the wisdom of having given over so many years to study, the only specific depriva-tion that he mentions is phrased in erotic imagery: Were i t not better done as others use, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade, Or with the tangles of Neaera's hair? (11. 67-69) His early writings reveal a young man more rather than less respon-sive to feminine charms. At seventeen, he writes from London to t e l l a friend of the lovely young gi r l s who pass him in the street: Here, like stars that breathe out soft flames, you may see groups of maidens go dancing past. Ah, how many times have I. been struck dumb by the miraculous grace of a form which might make decrepit Jove young again!13 "Eyes which outshine jewels and a l l the stars that wheel about either pole," "waving tresses which were golden nets flung by Cupid," "seductive cheeks beside which the purple of the hyacinth . . . turn[s] pale," these rapturous descriptions testify to the responsiveness of the impression-able young poet. When, two years later, Milton celebrates in "Elegy V" the coming of spring, he. expresses in richly erotic imagery his passionate awareness of the loveliness of the physical world once again renewed in the annual cycle of rebirth: 27 . . . for what is lovelier than she [the reviving earth] as she volup-tuously bares her f e r t i l e breast and breathes the perfume of Arabian harvests and pours sweet spices and the scent of Paphian roses from her lovely lips? . . . Look Phoebus, facile loves are calling to you and the winds of spring carry honied appeals. Perfume-bearing Zephyr gently fans his cinnamon-scented wings and the birds seem to carry their blandishments to you J 4 The poet sees himself in a kind of ecstasy. "My breast is aflame with the excitement of it s mysterious impulse and I am driven on by the mad-15 ness and the divine sounds within me." This language reveals an imag-inative l i f e in startling contrast to the real world of the young student, and gives an indication of his capacity for deep and ardent responses to sensuous stimulations. The warmth of the returning sun, the perfumes of flowers and spices, the sweet song of the birds, the invitation to sleep in the cool g r a s s — a l l elements of sensual pleasure are exploited in this l i t t l e song to love. His poetry is rich in sexual imagery, as in this passage from L'Allegro: Zephyr with Aurora playing, As he met her once a-Maying, There on Beds of Violets blue, And fresh-blown Roses washt in dew, F i l l ' d her with thee a daughter f a i r , So buxom, blithe, and debonair. (11. 19-24) The sentiment that prompts this kind of literary expression is not, of course, unusual or remarkable. What is unusual is the sensitivity and passionate intensity of some of these early passages. That his self-imposed continence, however willingly undertaken, 28 was a matter of serious and thoughtful consideration by him can be inferred from the depth of feeling that informs his praise of chastity in Comus. So dear to Heav'n is Saintly chastity, That when a soul is found sincerely so, A thousand liveried Angels lackey her, Driving far off each thing of sin and gu i l t , And in clear dream and solemn vision Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear, T i l l oft converse with heav'nly habitants Begin to cast a beam on th'outward shape, The unpolluted temple of the mind,. And turns i t by degrees to the soul's essence, T i l l a l l be made immortal: . . . (11. 453-63) Parker points out that Milton, and his collaborator and probable adviser in the writing of Comus, Henry Lawes, could have chosen no more appro-priate virtue to celebrate, nor one better calculated to please the parents and friends of Comus' fifteen-year-old heroine, Lady Alice Egerton. His argument is persuasive and very probably true. But that does not preclude the probability that, by virtue of Milton's situation, his pride in later writings in his chaste youth and young manhood, and the unmistakable sincerity of his argument, he is here expressing his own deeply f e l t convictions. But, as Comus points out, "If you let s l i p time, like a neglected rose / It withers on the stalk with languish't head" (11. 743-44). This argument is as true in the real world of Milton as in the make-believe world of Comus. The Lady, to whom i t is addressed, offers l i t t l e to oppose i t , retreating instead behind a disparagement of Comus. This 29 failure to counter Comus1 argument with an effective reply may well indi-cate Milton's inability to devise one, thus reflecting some doubt in his own position. Other doubts arose to plague him during these years of study. He had l e f t Cambridge "grievously (and permanently) disappointed in his Cambridge education."^7 One of the most important deficiencies in the Cambridge curriculum was i t s neglect of the study of history, a neglect which Milton had realized and regretted (". . .how great an additional pleasure of the mind i t is to take our fl i g h t over a l l the history and regions of the world, to view the conditions and changes of kingdoms, nations, c i t i e s , and people. . . . " ) . To remedy this deficiency he made the independent reading of history an important part of his program of self-education. From 1635 onward "his chief reading was in history, particularly the history of the Christian church from i t s very begin-19 nings." As part of his program he undertook to read the writings of the early Christian fathers, a d i f f i c u l t assignment demanding intense concentration, and willingness to contend with the "hard, crabbed 20 abstruse style of so many of the books." He had also to contend with his own increasing disillusionment, for as he read, while he found some things to praise, he found more to c r i t i c i z e and condemn; as he read "he 'found many things both nobly done and worthily spoken'; but he did not 21 f a i l to 'mark how corruption and apostasy crept in by degrees."' As he read on, through worse rather than better, Milton's d i s i l -lusionment grew. He knew now that "those 'purer times' were no such as they are cried up, and not to be followed without suspicion, doubt, and danger." He 30 no longer f e l t "that over-awful esteem of those more ancient than trusty Fathers" and he was ready to answer any votary who held them in "blind reverence." Having ploughed through "that indigested heap and fry of authors which they call Antiquity," he was almost pre-pared to summarize Church history as "the foul and sudden corruption, and then, after many a tedious age, the long-deferred but much more wonderful and happy reformation . . . i n these latter days." A Christian should reverence the martyrs, but should "rely only upon the Scriptures." . . . The Gospel was sufficient rule and oracle  for any intelligent p e r s o n . ( m y i t a l i c s ) This was not a profitable train of thought in the 1630's for one destined for the ministry. The advent of Laud to the archbishopric in August of 1633 had markedly increased the pressures on dissenters to con-form. Laud had the power to see that those who did not conform were punished, and he did not hesitate to use i t . And what might have been a solution for Milton, in that i t offered an alternative to ordination, a "lectureship" which in a liberal parish would have permitted him the role of religious teacher without requiring him to perform any church r i t e s , was under Laud no. longer available. Milton's growing contempt for those who had preceded him into the ministry may have fostered in him a reluctance to become one of their number. His studies had shown him how ill-prepared the typical university graduate was to f u l f i l a Christian ministry. Yet such graduates undertook to do so, and turned what Milton conceived as an opportunity for service into one of self-profit. The prospect of being numbered among such "blind mouths" could have provoked in him only distaste. No one, not even Milton, could withstand indefinitely the pres-sures of those years of unremitting study, pressures that the passing of time could only intensify. He was approaching his twenty-ninth birthday, 31 denied an outlet to his strong creative urges, lacking the affection and companionship normal for his age and committed to a future perhaps ever less inviting that seemed to demand that either he compromise his. con-science or find himself in an increasingly hazardous situation. It seems not unlikely that Milton welcomed an opportunity to give expression to the thoughts that his various experiences may well have stimulated within him. Such an opportunity came when he was invited to contribute to a volume of memorial verse designed to mark the untimely death of a friend from his university years. Here was the chance to express not only sorrow at an untimely death, but his doubts and frustrations, his d i s i l -lusionment and uncertainties. He wrote Lycidas. 32 Footnotes ^ Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1963, p. 47. 2 William Riley Parker, Milton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), I, 121. 3 Prolusion VII, Complete Poems, ed. Hughes, p. 625. 4 Parker, I, 132. 5 Ibid., I I , 789. 6 Ibid., I, 125. 7 Ad Patrem, Complete Poems, ed. Hughes, p. 82. 8 Ad Patrem, p. 85. 9 Quoted by Parker, p. 227. ^ William and Malleville Haller, "The Puritan Art of Love," Huntingdon Library Quarterly, V (1941-42), 238. 1 1 Haller, p. 242. 12 Apology for Smectymnuus, Complete Poems, ed. Hughes, p. 694. 13 "Elegy I," Complete Poems, ed. Hughes, p. 9.. 14 Elegy V," Complete Poems, ed. Hughes, p. 39. 1 5 "Elegy V," p. 38. 1 6 Parker, I, 132. 1 7 Ibid., I, 121. 1 p Prolusion VII, Complete Poems, ed. Hughes, p. 625. 1 9 Parker, I, 145. 2 0 Ibid., p. 147. 2 1 Parker, I, 146. 2 2 Ibid., p. 150. Chapter Four THE PASTORAL MODE Mannerist practice is dependent upon the existence of an anterior body of work in which the conventions of classical and Christian humanism are simply obeyed. It must be against the known pattern of convention that the revealing strangeness is permitted to develop. Roy Daniells, Milton, Man- nerism and Baroque, p. 33 Critics have not infrequently commented on the debt that Lycidas owes to the long tradition of the pastoral. Occasionally such comments have been disparaging, and of these none is better known than that of Dr. Johnson: In this poem there is no nature, for there is no truth; there is no art, for there is nothing new. Its form is that of a pastoral, easy, vulgar, and therefore disgusting; whatever images i t can supply are long ago exhausted, and i t s inherent improbability always forces dissatisfaction on the mind. When Cowley t e l l s of Hervey, that they studied together, i t is easy to suppose how much he must miss the companion of his labours, and the partner of his discoveries; but what image of tenderness can be excited by these lines?--We drove a f i e l d [ s i c ] , and both together heard What time the grey f l y [sic] winds her sultry horn, Battening [sic] our flocks with the fresh dews of night. We know that they never drove a f i e l d , and that they had no flocks to batten; and though i t be allowed that the representation may be all e -gorical, the true meaning is so uncertain and remote that i t is never sought because i t cannot be known when i t is found.1 But where Johnson condemns, later criticism most often praises, and, while noting that Lycidas belongs to the most conventional of genres, commends Milton for creating a poem so uniquely personal while 34 35 incorporating motifs drawn from earlier pastorals spanning the whole history of the form. For as Daniells remarks, "Milton's employment of pastoral elegy reveals a dependence upon tradition probably unequalled in any other English poem." That this should be so is not a matter for surprise, given Milton's love of the classics, his extensive reading and his assimilative powers. And he had a long tradition to draw on, for the pastoral elegy as an a r t i s t i c form extended back nearly two thousand years at the time Lycidas was written. Although for various reasons not important here interest in the pastoral had lapsed from time to time,.enthusiasm for the form had peri-odically been revived, and with each successive revival i t s possibilities had been enriched, i t s scope extended. The original distinguishing characteristics of the pastoral were retained over centuries of usage, although emphasis tended to change as succeeding practitioners introduced new material or highlighted hitherto unstressed elements. During the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, coincident with the Renaissance revival of interest in a l l things classical, there had been a strong surge of interest in the pastoral lament in Italy. This was sparked by the publication in Milan in 1481 of an edition of the poetry of Theocritus, the early Greek originator of the pastoral, followed a few years later by the publication of a further edition con-taining the pastoral elegies of his successors, Bion and Moschus. These three Greek poets, spanning approximately the years 300 to 100 B.C., between them laid the foundations for the poetic form in which Milton chose to mark the death of Edward King. 36 But early Greek poetry was not the only source from which Milton drew inspiration for his elegy. The American c r i t i c , J. H. Hanford, in his essay "The Pastoral Elegy and Milton's Lycidas" surveying pastoral poetry from its Greek beginnings until the time that Milton wrote Lycidas, con-cedes to three poets a major role in influencing Milton: In a l l the long history of the pastoral before Lycidas there are three or four great names. For later writers their work sums up the pastoral tradition. It is to them that the poet w i l l look for direct inspiration. Theocritus, V i r g i l , and his own Spenser—with these Milton f e l t a kinship of genius; from them, when he chose to write at a l l in the most conventional of literary forms, he drew both the conventions themselves and the secret of finding his way beyond them into the realm of lofty and original poetry.3 It i s , therefore, the way in which these three poets--Theocritus, Vir g i l and Spenser—originated or used the distinguishing characteristics of the pastoral elegy that I propose to discuss, although not without a nod in the direction of those others who, during the long history of i t s development, contributed significantly to the form. Theocritus, born in Syracuse around 300 B.C., is the f i r s t known poet in the tradition. His f i r s t i d y l , "Daphnis" laments the death of the young shepherd, Daphnis, who, after his marriage to the fairest of the nymphs, dies rather than yield to a new love. . Most of what we recog-nize in Lycidas as the conventions of the pastoral elegy have their beginnings in the circumstances of this poem. Its subject—Daphnis the shepherd, the manner of his l i f e and of his death—establishes a pattern to which a l l later practitioners adhere in greater or lesser degree. But before looking at the poem i t s e l f , and at the subsequent developments of the pastoral, i t is interesting to note that the legend 37 of Daphnis originated in the quasi-religious practices of earlier primi-tive people who mourned the death of the tender growth of spring under the heat of the summer sun. With the passing of time, and the "tendency of the Greek imagination to give a human meaning to a l l that interested 4 i t " this mourning for the passing of the beauties of the early part of the year becomes a lament for the death of a young shepherd-poet, dear to the various elements of the natural world that surrounds him. As in earlier legend the natural growth of spring was blighted by the heat of summer, so in Theocritus' f i r s t idyl the l i f e of the young shepherd Daphnis is blighted by the human passion of love. Daphnis' unhappy story is narrated within a.dramatic framework. The idyl opens directly on an encounter between an unnamed goatherd and Thyrsis, a shepherd renowned for the sweetness of his voice. Their dialogue unobtrusively discloses the rural setting and the background of musical endeavor that each brings to this occasion. With persuasive flattery and the promise to reward his efforts with the g i f t of a beauti-. fu l l y carved wooden bowl, the goatherd induces Thyrsis to sing a song for which he has won renown, the "Woes of Daphnis." Thyrsis sings his song, and claims his prize from his grateful auditor. The idyl ends as the everyday l i f e of the two principals is effectively recalled in the concluding line of their dialogue. The lament proper, "The Song of Thyrsis," comprises only a l i t t l e more than half of the i d y l . It opens with a short refrain, "Begin, dear Muses, begin the pastoral song," which is repeated between each stanza, changing only slightly to mark the progress of the narrative. This 38 refrain, which becomes a constant in the pastoral elegy, underlines the musical quality of the poem, and is as well an important structural element unifying the song and defining i t within the i d y l . Thyrsis' song proceeds according to a pattern which later pastoral laments w i l l adopt in whole or in part, turning into a r t i f i c i a l conventions elements which occur naturally in Thyrsis 1 story. It opens with the singer reproaching the nymphs for their absence from the scene of Daphnis1 death, a natural enough reproof here since Daphnis was the son of a nymph and had spent his childhood among them. Daphnis1 father, Hermes, together with other shepherds and their protective divinity Priapus, comes to his side as he lies dying, to discover the source of his trouble and to offer consola-tion. Such v i s i t s by those who loved the dying shepherd are a natural reflection of their concern for his well-being. The beasts of the flock which Daphnis has tended, and the mountains and trees among which he has lived, mourn at his passing: ". . . the sorrow of nature for the death of humanity looks back to an earlier time when the death was that of nature, not humanity. Thus what was once the source of sorrow--the withering 5 vegetation—becomes the mourner." Daphnis, rebelling against his fate, calls on nature to reverse her normal course: Now you may bear violets, you bramble bushes; bear them, you thistles, and let the lovely narcissus spread it s foliage over the juniper. Let a l l things be changed, and let the pine tree bear pears, since Daphnis dies, and let the stag drag down the dogs and let the screech owl from the mountains contend with nightingales.6 But the bitterness of the sentiment is masked, i f not altogether dispelled, by the beauty of the images the poet calls to mind. By 39 invok ing the f l owers o f s p r i n g and the f r u i t s o f autumn, by seeking v i c t o r y f o r t h a t most regal o f f o r e s t c r e a t u r e s - - t h e s t a g , and by r e c a l -l i n g t o us the n i g h t i n g a l e , renowned f o r the sweetness o f h is song, the poet m i t i g a t e s the t h r e a t o f a wor ld gone awry. The song proper ends w i t h an image o f the dying Daphnis, s i n k i n g i n t o the "eddying f l o o d " o f the stream o f dea th . Here, t h e n , i n T h e o c r i t u s ' f i r s t i d y l are to be found a number o f f ea tu res which become f i r m l y assoc ia ted w i t h the pas to ra l e l e g y . The r e c u r r i n g r e f r a i n , the address to the nymphs, the v i s i t s o f var ious d e i t i e s and o ther concerned or i n t e r e s t e d p a r t i e s , the mourning o f nature and the prayer t h a t Nature reverse her course , t oge the r w i t h innumerable tu rns o f phrase and ideas sometimes l i t t l e more than h i n t e d a t , w i l l - b e found repeated ly i n the work o f subsequent poets w r i t i n g i n the pas to ra l e l e g i a c t r a d i t i o n . They are basic to L y c i d a s , a l though by the t ime M i l t o n w r i t e s h is poem t h a t p a r t o f the t r a d i t i o n a l m a t e r i a l a r i s i n g out o f the p a r t i c u l a r c ircumstances o f Daphnis' l i f e — t h e appeal t o the nymphs, the procession o f mourners, the mourning o f nature and most e s p e c i a l l y , the p r e s e n t a t i o n o f the deceased as a shepherd—have become not mat ters o f f a c t or l i k e l i h o o d but merely a r t i f i c i a l convent ions to which p r a c t i -t i o n e r s o f the genre conform. T h e o c r i t u s ' c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the pas to ra l t r a d i t i o n does not r e s t s o l e l y on "Daphnis . " His seventh i d y l , "The Harvest F e s t i v a l " marks a s i g n i f i c a n t development, f o r i n t h i s poem the two p r i n c i p a l s , i n r e a l i t y p o e t s , masquerade as shepherds, and thus d isgu ised exchange songs. The importance o f t h i s i d y l w i t h i n the pas to ra l t r a d i t i o n l i e s 40 in the fact that the poet, even though disguised, is himself a part of the narrative, thus opening the way for the autobiographical element that is to become an important feature of later elegies. "As Idyl 1 established for later centuries the conventions to be associated with elegy, so Idyl 7 gave precedent for the personal, allegorical element in a l l pastoral."'7 This marks the beginning of a trend we shall see f u l l y exploited in Lycidas, the opportunity for the poet to present not only details of his personal story, but his own ideas on l i f e . The fact that one of the characters in this seventh idyl of Theocritus is called "Lycidas" sug-gests a particularly intimate connection between the two poems. Although Hanford limits to Theocritus Milton's indebtedness to the early Greeks, i t is worthwhile to consider briefly two slightly later Greek elegies, the "Lament for Adonis" and the "Lament for Bion." Both make important contributions to the development of the form, and adumbrate elements to be found in Lycidas,, even though Milton may have come to them indirectly through the work of later poets. The "Lament for Adonis" was written by Bion, who lived during the second century B.C. "Strictly speaking," says Hanford of this poem, " [ i t ] is not a pastoral at a l l ; Adonis was a hunter, not a shepherd. The poem is associated with the pastoral, however, because of i t s form and because i t is the Q work of a pastoral poet." But in"Daphnis" Theocritus described Adonis as shepherd as well as hunter, "Charming, too, is Adonis, since he also g pastures flocks . . ." and the relationship of the "Adonis" to the earlier poem is clearly evidenced not only by the form with i t s recurring 41 refrain between each stanza, but by the mourning of nature for the dead Adonis. Bion's poem hints at two developments which w i l l become increas-ingly important in the elegiac tradition, particularly in relation to Lycidas: a command to deck the bier of the deceased, here expressed without elaboration: "Cast on him wreaths and flowers" 1 0 (1. 