[Milton-L] Directly P.S.

Jeffrey Wilson jrwilson at uci.edu
Sat Jul 29 14:26:08 EDT 2006


At the end of my third paragraph, I accidentally wrote "the  
prepositional phrase distributes "Directly" equally to both "the new  
created World" and NOT "and man there plac't." I meant to say, of  
course, that "the prepositional phrase distributes "Directly" equally  
to both "the new created World" AND "and man there plac't."

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Jeffrey Wilson <jrwilson at uci.edu>
> Date: July 29, 2006 1:20:40 PM PDT
> To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Directly
>
> At the risk of cluttering up the in-boxes of uninterested list  
> members, I'll here present my summa directly.
>
> No one disputes the fact that Satan goes directly to the new  
> created world. Dr. Hodges and Dr. Gillum are both exactly right  
> that Satan goes directly to the World. The trustworthiness of the  
> Father's claim is not an issue of cosmology, it's an issue of  
> grammar. The issue to consider is whether or not it is responsible  
> to read these lines as saying, "he wings his way / ... / Directly  
> toward... / ...man..." My argument is that it's not only  
> responsible but necessary. It may be helpful to have the complete  
> passage in front of us:
>
> And now
> Through all restraint broke loose he wings his way
> Not farr off Heav'n, in the Precincts of light,
> Directly towards the new created World,
> And Man there plac't, with purpose to assay [ 90 ]
> If him by force he can destroy, or worse,
> By some false guile pervert;
>
> The argument against my position wants to paraphrase God as saying,  
> "Satan wings his way directly toward the world and IN GENERAL  
> toward man." In order to do so, the antecedent for "man" in line 90  
> would have to be the main subject and verb of the sentence (i.e.  
> "he wings" in line 87). But this would mean that the line reads,  
> "he wings his way / ...Man there plac't, with purpose to assay..."  
> which makes no sense because of the lack of a prepositional phrase  
> (i.e. the lack of "to" or "toward").
>
> In order for the line to satisfy the rules of grammar, there must  
> be a prepositional phrase, and of course there is one in "Directly  
> toward." Now, if Milton had written, "he wings his way / ... /  
> toward the new created World directly, / And Man there plac't, with  
> purpose to assay..." then we would have a non-issue because the  
> adverb "directly" would only modify the first half of the compound  
> prepositional phrase (i.e. "directly" would only modify "the new  
> created World" and not "and man there plac't"). But that's not what  
> Milton wrote. Milton puts the adverb that modifies the  
> prepositional phrase outside the phrase, indicating that it  
> modifies the entire compound prepositional phrase. Moreover, the  
> conjunction "and" in the prepositional phrase distributes  
> "Directly" equally to both "the new created World" and not "and man  
> there plac't").
>
> In sum, "toward" is a necessary grammatical feature in order for  
> "Man" to make sense, and "Directly" necessarily governs "toward"  
> and everything in the prepositional phrase that "toward" introduces.
>
> Thus, the paraphrase that adheres to the grammatical structure of  
> these lines is, "Satan wings his way directly toward the world and  
> DIRECTLY toward man." Directly is used here as a description of how  
> Satan moves spatially, as Dr. Herman pointed out in his original  
> post, "according to the OED, 'directly' is not one of these words  
> with a multiplicity of meanings. Basically, it means moving 'In a  
> straight line of motion; with undeviating course; straight' (def.  
> 1.a.) or 'not obliquely' (def. 2)." I also agree with Michael  
> Brysen that "Winging one's way anywhere 'directly' and 'as directly  
> as possible' are two different things."
>
> The conclusion I draw from analyzing the content and syntax of  
> God's speech and then comparing that analysis with the events in  
> the poem is that God is somewhat loose with the Truth in this  
> instance.
>
> Jeff Wilson
>
> P.S. I am by no means a grammarian - my above analysis is at about  
> the level of freshman composition - and if someone with more  
> expertise in this area has an alternate take or any qualifications  
> to my analysis of the grammatical construction of these lines I'd  
> be sincerely interested to hear another close reading.
>
> On Jul 29, 2006, at 12:07 PM, Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:
>
>> I haven't yet seen the force of the argument that the
>> word "directly" implies that God the Father, speaking
>> in PL 3.89, is either dishonest or mistaken.
>>
>> We last saw Satan in PL 2.1034-1055:
>>
>> But now at last the sacred influence
>> Of light appears, and from the walls of Heav'n [1035]
