Lycidas is a elegy for a college friend of Milton's, Edward King. King died when his ship sank off the coast of Wales in 1637. The poem was published first in Justa Edouardo King Naufrago, and later in Poems of Mr. John Milton.
"Arthur Barker believes that the body of Lycidas is composed of three movements that run parallel in pattern. That is, each movement begins with an invocation, then explores the conventions of the pastoral, and ends with a conclusion to Milton's emotional problem.”
“Milton's epigram labels Lycidas a "monody": a lyrical lament for one voice. But the poem has several voices or personae, including the "uncouth swain" (the main narrator), who is "interrupted" first by Phoebus (Apollo), then Camus (the river Cam, and thus Cambridge University personified), and the "Pilot of the Galilean lake" (St. Peter). Finally, a second narrator appears for only the last eight lines to bring a conclusion in ottava rima."