75); a faint, but perceptible, allusion to some sort of rebirth: "Cease thy lamentations, this day, Cytherea; refrain from beating thy breast. Thou must weep for him again; thou must bewail him again in another year" 1 1 (11. 97-99). Taking into account that the impulse for the pastoral lament originated in the renewal and subsequent death of the earth's vegetation, Adonis here is linked with the annual cycle of nature. He dies, and is mourned, and w i l l die and again be mourned in another year, but his rebirth is implicit in these expectations. Third and last among Greek poems contributing to the development of the pastoral elegiac tradition is the "Lament for Bion," attributed to Bion's pupil, Moschus. The relationship between this lament and those which we have already considered is readily apparent. Similar in form to Bion's own "Lament for Adonis," in that i t forgoes the dramatic intro-duction of Theocritus' "Daphnis" and instead opens directly on the mourn-ing song, i t nevertheless uses the pastoral setting of the latter poem and the recurring refrain in which the Muses are summoned, and depicts, in a passage much more elaborate than i t s original, the sorrowing world of nature. But the "Lament for Bion" differs from i t s predecessors in that its pastoral setting is a matter of choice rather than of necessity, 42 for the subject is not a shepherd but a poet, depicted as a shepherd and presented in pastoral scenery. In thus extending the scope of the pastoral lament to embrace not merely shepherds but persons conceived as shepherds, Moschus insured the continuing v i t a l i t y of a form that must otherwise have been the victim of its own limitations. Other important innovations occur in the "Lament for Bion." It honors a real person, rather than a mythological or symbolic figure; the singer is an element of the song in his own person; and he presumes that he w i l l inherit the dead poet's heritage of song. The "Lament for Bion" offers no hint of rebirth, reflecting rather on the f i n a l i t y of man's death, as opposed to the annual renewal which characterizes the world of nature. For the next important developments in the pastoral elegiac tradi-tion we must move forward in time to the f i r s t century B.C. and turn from Greece to Rome and the next great influence on the form. V i r g i l (70-19 B.C.) altered the pastoral elegy in both style and s p i r i t . He was the f i r s t poet "to begin the disassociation of pastoral from the con-12 ditions of actual l i f e . . . ." The pastoral setting, an integral part of Theocritus' "Daphnis" out of which grew, or to which related, a l l other elements of the form, became in Virgil's usage an a r t i f i c i a l con-vention, a background against which persons whom the poet wished to honor masquerade as shepherds. And not surprisingly in view of this development, other elements which occur naturally in the poetry of the Greek originators, arising as they do out of the circumstances of the-43 subjects' lives, appear in the work of Vir g i l only as conventions, carried forward in adherence to the original patterns, but unrelated in meaning to the new application of the form. The nymphs might justifiably be reproached for their absence from the deathbed of one who had been their charge and companion since childhood; various elements of the natural world might conceivably mourn the death of one who had passed his l i f e among them. But a reproach to nymphs for their failure to attend the death of a poet, or the mourning of nature for a general, even when both poet and general are presented as shepherds, become merely con-ventional elements in the laments, unrelated to the real circumstances of the subjects' lives. Of Virgil's ten eclogues, two are of particular interest here: the f i f t h , "Daphnis," which honors Julius Caesar in the guise, of Daphnis, and the tenth, "Gallus," which celebrates the poet's friend Gall us,, him-self a poet but here presented as a shepherd. Virgil's "Daphnis" is the vehicle for a significant development in the scope of the pastoral elegy, for here, for the f i r s t time, the form is used to lament the death of a great man, neither poet nor shepherd, but disguised under a pastoral name. In "Gallus" Virgil varies the form, forsaking dialogue. Instead he frames the lament for Gallus between an introductory passage, declaring his theme and summoning the assistance of the muse, and a closing stanza announcing the conclusion of his task and the resumption of his daily duties. This, of course, provides a precedent for Lycidas, which proceeds according to a similar pattern. Virgil's f i f t h eclogue contains elements found in both the f i r s t 44 and seventh idyls of Theocritus. Like the Greek "Daphnis," the Roman "Daphnis" is in dramatic form, opening directly on an exchange between two goatherds, one of whom is skilled in piping, the other in singing. The dialogue serves to indicate both the rural background and the identity of the participants, who, unlike their Greek counterparts, proceed to demonstrate their s k i l l s without the inducement of a reward. As in Theocritus' seventh i d y l , each sings in turn and each praises the perfor-mance of his companion. The eclogue ends with an exchange of g i f t s , one goatherd receiving from the other his pipe, and giving in return his prized crook. Notably absent is the recurring refrain with which Thyrsis begins his song in Theocritus' "Daphnis" and which, repeated between each stanza, sharply delineates within the elegy the song proper and emphasizes i t s song-like nature. In content the f i f t h eclogue echoes many of the motifs found in Theocritus, although Virgil's development of these differs somewhat from the Greek model. The nymphs, whose absence was questioned in Theocritus' "Daphnis" are here present as mourners. The mourning of nature at Daphnis' death is suggested briefly rather than detailed at length. Daphnis' call to nature to reverse her usual order becomes in Vi r g i l a lovely passage describing how fields previously f e r t i l e now bear noxious weeds: Often in the furrows to which we entrusted the large grains of barley, unfruitful darnel and sterile oats spring up. In place of the soft violet, in place of the crimson narcissus, there now rise the thistle and the bramble bush with sharp thorns. 13 ( n . 35-38) A suggestion of the flower motif appears in the command to the 45 shepherds to "Strew leaves on the ground, raise shade over the springs, 14 . . . for Daphnis bids us pay him such honor and build a tomb . . . ." (11. 39-41). But considered as part of the whole pastoral elegiac tradition, Virgil's f i f t h eclogue has as it s most significant element the deifica-tion of the dead Daphnis. The prospect of some sort of renewal or rebirth, previously barely hinted at by the Greek poets, becomes here a joyful affirmation of Daphnis' entry into a heavenly abode: "Radiant Daphnis marvels at the unfamiliar threshhold of Olympus, and beneath his . 15 feet beholds the clouds and stars" (11. 56-57). The subsequent rejoic-ing of Daphnis' world and a l l i t s elements is developed with the detail Virgil's predecessors used to describe the mourning of nature. As Harrison points out, "In this joyful motif lies the poem's most, important contribution to elegy; for later pastoralists i t remained only to substi-1 g tute the joys of a Christian heaven." In Virgil's tenth eclogue, "Gallus," he again honors a real person, a poet, continuing the tradition that links poet and shepherd in the pastoral scene. This poem, in form and content and in style, to the extent that the style can be judged from a translation, reveals i t s e l f as an important model in the long tradition that culminates in Lycidas. As previously noted, a single voice is heard throughout and the lament proper is enclosed, not within a dramatic framework, but within an intro-ductory and a closing stanza. In the f i r s t , the identity and the world of the singer are revealed. In the latter, he serves notice that his song is finished and his everyday activities resumed. This is the pattern that Milton adopts for his elegy. 46 Virgil does not use the recurring refrain, nor does he summon the muses to his assistance. But he does use other motifs familiar from his Greek predecessors, adapting them somewhat to accord with the subject of his lament. He reproaches the nymphs for their absence from the scene of Gallus' trouble, a parade of sympathetic mourners express their concern, and nature joins in the universal sorrow. The over-all effect which V i r g i l achieves in "Gallus," as in his other eclogues, i s , however, very different from that of the Greek poets on whom he drew. The artless simplicity of Theocritus, his loose con-struction and richly evocative images, give way in Vi r g i l to a carefully designed, finely polished, work of art. Whether the poem takes the dramatic form, as in "Daphnis," or the l y r i c , as in "Gallus," the reader is conscious of a design in which a l l parts contribute to the whole. Using the motifs which tradition has associated with the pastoral, elegiac form, V i r g i l assembles them in a pattern that reflects the poet's shaping consciousness. This characteristic of his verse a l l i e s him closely with Milton and Lycidas, where the element of conscious crafts-manship plays a decisive role in the total effect. If we accept Hanford's appraisal of Theocritus, Vi r g i l and Spenser as the three most significant influences on Milton when he came to write Lycidas, we must now span sixteen centuries, and consider the contribution that Spenser made to the tradition. The pastoral elegy did not, of course, remain entirely static during the intervening years. Even during prolonged periods of poetic near-drought changes were occur-ring. The Middle Ages saw one particularly important development, as 47 the influence of Christianity worked to fuse the image of the pastoral shepherd and his flock with the image of the Christian pastor and his flock, an inevitable development as the pastoral came to be treated by religious writers. The connection thus established between the classical pastoral and the Christian religion served greatly to extend the u t i l i t y and scope of the pastoral form. It opened the way, in the eclogue, for the treatment of matters ecclesiastical, and rendered the pastoral elegy as appropriate to the death of a member of the clergy as i t was to that of a poet. The significance of these remarks w i l l be clear when we recall the ecclesiastical satire in Lycidas and remember that Edward King had intended to enter the church.17 In Italy, during the Renaissance resurgence of interest in the pastoral, i t s subject matter broadened impressively, as i t became a vehicle for ecclesiastical satire, for didacticism and personal allegory, and for the expression of the poet's personal views on matters of love, religion and morality. But although Milton was familiar with the writings of Petrarch and Boccaccio, and probably later Italian poets writing during the Cinquecento, i t is lik e l y that their influence came not directly but through the medium of Spenser. Through Spenser, who set out deliberately to write eclogues in accordance with established types and who used, as his models not only Theocritus and V i r g i l , but later poets in the tradition—Mantuan, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Marot and Sannazaro--Milton was in touch indirectly i f not directly with the whole pastoral tradition. In terms of i t s influence on subsequent pastoral poetry, Spenser's Shepherd's Calender is of unique importance in the history of English pastoral literature, for in i t he combines two distinct and apparently 48 contrary tendencies. He was influenced by the tradition, but was more than merely an imitator. He took the established pastoral motifs, used some elements of the traditional forms, but combined them according to the dictates of his own individuality. Drawing on what Greg has described as the "native pastoral 18 impulse" in English verse, Spenser places his eclogues in a uniquely English setting, and peoples them with rustic characters at home in the English countryside. In their dialect, drawn from the language of Chaucer, he attempts to reproduce the rustic speech of his own day, giving an aura of authenticity to his characters and disguising "the time-honoured platitudes that they repeat from their learned predeces-19 sors." Spenser's chief contribution to the formal side of pastoral composition is his attempt in the Shepherd's Calender to unite a series of poems into an a r t i s t i c whole. His major unifying device is his characters, whose.story, appearing or referred to intermittently through-out the series, loosely binds the twelve eclogues together. And, as the t i t l e indicates, a further attempt at unification is based on Spenser's intention to relate the annual cycle of the year to the l i f e of man,.an attempt that is only partially successful, for in some eclogues "not only does the subject in no way reflect the mood of the season . . . but 20 the time of the year is not so much as mentioned." A prevailing mood of gloom which characterizes the twelve poems (although "single eclogues 21 are light-hearted or even humorous"), gives a unity of tone to the series. Of the twelve eclogues that comprise the Shepherd's Calender, 49 only one, "November," is an elegy. In this poem Spenser mourns the death of a real person, f i c t i t i o u s l y named and never satisfactorily iden-t i f i e d . The consistent stanzaic form and rhyme scheme mark Spenser's lament with a mold different from its forbears. But the opening dialogue in which two rustic characters engage, followed by the mourning song, recalls the familiar classical pattern, and the archaic language Spenser affects gives his work the flavour of poetry whose roots extend back to primitive times. Likewise, Spenser's content recalls his classical ante-cedents. The opening dialogue t e l l s us that we are in pastoral country, that the principals are shepherds, and the season winter, as one shepherd persuades his fellow to sing, and promises to reward him with a pet lamb. The opening stanza of Col in's mourning song begins with an appeal 22 to his muse: "Up, then, Melpomene, thou mournefulst Muse of nyne!" (1. 53) and closes with a refrain that, with appropriate variations, marks the end of each stanza: 0 heavie herse! Let streaming teares be poured out in store: 0 carefull verse!23 (11. 60-62) This refrain is part of each stanza, not interposed between stanzas as in Spenser's Greek precedents, and has a more powerful influence on the poetic effect, not only defining the song proper within the poem, and emphasizing i t s song-like qualities, but appealing to man's innate re-sponse to repetition and the reassurance that such repetition provides. The familiar conventional motifs appear. Nature mourns: 50 The feeble flocks in f i e l d refuse their former foode, And hang theyr heads, as they would learne to weepe: The beastes in forest wayle as they were woode, Except the wolves, that chase the wandring sheepe, Now she is gon that safely did hem keepe. The turtle, on the bared braunch, Laments the wound that Death did launch. 0 heavie herse! And Philomele her song with teares doth steepe. 0 careful 1 verse !-24 (11. 133-42) The contrast between the annual rebirth of Nature and the f i n a l -ity of man's death is drawn: Whence is i t that the flouret of the f i e l d doth fade, And lyeth buryed long in winters bale: Yet soone as spring his mantle doth displaye, It floureth fresh, as i t should never fayle? But thing on earth that is of most availe, As vertues braunch and beauties budde, Reliven not for any good. 0 heavie herse! The braunch once dead, the budde eke needes must quaile: 0 carefull versel 25 (11. 83-92) Dido's tomb is decked with flowers: "The gaudie girlonds deck her grave, / The faded flowres her corse embrave." (11. 108-09). Consolation is offered: She raignes a goddess now emong the saintes That whilome was the saynt of shepheards light: And is enstalled nowe in heavens hight.27 (11. 175-77) Two conventions originating in Theocritus' f i r s t idyl do not 51 appear in "November" but Spenser shows his familiarity with them in Astrophel, his elegy on the death of Sir Philip Sydney. Thyrsis' reproach to the nymphs for their absence from Daphnis when he needed them becomes in Astrophel: Ah, where were ye this while, his shepheard peares, To whom alive was nought so deare as hee? And ye, faire mayds, the matches of his yeares, Which in his grace did boast you most to bee? Ah! where were ye, when he of you had need, ? R To stop his wound, that wondrously did bleed. (11. 127-32) The parade of mourners is perhaps echoed in this later elegy by the pilgrimage of the shepherds to the scene of Astrophel's death, to view the unique flower which the gods have caused to grow there. Eleven other poems make up the Shepherd's Calender, and to some of these Milton is probably indebted for material which forms part of Lycidas. As Hanford indicates, the "May," "June," and "September" poems contain ecclesiastical satire, the passage in the "May"eclogue being markedly similar in sentiment and expression to Milton's bitter attack on the corrupt clergy in Lycidas. In Spenser's "October" eclogue there is a protest regarding the lack of recognition accorded poets, which may foreshadow those lines in Lycidas which question the sacrifices entailed by a poetic career and point out that only Heaven can accord true recog-nition of the poet's efforts. Milton's inspiration to develop the exqui-site flower passage in Lycidas out of the Greek poets' simple command to deck the grave may have come from a somewhat similar catalogue of flowers in Spenser's "April eclogue. 52 But such details, while worthy of note, do not suggest Spenser's real significance to Milton. This must surely l i e in the example he presented of an English poet who looked to tradition for a pattern but adapted i t as his own genius demanded. The elements of the pastoral elegiac form, the time-honored motifs which Spenser uses, were--or could easily have become—familiar to Milton from his own studies. The inspir-ation—or the courage—to use them in unfamiliar ways must surely have been strengthened by the precedent Spenser had set. The effect produced by Milton's departure from tradition is no-where similar to that achieved in "November." Spenser's is an unsophisti-cated, untroubled genius; his poem is marked by the Renaissance attributes of balance, harmony and regular rhythmic expression, culminating in an ordered and logically anticipated conclusion. No one part of "November" impinges unduly on our consciousness. Each motif takes i t s proper place, it s effect subordinate and contributing to that achieved by the total poem. Milton, marching to the music of a different drummer, in a world less stable than that which Spenser knew, used the traditional pattern to express different urgings. Milton's choice of the pastoral elegiac form is not d i f f i c u l t to understand. It was currently popular. Its origin in the f e r t i l i t y rites of ancient folk made implicit in the pastoral the promise of resurrection, of the rebirth that is a natural part of the annual cycle of birth and death and birth again. The person he was to honor fitted perfectly the shepherd-poet-pastor role traditionally assigned to the subject of the pastoral elegy. The precedent for introducing extraneous but related 53 matter had been established. His predecessors had taken liberties with form and content—the way was open for him to do likewise. 54 Footnotes 1 See also John Crowe Ransom, "A Poem Nearly Anonymous," from The World's Body (New York, 1938), pp. 1-28; f i r s t published in the American Review, I_V (1933), rpt. in Mil tori's Lycidas, The Tradition and  the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 196lT7~pp. 71-73. 2 Roy Daniells, Milton, Mannerism and Baroque (Toronto: Univer-sity of Toronto Press, 1963), p. 38. 