[Milton-L] "his own"

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Mon Jan 26 17:14:12 EST 2004

They're both there, Paul. Since all Man can give God is what God has given
him in the first place, there is nothing Man can give God that is not
already His by definition; and nothing God needs from Man, being
self-sufficient and self-sustaining.

It's a very Fishy argument, but a valid one, I think.


Carol Barton

Paul Munn wrote:

> In Milton's sonnet XIX, when patience prevents the speaker's murmuring
> that questions God's justice with "God doth not need / Either man's
> works or his own gifts," I read "his" as "man's" to make the sense, "God
> does not need what humans do for Him or what they give Him."
> Hughes and Flannagan seem to see the clause as unproblematic, but, as a
> student observed in class, isn't "his" at least ambiguous, or isn't my
> sense not necessarily right?  Couldn't "his," even though not
> capitalized, mean "God's" and the sense be, "God does not need what
> humans do for Him or the gifts He has given to man," a theological point
> as orthodox as the first sense since in either case, God needs nothing.
> Am I being too Fishy in allowing both senses as relevant and part of the
> experience of the poem?  Or is one of the senses exclusive of the other?
>  Or am I just missing something entirely.

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