[Milton-L] scans delightfully?

Carl Bellinger bcarlb at comcast.net
Mon Aug 4 15:35:20 EDT 2008


Dear Carter Kaplan, 

Very kind of you (and James Rovira) to comment on a rhythmic niceness! ' am easily flattered.

 I thought for a moment you were referring to my fig-leaf limerick, which does scan accurately (if I say so myself) and not unpleasantly. Of course, in limericks, pleasantness of meter may be considered more a vicious than a good thing. 

But since you have set about to be _scanning_ something written in PROSE, why scare it merely into a "free verse?" as you have:

The picture of our conscious 
Willing life as a thing 
That tails off finally into incoherence.


why not rather "go to ground" and be hunting the ancient quarry: the covert, sleek, & wonderful Iambic? As, it seems now I look at it, is this:

"The picture of our conscious willing life"

Ah, _there_'s that "music of the English line" which Johnson was so pining for all-the-while stumbling through the pause-pitted wastes of Paradise Lost.

But of course we do _not_ read syllables when reading prose nor count them when writing it, and so are not distracted with discovery of spurious pentameters, or --now I look at it, and with huge dismay-- with discovery of hideous spurious long Trochaics:

"As a | thing which | tails off | finally | into | inco- | herence"

Metrical disaster if there ever, ever was one! Scans, by syllables, into perfect, synchronization with th'Empyreal banality of "Super-Cali-Fragil-istic-espi-ali-docious,
[ I'm afraid we know the tune]
Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious;
As a thing which tails off finally into incoherence,
Super-Cali-Fragil-istic Static Interference!"
__________________________________

There is one point apt I think (jesting aside): 
    Milton arranges rhythm & rhetoric in PL so as to make hunting the pentameter a high and serious,--and scansion-delighting-- sport. It repays both  musical and hermeneuntical attention [I haltingly began in London Town to argue] to discover the 'Johnsonian pentameter' (let's call it) both where coincident with the verse line as printed, and where not.

Though what if Earth be but the shaddow of Heav'n, 
And things therein each to [the] other like, 
      More then on earth is thought? 
      As yet this world was not, 
And CHAOS wilde reignd where these Heav'ns now rowl, 
Where Earth now rests upon her Center pois'd.

Cheers!
Carl 



----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Sanford Blackburn 
  To: John Milton Discussion List 
  Sent: Friday, August 01, 2008 3:02 PM
  Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Info request - Uncreation in PL


  Carl:
   
  As verse your note scans delightfully. 
   
  Carter Kaplan
   
   
   
  Uncreation in PL
   
  Does Fish, or anyone 
  Align the notion of Milton's text 
  As "self-consuming artifact"
  With an ordained devolution
  Of the artifact of God's creation?

  In doctrinal history is
  The biblical picture of a final 
  Disassembly 
  (Stars falling, elements melting, heavens
  Rolling up like a scroll)
  Treated as a consequence 
  Necessarily of the Fall, or 
  Rather as built-in, so 
  To speak, to the raw, mere, 
  Nature of the physical creation?

  Sh's "to the last syllable
  Of Recorded time" may have
  No relevance to PL 
  But seems to me 
  A marvelously suggestive 
  Yoking, or "imping," of (A) 
  The idea that creation is a text 
  With an ordaind end
  And (B) 
  The picture of our conscious 
  Willing life as a thing 
  That tails off finally into incoherence.
   


  > From: bcarlb at comcast.net
  > To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
  > Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Info request - Uncreation in PL
  > Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2008 12:23:12 -0400
  > 
  > Does Fish, or anyone, align the notion of Milton's text as "self-consuming 
  > artifact" with an ordained devolution of the artifact of God's creation?
  > 
  > In doctrinal history, is the biblical picture of a final 
  > isassembly --stars falling, elements melting, heavens rolling up like a 
  > scroll--- treated as a consequence necessarily of the Fall, or, rather, as 
  > built-in, so to speak, to the raw, mere, nature of the physical creation?
  > 
  > Sh's "to the last syllable of recorded time" may have no relevance to PL, 
  > but seems to me a marvelously suggestive yoking, or "imping," of (A) the 
  > idea that creation is a text with an ordaind end, and (B) the picture of our 
  > conscious, willing life as a thing that tails off finally into incoherence.
  > 
  > -Carl
  > 
  > ----- Original Message ----- 
  > From: "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
  > To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
  > Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 9:25 PM
  > Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Info request - Uncreation in PL
  > 
  > 
  > > I'm sure other scholars here can give you more direct references, but
  > > you may want to search chaos theory approaches to PL.
  > >
  > > Then try not to strangle yourself.
  > >
  > > Jim R
  > > _______________________________________________
  > > Milton-L mailing list
  > > Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
  > > Manage your list membership and access list archives at 
  > > http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l 
  > 
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