Why does the speaker in Lycidas want many flowers from the valley?

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In Lycidas, the speaker calls for an abundance of flowers from the valley to decorate the memorial of the dead Lycidas and pay him honor with their beauty.

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In John Milton's pastoral elegy Lycidas, the speaker is mourning for the title character, his best friend and fellow poet and shepherd, Lycidas, who has drowned. The speaker begins with the announcement that Lycidas is dead and must be mourned by all the shepherds and spirits, nymphs, and muses. The speaker then recalls the happy days when he and Lycidas roamed the hills, singing and caring for their flocks together.

But these days are over. Lycidas will never return, and the woods and caves echo with mourning. Even the trees mourn for Lycidas. The speaker asks the Nymphs why they could not have saved him, but he recalls that the Muse could not even save Orpheus. Phoebus, the sun, reminds him, though, that Lycidas's fame will live on and spread. Other beings join in the speaker's mourning.

Then the speaker calls for flowers. The vales are to cast forth “their bells and flow'rets of a thousand hues,” flowers of all different kinds and colors, everything from jessamine to violets to cowslips. These flowers will adorn “the laureate hearse where Lycid lies.” They are to honor his memorial even though his body is not really there, for the sea has taken and hidden it. Yet the flowers will pay tribute to Lycidas the poet-shepherd and perhaps comfort his mourners with their beauty.

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