[Milton-L] A pause about pauses

Mario DiCesare dicesare1 at mindspring.com
Fri Sep 14 17:18:33 EDT 2007

Dear Colleagues,

May I suggest that maybe we really don't need to worry a lot about the 
fact that Milton does not explicitly discuss pauses? He composed Latin 
poetry; obviously he also read a lot of it, and the hexameters -- in 
Vergil, Ovid, Lucan, for instance -- never lack caesurae. (Nor did the 
pentameters in Latin elegiac poetry, for that matter, though I proclaim 
with somewhat less confidence here.)

When in the note on the verse (which prefaced the twelve-book revision) 
Milton refers to the "sense variously drawn out from one verse to the 
next" (I write in haste and quote from decaying memory; we're in the 
middle of a move, sans books for the moment), it surely did not appear 
necessary to discuss pauses; he was simply calling attention to his 
particular preferences, the elements of his versification which might 
invite criticism. And, as Michael Gillum very sensibly suggests, he 
employed caesurae all over the place. They were, I think, a given of the 
kind of verse he was writing.



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