Water symbolism in Lycidas Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 14 July 2016

Water symbolism in Lycidas

More often than necessary, the speaker makes several comments about how water plays an important role in sadness and death. Typically, water can be compared to tears of sadness and/or joy. The speaker uses this comparison and contrast to explain both the tradgedy and triumph of the death of Lycidas.

The water imagery ‘fountain, flood, sea, waves’ of the seventh stanza recall King’s death in the chilly waters of the Irish Sea. The speaker is angry and wishes to find a scapegoat to put the blame on for Lycidas dying. However Neptune and other aquatic deities deny any responsibility for the death and the speaker is obliged to place the blame on ‘the fatal and perfidious bark/ Built in th’eclipse, and rigged with curses dark’. The ship is a metaphor for the soul, condemned by original sin to suffer death. The poet laments not specifically King’s death but the common death of all with particular reference to his own fate.

In line 150, Milton makes a reference to “daffadillies filling their cups with tears.” Not only is this a reference to water, but to sadness as well. Tears are a product of sadness. The flowers [http://search.targetwords.com/u.search?x=5977%7C1%7C%7C%7C%7Cflowers%7CAA1VDw] are mourning the death of a dear friend. Myabe Milton is comparing himself, the writer, to the flower. The beauty is no longer apparent in the flower when all the reader and the speaker can identify about the flower is the fact that it is filled with tears.

Towards the end of the poem, the writer tells the audience not to weep. Although Lycidas lies in a watery grave beneath the ocean he is still alive in memory. He has sunk low to the bottom of the ocean but he has been put high upon a pedastool for all to see and admire.

The speaker also makes a reference to Lycidas’ might and how he was able to walk the waves with it. Walking on water is in direct reference to Jesus. I don’t think the speaker would compare Lycidas to Jesus because there is no comparison available. The speaker is trying to tell the audience not to weep because, just as Jesus died for others, Lycidas has given his life to Jesus and the saints. One must not be sorrowful because Lycidas is in a happier place.

The speaker takes the pitiful drowned body of Lycidas and speaks of it in the words of tragedy and sacrifice, until death itself is only an incident because the reader has overcome the brutality of his tradgic death.

…’Now Lycidas the shepherds weep no more;

Henceforth thou art the genius of the shore,

In thy large recompense, and shall be good

To all that wander in that perilous flood’.

Free Water symbolism in Lycidas Essay Sample


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 14 July 2016

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