Online Literary Criticism Collection
Sites about Lycidas
by John Milton
Milton’s poem which commemorates the drowning death of his schoolmate, Edward King. Its title refers to the name of a shepherd in Vergil’s third “Bucolic.”
Characters: Edward King
Critical sites about Lycidas
- “Ay me”: Selfishness and Empathy in “Lycidas”
- “The multiple speakers and topics of Milton’s ‘Lycidas,’ the deliberate and unreconcilable contradictions and ambiguities ofthe poem, are confirmed by linguistic analysis. According to Susumo Kuno’s empathy theory, while speakers tend to express empathy toward themselves, numerous techniques are available to modify sentence structure and thus the natural selfishness of language. Arthur Palacas finds that paragrammatical structures– structures outside the basic sentence–offer the speaker’s evaluatory comments on the content of the basic sentences. Through basic sentence structure and paragrammatic commentary, the anonymous swain in ‘Lycidas’ establishes empathy with himself, with Lycidas, with an ambiguous ‘we,’ and with various other subjects. The Pilot of the Galilean lake uses a paragrammatical structure similar to those of the swain, blurring the line between poem and ‘digression’ without adding cohesion. The final eight lines of ‘Lycidas’ introduce a ‘self-less’ speaker empathizing solely with the swain and offering no paragrammatical evaluation. The very impersonality of this voice distances the reader from the consolation it offers. Thus the sentence structure of ‘Lycidas’ provides an irreducibly plural text with multiple speakers, subjects, and meanings, accurately representing the complexity of human consciousness and the gap between human understanding and God.”
- Contains: Content Analysis
- Author: Jean E. Graham
- From: Early Modern Literary Studies 2.3 (1996): 3.1-21
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Last Updated Apr 29, 2013