3 From P.M.L.A., XXV (1910), 403-47. This article was revised by C.A. Patrides, and reprinted in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and  the Poem, ed, Patrides, p. 54. Thomas Perrin Harrison, ed., The Pastoral Elegy: An Anthology. English Translations by Harry Joshua Leon (New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968), p. 1. 5 Pastoral Elegy, p. 2. 6 Ibid., p. 28. 7 Ibid., p. 259. o Hanford, in Milton's Lycidas, ed. Patrides, p. 33. 9 Pastoral Elegy, p. 28. 1 0 Ibid., p. 35. 1 1 Ibid., p. 36. 1 2 Walter W. Greg, Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (London: A. H. Bullen, 1906), p. 15. 1 3 Pastoral Elegy, p. 43. 1 4 Ibid., p. 43. 1 5 Ibid., p. 43. 1 6 Ibid., p. 263. 1 7 Hanford, in Milton's Lycidas, ed. Patrides, p. 43. •j o Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama, p. 74. 55 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Ibid, Ibid, p. 94. p. 92. Hanford, in Milton's Lycidas, ed. Patrides, p. 50. Pastoral Elegy, p. 175. Ibid., P- 176. Ibid., P. 178. Ibid., P- 176. Ibid., P- 177. Ibid., P- 179. Ibid., P- 187. Hanford, in Milton's Lycidas, ed. Patrides, p. 51 Chapter Five THE SUBJECT OF LYCIDAS The structure of the mannerist universe is not wholly determinate; i t is open and shifting, and the equivoca-tions in casuistry are a special tactic of mannerist conscience, just as an extremely elastic logic is the special tactic of mannerist art, or as the double meaning, the ambiguity, is the tactic of mannerist verse. Wylie Sypher, Four States of  Renaissance Style, p. 137 The study of Lycidas as an example of mannerist literature might well begin with a consideration of i t s subject. What is the subject of Lycidas? The various, and sometimes directly conflicting, answers that this question evokes are in themselves indicative of the mannerist nature of the poem, for such diversity points to the presence in the work of a central ambiguity that, while different in different forms and again in individual instances within each form, is frequently characteristic of mannerist works. Some well-known examples can be cited. In drama, we might think of Hamlet and the uncertainties inherent in the characterization of the Prince. Is Hamlet really mad, or is he using the pretext of madness as a protective screen for hiding his attempts to discover the truth of his father's death? Amongst paintings, we might recall Parmigianino's master-piece, the Madonna del collo lungo, and therein, amongst many enigmas, the impossibility of determining the spatial relationship between the Madonna and her companions who f i l l the foreground of the picture plane 56 57 and the row of mysterious columns in the background. And what is the thematic relationship to the Madonna of the tiny figure who stands in front of these columns, holding in both hands a scroll which he unwinds while gazing fixedly at something or someone beyond the picture plane? In sculpture, the brooding figures that dominate the Medici tomb come perhaps most readily to mind, as, resting in unstable equilibrium on top of the sarcophagi, they confront the spectator with sombre, inscrutable expressions. What meaning is intended by these weary figures, main-taining their positions in seeming defiance of gravity, as their swelling body contours and heavy musculature overwhelm the delicate sarcophagi with their graceful moldings and volutes? In these three examples, as in numerous others, some element or elements central to the work remain unsolved and unsolvable. In the case of the visual arts, their enigmatic quality is accepted as an integral part of the work. In the case of literature, the very nature of language encourages different interpreta-tions, but no one interpretation disposes for a l l time of the many possi-b i l i t i e s that exist, and the enigma continues to exert its own fascination. In the case of Lycidas and i t s subject, one might expect the author to provide a helpful key to the puzzle. In 1645, when the passage of time had dissipated the emotions attendant on the original composition of the elegy and thus enabled the poet to look objectively at his work, Milton wrote a short preface for Lycidas, in which he indicated two sub-jects for his poem: "In this Monody the Author bewails a learned Friend, . . . . And by occasion foretells the ruin of our corrupted Clergy then in their height." But the poem centres on too many other matters to make 58 this an acceptable definition of i t s subject and scholarly criticism offers a number of alternatives. Reading Milton's simple statement of his intent, one wonders what he would have made of the assertion that " i t is his own youth, his own guerdon, his own possible death that so moves him, rather than poor King's,"^ or of a second opinion that rejects both the "learned Friend" and the poet himself as subject, and submits that Lycidas is "about poetry and the poet, generally conceived, and of the conditions impelled 2 by existence upon the poet and his works." Milton's biographer, W. R. Parker, sees the subject of Lycidas as "premature death, and the questions this raises about dedication and preparation, for the ministry and 3 poetry," a conception not too different from that of E. M. W. Tillyard who asserts that "The real subject of Lycidas is the resolving by Milton of his fears of premature death and of his bitter scorn of the clergy 4 into an exalted state of mental calm." David Daiches, on the other hand, considers the subject of the poem to be "man in his creative capacity, 5 as Christian humanist poet-priest," a point-of-view directly contradicted by Richard P. Adams, who states that "Milton was expressing his own feelings in Lycidas, and not any abstract or general or public sorrow. The personal note established in the f i r s t five lines is maintained throughout." Both these conceptions—the intensely personal and the highly abstract—are reflected in the answer of D. C. Allen, who sees Lycidas moving "as a pendulum between the universal and the particular, between the special lesson of the inner Milton and the cosmic principle drawn therefrom that each man is part of the human estate." 7 59 Although some of these answers are obviously more limited than others, none can be dismissed as incorrect, nor, on the other hand, can any one be singled out as providing a definitive answer to the question. However, this diversity of opinion should be counted a gain, for i t con-tributes to our awareness of the poem's complexity and, in its failure to provide a single answer, encourages us to look at the poem more closely in an attempt to determine why such diversity should be. A suitable starting point for such an examination is the recog-nition that c r i t i c s tend to agree implicitly i f not explici t l y that, despite the author's expressed intent, the real subject of the poem is not the "learned Friend," Edward King. Why is this so,.when King, in his guise as Lycidas, is a constant presence throughout the lament? Lycidas is one member of the "we" whom the reader meets early in the poem when, as shepherds, Together both, ere the high Lawns appear'd Under the opening eyelids of the morn, We drove afield (11. 25-37) His death is the occasion for Nature's mourning; the nymphs are reproached because they were not present when he needed them, and the mourners are questioned on their role in the sad event of his death. Camus inquires after Lycidas, St. Peter notes his superiority to those who survive him, and the poet asks for a floral tribute to him. The dolphins, the shep-herds and the solemn troops of heavenly saints each in their turn and according to their fashion do him honor. The closing lines of the lament 60 proper picture him as a beneficent deity extending aid to a l l who come within his scope. Why then is i t so generally conceded that Lycidas is not the subject, but a peripheral figure only to the poet's main concerns? The answer rests in part at least in the matter of perspective and i t s corollary, scale. For in contrast to his presentation of himself and those other figures with whom he is intermittently preoccupied, the poet presents Lycidas always as a small-scale figure seen, far off on some distant horizon, and consequently impressed only slightly on our aware-ness. We see him f i r s t in the opening stanza of the poem, afloat on his "wat'ry bier," but are allowed only a glimpse of the dead youth before the poet quickly diverts our attention to the action of the wind and water that rock him helplessly back and forth and to the need for some one to grieve for him: He must not float upon his wat'ry bier Unwept, and welter to the parching wind, Without the meed of some melodious tear. (11. 12-14) Our sense of remoteness from Lycidas and the consequent lessening of his claim on our attention are intensified by our recent close proximity to the poet himself in the passage immediately preceding: Yet once more, 0 ye Laurels, and once more Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never sere, I come to pluck your Berries harsh and crude, And with forc'd fingers rude, Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year. (11. 1-5) 61 In these introductory lines of Lycidas the speaker confronts us directly. "I come," he t e l l s us, forcing on us an awareness that we are involved in intimate communication with him. The elements of the scene that he describes are by their very nature minute—fingers, berries and leaves; the actions that he describes are small in scope—he "plucks" the unripe berries of laurel, myrtle and ivy, and "shatters" their leaves as he does so. By focussing our attention on these selected details and letting them f i l l the screen of our imagination, he implies a large scale presence close at hand. Lycidas, adrift on some distant and undiscrimi-nated expanse of ocean, seems by contrast a remote figure, his fate a matter of diminished urgency. A similar contrast in scale marks the stanza that follows St. Peter's threat of vengeance on a corrupt clergy. The f i r s t part of this verse paragraph is taken up with the f l o r a l tribute, which depicts a sequence of flowers, each seen closely enough to distinguish i t s indi-vidual characteristics. We see the "tufted Crowtoe," the "Cowslips wan that hang the pensive head," and the other flowers the poet summons. Each tiny entity dominates the scene in turn; each is endued with some distinctive quality that sets i t apart from its fellows. But when, following this exquisite tribute to Lycidas, we turn to consider his fate, we find him almost beyond our reach: Ay me! Whilst thee the shores, and sounding Seas Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurl'd, Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides, Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide Vi s i t ' s t the bottom of the monstrous world; Or whether thou to our moist vows denied, Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus ,old, • • • • (11. 154-60) 62 Lycidas has become totally depersonalized, no longer a human being, but "bones" at the mercy of the indifferent elements of the natural world. Throughout the poem Lycidas remains a remote figure, whether he is one among shepherds tending their flock in some distant f i e l d or sinking slowly into the uncaring ocean. At the moment of his apotheosis other figures loom between him and the reader: There entertain him a l l the Saints above, In solemn troops, and sweet Societies That sing, and singing in their glory move, (11. 178-80) Even in his moment of ultimate glory our attention is diverted from him. We can explain this failure of the poem to focus on i t s ostensible subject in part by acknowledging that Milton knew King only slightly and would have but few details on which to base a full-scale portrait of him, had he wished to present one. But, in the context of this paper, we can consider another possibi1ity--that this diminution of the central figure, this pushing i t away into the background, is a literary manifestation of a recurring practice in mannerist painting, a practice which involved the rejection of the classical concept of a composition built around one principal motif, to which a l l other elements were related but subordinate. Leonardo's Last Supper illustrates the classical mode well. In Leonardo's mural,.the figure of Christ, seated at a long table that extends horizontally across the picture plane, occupies the central posi-tion in the tableau. His head is at the exact centre of the vertical axis, and very slightly to the right of centre of the horizontal axis. 63 A l l elements of the composition are symmetrically disposed around Him. His twelve disciples, divided into four groups of three, are posed with two such groups on either side of Christ. The picture's source of li g h t , a doorway flanked by a window on each side of the rear wall of the room in which the supper is held, echoes the symmetrical arrangement of Christ and His disciples, and dramatizes the central position of Christ by outlining Him in light. The decorations on the side walls and ceiling and the disposition of the utensils and food on the supper table are likewise symmetrically arranged and likewise emphasize Christ's central position. Yet the scene is not s t a t i c — t h e beautifully modulated facial expressions and gestures of the disciples give i t animation—but rather pervaded by an all-enveloping aura of harmony that flows out in every direction from the calm figure of Christ at its centre. But in mannerist art the convention of endowing the picture's sub-ject with pictorial (and psychological) emphasis by giving i t the central position of the composition is frequently disregarded. The subject may be placed off-centre, brought forward on the picture plane into an uncomfortably close relationship with the viewer, or pushed far to the back. The conventional distribution of emphasis between more and less important elements is abandoned, as material is introduced whose apparent relationship to the subject is obscure, but is given prominence in response to arbitrary considerations of the a r t i s t . It is a practice that manifests i t s e l f in mannerist art as early as Raphael, as late as Tintoretto. 64 A l a t e Raphael, the F i r e i n the Borgo, pa in ted between 1514 and 1517, and descr ibed as the f i r s t la rge p a i n t i n g t h a t can be c a l l e d tnan-8 n e r i s t ( o f which i t should be noted t h a t the design i s Raphael 's a l though the ac tua l p a i n t i n g i s a t t r i b u t e d t o h is a s s i s t a n t s ) a f f o r d s a s t r i k i n g example o f the tendency t o r e l e g a t e the c e n t r a l f i g u r e t o the background. The sub jec t o f the f r e s c o i s a f i r e i n the Borgo q u a r t e r o f Rome, which was ex t ingu ished by the b less ing o f Pope Leo IV . But the Pope, nomina l ly the most impor tan t charac te r i n the n a r r a t i v e , i s seen as a t i n y f i g u r e placed s l i g h t l y o f f cent re a t the extreme rear o f the scene. He stands i n the Loggia o f the V a t i c a n , extending h is hand i n b e n e d i c t i o n , but h is gesture i s dwarfed by the d is tance t h a t separates the spec ta to r f rom i t . The foreground i s crowded w i t h f i g u r e s o f d i s p r o p o r t i o n a t e s i z e , whose la rge scale and emphatic gestures d i s t r a c t the v i e w e r ' s a t t e n t i o n from the event which the p i c t u r e purpor ts to c e l e b r a t e . A s i m i l a r l y manner is t t rea tment o f sub jec t i s found i n T i n t o r e t t o ' s P resen ta t ion o f the V i r g i n , pa in ted i n the e a r l y 1 5 5 0 ' s , nea r l y f o r t y years l a t e r than the Raphael. Here a g a i n , we f i n d the c e n t r a l event pushed w e l l t o the back o f the p i c t u r e plane and rendered i n a scale d i s -p r o p o r t i o n a t e to t h a t o f the f i g u r e s t h a t dominate the foreground and c e n t r a l areas of the canvas. The s lender Pope stands o u t l i n e d aga ins t a stormy sky , w a i t i n g to rece ive the t i n y V i r g i n , who i s dwarfed both by the massive s t a i r c a s e she ascends and the la rge volumes and expansive gestures o f the a u x i l i a r y f i g u r e s . One o ther s i m i l a r i t y between Lycidas and t h i s l a t t e r p a i n t i n g i s i t s t reatment o f the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the reade r , o r , i n the case of 65 the painting, the viewer, and aesthetic space. In the poem, the speaker's terse "I come" seems to project him into the reader's space, shortening the distance between art and reality. In the painting, the heel of the foot that bears the weight of the woman who occupies the middle foreground is pressed right against the edge of the picture plane, so that her free foot, extended slightly behind her, must, project into the viewer's space. Aesthetic space and real space are confused, aes-thetic distance is compressed, and a figure nominally subsidiary to the picture's subject commands a disproportionate share of our attention. The handling of space in both these paintings has been described 9 as typically mannerist—perverse and irrational. In each instance, the central figure is pushed to the back of the picture plane, and figures of secondary importance, and in the case of the Tintoretto, of obscure thematic relevance, are allowed to dominate the viewer's attention. While the analogy between paintings and poem cannot be pushed too far, i t is provocative to consider the similarities in the treatment of their nominal subjects. Like Raphael's Pope and Tintoretto's Virgin, Lycidas is relegated to the background while the foreground is peopled with figures of more compelling interest to Milton. His own persona, Orpheus, Phoebus, Camus, St. Peter, St. Michael and the solemn saints above—the intensity of the poet's interest in them differs, but i t is at the very least sufficient to render remote and indistinct the figure of Lycidas. On two, or perhaps three, of them Milton focuses with special intensity, further defying the classical principal of subordina-tion to a central theme as he gives them positions of prominence that reflect his own psychological involvements. 66 One of these, of course, is Phoebus, come to reassure the poet that a just reward in Heaven awaits those who have rightly earned i t : "Fame is no plant that grows on mortal s o i l , Nor in the glistering f o i l Set off to th 1 world, nor in broad rumour l i e s , But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes And perfect witness of all-judging Jove; As he pronounces lastly on each deed, Of so much fame in Heav'n expect thy meed." (11. 78-84) This is Phoebus' answer to Milton's despairing realization that he might not be spared to enjoy the fame he- so earnestly seeks. His desire for fame, which he anticipated as a just reward for the intense effort he was prepared to put forth, had been a long standing one, frankly acknow-ledged while he was s t i l l at Cambridge: And shall I ignore a satisfaction to which no parallel can be found? To be the oracle of many peoples, to have one's home become a shrine, to be the object of invitations from kings and commonwealths and of visi t s from neighbors and distant foreigners, and of pride for s t i l l others who w i l l boast i t an honorable distinction merely to have had a single glimpse of one. These are the rewards of study and the profits that learning can and often does bring to those who cultivate her in private l i f e . ' 0 The death of a young man whose l i f e had been in so many ways similar to Milton's own raises with poignant intensity the spectre of untimely death as a possibility for himself, and, in the face of such a threat, the value of his own past efforts and of the recognition he strove for becomes a matter that must be given voice. The death of Lycidas has provoked i t , but the fact of that death is less important to the poet than the train of thought which i t inspires. 67 A second,.and more compelling, figure that demands our attention as i t reflects with consuming intensity another of Milton's preoccupations is St. Peter, the Pilot of the Galilean Lake. In the context of the poem, St. Peter as founder of the Christian Church symbolizes Milton's personal dilemma. For despite his growing misgivings, Milton is not yet released from his solemn, even though informal, commitment, to the. ministry. But his years of study have made him increasingly aware of the inadequate training and selfish motivation of the clergy, and perhaps more important, of the corruption in the church they purport to serve. The senseless death of a young man of blameless character and high purpose becomes even more incomprehensible to the poet in the face of his awareness of how needed, and how rare, such men are. Some notion , of retribution for those who abuse the trust reposed in them (however obscurely defined the form that retribution may take) is of vital impor-tance to him. Who better than Christ's leading apostle to give the reas-surance the poet needs? What better place for him to speak from than the centre of the canvas, reflecting not only his importance in the Christian hierarchy, but the strength of the poet's own need for reassur-ance that some sort of justice w i l l prevail? Appearing in the poem earlier than either St. Peter or Phoebus as the focus of Milton's attention is the figure of Orpheus. More closely integrated into the elegy's development, inasmuch as he comes on the scene in a thematically logical extension of the conventional reproach to the nymphs for their absence from the scene of Lycidas 1 death, Orpheus' appearance, though brief, is a powerful one, shattering momentarily the reflective mood of the pastoral. 