[Milton-L] O Eve, in evil hour...

carl bellinger bcarlb at comcast.net
Wed Nov 16 17:46:15 EST 2005


A) OK, we have Satanic puns (and wordplay of various sorts) of the fallen 
beings, and puns of Milton and his divine Muse. Are these two possibilities 
the entire taxonomy? Is there any middle ground, or third general category? 
Are there worthwhile distinctions within 'the good' and 'the bad'  general 
categories of pun and wordplay?  The famous passage ~2.555 might seem to 
caution the reader from being too sure about what is demonic and what is 
divine in the attractive subtleties of discourse:

Thir Song was partial, but the harmony
(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet [2.555 ]
(For Eloquence the Soul, Song charms the Sense,)
Others apart sat on a Hill retir'd,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high...

If the fallen angels can manage Orphic harmony and soul-pleasing eloquence 
can't they also manage divinely prescient punning and wordplay? But perhaps 
I have the question wrong.

B) The entire rhetorical pastiche, so to speak, which PL presents to the 
reader [-- of puns and wordplay, etymological/literary/musical/historical 
reference (drawn against Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Italian, and other 
literatures), scientific & astronomical reference, rhetorical figure and 
schema, visual image, acoustical "image," rhythmic/prosodic variation, 
etcetera--] is staggeringly dense. What reader can deal, from one phrase to 
the next, with even the half of it? Has it been argued anywhere that the 
staggeringly dense texture of PL, from phrase to phrase and line to line, 
functions (and is intended to function) as an emblem, or an instance which 
the reader must suffer, of the impenetrability of the rhetoric of God's 
creation and revelation?

Carl

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <gilliaca at jmu.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Monday, November 14, 2005 9:55 AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] O Eve, in evil hour...


>
>>The first thing to note is that Ricks attributes the pun to
> Adam, not to
>>Milton.
>
>
> Yes. And keep in mind that it is the fallen angels who pun
> nastily when they deploy artillary in the war in heaven. I
> think Adam is imitating and anticipating fallen behavior here.
>
> C
> Cynthia A. Gilliatt
> English Department, JMU
> JMU Safe Zones participant
> "You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people you 
> hate." Fr. John Weston
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