[Milton-L] Poetry Daily (liquid song)

carl bellinger bcarlb at comcast.net
Sat Sep 1 12:05:53 EDT 2007


       Surely there  must be a study somewhere of the symbolism of water in 
w. culture generally? That aside though, what more limited 17th C. literary 
or mystical streams should we look for in Milton's uni.verse? It's not long 
in PL before he puts us by Siloa's brook flowing fast, and again in III we 
are at Zion's flower'y warbling brooks. We're talking inspiration, but is it 
the water itself whose substance confers insight, or is it the flowing 
itself, the motion? In his blindness, it is _not_ the still waters of Ps 23 
that restore the poet's soul but brooks that <<warbling>>  <<flow>>. The 
"drop" that shuts Milton into darkness is a liquid at rest: thick, serene. 
The worst horror imagined in Hell is to end up devoid of sense <<and 
motion.>>
      No doubt "motion" is as close to the mystical center of PL as any of 
the thematic strands in the poem. It's the central motif really (no pun 
wanted) --conceptually, imagistically; even structurally since the precise 
verse-line center of both Ed 1, the <<ascending>> chariot [per Fowler of 
course], and Ed 2, the <<bickering.. (Milton's coinage in this sense as I 
recall) are images of motion. At the final height of creation the 
quintessence turns to starrs numberless, as thou seest, AND HOW THEY MOVE. 
Milton's whole prosody springs out of thoughts that <<move>> harmonious 
numbers while the night bird is warbling in her secret covert. And maybe 
something "secret,"  something cabbalistic?, is driving the motif of motion? 
Moses was on the "secret" top and from Sinai he learns us of "the rising 
world of waters dark and deep." The springs are in motion.
    Ok so water...  motion... song. But what about the "melting?" Melting 
presumably goes from some solid [thanks Hamlet] to some liquid, or even 
"dewy" state?
      oh well never mind, the weekend is here; we don't want to dissolve in 
penseroso's cathedral anthems, we want to be soluble in Heineken [man, those 
new adds ARE sheik!]  -Carl


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jameela Lares" <Jameela.Lares at usm.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Saturday, September 01, 2007 12:15 AM
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Poetry Daily (liquidae and mutae)


> Interesting.  In modern phonology, l and r are still known as liquids, 
> though m
> and n are now called nasals.
>
> Jameela
>
> Quoting John Geraghty <johnegeraghty at hotmail.com>:
>
>> I'm not sure how far to take this, but may be an interesting topic to 
>> pursue
>> further.
>>
>> "In the technical vocabulary of the Roman grammarians the consonants p, 
>> t,
>> C, K, q, b, d, g were called mutae mute and the consonants l, m, n, r
>> liquidae liquid."
>> http://www.orbilat.com/Languages/Latin/Grammar/Latin-Pronunciation-Syllable-
>> Accent.html
>>
>
>
> -- 
> Jameela Lares, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor
> Department of English
> The University of Southern Mississippi
> 118 College Drive, #5037
> Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
> 601 266-6214 ofc
> 601 266-5757 fax
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