[Milton-L] source

Boyd M Berry bberry at mail1.vcu.edu
Thu Jan 29 15:17:33 EST 2004


Yes, that's a good start of a list.  Ben's son died in 1603, and I've
wondered if his poem might suggest the inception of a cultural shift.  I
can't imagine why it would shift, as my understanding is that infant mortality
was huge, but your list is of somewhat later poems.

Out of another side of my head is the point I try to make to students
that, as most died in the family and were then tended there, rather than
being shunted of to hospitals and funeral parlors, the need to make a
"good death" was partly a family matter.  And that people knew well about
death close.

Boyd Berry

On Thu, 29 Jan 2004, Margaret Thickstun wrote:

> Anne Bradstreet wrote poems on the deaths of various grandchildren;
> Katherine Philips wrote at least two poems on the death of her infant
> son; the anthology Kissing the Rod has many "dead baby" poems.
> Edward Taylor doesn't name names in "On Wedlock and the Deaths of
> Children," but he   Although people did not necessarily name
> stillborn babies or babies who died shortly after birth, they did
> name babies for baptism. Bradstreet's poems are about toddlers,
> mostly.  The poem to "Elizabeth" addresses the toddler directly, with
> "Farewell." Philips's son, named Hector, lived a little more than a
> month.  Jonson's daughter was six months old by the time she died, so
> long enough for parents to expect/hope that she would last.
>
> I know Louis Schwartz is supposed to be writing a book, but since
> he's been contributing to this list as a way of playing hookey, maybe
> he has more info.
>
> There was a very interesting piece in Natural History about ten years
> ago about maternal bonding to infants depending on the mother's
> assessment of the baby's survivability (research done in a Brazilian
> slum).--Margie
>
> >My understanding is that in cultures with high infant mrotality, that
> >parents commonly do not name or address mortal infants.  Jonson's poems
> >have always struck me as odd for that reason.  But the pattern of not
> >addressing the deaths of close relatives may be an echo of that
> >distancing.
> >
> >Boyd Berry
> >
>
> --
> Margaret Thickstun
> Professor of English
> Hamilton College
> 198 College Hill Rd
> Clinton, NY 13323
> (315)859-4466
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