68 That Milton should at some point in Lycidas make reference to the legendary poet-singer is not of i t s e l f a surprise, for not only was the story of Orpheus a commonplace during the Renaissance, but his associa-tion with the pastoral elegy was long established. Like the Greek elegy i t s e l f , the legend surrounding his death and destruction is thought to have originated in the seasonal f e r t i l i t y rites of primitive Mediterranean peoples, and in addition, there were analogies that could be drawn between the legendary figure and Edward King. Orpheus was renowned for his gifts of song, which had endowed him with the ab i l i t y to charm the trees and the wild beasts of the forest, and from this beneficent power grew the notion of him as a harmonizing and ordering force, an influence for good such as Edward King might have become within the ranks of the Christian ministry. But, like Orpheus, King had died suddenly in the prime of his young manhood, the victim of forces as cruel and senseless in their way as those which had destroyed the Greek poet-singer. It is on this cruel and senseless death that Milton focuses in Lycidas, picturing i t with a savage force that intro-duces an element of violence foreign to the pastoral scene: When, by the rout that made the hideous roar, His gory visage down the stream was sent, Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore. (11. 61-63) The intrusion is short-lived, but the vision of Orpheus' head, for the brief instant i t flashes before us, dispels a l l thought of Lycidas and the conventional associations of the pastoral lament. 69 Just as the appearance of Phoebus in the poem embodies Milton's intense ambition for earthly recognition, and that of St. Peter his disillusionment with a corrupt, self-seeking clergy,so does the shocking apparition of Orpheus' "gory visage" point to the special significance that the Orpheus legend holds for him. "Milton," Caroline Mayerson t e l l s us in "The Orpheus Image in 'Lycidas,'" "revered Orpheus as one of the models on whose traditional careers he was shaping his own . . . ." Orpheus meant a revered musician-poet-prophet-teacher who had sung of God and creation, whose songs had affected man and beast, stock and stone, even the inhabitants of Hades. His music and his teachings had contributed to the establishment of a harmonious and ci v i l i z e d society. His musical s k i l l , his power over nature, and his premature death kept alive his historical association with the pastoral elegy. To the Christian world, his personality, and his accomplishments invited comparison with those of other venerated prophets, both heathen (the Druids, among others) and sacred (Christ). Finally, for a society traditionally inclined to allegorical interpretation, Orpheus became a symbol of human wisdom directed to social ends, the c i v i l i z i n g force which renews i t s e l f , despite periodic Milton's treatment in Lycidas of the Orpheus story suggests how closely interwoven in his imagination was the fate of the legendary poet-teacher and that of the r e a l - l i f e Edward King. If'Orpheus symbolized Milton's own aspirations, he seemed likewise to stand for King's achieve-ments and prospects. In one aspect of his role as poet-prophet-teacher he provided a model for Milton; in another, only slightly different, for King. The death of King, parallelling at so many points that of Orpheus, was a r e a l - l i f e enactment of the myth, that would make terrifyingly obvious to Milton the possibility of extending to the ultimate degree--death--the analogy between the three. The intense emotional build-up of this short passage, and the speed and f i n a l i t y with which Milton diverts 70 his and our attention from Orpheus are understandable, for no one, least of a l l an individual who f e l t himself destined for great achievement, and who had spent laborious years preparing to meet that challenge, could bear to contemplate at length so horrifying a possibility. In allowing his own concerns to take precedence in his poem over i t s nominal subject, Milton demonstrates a practice common to mannerist . artists. He has developed in literature a pattern more readily apparent in painting. He has placed his emphasis, spent his emotions, unexpectedly in relation to the death of King, and by forcefully diverting our atten-tion from his nominal subject, has l e f t the true subject of his poem open to question. 71 Footnotes ^ Rose Macaulay, Milton: Great Lives (London: Gerald Duckworth and Co. Ltd., 1936), p. 48. Jon S. Lowry, "'Eager Thought1: Dialectic in Lycidas," in Milton. Modern Essays in Criticism, ed. Arthur E. Barker (London: Oxford Univer-sity Press, 1965), p. 114. 3 Milton: A Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), I, 157. 4 Milton (London: Chatto and Hindus, 1956), p. 82. 5 "from A Study of Literature," Ithaca, N.Y., 1948,, pp. 170-95, as revised in Milton (London, 1957), pp. 73-92, and rpt. in Milton's  Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. by C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston"* 1961), p. 104. "The Archetypal Pattern of. Death and Rebirth in Lycidas," from P.M.L.A., LXIV (1949), 183-88; condensed by the author and rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, ed. Patrides, p. 123. 7 The Harmonious Vision (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1954), p. 61. Q Arnold Hauser, Mannerism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul), I, 157. 9 For Tintoretto, see Cecil Gould, An Introduction to Italian  Renaissance Painting (London: Phaedon Press, 1957), p. 221; for Raphael, see Hauser, I, 157. ^ Prolusion VII, Complete Poems, ed. Hughes, p. 625. 1 1 P.M.L.A., LXIV (1949), 198. Chapter Six RHYME AND RHYTHM IN LYCIDAS In Florence the formal rhetoric of classical art was sub-jected earlier than in Rome to experiments that transformed i t - No less than their Roman contemporaries, Pontormo and Rosso worked from their inheritance of classical accomplish-ment, but they worked on i t in a different temper and with more radical effects. They subjected the classical vocabu-lary to pressures of expression that often were not to be deduced from classicism, and indeed were contrary to i t . They inverted the accepted sense of classical form or warped i t to their new ends, and made new inventions of aesthetic devices or borrowed them from sources that were geograph-ic a l l y or chronologically outside the sphere of reference of classicism. S. F. Freedberg, Painting in Italy, 1500-1600, The Pelican History of Art, Penguin Books Ltd., p. 115 James H. Hanford, in his very informative essay, "The Pastoral Elegy and Milton's Lycidas," ventures the opinion that the modern reader, approaching Lycidas for the f i r s t time, experiences a feeling of strange-ness due to his unfamiliarity with the pastoral tradition.^ It is inter-esting to conjecture that the seventeenth-century reader to whom Milton addressed his poem, who was familiar with the tradition, might, because of that very familiarity, have experienced an even greater feeling of strangeness. The conventions, classical and biblical allusions, even single words and phrases and their sources would alike be known to him, for Milton, even at this early stage in his career, is writing for a " f i t audience . . .though few" and in exploiting its.learning, as well as his own, follows accepted practice. But this very familiarity on the part of his audience with the material out of which he crafts his poem could 72 73 serve to make only more evident the unfamiliar way in which he uses i t . While making apparent his debt to Theocritus, V i r g i l and Spenser, Milton rejects the qualities which distinguish their efforts and refashions the elements of their poetry according to his own highly individualistic pattern. The sweet artlessness that marks Theocritus' "Daphnis"; the sense of symmetry and proportion, of a unified work of art, that distinguishes Virgil's"Gallus*'; the regular, easily identified rhythmic pattern of Spenser's "November" and Astrophel, are not charac-t e r i s t i c of Milton's elegy>for in Lycidas he presents the familiar elements of the pastoral tradition in a new and radically different com-bination. In his memorial poem to the death of Edward King, Milton demon-strates dramatically the principle of disegno interno—the external realization of the artist's inner vision executed without regard for objective reality or established rules. First formulated by Zuccaro in 2 1607, this concept "is the distinguishing motivation of Mannerist 3 practice." In the plastic arts, the ar t i s t may reject those Renaissance precepts which dictated an observance of the classical attributes of harmony, symmetry and balance, of adherence to mathematical rules of proportion, perspective and scale. In the literary arts, or at any rate in poetry, our main concern in this essay, the practitioner may abandon the smooth rhythmic line, the flowing cadences, the regular stanzaic form. In either case, he is asserting a personal response to his vision, which evokes from him an expression more personal and more powerful than would be possible i f he conformed to the rules hitherto prescribed for his art. 74 This is not to deny that a l l practitioners of the arts, whatever their medium of expression, draw on the heritage bequeathed to them by their predecessors, and put their own stamp on whatever of this vast bequest they elect to use. The unique handling of material, the continu-ing expansion of i t s possibilities, are significant indicators of genius, and the Renaissance had seen a growing relaxation of the absolute authority of tradition which had restrained the medieval a r t i s t . But the principle of disegno interno introduced a greater freedom from traditional usage than had previously been known; embodying a revolt against general rules which had hitherto governed the manner of usage; and involving a handling of the artist's material dictated by purely subjective consider-ations, i This need in the a r t i s t to thus stamp his efforts as the product of his personal vision may have arisen from sources internal or external to him; from some dislocation in his own psyche or from the impinging on his consciousness of radical and incomprehensible changes in the external world. These need not have affected a l l artists of a given period. Some, less sensitive, could be unaware of threatening forces in the world around them, or aware, but sufficiently secure to shrug them off. Others, vulnerable by virtue of their natural disposition or external circumstances or both, reacted in varying degrees to the stress imposed on them. I have stated earlier in this essay my conviction that Milton, at the time he wrote Lycidas, was suffering from the cumulative effects of strain resulting from years of intensive study long protracted and the normal satisfactions of young manhood long deferred, from an awareness of 75 death which the bereavements of the year had fostered, and perhaps from the suppression of his poetic talents as a concession to his father, strain which might well have been intensified by the peculiar uncertain-ties of the age in which he lived. His reading of church history and the stories of the early Christian fathers had le f t him disillusioned when he had expected to be inspired. As he studied, his convictions that the educational system was turning out men ill-equipped to discharge the duties of the ministry they undertook were confirmed. Such strain and disillusionment sought expression, but expression more personal and intense than anything to be found in earlier pastoral laments. Yet the pastoral elegiac form was a peculiarly appropriate one in which to mourn Edward King--a suitable testament to his youth, the personal esteem in which he was held, his ventures as a poet and his destined role as priest. Practice sanctioned reference in i t to the poet's own concerns, and precedent existed for the incorporation of sat i r i c reference to the church. Traditionally, the function of the elegy was to give expression to the mourner's grief; of the pastoral, to relieve the theme of sadness by investing i t with images of grace and beauty. Milton lets these func-tions assert themselves, appealing to his readers' erudition by abundant references to his predecessors, but, needing to give expression to emo-tions more compelling than grief at King's death, he presents these references in a form totally different from that sanctioned by the tradi-tion, a form more vigorous, more personal and more expressive. Let us then look at Lycidas and the ways in which Milton has 76 employed the various elements of his inheritance and consider them in order of their power to impress the reader, whether he is of Milton's generation or our own. The f i r s t "strangeness" (to use Hanford's term) that confronts the reader of Lycidas is the absence of any readily accessible rhythmic pattern, a lack that must have been far more noteworthy in the seventeenth century than i t is in the twentieth. Bearing in mind that Spenser was one important source to which Milton looked for inspiration, and close to him historically, we might consider briefly a stanza from Astrophel, Spenser's lament for the death of Sir Philip Sidney in 1586. The style of this pastoral elegy offers an instructive contrast-to Lycidas. Put-ting aside as irrelevant in the present context the fact that "Astrophel" contains a lament within a lament, both prefaced by an introduction, we w i l l consider only one stanza, emphasizing this poem's place in the tradi-tion by choosing as an example one that incorporates a familiar motif— the mourning of nature for the deceased: Woods, h i l l s and rivers now are desolate, Sith he is gone the which them a l l did grace: And a l l the fields do waile their widow state; Sith death their fairest flowre did late deface. The fairest flowre in f i e l d that ever grew Was Astrophel; that was, we a l l may rew.4 (11. 25-30) In this stanza, as almost without exception throughout the poem, Spenser's meter is iambic, his line, decasyllabic. While on the one hand he avoids the monotony that attends the unrelieved use of this rhythm by the occasional introduction into his line of an extra syllable with a 77 consequent weak ending, he exploits the soothing effect of the consistent rhythm by establishing i t as the norm for his poem. The persistent iambic beat exercises its own' palliatiive on the mourner's grief. Nor is the reader distracted from this soothing effect by an unfamiliar pattern of rhyme. Throughout the poem, the rhyming pattern of the stanzas is ababcc, the last two lines in each instance comprising a couplet which, in a style reminiscent of the sonnet, sums up, or makes a comment on, the pre-, ceding four lines. A l l the stanzas are identical; their pattern is obvious--the reader is not required to search for i t nor disturbed by its absence. It manifests i t s e l f as a consistent element contributing to the total effect of the elegy. As for the individual lines, with few excep-tions the pause at the end of each echoes the natural pause in the poet's thought. Run-on lines, as in the concluding couplet of the quoted stanza, are infrequent, and, like the occasional extra syllable, break the monotony of the metre without seriously disturbing the general pattern. , When we turn to Lycidas we find a different picture, and I use the term "picture" consciously, for the very appearance of the printed poem on the page foreshadows a different kind of poetic experience. For Lycidas does not progress in neat stanzas with lines of uniform metre and easily identifiable rhythm. Milton has taken the pastoral motifs and combined them in a totally new and highly subjective fashion. His elegy is comprised of one hundred and ninety-three lines, divided into eleven verse paragraphs that vary in length from eight to thirty-three lines, and although these lines, iambic in metre, are predominantly of ten syllables, disposed among them, apparently at random, are one seven-syllable, 78 three eleven-syllable and thirteen six-syllable lines. Of these irregular lines, only those of six syllables deviate sufficiently from the norm, and occur frequently enough, to impinge heavily on our consciousness. Nevertheless, the rhythm is broken, however sligh t l y , by these deviations. The lines are for the most part closely rhymed, but the rhyme pattern varies from verse paragraph to verse paragraph, the irregularity emphasized by the presence of eleven lines, again disposed apparently at random, which do not rhyme at a l l . If we compare the previously quoted stanza from Astrophel ' with the passage from Lycidas that embodies the same motif, we are immediately aware of the totally different effect that Milton achieves: But 0 the heavy change, now thou art,gone, Now thou art gone, and never must return! Thee Shepherd, thee the Woods, and desert Caves, With wild Thyme and the gadding Vine o'ergrown, And a l l their echoes mourn. The Willows and the Hazel Copses green Shall now no more be seen, Fanning their joyous Leaves to thy soft lays. , As k i l l i n g as the Canker to the Rose, Or Taint-worm to the weanling Herds that graze. Or Frost to Flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When f i r s t the White-thorn blows; Such, Lycidas, thy loss to Shepherd's ear. ( 1 1 , 37-49) The smooth flow of Spenser's verse gives way in Lycidas to a rhythm that emphasizes the latter poem's dramatic quality. We are acutely conscious of the speaker and of this passage as his speech, speech more carefully modulated than that of everyday usage, but never-theless embodying a strong feeling of direct communication that 79 dramatizes the mourner's grief rather than seeks to allay i t . The stanza contains thirteen lines, ten of ten syllables and three of six. There is no obvious principle governing the way the six-syllable lines are disposed. The metre is strongly iambic, but this pattern is broken by three heavily accented syllables opening the third line: "Thee, shepherd, thee the woods and desert caves . . . " and a spondee at the beginning of the eighth li n e , "Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays." Some lines rhyme, but no discernible pattern of rhyme is evident. The rhyme does not correspond to the development of the poet's thought, but makes i t s effect independently. Unlike Spenser's stanza, Milton's verse paragraph does not stand as a completely self-contained unit of thought, but looks back in i t s opening lines to the concluding lines of the preceding stanza before developing its own theme of Nature's sorrow. In poetry of the twentieth century, such irregularities of form and metre and the absence of a pattern of rhyme are commonplace, regarded 5 neither as whimsical novelties nor as wilful transgressions by the poet against established custom, but as factors contributing significantly to the expressiveness of his verse. Milton, in disregarding the accepted poetical practices of his day, was seeking a greater expressiveness than conventional patterns afforded. It is noteworthy that the lines of irregular syllabic length and the lines which do not rhyme (never identical) are concentrated in the early part of the poem, where the poet raises the questions that disturb him. Only one irregular line (162) occurs after the flower passage, suggesting that he has won the " l i t t l e 80 ease" that he sought from his floral tribute to Lycidas. In the final movement of the lament, in which the poet in some measure resolves his uncertainties, the lines are uniformly of ten syllables, with a discern-ib l e , i f erratic, rhyming pattern. The rhymed couplet, with which Milton frequently, but not always, ends his stanza, is likewise disposed in a way that seems to reflect the poet's lessening agitation. Of the seven occurrences of this regularizing element, three conclude the last three stanzas of the poem. Two stanzas stand out particularly for their apparent lack of pattern, and in each the poet develops a concern vital to him--Death, as an unforeseen, irrational agent. In the f i r s t of these—the stanza already quoted—the beautiful, the young and the fragile are grossly victimized,by dangers they cannot anticipate and cannot defend themselves against. This is one of the shorter stanzas in Lycidas, containing only thirteen lines, but numbered among these thirteen are three lines of six syllables and one line that does not rhyme. In the second passage that includes a more than usual number of irregularities, the poet attributes Lycidas' death to evil and mysterious forces, perhaps set in motion by man rather than by Nature, but nonethe-less unsuspected by and beyond the control of their victim: 0 Fountain Arethuse, and thou honor'd flood, Smooth-sliding Mincius; crown'd with vocal reeds, That strain I heard was of a higher mood: But now my Oat proceeds, And listens to the Herald of the Sea That came in Neptune's plea. He ask'd the Waves, and ask'd the Felon winds, What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain? \ 81 And question'd every gust of rugged wings That blows from off each beaked Promontory. They knew not of his story, And sage Hippotades their answer brings, That not a blast was from his dungeon stray'd, The Air was calm, and on the level brine, Sleek Panope with a l l her sisters play'd. It was that fatal and perfidious Bark Built in th 1 eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark, That sunk so low that sacred head of thine. (11. 