[Milton-L] swerve / secure

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Sun Sep 30 14:13:34 EDT 2007

Jim, thank you for bringing the passage. Clearly it provides a gloss on
"swerve not too secure."

Adam repeats (or nearly so) from God's instructions the words

Secure (as v.)
Secure (v. or adj.)
Deception (cf "deceit")
Surpris'd (cf "lest he pretend. . .surprisal")
Warnd (cf. "warn")

So clearly the message got through, comma or no! PL is so amazing.

Regarding your point about versification, if anyone speaks the line to
communicate the sense echoed by Adam, the pause will be there and quite
distinctly, comma or no.


On 9/29/07 9:18 PM, "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:

> [snip] I think the comma there would be bad poetry--a very irregular pause at
> that point in the line--even though it might secure the reading (for
> modern readers, I might add.  It's still not clear to me that this
> wasn't a figure of speech).
> I think we should note Adam's repetition of the warning to Eve in Bk 8:
> To whom thus ADAM fervently repli'd.
> O Woman, best are all things as the will
> Of God ordaind them, his creating hand
> Nothing imperfet or deficient left
> Of all that he Created, much less Man,
> Or ought that might his happie State secure,
> Secure from outward force; within himself
> The danger lies, yet lies within his power:
> Against his will he can receave no harme.
> But God left free the Will, for what obeyes
> Reason, is free, and Reason he made right,
> But bid her well beware, and still erect,
> Least by some faire appeering good surpris'd
> She dictate false, and missinforme the Will
> To do what God expresly hath forbid.
> Not then mistrust, but tender love enjoynes,
> That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou me.
> Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve,
> Since Reason not impossibly may meet
> Some specious object by the Foe subornd,
> And fall into deception unaware,
> Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warnd.
> The words "swerving" and "security" are clearly associated here with
> adherence to the divine command.
> Jim R
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