July 23rd, 2015



Lycidas is full of learning but almost entirely empty of ideas. It noodles along. What a pity the muses weren't there when Lycidas drowned, says Milton, only, of course, there wasn't anything they could have done. Well, obviously- imaginary mythological beings aren't noted for their life-saving skills- so why bother to say it? The average greeting card jingle is as sensible. Did Milton care two ha'porth for Edward King?  As Johnson (who hated the poem) said, "Passion plucks no berries from the myrtle and ivy."

Yes, but it's beautiful. Dreamlike. So tread softly- and leave your sense of humour at the door. Johnson detested the mix of mythologies but I love how St Peter comes barging onto the pastoral scene with his keys a-clank. "Pilot of the Galilean lake"- what a phrase.