85-102) Of the eighteen lines that comprise this stanza, four are irregular: two of six syllables, one of seven and one of eleven; one line is unrhymed. Clearly, the irregularities of form are most frequently found in those parts of the poem which express the poet's doubts attendant on death and l i f e . , The irregular pattern of rhyme, however, persists throughout the poem up to the concluding stanza, where the point of view changes, marking this stanza as a framing device for the lament proper. Its separateness from the main body of the poem's thought is confirmed by the s t r i c t regularity of the ottava rima form. "Art," says Hauser, "may be . . . the expression of an ungovern-able urge to master reality, or the feeling of being hopelessly and help-lessly at it s mercy." The irregularities in the two stanzas quoted might well reflect the turbulence in the mind of a determined and dedi-cated man, facing the reality that he too, like flowers and weanling herds, or more significantly, like his drowned contemporary Edward King, is vulnerable and defenceless against an unpredictable and irrational enemy. F. T. Prince, in his essay, "The Italian Element in Lycidas," 82 traces Milton's sources for these unfamiliar patterns of rhythm and rhyme to the works of Italian poets of the Cinquecento. But, as Prince makes clear, Milton has not achieved his effects through a casual application of Italian principles of versification, but rather has made his own rules for the poem out of his knowledge and enjoyment of the strictest Italian practice. 7 In structuring Lycidas he has demonstrated the principle of disegno interno, freely adapting the rules of Italian versification to imbue the pastoral elegy with an uncharacteristic degree of power and energy. Prince points out that Italian literature provides no exact parallel with Lycidas, no one poem that can be singled out as Milton's model. The form that Lycidas takes is the result of Milton's familiarity with and appreciation of several different kinds of Italian verse. In the poetic pastoral dramas of the sixteenth century he found the models for his irregular stanzaic form and rhyme pattern, notably in Tasso's Aminta, which "established the use, for certain purposes, of such irregu-larly rhymed passages," and in Guarino's II Pastor Fido which further developed this feature of his compatriot's pastoral drama. It is worth noting that Milton's models were dramatic works, and the modifications of the canzone form affected therein occurred in passages of dialogue. It seems likely that Milton's decision to write his elegy in dramatic mono-logue form was influenced by his awareness of the possibilities for dramatic and lyr i c a l verse opened up by this liberation of the canzone. For i t was on the canzone that Milton based his versification of Lycidas. The authority for his combination of six-syllable and 83 t e n - s y l l a b l e l i n e s and the r e l a t i o n s h i p o f t h e i r rhymes came t o M i l t o n from the I t a l i a n t r a d i t i o n , as d i d the p r i n c i p l e s governing the s t r u c t u r e o f Lyc idas . I n i t s o r i g i n a l f o r m , the canzone cons is ted " o f a complex, f u l l y rhymed stanza of some l e n g t h , repeated several t imes and f o l l o w e d by a s h o r t e r conc lud ing s t a n z a , the commiato." We are not concerned a t t h i s p o i n t w i t h the commiato, t o w h i c h , as Pr ince n o t e s , the conc lud ing stanza o f Lycidas corresponds, but r a t h e r w i t h the s t r u c t u r e o f the stanzas which make up the body o f the canzone. A t y p i c a l stanza i s made up o f two s e c t i o n s , l i n k e d by a key l i n e , or ch iave . These two sec t ions (but i n p r a c t i c e u s u a l l y one r a t h e r than both) might be s i m i l a r l y d i v i d e d and t h e i r d i v i s i o n s s i m i l a r l y l i n k e d , by a key l i n e . This key l i n e , con-ta ined i n each ins tance w i t h i n the second s e c t i o n , performs i t s l i n k i n g f u n c t i o n by rhyming w i t h the l a s t l i n e o f the f i r s t s e c t i o n . As the verse form was o r i g i n a l l y used, the express ion o f the p o e t ' s thought was shaped b y , and r e s t r a i n e d w i t h i n , the d i v i s i o n s o f the poem. Divergencies o f form and content occurred on ly f o r some spec ia l purpose. But dur ing the seventeenth c e n t u r y , p o e t i c p r a c t i c e changed and as Pr ince po in t s o u t , " the d i v i s i o n s o f the canzone were o f t e n d e l i b e r -a t e l y over r idden . . . , bu t on l y because, even when the d i c t i o n d i d not f o l l o w them, they remained i n mind , and the e f f e c t was one o f c o u n t e r p o i n t between the rhyme-pat tern and the d i c t i o n . . . . " 1 0 This c o u n t e r p o i n t appears throughout L y c i d a s , where the rhyme p a t t e r n c o n s i s t e n t l y extends beyond the statement i n which i t o r i g i n a t e s . An example can be seen i n a s e c t i o n o f the stanza p r e v i o u s l y quoted: 84 The Willows and the Hazel Copses green Shall now no more be seen, Fanning their joyous Leaves to thy soft lays. As k i l l i n g as the Canker to the Rose, Or Taint-worm to the weanling Herds that graze, Or Frost to Flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When f i r s t the White-thorn blows; Such, Lycidas, thy loss to Shepherds ear. (11. 42-49) These eight lines divide into two separate units of thought; the f i r s t three expressing the visible signs of Nature's mourning, the following five lines comparing the death of Lycidas to deaths in Nature equally unpredictable and unjustifiable. But the rhyme scheme overrides the boundaries between them. The f i f t h l ine, or second line of the second section, finds i t s rhyme in the concluding line of the f i r s t section, thus serving as a linking line, or chiave, .between the two parts of the stanza. At the same time i t sets up reverberations between the thoughts expressed in the two sections, recalling the cessation of carefree activity in the natural world brought about by Lycidas' death, and making that death one with others equally cruel and senseless. Milton is using the principle of the chiave, to create a rhyme which looks both backward and forward, and further enhances this effect by his use of the six-syllable lines, which are also placed so as to give a sense of expectation: they not only always rhyme with a previous longer line (thus looking back), but they give the impression of a contracted movement which must be compensated by a f u l l movement in the next line (which is always of f u l l length), and they thus look forward. This effect is most marked when, as in most cases, these short lines rhyme with the line immed-iately preceding them.11 The uneven rhythm of this backward and forward movement, with i t s 85 accompanying sense of contraction and expansion, generates a v i t a l i t y of its own, giving to the verse form a power at odds with the soothing function generally associated with the pastoral elegy, but a power necessary to contain the urgent questions that the poet raises therein. When Samuel Johnson said of Lycidas that "the diction is harsh, the rhymes uncertain and the numbers unpleasing," he failed to allow for the unfamiliar burden that Milton placed on his pastoral elegy. Consolation for the death of Edward King is only part, and a lesser part, of the task Lycidas performs. Milton is more concerned with questions that have to do with death, and more importantly, with life--the value of a l i f e dedicated to achievement, to service; the suddenly realized threat that death may come before that achievement is realized, that service rendered. By his repeated references to the pastoral tradition he reminds us that Lycidas is an elegiac lament and its occasion is the death of Edward King. But in the irregular pattern of his rhyme, and the unpredictable recur-rences of his six-syllable l i n e , he gives his poem a form that underlines his concern therein with the unpredictability of death and the uncer-tainty of l i f e . Spenser's smooth rhythms and graceful flowing style preclude content of such urgency. In Mi 1 ton, Mannerism and Baroque, Prof. Daniel Is, discussing mannerist elements in Lycidas, draws an analogy between the psychological effect created by Milton's juxtaposition of six-syllable and ten-syllable lines and Michelangelo's treatment of the frames and mouldings in the Laurentian Library Anteroom, pointing out that both exhibit the mannerist 12 capacity to generate expectations which they f a i l to satisfy. The 86 analogy between the poem and•Htn'e libraryllaffiterioom can be farther extended. Like Lycidas, the Ricetto is a complex "of///c,1/a'sfs'|ical motifs, handled in an arbitrary, highly individual fashion. The room serves no function other than to contain the staircase which provides access to the Library proper, whose floor is some three metres above the floor of the anteroom. The staircase i t s e l f is of massive proportions, i t s overwhelming presence emphasized by i t s division into three contiguous sections, each of which, separated by a balustrade from i t s neighbour, retains i t s own identity. The two side f l i g h t s , with their rectangular treads, seem to climb upwards, while the central section, i t s steps rounded in the centre and again where they meet the balustrade, flows downward with relentless force. The anteroom which contains this compelling structure opposes i t with a dynamism of i t s own. The wall surfaces are heavily burdened with structural and decorative members, their dark grey color contrasting strongly and sombrely with the dead white of the walls. They are domi-nated by heavy columns, standing in pairs, whose weight and unrelieved severity of design are stressed by the slender, fluted corbels suspended beneath them. The blank windows are overburdened with heavy, rounded pediments, contrasting oddly with the delicate articulation of the niches above them. A similar contrast distinguishes the narrow doorway standing outlined in an angular pattern of slender molding, which plays against the massive columns flanking each side of the opening proper, and against the weight of the pediments pressing down from above. But disparate as they are, and incongruous as they might seem, these elements in 87 juxtaposition give to the walls of the anteroom a necessary monumentality which permits the small volume of the room to accommodate the powerful force of the tripartite staircase. Similarly, the verse form which Milton achieves for Lycidas by his very personal manipulation of Italian rhythms is able to sustain the questions which he raises. The lay reader, unfamiliar with Italian poetry of the Renaissance and the rules governing its composition, is unlikely to recognize the ways in which Milton has conformed to these. Even those f i r s t readers of the memorial volume for Edward King, comprising as they did a select and educated audience, might have had d i f f i c u l t y in tracing Milton's pattern of versification to i t s sources, for even within the principles that he followed he arbitrarily introduced variations and deviations for the sake of greater expressiveness. Today's reader, while sensing some governing principle underlying the apparently random disposition of short and unrhymed lines, accepts the irregularities of i t s application and responds to the energy that this application generates. The impulse for Milton's emotion may catch us unaware, but i t s strength is inescapable. The poet demands that we share his mental turmoil, unalleviated by the soothing effect of rhythm and the psychological security offered by a repeated, identifiable pattern of rhyme. 88 Footnotes P.M.L.A., XXV (1910), 403-47; revised by the editor and rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 27. Erwin Panofsky, Idea (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1968), p. 85. 3 Roy Daniells, "The Mannerist Element in English Literature," rpt. from University of Toronto Quarterly, XXXVI, No. 1 (Oct. 1966), 4. 4 Edmund Spenser, "The Lay of Clorinda" from Astrophel in The  Pastoral Elegy: An Anthology, ed. Thomas Perrin Harrison (New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968), p. 190. 5 John Crowe Ransom, "A Poem Nearly Anonymous," from The World's  Body (New York, 1938), pp. 1-28; f i r s t published in the American Review, IV (1933), rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 19617, p. 71. Mannerism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965), I, 5. 7 From The Italian Element in Milton's Verse (Oxford, 1954), pp. 71-88, rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, ed. Patrides, p. 165. 8 Ibid., p. 155. 9 Ibid., p. 154. 1 0 Ibid., p. 163. 1 1 Ibid., p. 165. 12 Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1963, p. 42. Chapter Seven UNITY IN LYCIDAS In Mannerist painting, drama, and poetry conflicting or unrelated modes of feeling and conduct are brought together side by side and le f t unreconciled, as i f one phase of activity had nothing to do whatever with another phase of activity in which the same persons take part, (p. 146) The mannerist composition has a psychological focus, perhaps, rather than any stated structural focus, . . . . (p. 145) Wylie Sypher, Four Stages of  Renaissance Style. To the modern reader of Lycidas, as perhaps to Milton's contem-poraries, the question of the poem's unity is a troubling one. For even as we recognize that each part is indispensable and that none could be eliminated without doing irreparable violence to the poem, we miss the sense of inev i t a b i l i t y , of a sequence of parts flowing smoothly to a natural conclusion, that distinguishes the poetry of Milton's predeces-sors. We do not find sustained in Lycidas the consolatory mood of earlier pastorals, and we are startled by the interjection of images hostile to the Arcadian world. The symmetry of parts and the organic thematic development that marks Astrophel, the harmoniously balanced organization of "Gallus"--those characteristics inherited from the class-ical world that the Renaissance admired and established as standards of a r t i s t i c excellence—give way in Lycidas to a different mode of structure. Scholarly discussion of Lycidas acknowledges this, i f only impli-c i t l y , in that i t tends to see the poem made up of several parts. 89 90 Although there is no unanimity of opinion on the exact delineation of these parts, in general c r i t i c s agree that the poem consists of an intro-duction, a lament proper divided into three sections, and a conclusion. Opinions differ as to the point at which the introduction ends and the lament begins, but on the divisions within the lament, and the points at which they occur, c r i t i c s in general agree. The f i r s t section ends at line 84, after Phoebus' declaration on heavenly, as opposed to earthly fame: As he pronounces lastly on each deed Of so much fame in Heav'n expect thy meed. (11. 83-84) The second section ends at line 131, after St. Peter's terrible and enigmatic threat of vengeance: But that two-handed engine at the door Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more. (11. 130-31) The final section (and the .lament proper) ends at line 185, with the vision of Lycidas as "the Genius of the shore": In thy large recompense, and shalt be good To a l l that wander in that perilous flood. (11. 184-85) The last eight lines, the ottava rima, make up the poem's conclusion. These divisions are a matter of general agreement,^ but, as 91 indicated earlier, an interesting and apparently hitherto unacknowledged disagreement exists between English scholars over one other important division in the poem, namely, that point in Lycidas at which the intro-duction ends and the lament begins. This disagreement is worth a moment's consideration, not because i t is of particular importance in relationship to the poem's unity, but because i t offers in literary form an example of a mannerist characteristic more commonly associated with architecture. David Daiches, noting Milton's close recall of the opening refrain in Thyrsis' song from Theocritus' "Daphnis" would establish line 15 as the beginning of the lament proper: It is with deliberate awareness of the classical pastoral tradi-tion that Milton begins the actual elegy in the second verse para-graph: 2 Begin, then, Sisters of the sacred well . . . Not so, says Woodhouse. "The f i r s t movement (23-24) begins with a reminiscence of the l i f e at Cambridge presented under pastoral images, 3 . . . ." Woodhouse is referring to the lines which read: For we were nurst upon the self-same h i l l , Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and r i l l . (11. 23-24) E. W. M. Tillyard, however, is of the opinion that these two lines should be included in the introduction, and that the elegy proper begins at line 25, with Milton's recollection in pastoral terms of the 4 two youths 1 shared experiences: Together both, ere the high Lawns appear'd 92 Under the opening eyelids , of the morn We drove afi e l d , . . . (11. 25-28) A case can be made for any one of these choices. As Daiches points out, in summoning the Muses Milton is recalling a convention that goes back to Theocritus and the earliest pastoral dirge. The similarity is unmistakable between this line from Lycidas and the refrain with which Thyrsis begins his lament for Daphnis: "Begin, dear Muses, begin the pastoral song." But can we say with certainty that this call to the Muses marks the actual beginning of Milton's lament? For the poet turns away momentarily from his task to note that he too w i l l die, and to hope that his death w i l l call forth a song from some other poet: Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse, So may some gentle Muse With lucky words favour my destin'd Urn, And as he passes turn, And bid f a i r peace be to my sable shroud. (11. 18-22) Woodhouse's choice of lines to mark the starting point for the elegy proper is likewise open to question. Do they, as this c r i t i c sug-gests, mark the beginning of the poet's reminiscences, and therefore the beginning of his lament, or is he, as Tillyard states, s t i l l at this point concerned chiefly with his own fate, and developing the analogy between his l i f e and that of Edward King? This blurring of the relationship between contiguous parts is a common characteristic of mannerist art. It can be seen most easily in 93 mannerist architecture, where one member is made to serve two units, and cannot be specifically identified with either to the exclusion of the other. Michelangelo's Medici Chapel offers a clear example. Here the doors at the corner of the chapel and the blind tabernacles above them "share the main horizontal member between them; the brackets at the ends of this horizontal may be read as supporting a l i n t e l in the context of 5 the door or hanging from a base in the context of the tabernacle." Similarly, we may read the two debated lines from Lycidas as either the poet's summing up of the reasons why he should undertake the unwelcome task of thus acknowledging his friend's death, or as the beginning of g his account of the l i f e they shared. Leaving aside this question, to which no final resolution is pos-sible, let us consider the divisions that have been identified, and the search for the organizing principle that unifies them. That search is complicated by the presence, in each of the f i r s t two divisions, of pas-sages devoted to questions thematically allowable within the pastoral context, but in Lycidas charged with an emotion that severely strains, i f i t does not altogether vanquish temporarily, the pastoral mood. The questions of Fame as a just reward for a l i f e dedicated to achievement and of punishment for a l i f e of corruption are given an emphasis that exaggerates the separateness of the poem's parts, setting them in contest with another and threatening the unity of the poem as a whole. Some c r i t i c s recognize these questions as "digressions," not from the poem's thought, but from i t s mood.7 Others, disliking perhaps the implications of such nomenclature, see them not as "digressions" but 94 o as passages distinguished by a greater emotional power. Another view, while recognizing the intensified emotion that pervades these passages, sees i t as the natural climax of a gradually rising emotional crescendo, g perfectly controlled and parallelled in each section of the poem. S t i l l another view, holding that in Lycidas Milton has a more profound purpose than the merely elegiac one--that of resolving his fears of premature death and his bitter scorn of the clergy "into an exalted state of mental calm"10--sees this purpose as bringing the varying elements and differing emotional levels into harmonious relationship. The above do not exhaust the differences which are to be found in c r i t i c a l discussions of the structure of Lycidas. They do suggest, however the resistance that the poem offers to any attempts to impose a pattern on i t . Even the acknowledgement that the poem does indeed divide into three or possibly four sections does not take into account the discrepan-cies in mood, scale and subject matter which exist within each division. Within the f i r s t division, for instance, we encounter a bewildering sequence of changes. This section opens with the poet's description, in pastoral terms, of the activities which he and Lycidas shared: Together both, ere the high Lawns appear'd Under the opening eyelids of the morn, We drove afi e l d , and both together heard What time the Gray-fly winds her sultry horn, Batt'ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night, Oft t i l l the Star that rose, at Ev'ning, bright Toward Heav'n's descent had slop'd his westering wheel. (11. 