In this monody the author bewails a learned friend*, unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637.
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
compels me to disturb your season due:
for Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:
O the heavy change, now thou art gone,
now thou art gone, and never must return!
Where were ye nymphs when the remorseless deep
closed o'er the head of your loved Lycidas?
Ay me! Whilst thee the shores and sounding seas
wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurled,
whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;
look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth.
And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth.
Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more,
for Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
sunk though he be beneath the watry floor,
so sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,
and yet anon repairs his drooping head,
and tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore,
flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
so Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
through the dear might of Him that walked the waves;
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 all the saints above,
in solemn troops, and sweet societies
that sing, and singing in their glory move,
and wipe the tears forever from his eyes.
Now Lycidas the shepherds weep no more;
henceforth thou art the genius of the shore,
in thy large recompense, and shalt be good
to all that wander in that perilous flood.
--John Milton (1608-1674)
*Milton's friend and classmate Edward King died age 25 when his ship sank in the Irish Sea, 1637. You can find the whole text and commentary here.