jlmorton at usc.edu
Sun Aug 27 02:27:48 EDT 2006
The phrase that has stuck in my mind since my first read-through of
Paradise Lost (back when I was a lowly college freshman) is "Amaz'd
night-wanderer." I always look forward to that line, which is in the
epic simile that refers to St. Elmo's fire, as Eve is following the
serpent toward her imminent doom. It's such a small phrase, but I
think it gets at what you're looking for (and please feel free to
correct me if I've misinterpreted). Quite beyond his undeniable skill
in formulating such a virtuosic and expansive epic, Milton has a quiet
way with choosing words like an artist might paint a landscape; there's
a reserved beauty and majesty in the way he phrases things.
Another passage that comes to mind is the invocation in Book 3,
beginning with "Yet not the more / Cease I to wander . . ."
(III.26-7). His style there contrasts sharply with the bombastic (if
beautiful) "Hail holy light" (III.1). I don't know if Milton can ever
be called vulnerable, and I suppose his apparent vulnerability in these
passages was likely quite formulated, but it is in his moments of
apparent vulnerability, the quiet streams next to Milton's usual
literary oceans, that are to me, as you say, "richer and brighter."
"From error to error, one discovers the entire truth."
- Sigmund Freud
On Aug 26, 2006, at 5:54 PM, carl bellinger wrote:
> Thanks to all who responded to my query a few weeks back, "Re: Strier,
> disguised departures," on possible mystic mis-directions in PL. The
> references are most helpful!
> I would like to ask, quite apart from specific conundrums like "fit
> audience though few" or "hope no higher," if any of you have wondered
> at moments whether, for all its bright and symphonic and garrulous
> surface, Paradise Lost doesn't seem to show glimmerings now and again
> of --how to call it?-- of brighter and richer (and quieter?) things?
> If so, are there particular phrases or passages that come to mind?
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