25-31) The scene is a pleasant landscape, containing no special 95 distinguishing features. Normal expectation is f u l f i l l e d by the shep-herds, their flocks, and the grassy fields in which the sheep feed. The cycle of the day is rendered in delicate imagery that creates for us the tender beauty typical of the peaceful pastoral scene. From the "opening eyelids of the morn" to the end of the day, signalled by the "Star that rose, at Ev'ning," the scene is suffused by an aura of peaceful charm quite in keeping with the pastoral landscape. The tone is objective, matter of fact. No hint of impending sorrow clouds this short vignette. The only touch of melancholy is in the verb tense, suggesting as i t does that these activities belong to the irretrievable past. But since a l l past is irretrievable, and to yearn after i t a commonplace, no special sorrow necessarily attaches to these lines. And even their sub-, dued melancholy is tempered by the poet's recollection of rustic songs and dancing that formed part of their day. The mood changes abruptly, becoming in f i n i t e l y more sombre, as we move into the passage describing the mourning of nature: But 0 the heavy change, now thou art gone, Now thou art gone, and never must return! (11. 37-38) The heavy monosyllables, emphasized by repetition, echo the weight of the poet's oppression, and the f i n a l i t y of Lycidas' death is underlined by the closing phrase, "and never must return," the accented "never" impinging on our consciousness with emphatic force. The mood of sadness persists as the poet recounts his and Nature's mourning, expressing the bitterness of loss in images that reflect his 96 new awareness that youth and beauty are forever menaced by hidden threats from within and unpredictable forces from without: As k i l l i n g as the Canker to the Rose, Or Taint-worm to the weanling Herds that graze, Or Frost to Flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When f i r s t the White-thorn blows; Such, Lycidas, thy loss to Shepherd's ear. (11. 45-49) Bitter as these images are, they do not prepare us for the next passage, with its abrupt change of mood, as the head of the dismembered Orpheus flashes suddenly upon the peaceful pastoral scene and as suddenly disappears: When by the rout that made the hideous roar, His gory visage down the stream was sent, Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore? (11. 61-63) The violence of the crowd, the ugly noise that accompanies their hideous activity, and the "gory visage" in which this activity culminates are of an emotional intensity altogether different from anything we have hitherto encountered in this section. Unexpected shifts in scale and perspective accompany these changes in mood. The opening pastoral scene reproduces briefly in pictorial language the prospect or vista beloved by seventeenth-century landscape painters. In this distant view no details loom up with special cl a r i t y . The shepherds' activities are clouded by a soft haze that changes but persists from pre-dawn through noon-day heat to evening's waning light. 97 The bloody head of Orpheus, on the other hand, is thrust before us in dramatic closeup, shocking us into renewed awareness of the poet's task and the death that occasioned i t . Lycidas' death is. a real death, merciless and irrational, i t s wanton cruelty not to be obscured by the pretty conventions of the pastoral. The impact of this violent scene is reinforced by an abrupt recall of the pastoral world as the poet ponders the value of the dedi-cated l i f e : Alas! What boots i t with uncessant care To tend the homely slighted Shepherd's trade, And s t r i c t l y meditate the thankless Muse? (11. 64-66) These unexpected shifts in tone are not confined to this f i r s t division of the poem. The passionate indictment of the "fatal and per-fidious Bark / Built in th 1 eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark," (11. 100-1), as the agent of Lycidas' death, contrasts strangely with the peaceful seascape that immediately precedes i t : The air was calm, and on the level brine Sleek Panope with a l l her sisters play'd. (11. 98-99) A similar contrast marks the portraits of Camus and St. Peter, who follow one another in the procession of mourners. In Camus, Milton portrays a vaguely melancholic figure, weighed down by his heavy garments embroidered to recall the sad legend of Hyacinthus: 98 Next Camus, reverend Sire, went footing slow, His Mantle hairy, and his Bonnet sedge, Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge Like to that sanguine flower inscrib'd with woe. (11. 103-06) The aura of gentle, melancholy that surrounds Camus extends to his inquiry after the dead Lycidas: "Ah! Who hath reft" (quoth he) "my dearest pledge?" (1. 107). Camus' air of slow deliberation is echoed by the phrasing of his question. Its division into two parts robs i t of any urgency; the interpolated "quoth he" slows down the line to match his measured tread. Juxtaposed against Camus' blurry outline, but seen from a totally different perspective, is the forbidding figure of St. Peter, whose dramatic appearance on the peaceful pastoral scene is reported with stark simplicity: Last came and last did go The Pilot of the Galilean lake. (11. 108-09) The harsh "k" of "came" and the gutteral "g". of "go" in the open-ing line of the stanza set the tone for the passage to follow, throughout which these are the predominant consonantal sounds. The alliterated "k" reverberates throughout the line announcing that St. Peter is about to speak: "He shook his Mitred' locks and stern bespake:" (1. 112). This line anticipates the tonal quality of the speech i t s e l f : "How well could I have spar'd for thee, young swain, Enough of such as for their bellies' sake, 99 Creep and intrude and climb into the fold? Of other care they l i t t l e reck'ning make, Then how to scramble at the shearers' feast, And shove away the worthy bidden guest; Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold A Sheep-hook, or have learn'd aught else the least That to the faithful Herdman's art belongs! II (11. 113-21) The harshness of these repeated "k's" and "g's" is intensified by the repetition of that least lovely of sounds that the English language affords—the ugly "ow" of "how," "anow," and "mouths" that echoes through the early lines of St. Peter's speech. While the vowels soften as the speech proceeds, the harsh consonants continue until the final threat of vengeance. Any consideration of this passage must take into account its relative paucity of adjectives and heavy concentration of verbs. The poet is concerned with the corruption within the church and he expresses the urgency of this concern by picturing as process the activities that disturb him. "What recks i t them? What need they? They are sped; And when they l i s t , their lean and flashy songs Grate on their scrannel Pipes of wretched straw. The hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed, But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw, Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread: II (11. 122-27) More, than a difference in emotional intensity separates this pas-sage from the rest of Lycidas. At this point in his poem Milton's 100 attention is f u l l y engaged by the corrupt clergy, and he portrays them and their behaviour in language that employs not only meaning but quality of sound to express his anger and contempt. In Bronzino's Allegory we can see a similar contrast between the dominant figures. The face of Time, thrusting out from the top right of the painting, is distorted with emotion, whereas Venus and Cupid appear frozen in their awkward pose and embrace without passion. Time's coarsely muscled arm and dark skin tones set him apart from Venus and Cupid, rendered with porcelain-like delicacy and finely wrought body con-tours. Like St. Peter in Lycidas, Time is an intrusive element in this painting, related to i t s subject by some subjective consideration of the ar t i s t , but given a distinct and separate existence within the total painting by the technical resources of the painter. The third division of Lycidas contains similarly disconcerting contrasts, as we move directly from the intimate scale of the flower passage, with i t s close-up of the delicate markings on the sad Pansy faces and the tears that f i l l the cups of mourning "Daffadi.llies" to the boundless immensity of the watery world that is Lycidas' unmarked grave. The sheltering prospect of "valleys low" and "gushing brooks" is cut off and in i t s place we are confronted by a restless and menacing ocean, not in some fi c t i t i o u s landscape drawn from the poet's imagination or the classical world as hitherto, but in the real world of which Milton i s , and Edward King was, part. Once again the poet reminds us of the reality of King's death, and of that body that welters to the parching wind blow-ing from the stormy Hebrides to the distant Spanish shore. 101 Such sudden shifts in tone and mood, in time and place, the fact that the poem does not present an "ordered landscape in which everything is made to achieve congruity"^ encourage us to look at Lycidas as the work of a mannerist sensibility. For i t is upon this "violent yoking 12 together of apparently unrelated elements" that mannerism depends in 13 part for i t s effects. Hauser, in his discussion of mannerism as i t appears in English literature, describes such a compositional method as 14 "totally unclassical." His specific reference is to Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, but allowing for the difference in genre, his com-ments on the structure of the play warrant consideration in relationship to Lycidas. Such structure he sees as following neither the principle of unity nor that of proportion or balance of constituent elements; nor is i t in harmony with the principle of necessity or f i n a l i t y . It is instead "cinematic" and "atomized," free from a l l regard for temporal and spatial unity. It does not present a logical sequence of events moving towards a dramatic climax, but, like the motion picture technique, "montage," seeks to create a mood or express an idea by showing in swift sequence a series of short and not necessarily sequentially related scenes. "A film-like freedom with space and time, discontinuity in both mediums:, dissolves and interpolations, are characteristic of the whole."1 He continues by pointing out that "in mannerism, unity of structure is either a matter of indifference, or, . . . obtained by different, less 16 striking and often more complicated means than in classical art." Few scholarly discussions of Lycidas address themselves directly to the question of i t s unity. Those which do, however, suggest a kind 102 of unity in the poem which accords with mannerist c r i t e r i a , although such discussions, i t need hardly be pointed out, do not acknowledge mannerist c r i t e r i a as their basis. Their suggestions, however, are on this account more rather than less interesting to the student of manner-ism, since they unwittingly point to an unconventional ( i . e . , anti-classical) determinant of the poem's unity. The most explicit occurs in an essay by Northrop Frye, wherein Fry states that the provisional hypothesis from which the study of every poem must begin is that that poem is a unity. He points out that i f undue emphasis is placed on the "peripheral facts" about Lycidas--what we know of Milton, his relation-ship to King, his ambitions as a poet, his bitter feelings towards the clergy--facts in themselves only tenuously related and incorporated into the poem in compliance with different creative principles, "... the poem w i l l break down into pieces corresponding to those fragments of knowledge."17 Lycidas, he implies, must be regarded as an "imaginative unity." "By appearing himself at the beginning and end of the poem, Milton presents the poem as, in a sense, contained within the mind of the 18 poet." Such an opinion is not far removed from that of Tillyard, men-tioned earlier, that the basis of the poem's unity lies in the resolving of the poet's fears of premature death and of his bitter scorn of the clergy; in bringing, as i t does, a state of mental calm to a mind keyed 19 up by struggle. M. H. Abrams finds a similar unifying element in the movement of the poem from despair through a series of insights to trium-phant j o y . ^ If we concede the poetic imagination and the poet's purpose—so 103 closely related as to be almost the same force--as unifying elements, then shifts in time and place, mood and tone, become legitimate means of intensifying the poem's expressive capacity. Their presence helps to identify Lycidas as a mannerist work. "Homogeneity of constituent elements is never and nowhere a characteristic of mannerism; i f i t had 21 ever achieved such a thing i t would have ceased to be what i t was." 104 Footnotes Tillyard makes a further division at line 164, describing the flo r a l tribute and the "escape into a region of pure romance" that follows i t as providing both a transitional passage and a necessary interlude "between St. Peter's bitter outburst and the heavenly triumph of the final movement." E. M. W. Tillyard, "from Milton," London, 1930, pp. 79-85, rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 62. 2 "from A Study of Literature," Ithaca, N.Y., 1948, , pp. 170-95, as revised in Milton (London, 1957), pp. 73-92, and rpt. in Milton's  Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. by C. A. Patrides (New York: . Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 105. 3 A. S. P. Woodhouse, "Milton's Pastoral Monodies,", in Studies . in Honour of Gilbert Norwood, ed. Mary E. White (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1953), p. 274. 4 "from Milton," in Milton's Lycidas, ed. Patrides, p. 61. ^ John Shearman, Mannerism (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1967), p. 73. Where a preference must be indicated, as is necessary for the discussion to follow, I prefer Tillyard's opinion that the elegy proper begins at line 25. 7 Woodhouse,. p. 273. J. Milton French, "The Digressions in Milton's 'Lycidas,'" Studies in Philology, Vol. L, No. 3 (July 1953), 488. 9 Arthur Barker, "The Pattern of Milton's Nativity Ode," The  University of Toronto Quarterly, X (1940-41), 172. 1 0 E. M. W. Tillyard, "from Milton," in Milton's Lycidas, ed. Patrides, p. 61. 1 1 Roy Daniells, Mi 1 ton, Mannerism and Baroque (Toronto: Univer-sity of Toronto Press, 1963), p. 40. 1 o Daniel B. Rowland, Mannerism--Style and Mood (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1964), p. 76. 13 Even Shearman, whose approach to mannerism ostensibly rejects the more dramatic c r i t e r i a which his colleagues in the f i e l d suggest, agrees that unity in the classical sense is not a necessary feature of 105 mannerist works of art (see pp. 137-51, Mannerism). He speaks of the element of surprise in a mannerist staircase, which did not "allow the visitor to grasp visually the whole unit, but only its successive parts;" (p. 116), and of a mannerist garden, as "not usually to be grasped as a unity, nothing predominates and there is no dramatic focus . . . . The successive, cumulative impression is more important . . . ." (p. 125). Shearman's text is concerned for the most part with minor art formswhich exhibit the style, and i t is therefore from them that he draws specific examples to illustrate his point. 14 Arnold Hauser, Mannerism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965), I, 344. 1 5 Ibid., p. 344. 1 6 Ibid., p. 345. 1 7 "Literature as Context: Milton's Lycidas," from The Proceedings  of the Second Congress of the International Comparative Literature Asso- ciation, ed. W. P. Friederick, University of North Carolina Studies in Comparative Literature, XXIII (1959), 44-55, and rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961"), p. 205. 1 8 Ibid., p. 203. I Q E. M. W. Tillyard, "from Milton," in Milton's Lycidas, ed. Patrides, p. 61. 20 "Five Types of Lycidas," in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition  and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 196lT7~p. 226. Hauser, p. 348. Chapter Eight GRACE AND ELEGANCE vs. TENSION IN LYCIDAS Mannerist works of art are conceived in the s p i r i t of virtuoso-performances (John Shearman, Mannerism, p. 81). The most characteristic quality of "mannerist" art . . . is an internal dualism, an inner tension (Erwin Panofsky, Idea, p. 79). The opening pages of this essay take note of two important c r i t i -cal approaches to mannerism: one which considers that any truly mannerist work is marked by the presence of unresolved tension, and a second which sees a mannerist work of art as distinguished by its beauty of execution, fineness of fi n i s h , grace and elegance of style--all those qualities which unite to produce a work of consummate artistry. How does Lycidas fare when measured against these standards? Leaving aside temporarily the question of tension, we find in Milton's poem ample evidence that i t f u l f i l s Shearman's cri t e r i a of virtuoso performance. For Lycidas is an enduring testimonial to Milton's poetic genius. He employs his a r t i s t i c medium, language, to create an eloquent lament, investing an old poetic form with new v i t a l i t y and making i t memorable with passages of pathos and beauty. The beauty, however, rests as often in Milton's handling of the language as in the images that language evokes, for the poet joins sound and sense within his chosen form to achieve effects of uncommon power and expressiveness. This is nowhere better exemplified in the poem than in the passage following the catalogue of flowers, where the poet sadly acknowledges 106 107 the uncertainty of Lycidas 1 fate - 'iM-JIflflllfi Ay me! Whilst thee the shores and sounding Seas Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurl'd, Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides, Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide V i s i t ' s t the bottom of the monstrous world; Or whether thou to our moist vows denied, Sleep 1st by the fable of Bellerus old, Where the great vision of the guarded Mount Looks towards Namancos and Bayona's hold; . . . (11. 154-62) The language makes plain that, beyond the certainty of his death, l i t t l e is known of Lycidas' fate. Robbed of his identity as an individual, without power to resist the relentless force of the water, he is at the mercy of a sea whose limits are undefined and whose depths are unplumbed. In this context the notion that he might " v i s i t " the underwater world or "sleep" by "the fable of Bellerus old" can only be ironic, for the sea has robbed Lycidas of a l l power to determine his actions and of the capacity to engage in such homely act i v i t i e s . He floats perhaps beyond the named boundaries of the ocean, and, even when possible boundaries are set, the likelihood of their confining him is questioned. "Where'er," "whether," "where," "perhaps"—this is a vocabulary of uncertainty, uncer-tainty caught up and echoed by the alliterated "wh" and "w" sounds that pervade the lines: "whilst thee the shores . . . ," "wash far away," "where thou perhaps under the whelming tide," "the monstrous world." The insistent iambic rhythm, with the stress f a l l i n g for the most part on heavy vowels, reproduces the steady pounding of the waves—the pounding that has reduced Lycidas to "bones" as he is tossed back and 108 forth. This is particularly effective in the f i r s t two lines, where con-sonants are juxtaposed and vowel sounds repeated to reinforce the rhythm of the verse. Throughout this passage, as indeed throughout the poem, sound and rhythm are subtly manipulated to heighten the meaning of the language. Ay me! Whilst thee the shores and sounding Seas Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurl'd. (11. 154-55) Here the poet indicates his own despair (me), his friend's plight (thee) and the, source of both (the seas) letting them chime together in a rhythm that echoes the monotonous regularity of the waves. The consonantal pattern of this sequence of predominantly one-syllable words ensures that this rhythm is maintained. At the same time, the action of the water is described in language carrying l i t t l e emotional or connotative force (wash far away), until we reach "hurl'd" in which the f u l l violence of the sea is suddenly released. The implications of "bones" washed far away are revealed in a grimmer li g h t , and the menace latent in the lines becomes appallingly clear. In another passage noteworthy for the way in which sense, sound, rhythm are combined to create a desired effect, Milton takes a convention that is a commonplace in the pastoral elegy, the mourning of nature for the deceased, and presents i t with freshness and originality: But 0 the heavy change, now thou art gone, Now thou art gone,,and never must return! Thee Shepherd, thee the Woods, and desert Caves, 109 With wild Thyme and the gadding Vine o'ergrown, And a l l their echoes mourn. The Willows and the Hazel Copses green Shall now no more be seen, Fanning their joyous Leaves to thy soft lays. As k i l l i n g as the Canker to the Rose, Or Taint-worm to the weanling Herds that graze, Or Frost to Flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When f i r s t the White-thorn blows; Such, Lycidas, thy loss to Shepherd's ear. (11. 