Lycidas "Tomorrow To Fresh Woods And Pastures New"

John Milton

"Tomorrow To Fresh Woods And Pastures New"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: At the end of Lycidas, John Milton tells the woeful shepherds to weep no more, because Lycidas–Edward King–is not dead, but is, through the might of Him who walked upon the waves, alive on high. There he is happy with troops of saints for company, and because he is happy, the shepherds have no real cause to beweep his death on earth. Milton also develops the idea that Lycidas has become the genius or local god of the Irish Sea in which he drowned; as the genius he will be the protector of all who travel on that perilous flood. The poet says that he has been singing all the day through, but at last he arises, adjusts his cloak about him, and looks forward to fresh woods and new pastures in days to come. This statement is subject to three interpretations; it may mean that Milton is merely saying farewell to his poem and that tomorrow he will be occupied with something else; it may mean that he is formally abandoning the composition of pastoral poetry; or it may mean that he is looking forward to leaving England, the scene of the death of Lycidas, for a trip to Italy. He concludes the poem by saying

At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue:
Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new.