The World's Greatest Riddle:

John Milton's

Lycidas



This week's clue: The identities of the narrator and his muse revealed!

For those few people checking this website for news about my book, it continues to march toward publication.
My current plan is to have it available on Amazon by the beginning of April.

John Milton was twenty-nine when he wrote Lycidas. The poem ostensibly mourns a Cambridge classmate, Edward King, recently drowned while crossing the Irish Sea. Lycidas is a pastoral elegy, a poetic form often used by classical authors to mourn fellow poets.

In his preamble, Milton declares Lycidas to be a monody. And in so doing, he throws down a gauntlet.

Monodies are poems, musical works, or theatrical scenes in one voice. Yet within the poem Apollo, the "herald of the sea," Camus, and a "pilot of the Galilean lake" all have speaking parts. Milton seems to be challenging readers to make sense of his claim.
(some dictionaries have a definition which does not require one voice - for the story behind that, click here).

Lycidas is in fact a riddle. When properly understood, the poem is a monody. Its subject is not Edward King's death, but Milton himself, reflecting upon his earlier poetry and the direction of his life. Using Edward King's death as "coy excuse," the poet wrote for himself alone. But he did leave breadcrumbs for faithful readers, his clue that Lycidas is a monody among them.

And Milton's riddle has finally been solved! The complete solution will be published as John Milton Deciphered. This book will be released in Chicago at the end of October. Details about presentation of my reading and the book-release party can be found elsewhere on this website. Leading up to that event, a new clue will be published every week on this website, aiding readers interested in trying their own hand at solving this Greatest of all Riddles, John Milton's pastoral elegy, Lycidas.

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