37-49) Our attention is immediately engaged by the opening couplet, in which the stark fact of Lycidas 1 death is twice stated in language of compel-ling simplicity: "now thou art gone,/ Now thou art gone." The despairing wail of the "ow" reverberates in our consciousness, and the poignancy of the second cry is underlined by the f i n a l i t y of the accented "never" which follows: "Now thou art gone,and never must return" (1. 38). At the same time the rhythm of the lines is subtly checked by the harsh, rough texture of this elemental vocabulary, while an unobtrusive change in metre from the iambic of the f i r s t line to the opening spondee of the second, together with the caesura after "gone" ensures that each s i g n i f i -cant word, "now," "thou," "gone," is given f u l l emphasis. The mourning "Woods and desert Caves" are presented in intimate association with the dead shepherd; "Thee Shepherd, thee the Woods, and desert Caves, I . . . I And a l l their echoes mourn" (11. 39-41). This movement from the large generalities of woods and caves to the intimate detail of Thyme and Vine, Willow and Hazel gives the convention of mourn-ing Nature a certain c r e d i b i l i t y , for i t places the dead Lycidas in a setting from which he may well be missed--as shepherd he was one more specific in the pastoral landscape. 110 Milton follows this movement with three images which demonstrate his use of imagery as a unifying element in the total structure of the poem. Each image is within the context of the stanza—Nature mourning for the loss of Lycidas—but it s meaning extends into the poem beyond the boundaries of one stanza. The f i r s t two, the Canker in the Rose and the Taint-worm that infects the weanling Herds, present a picture of surface beauty undermined from within, and look forward to the poet's later indictment of a corrupt clergy that fattens i t s e l f on the church while those in it s charge, "the hungry Sheep," "rot inwardly" (11. 125-27). The third, in delicately beautiful language, presents an image of flowers blighted by frost in the f u l l glory of their springtime loveliness, reminding us of the central event of the poem—the unexpected and unpredic-table cutting off of a young l i f e . Throughout the stanza the sound of the language reinforces the meaning. A heavy sense of loss pervades the opening lines, and the abrasive quality of the repeated "k's"—"as k i l l i n g as the Canker to the Rose," and the "f's" and "r's" of "frost," "flowers," and " f i r s t " grate on our sensibilities like the hard fact of bereavement. Johnson complained of Milton's diction that i t was harsh; much of the diction in this passage can be so described. But Milton's choice of language shocks us into a new awareness of the poignancy of death. It l i f t s his sentiments above the t r i t e and perfunctory, and breathes new l i f e into the familiar pastoral convention. Wylie Sypher has called attention to "the power of the isolated phrase"1 in mannerist literature, pointing out that phrases of a mannerist I l l poem can enjoy an independent existence, gaining in poetic force and v i t a l i t y when they are thus deprived of context. No student of Lycidas, whether or not he sees in the poem evidence of a mannerist sensibility, would disagree that this is true of Milton's elegy. Each may have his own special favorites, although I suspect that the appeal of at least some of the following is general: He must not float upon his wat'ry bier Unwept, and welter to the parching wind, (11. 12-13) Under the opening eyelids of the morn, (1. 26) . . . Frost to Flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When f i r s t the White-thorn blows; (11. ,47-48) The Air was calm, and on the level brine Sleek Panope with a l l her sisters play'd. (11. 98-99) And Daffadillies f i l l their cups with tears, (1. 150) Look homeward. Angel now, and melt with ruth; (1. 163) . . . sweet Societies That sing, and singing in their glory move, And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes. (11. 179-81) The above are not intended to constitute a f u l l l i s t of lines which, iso-lated from their context, linger on to haunt the reader long after the poem has been read and the book laid aside. They merely suggest the power of Milton's language and the sentiment i t conveys to impress them-selves on the mind. 112 In some instances their appeal can in part be analysed and explained, the result of a happy synthesis of meaning with elements of the poetic art, We can see this at work in the f i r s t example quoted. The poet explains the unhappy circumstances of Lycidas 1 death, circum-stances that are driving him to the task of writing a lament, despite his feeling that he is not yet prepared to do so. Lycidas 1 need to be remembered and mourned is greater than the poet's reluctance to write, and he conveys the sense of that need by picturing the drowned youth at the mercy of both wind and water; the wind w i l l toss his unresisting body helplessly about and the water w i l l carry him to oblivion. The position of "must," the f i r s t accented beat in the line, gives i t a special urgency, and even though grammatically the need i t expresses relates to Lycidas, thematically i t reminds us of the obligation placed on the poet. The alliterated "w's" coincide with the stresses of the rhythm, linking "wat'ry" with "unwept," "welter" and "wind," so that the words most heavily charged with meaning are joined both by sound and accent. Milton is so often thought of as a poet whose vocabulary and structures are dominated by latinisms that i t is worth noting the simpli-city of both in these two lines. He uses language derived exclusively from the limited vocabulary of his Anglo-Saxon and Middle English heri-tage, disposing i t with artful simplicity to achieve richly sonorous poetry. Not every memorable line in Lycidas submits as readily to even a partial explanation of i t s power. "And Daffadillies f i l l their cups with tears," (1. 150)--this line contains no obvious poetic devices to 113 explain i t s pull on the feelings of the reader. Neither language nor rhythm are in any way unusual or remarkable. Does i t s secret l i e in the diminutive, endowing these sturdy flowers with an unaccustomed air of f r a g i l i t y , or is i t the pathos inherent in the thought of their tear-f i l l e d cups? Or is i t some other element that defies explanation? With some lines i t is beyond the power of language to offer even a tentative explanation of their appeal. "Look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth" is such an instance. What gives these simple words their aura of haunting poignancy? Any attempt to assign i t to the emotional connotations of "homeward" or "ruth" can be quickly dispelled, for with-out denying their power to engage our sympathies, we have only to change their order sl i g h t l y , or to move one word, to appreciate that their sequence is as important as the words themselves, and that both have been determined by a unique sensitivity. There are other memorable lines in Lycidas, the secret of whose power is similarly elusive. "With Nectar pure his oozy Locks he laves" (1. 175) conjures up an incongruous vision. Nectar, thought of as a drink, and a sweet drink at that, seems inappropriate as a cleansing agent. Its firm association with the gods and goddesses of Greek mythol-ogy makes questionable i t s presence in a Christian heaven. The mention of "oozy locks" recalls a l l too vividly the closing of the "remorseless deep" over Lycidas' head, and his exposure to the action of wind and water. Yet the line has an i r r e s i s t i b l e melody, and impresses with i t s , soothing quality that rests in the soft sounds of the words rather than in their meaning. 114 The poem as a whole owes something of i t s unique appeal to Milton's special vocabulary. It has been pointed out that the poet intro-duced into his elegy a number of words not hitherto an accepted part of the language of English poetry, words that "refer primarily to the natural world, in more specific and sensory terms than were usual before 2 Milton's time." Of these new words, an unusually large proportion are adjectives, and indeed, throughout Lycidas, adjectives, whether familiar or part of this new vocabulary, occur more frequently than is generally characteristic of English poetry, which for the most part employs more verbs than adjectives. Lycidas, however, reverses this practice and uses more adjectives than verbs. The actual numbers have been found to 3 average twelve adjectives and nine verbs to each ten lines of poetry. An excerpt from the catalogue of flowers suggests how effectively this concentration on adjectives contributes to the power of Milton's verse: Throw hither a l l your quaint enamel I'd eyes, That on the green turf suck the honied showers, And purple a l l the ground with vernal flowers. (11. 139-41) In these lines the predominance of adjectives is slightly greater than throughout the poem as a whole, particularly when we allow that the function of "purple" is more adjectival than verbal, i t s force being derived, from i t s descriptive capacity rather than from i t s power to sug-gest an action. The ambiguity inherent in the command is obscured by the richly detailed descriptions that i t contains—descriptions that endow each substantive with "specific and sensory" properties. The "eyes" 115 are "quaint, enammel'd"—skilfully wrought in the gay, bright colors associated with enamel and endowed with i t s light-reflecting capacities. Supporting them and providing a f i t t i n g l y contrasted background is the "green turf." These two images are predominantly visual, although both "enamel" and "turf" make submerged appeals to our sense of touch--"enamel" through its inherent hardness, "turf" in the softness of the grassy sward i t implies. This tactile quality extends to "honied showres," together with the long train of associations that follows "honied," reminding us of bees, of the flowers with which the passage is intimately concerned, of the fresh and life-supporting rain that brings the "vernal flowers" in its wake. Whatever " l i t t l e ease" the poet finds in the flower passage must surely reside in large part in these three lines, whose "vernal flowers" recall the spring and the rebirth of a l l things in Nature. As in other forms of Mannerist art, beauty and subtlety of expres-sion sometimes veil a sinister meaning inherent in the work. The d e l i -cate imagery of "Frost to Flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear" (1. 47) obscures the fact that this frost is for the flowers as cruel an agent of death as the sea is for Lycidas. We respond to the pounding rhythm of "where'er thy .bones are hurl'd," (1. 155) and momentarily forget that these "bones" were once a man, destroyed by the action this same pounding rhythm describes. Similarly, we look at Michelangelo's preparatory drawings for the Flagellation, and, beguiled by the refinement and grace of the design, forget the essential brutality of his subject. No piecemeal examination of Lycidas can do justice to i t s 116 melancholy beauty. It is the totality of the poem that moves us. Milton's s k i l f u l choice of language to convey his changing moods; the images, now serene, now brutal, now consolatory, now disturbing, that language presents; the subtle harmonies and discordances of sound that unobtrusively support the sense of what he is saying; a l l are woven together in an intricate rhythm that echoes the rise and f a l l of the poet's emotions. Lycidas is indeed a virtuoso performance, but i t is doubtful i f any student of mannerism (other than Shearman) would consider that fact alone sufficient evidence to support the notion of the poem as the expres-sion of a mannerist sensibility. For most c r i t i c s , a more significant mannerist element is the presence within the poem of an inner tension which is never totally resolved, a tension born of Milton's frustrations, uncertainty and disillusionment. Lycidas gives eloquent expression to this inner tension. It is manifest in the opening verse-paragraph, arising out of the conflict generated within the poet between his resistance to the task which he has undertaken and his awareness of the need to mourn the dead Lycidas. The f i r s t lines of the stanza make i t abundantly clear that he comes to his task unwillingly: Yet once more, 0 ye Laurels, and once more Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never sere, I come to pluck your Berries harsh and crude, And with forc'd fingers rude, Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year. Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear, Compels me to disturb your season due: (11. 1-7) 117 He te l l s us f i r s t that he is forced, and later that he is compelled, to act. Cruel and unrelenting pressure has driven him to write his elegy for King, but the death of King is not the sole source of this pressure. "Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear" are both responsible. The prominence given to "bitter constraint" by its position at the beginning of the line; the intensity of feeling which charges the diction as com-pared to the relatively passive "sad occasion dear" suggest that in Milton's mind the former was the more compelling reason to write his poem. The pause after "bitter constraint," together with the use of the conjunction "and," dispels any notion that i t was caused by the "sad occasion dear." Two forces have exerted their unique pressure upon him, and although both are linked with Lycidas 1 untimely death ("For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,") they remain separate. At this point the poet turns to Lycidas' death, concentrating on i t as the occasion for his elegy: For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime, Young Lycidas, and hath not l e f t his peer: Who would not sing for Lycidas? He knew Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme. He must not float upon his wat'ry bier Unwept, and welter to the parching wind, Without the meed of some melodious tear. (11. 8-14) The contrast in style that marks these two sections of the opening stanza provides a clue to the relative impact of their subject on the poet's inner feelings. For whereas the movement of the opening seven lines is slow and heavy, the diction terse and the use of poetic devices sparing, 118 the later passage moves with ly r i c a l grace. Repetition and alliteration bring a song-like quality to the lines that alleviates the sombre message they carry. This opening verse paragraph demonstrates that Milton's deepest emotions are not engaged by the death of King, but by some other not yet identified consideration. Tension develops along two channels, separate but interwoven, as the poet voices the questions that trouble him, questions that King's death have raised and that have to do with that specific event, and ques-tions of a broader scope that are more intimately related to Milton's own situation. Milton's friendship with King, but more importantly, the many similarities in their respective positions--their ages, their back-grounds and their ambitions to lead useful lives in God's service—pro-vide the connecting thread. Most heavily charged are those sections of the poem that reflect Milton's preoccupation with his own l i f e and future. The f i r s t of these presents the brief and bloody vision of Orpheus. That.Milton saw in the legendary figure of Orpheus a model for his own development has been sug-gested earlier in this paper. Now, as he mourns Lycidas, reflecting on the sudden and insidious destruction of other beings young and fragile, he is reminded of Orpheus' death, marked by special violence and cruelty and by the helplessness to prevent i t of those who loved the victim. But Milton identifies himself far more strongly with Orpheus than he does with Lycidas, and the vision is too painful to dwell on. The scene closes abruptly, too abruptly to allow for release of the tension that the.scene engendered. 119 In a quieter mood, the poet turns to ponder another dilemma that the death of Lycidas has raised: Alas! What boots i t with uncessant care To tend the homely slighted Shepherd's trade, And s t r i c t l y meditate the thankless Muse? Were i t not better done as other use, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade, Or with the tangles of Neaera's hair? (11. 64-69) What, the poet asks, is the value of stern dedication to study, of the effort to prepare to f u l f i l worthily his role as God's shepherd and as poet? It is significant that he refers only to one kind of self-denial that his years of study have entailed--the pleasures of feminine company. The reference is a light-hearted one, but i t s playful imagery masks a long submerged discontent. Four years earlier he had expressed to a friend his awareness of "that need which about this time of a man's l i f e 4 s o l i c i t s most, the desire of house and family of his own." The goal toward which he strives, and which could make, his course, worthwhile, is "fame." Fame is the spur that the clear s p i r i t doth raise (That last infirmity of Noble mind) To scorn delights, and live laborious days; (11. 70-72) But the image he uses, "spur," is an ugly one, with connotations of pain and force, used to goad to further exertion an animal unwilling or over-strained. It is scarcely compatible with, the "clear s p i r i t " and "Noble mind," images that the poet uses to refer to himself. And what is the 120 point of i t all--the careful self-discipline, the necessary suffering--i f one's l i f e is to be cut off by a whimsical fate, blindly without reference to merit and without the attainment of one's cherished goal? The answer is unconvincing: "Fame is no plant that grows on mortal s o i l , Nor in the glistering f o i l Set off to th' world, nor in broad rumor l i e s , But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes And perfect witness of all-judging Jove; As he pronounces lastly on each deed, Of so much fame in Heav'n expect thy meed." (11. 78-84) The reader feels, and shares, the poet's inability to find in Phoebus' promise a satisfactory answer. The prospect of "fame in Heav'n" is too far removed from the young Milton's earlier vision of his home as a shrine and himself as a revered and sought-after companion of the great and the famous. Despite Phoebus' answer, the poet's question hangs in the air and the role of blind Fate as the arbitrer of man's destiny remains s t i l l unchallenged. The poet turns away momentarily from his own preoccupations to Lycidas' death. "What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain?"(1. 92). The answer is ambiguous, and again, unsatisfying: It was that fatal and perfidious Bark Built in th' eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark, That sunk so low that sacred head of thine. (11. 100-103) Once again man's destiny is shown to be at the mercy of irrational forces. 121 Some il1-understood natural event (th'eelipse) has combined with evil forces generated by man (curses dark) to doom the ship and thus Lycidas. This answer, introducing an alien note of superstition which the mood of the poem cannot assimilate, lacks conviction. Milton's questions and the manner of their asking, reveal the man of reason. He seeks rational answers. Mere superstition cannot satisfy him, even when phrased with a l l the force of a positive statement. The stanza ends on the same note of frustration as that which preceded i t . The following stanza gives us St. Peter's famous indictment of the Anglican clergy, in which a question is implied that links Milton's self-concern with his concern for the dead Lycidas: "How well could I have spar'd for thee, young swain, Enough of such as for their bellies' sake Creep and intrude and climb into the fold? Of other care they l i t t l e reck'ning make, Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast, And shove away the worthy bidden guest; II (11. 113-18) What principle of selection governs who shall die and who shall live? The good are taken and the evil are spared. Milton's memories of Cambridge and his recent studies form the basis for St. Peter's bitter charges. Lycidas, the poet knows, embodied a l l those qualities so vi t a l to those who would do God's work; yet Lycidas is dead, the victim of some wilful force the poet cannot comprehend. Others, motivated by greed and self-interest, are l e f t to pursue their unworthy goals, indif-ferent to the sufferings of those whose care should be their f i r s t con-cern . 122 The hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed, But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw, Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread: (11. 125-27) Or perhaps even worse, they are l e f t to f a l l into the clutches of Roman Catholicism: "Besides what the grim Wolf with privy paw / Daily devours apace, and nothing said; . . ." (11. 