[Milton-L] metrics

Erick Ramalho ramalhoerick at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Sep 16 08:46:25 EDT 2007


Dear Michael,
   
  I´m glad you’ve come across those findings on Milton’s metrics. But I believe we should have in mind, above all, the Miltonic particular gathering of classical and vernacular versification. Most of the important features you’ve mentioned, grounded on the outstanding article you read, can be at least partially explained by Milton’s appropriation, rather than adoption, of Latin and, sometimes, Greek patterns. This would give further evidence, for instance, to his use of pauses not only in his English writing, but also in his Poemata. While writing in Latin, he sometimes took planned liberties in the disposition of caesurae by borrowing from the modes of archaic Greek poetry (a good study of that is the article Milton's Use of Classical Meters in the ‘Sylvarum Liber’ by Steven M. Oberhelman and John Mulryan. Modern Philology, Vol. 81, No. 2, Nov., 1983). Likewise, while writing in English, he provided PL with some Latin features, which can explain not only the irregularity
 of some of his iambi, but also, and not seldom, what you point out as Milton painstaking building of strong line-endings, which mostly belong to a pattern filling (or at least to some influence) in reconstructions of the Latin or Greek hexameters. This is far from simply reducing the analysis to the blunt that PL would convey a Latinate syntax, for, needless to say, it sounds quite good in English and can be read even without a knowledge of Latin and Greek. However, it also indicates something in which Milton furthered with his poetic practice, some theoretical discussions, carried out earlier by Thomas Campion, Puttenham, and some of his fellows, on how applying Classical quantitative metrics to English. What Milton does, instead, is building English verse in a broadly planned way in which both vernacular and Classical usages could be set together and, most importantly, creating the new. This is why I strongly believe the Poemata should be further investigated not only
 concerning its echoes in Milton’s later poetry, but also as a creative and autonomous new work on its own. As for that topic, I should like to suggest an article and a book, both by John K. Hale: Artistry and Originality in Milton’s Latin Poems (Milton Quarterly. Vol. 27, Number 4. 138-149) and Milton’s Languages: The Impact of Multilingualism on Style. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
   
   
  Best of luck,
   
  Erick Ramalho (Centre for Shakespearean Studies, Brazil)
   

       
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