>> Shoots farr into the bosom of dim Night
>> A glimmering dawn; here Nature first begins
>> Her fardest verge, and Chaos to retire
>> As from her outmost works a brok'n foe
>> With tumult less and with less hostile din, [1040]
>> That Satan with less toil, and now with ease
>> Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light
>> And like a weather-beaten Vessel holds
>> Gladly the Port, though Shrouds and Tackle torn;
>> Or in the emptier waste, resembling Air, [1045]
>> Weighs his spread wings, at leasure to behold
>> Farr off th' Empyreal Heav'n, extended wide
>> In circuit, undetermind square or round,
>> With Opal Towrs and Battlements adorn'd
>> Of living Saphire, once his native Seat; [1050]
>> And fast by hanging in a golden Chain
>> This pendant world, in bigness as a Starr
>> Of smallest Magnitude close by the Moon.
>> Thither full fraught with mischievous revenge,
>> Accurst, and in a cursed hour he hies. [1055]
>>
>> [Borrowed from
>> http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_2/index.shtml]
>>
>> We take leave of Satan as he hies toward the pendant
>> world, i.e., the created cosmos hanging by a golden
>> chain, but he still has some distance to go, for the
>> world is far enough distant that it appears no bigger
>> than a star.
>>
>> We next hear of Satan, as described by God in PL
>> 3.70-92, closely approaching the world:
>>
>> ... [The Almighty Father] then survey'd
>> Hell and the Gulf between, and Satan there [ 70 ]
>> Coasting the wall of Heav'n on this side Night
>> In the dun Air sublime, and ready now
>> To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet
>> On the bare outside of this World, that seem'd
>> Firm land imbosom'd without Firmament, [ 75 ]
>> Uncertain which, in Ocean or in Air.
>> Him God beholding from his prospect high,
>> Wherein past, present, future he beholds,
>> Thus to his onely Son foreseeing spake.
>> Onely begotten Son, seest thou what rage [ 80 ]
>> Transports our adversarie, whom no bounds
>> Prescrib'd, no barrs of Hell, nor all the chains
>> Heapt on him there, nor yet the main Abyss
>> Wide interrupt can hold; so bent he seems
>> On desparate reveng, that shall redound [ 85 ]
>> Upon his own rebellious head. And now
>> Through all restraint broke loose he wings his way
>> Not farr off Heav'n, in the Precincts of light,
>> Directly towards the new created World,
>> And Man there plac't, with purpose to assay [ 90 ]
>> If him by force he can destroy, or worse,
>> By some false guile pervert;
>>
>> [Borrowed from
>> http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_3/index.shtml]
>>
>> As some have noted, "world" at that time was the usual
>> term for "cosmos." Given that Satan is "Coasting the
>> wall of Heav'n on this side Night / ... and ready now
>> / To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet / On
>> the bare outside of this World," then the Father seems
>> accurate in maintaining of Satan that "now / Through
>> all restraint broke loose he wings his way / Not farr
>> off Heav'n, in the Precincts of light, / Directly
>> towards the new created World." At this point, Satan's
>> movement is direct. He has had the newly created world
>> in his sights since first spying it in PL 2.1051ff,
>> where it appeared about the size of a star, knows from
>> the 'rumor' in heaven that he will find mankind there,
>> and has been hieing his way toward it since the moment
>> that he first spied it.
>>
>> At the time that God describes Satan in flight, he is
>> winging his way directly toward the newly created
>> world, i.e., the cosmos, if we assume that "World" in
>> PL 2.74 has the same referent as "World" in PL 2.89,
>> which seems to me a safe assumption.
>>
>> Thus, "directly," as descriptive of Satan's words at
>> this moment in his flight, looks accurate to me.
>>
>> Jeffery Hodges
>>
>> University Degrees:
>>
>> Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
>> (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic  
>> Texts")
>> M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
>> B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
>>
>> Email Address:
>>
>> jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
>>
>> Blog:
>>
>> http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/
>>
>> Office Address:
>>
>> Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
>> Department of English Language and Literature
>> Korea University
>> 136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
>> Seoul
>> South Korea
>>
>> Home Address:
>>
>> Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
>> Sehan Apt. 102-2302
>> Sinnae-dong 795
>> Jungrang-gu
>> Seoul 131-770
>> South Korea
>> _______________________________________________
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>

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