128-29). Once again the poet is frustrated. The accumulated tensions built up during St. Peter's out-, burst do not find adequate release in his threat of retribution: "But that two-handed engine at the door / Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more." (11. 130-31). The ambiguity of St. Peter's threat renders i t unsatisfactory as a solution for the poet's explicit charges. Of course, no satisfactory answer is possible. The assurance of some prevailing justice, of a divine order that ultimately punishes or rewards according to true worth, can only come from inner f a i t h , and nowhere in the poem does the poet's faith shine forth with absolute conviction. The promise of future l i f e that he envisions for Lycidas is strangely limited: Where other groves, and other streams along, With Nectar pure his oozy Locks he laves, And hears the unexpressive nuptial Song, In the blest Kingdoms meek of joy and love. . There entertain him a l l the Saints above, In solemn troops, and sweet Societies That sing, and singing in their glory move, And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes. (11. 175-81) Just how limited this vision of Heaven is can be better realized i f we 123 compare i t with a later description by Milton of the heavenly scene, as i t appears in Paradise Lost: . . . a l l The multitude of Angels with a shout Loud as from numbers without number, sweet As from blest voices, uttering joy, Heav'n rung With Jubilee, and loud Hosannas f i l l ' d Th1 eternal Regions: lowly reverent Towards either Throne they bow, and to the ground With solemn adoration down they cast Thir Crowns inwove with Amarant and Gold, Immortal Amarant, a Flow'r which once In Paradise, fast by the Tree of Life Began to bloom, but soon for man's offense To Heav'n remov'd where f i r s t i t grew, there grows, And flow'rs aloft shading the Fount of Lif e , And where the river of Bliss through midst of Heav'n Rolls o'er Elysian Flow'rs her Amber stream; With these that never fade the Spirits elect Bind their resplendent locks inwreath'd with beams, Now in loose Garlands thick thrown off, the bright Pavement that like a Sea of Jasper shone Impurpl'd with Celestial Roses smil'd. Then Crown'd again thir gold'n Harps they took, Harps ever tun'd, that glittering by thir side Like Quivers hung, and with Preamble sweet Of charming symphony they introduce Thir sacred Song, and waken raptures high; No voice exempt, no voice but well could join Melodious part, such concord is in Heav'n. (111:344-71) This is a richly expansive picture of Heaven, invoked in images of gold and precious stones, calling up the fragrance of flowers and the vit a l force of flowing, f a l l i n g , water. Music swells out without restraint, enveloping a l l in i t s sweet harmonies, as a l l sing, united in an act of adoration towards God and the Son. The scene is f i l l e d with an energy which is in i t s e l f an affirmation, of the joy of the angels in Heaven. It expresses i t s e l f in the expansiveness of their movements, the radiance of 124 their emotions and the vigour of their song. This v i t a l , joyous affirma-tion of delight in celestial existence is missing from the Heaven pro-mised Lycidas. The scene is exquisitely painted, but emotionally barren. Lycidas remains a spectator, a passive recipient of the angels' ministra-tions but not absorbed into their company. He hears the "unexpressive nuptial song" but he does not join in the singing. The Heaven depicted is too confining, too limited, to offer an adequate compensation for the abrupt termination of an able and promising earthly existence. We admire the beauty of the poetry, but we do not accept i t as a convincing answer to the poet's doubts. Our dissatisfaction is confirmed bythe poet, who, as i f in response to the inadequacy of the Christian reward, supports i t with a pagan one: Henceforth thou art the Genius of the shore, In thy large recompense, and shalt be good To a l l that wander in that perilous flood. (11. 183-85) But Lycidas' role as a pagan diety throws into question the heavenly fulfilment that the poet has earlier promised. As "Genius of the shore," Lycidas is to be "good" to a l l who venture within his charge. But what form is that goodness to take, i f not to protect them against a fate such as that which befell Lycidas himself? Our faith in the "blest king-dom" wavers when we are promised protection against i t . In thus pos-tulating an alternative or perhaps a supplementary role for Lycidas, the poet disperses, but he does not resolve, the tensions which his uncer-tainties and anger have generated. 125 This marks the end of the elegy proper. When the poet moves beyond the lament to resume his everyday role, turning his back on the problems of death to look forward to the promises of tomorrow, his mood and that of the poem change. His tribute to Lycidas is finished, and, no longer concerned with the expression of his (and a l l men's) most troubling and persistent uncertainties, he can look back on i t without emotion as a task undertaken and discharged. Milton has written a song of uncommon grace and beauty, charged with an emotion born of his empathy with a dead friend. Those students of mannerism who seek a "virtuoso performance" w i l l find i t in Lycidas. Those who seek unresolved tension as the identifying mannerist element w i l l do likewise. 126 Footnotes 1 Four Stages of Renaissance Style (New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1955), p. 176. Josephine Miles, "The Primary Language of Lycidas," from The  Primary, Language of Poetry in the 1640s, University of California Publications in English, XIX (1948), 86-90; revised by the author and rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 96. 3 Ibid., p. 98. 4 William Riley Parker, Milton: A Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), I, 227. Chapter Nine THE OTTAVAf.RJ.MA The concluding eight lines of Lycidas catch the reader by sur-prise, so markedly do they differ in form and mood from the lament proper. Prince, in his discussion of Milton's adaptations in Lycidas of Italian verse forms, notes that this final verse paragraph, rhymed like an ottava rima, "undoubtedly corresponds in i t s own way to a commiato,"1 the commiato being the short concluding stanza which marks the end of an Italian canzone. Other c r i t i c s have seen this final stanza as part of a framework for the elegy proper,, one more instance of Milton's adaptation of a traditional form. This brief Epilogue, says Woodhouse, balances a Prelude which is part of the monody, "so that together they give some-2 thing of the effect of the traditional framework setting." Harrison echoes this opinion, but is more ex p l i c i t , pointing to the structure of Virgil's "Gallus" with i t s eight introductory lines balanced by eight con-3 eluding lines as a precedent for Lycidas. Greg offers a similar opinion, 4 except that he suggests Spenser as Milton's model. But such comments take note only of the form and structural pur-pose of the concluding lines, and do not explain other differences between this stanza and the lament i t s e l f . The reader is immediately aware of a change in point-of-view, as the poet, who has hitherto spoken directly in his own person, now refers to himself as the "uncouth swain" and comments objectively on his song: 127 128 Thus sang the uncouth Swain to th'Oaks and r i l l s , While the s t i l l morn went out with Sandals gray; He touch't the tender stops of various Quills, With eager thought warbling his Doric lay. (11. 186-89) And, as we can detect in these lines, even more striking is the change in the poet's mood. His i n i t i a l unwillingness to undertake his task is now forgotten, as he t e l l s us that "eager thought" has marked his singing. We can attribute this mood of cheerful confidence, uncoloured by the emotional tension of the song proper, to a natural sense of satisfac-tion and relief at having finished successfully a task undertaken with reluctance. That such an emotional shift is peculiarly characteristic of Milton can be deduced from a discussion of the poet's pastoral monodies by Woodhouse, who notes that Lycidas, like a l l Milton's poems, is an exercise in aesthetic patterning, and, in common with most, although not a l l , of his early poetry, embodies elements from his extra-aesthetic experience. Woodhouse numbers Lycidas among Milton's poems that start from "an experience which poses a problem, demanding to be either resolved or transcended, and which generates an emotional tension requiring to be 5 resolved." In the imposition of an aesthetic pattern on this experience, and i t s working out, the emotional tension is released. The fact that the poem offers only limited, or in some way unsatisfactory solutions to the problems i t raises is not significant in terms of the effect of such patterning, for the act of creatipn--of defining, ordering and expressing his experience—brings i t s own release. As Woodhouse points out, the pastoral monody "becomes a vehicle for Milton's profoundest emotions and 129 an instrument, not indeed for solving, but for transcending his problems, and thus for achieving such a resolution of emotional tension as only 6 poetry could effect" (my i t a l i c s ) . Woodhouse's inference that Milton has transcended, rather than resolved, the problems that King's death forced him to confront, accords with my earlier argument that the lament proper in Lycidas is marked by elements of unresolved tension which indicate i t s mannerist character, and at the same time explains the mood of the closing stanza, It does not, however, give any indication as to why we are justified in consider-ing the poem's conclusion mannerist. This is determined by the self-preoccupation of the poet. In these final.eight lines he is concerned only with himself and his creative act. He t e l l s us that he has occupied the day from morning to evening with his writing. He acknowledges a debt to his Greek predecessor, and, by paraphrasing a line from Vi r g i l V G a l l u s " implies one to his Roman.7 He points to his future and the promise of new ventures that i t holds: "Tomorrow to fresh Woods, and Pastures new" (1. 193). This self-preoccupation of the concluding stanza gives the final mannerist stamp to Lycidas, reflecting does the self-conscious concern of the mannerist ar t i s t with the practical side of his own techniques and his strongly-f e l t need to justify his practices. 130 Footnotes F. T. Prince, "The Italian Element in Lycidas," from The  Italian Element in Milton's Verse (Oxford,. 1954), pp. 71-88, rpt. in Mi Hon's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 19617, p. 154. 2 A. S. P. Woodhouse, "Milton's Pastoral Monodies," in Studies  in Honour of Gilbert Norwood, ed. Mary E. White (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1953), p. 272. 3 Thomas Perrin Harrison, ed., The Pastoral Elegy: An Anthology (New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968), p. 265. 4 Walter W. Greg, Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (London: A. H. Bullen, 1906), p. 133. 5 Woodhouse, p. 262. 6 Ibid., p. 263. 7 David Daiches, "from A Study of Literature," Ithaca, N.Y., 1948, pp. 170-95, as revised in Mi 1 tonTLondon, 1957), pp. 73-92, and rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 196T), p. 119. o Roy Daniel Is, Mi 1 ton, Mannerism and Baroque (Toronto: Univer-sity of Toronto Press, 1963), p. 48. Chapter Ten CONCLUSION The student of Lycidas cannot f a i l to mark the differences in opinion which characterize scholarly discussion of Milton's elegy. That this is in some way attributable to the nature of the poem has been indi-cated by Roy Daniells, who describes as the "crowning achievement" of Lycidas "the enormously ramified complex of reactions, conscious and unconscious, which i t provokes." Daniells notes that "These are not in the nature of sequences of ideas merely or numbers of identifiable refer-ences or rows of problems solved," but are rather "in the nature of innumerable conflicting forces." 1 One solution to the problems which such conflicting opinions create is to consider Lycidas as a mannerist work of art, for the cr i t e r i a which define the work of a mannerist sensibility afford us a way of reconciling the many disparities in c r i t i c a l reaction. Mannerist cr i t e r i a can reconcile two such disparate points of view as that of John Crowe Ransom, who describes Lycidas as "A Poem Nearly Anonymous" and that of E. M. W. Tillyard who describes the lament as "one of Milton's most 2 personal poems." It can accommodate Daniell's description of Lycidas as 3 "the most effective l y r i c utterance in the English language" and 4 Hanford's opinion that Lycidas ". . . is hardly l y r i c at a l l . " G. Wilson Knight's statement that Lycidas is "an accumulation of magnificent 5 fragments" need no longer be dismissed as the conclusion of an unsym-pathetic reader but can be acknowledged as an honest c r i t i c a l opinion 131 132 founded in the poem's mannerist mode, and not incompatible with the opinion of Northrop Frye that the poem's unity exists within the mind of the poet,7 or that of Tillyard who sees the poem's unity resting in i t s o unity of purpose. Hanford's insistence on Milton's indebtedness to the g whole pastoral tradition can be seen as supporting, rather than under-mining Don Cameron Allen's assertion that Lycidas is "so totally differ-ent from other elegies of the Renaissance and antiquity that were i t not for the sheer externalities of the mode, such as the mourning of nature, the summoning of the deities and the accidental literary recollections . i t would hardly seem to belong to the same a r t i s t i c gender."^ To consider Lycidas as a mannerist poem does not explain away it s many mysteries nor does i t diminish the challenge that these myster-ies offer the reader. But many of the poem's anomalies that conventional c r i t i c a l approaches either ignore or strain to elucidate can be recon-ciled i f Lycidas is accepted as a mannerist work of art. 133 Footnotes 1 Roy Daniells, Milton, Mannerism and Baroque (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1963), p. 49. 2 from Milton," London, 1930, pp. 79-85, rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem', ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 59. 3 Daniells, p. 49. 4 James H. Hanford, "The Pastoral Elegy and Milton's Lycidas," from P.M.L.A., XXV (1910), 403-47; revised by. the editor and rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 51. The Burning Oracle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939), p. 70. See Headnote 3, Introductory notes to Lycidas, in Complete  Poems, ed. Hughes, p. 117. 7 "Literature as Context: Milton's Lycidas," from The Proceedings  of the Second Congress of the International Comparative Literature Asso- ciation , ed. by W. P. Friederick, University of North Carolina Studies in Comparative Literature, XXIII (1959), 44-55, and rpt. in Milton's  Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 203. 8 E. M. W. Tillyard, "from Milton," London, 1930, pp. 79-85, rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 61. 9 James W. Hanford, "The Pastoral Elegy and Milton's Lycidas," from P.M.L.A., XXV (1910), 403-47; revised by the editor and reprinted in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 54. The Harmonious Vision (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1954), p. 59. Sources Consulted Abrams, M. H. "Five Types of Lycidas." Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition  and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, pp. 212-31. Adams, Richard P. "The Archetypal Pattern of Death and Rebirth in Lycidas." PMLA, LXIV (1949), 183-88. Condensed by the author and rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, pp. 120-25. Allen, Don Cameron. The Harmonious Vision: Studies in Milton's Poetry. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1954. Barker, Arthur. "The Pattern of Milton's Nativity Ode." The University of Toronto Quarterly, X (1940-41), 167-81. Daiches, David, "from A Study of Literature," Ithaca, N.Y., 1948, pp. 170-95, as revised in Milton (London, 1957), pp. 73-92. Rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, pp. 101-19. Daniells, Roy. "The Mannerist Element in English Literature." Rpt. from The University of Toronto Quarterly, XXXVI, No. 1 (Oct. 1966). . MiIton, Mannerism and Baroque. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1963. Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. Revised and Enlarged Edition. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1968. Freedberg, S. J. Painting in Italy, 1500-1600. The Pelican History of Art, Penguin Books Ltd., 1971. French, J. Milton. "The Digressions in Milton's 'Lycidas.'" Studies in  Philology, L, No. 3 (July 1953), 485-90. Friedlaender, Walter. Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting. New York: Schocken Books, 1965. Frye, Northrop. "Literature as Context: Milton's Lycidas." From The  Proceedings of the Second Congress of the International Comparative  Literature Association, ed. W. P. Friederick, University of North Carolina Studies in Comparative Literature, XXIII (1959), 44-55. Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, pp. 200-211. Gould, Cecil. An Introduction to Italian Renaissance Painting. London: Phaedon Press, 1957. 134 135 Gregg, Walter W. Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama. London: A. H. Bullen, 1906. Haller, William and Malleville. "The Puritan Art of Love." Huntingdon  Library Quarterly, V (1942), 235-72. Hanford, James H. "The Pastoral Elegy and Milton's Lycidas." From PMLA, XXV (1910), 403-47. This article was revised by Patrides, and reprinted in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides. New, York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, pp. 27-55. Harrison, Thomas Perrin, ed. The Pastoral Elegy: An Anthology, with Introduction, Commentary, and Notes by the editor. English Transla-tions by Harry Joshua Leon. New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968. Hauser, Arnold. Mannerism. 2 vols. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965. Janson, H. W. History of Art: A Survey of the Major Visual Arts from  the Dawn of History to the Present Day. N.J.: Prentice-Hall Inc., and New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1962. Knight, G. Wilson. The Burning Oracle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939. Lowry, Jon S. "'Eager Thought': Dialectic in Lycidas." From PMLA, LXXVII (1962), 27-32, rpt. in Milton, Modern Essays in Criticism, ed. Arthur E. Barker. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, pp. 112-24. Macaulay., Rose. Milton. Great Lives. London: Gerald Duckworth and Co. Ltd., 1936. Mayerson, Caroline W. "The Orpheus Image in 'Lycidas.'" Publications of the Modern Language Association, LXIV (1949), 189-207. Miles, Josephine. "The Primary Language of Lycidas." From The Primary  Language of Poetry in the 1640s. University of California Publica-tions in English, XIX 11948), 86-90. Rev. by the author and rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, pp. 95-100. Nicholson, Marjorie Hope. The Breaking of the Circle. Rev. ed. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1962. Panofsky, Erwin. Idea. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1968. Parker, William Riley. Milton: A Biography. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968. 136 Pevsner, Nikolaus. An Outline of European Architecture. Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1943. Prince, F. T. "The Italian Element in Lycidas." From The'Italian Element  in Milton's Verse, Oxford (1954), pp. 71-88. Rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, pp. .153-66. Ransom, John Crowe. "A Poem Nearly Anonymous." From The World's Body (New York, 1938), pp. 1-28; f i r s t published in the American Review, IV (1933). Rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, pp. 64-81. Reznicek, E. K. J. "Realism as a 'Sideroad or Byway' in Dutch Art." The  Renaissance and Mannerism. . Acts of .the Twentieth International  Congress of the History of Art. Vol. I I . Princeton: Princeton Uni-versity Press, 1963, 247-53. Rowland, Daniel B. Mannerism--Style and Mood. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1964. Shearman, John. Mannerism. Style and Civilization Series. Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1967. Sydney, Sir Philip. An Apology for Poetry. The Major Cr i t i c s : The Develop- ment of English Literary Criticism, ed. Charles S. Holmes, Edwin Fussell, Ray Frazer. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957, pp. 46-70. Sypher, Wylie. Four Stages of Renaissance Style: Transformations in Art and Literature 1400-1700. Anchor Books Original. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1955. Tillyard, E. M. W. "from Milton," London, 1930, pp. 79-85. Rpt. in Milton's Lycidas, The Tradition and the Poem, ed. C. A. Patrides. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, pp. 58-63. . Milton. London: Chatto and Windus, 1956. Tuve, Rosemond. Images and Themes in Five Poems by Milton. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957. Wolff1 i n , H. Classic Art: An Introduction to the Italian Renaissance. London: Phaedon Press, 1959. Woodhouse, A. S. P. "Milton's Pastoral Monodies." Studies in Honour of  Gilbert Norwood, ed. Mary E. White. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1953, pp. 261-78. 


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items