[Milton-L] Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night...

Matthew Stallard stallard at ohio.edu
Sat Dec 27 19:58:49 EST 2008


I love the one post per day guideline. Anyone else?

Matthew



--On Saturday, December 27, 2008 4:15 PM -0500 jonnyangel 
<junkopardner at comcast.net> wrote:

> Well said Jim.
>
> My favorite contemporary poet, Billy Collins, has been an English
> Professor at Lehman College for over 30 years. He also was U.S. Poet
> Laureate for two terms. This coming semester I will have the privilege of
> taking a poetry class taught by a very well respected poet with many
> published books of poetry and a Yale Younger award. It is indeed a money
> issue, and many great artists (poets, painters, musicians etc) still have
> to keep a day job.
>
> But in my previous post I was talking about _academic_ writing in
> reference to scholars vs. artists, and maybe I should have made that
> clearer (or just clear).
>
> As for Milton and PL, I think the syntax is, in part, why it has held up
> for centuries - it just adds a timelessness to it. And Milton's command of
> language, poetic craft (similes, assonance, internal rhyming etc), pacing,
> narrative, character...is just jaw dropping (hey, and I've read Homer).
>
> Maybe I'm biased with Milton (well, ok, I am) but that's ok. Maybe I think
> Milton was a greater writer than, say, Homer (if such a man actually
> existed and wrote Odyssey and Iliad all by himself) and it's just my own
> subjective bias talking.
>
> But whatever the case may be, I don't see _how_ one could argue that there
> has been any writer _better_ than Milton (using, of course, objective
> criteria such as language, craft, etc).
>
> Anyway, thanks for your post, and I did read your longish post also (as I
> do with all of your posts).
>
> Peace Shalom,
>
> J
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On 12/27/08 9:53 AM, "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Nancy -- I said in my very first reply on this thread:
>>
>> <<So a statement that Milton was the greatest author who ever lived
>> sounds these days more like an emotional expression on the part of the
>> person speaking rather than a careful evaluation of literature.>>
>>
>> I should have added that's a perfectly legitimate emotional expression.
>> But J's subsequent responses sounded like he meant more than this -- he
>> was making objective comparisons, and still is, by insisting no one is
>> greater in fact, and asking for names -- not just in his subjective
>> experience of the poetry. I also suggested in my very first reply that
>> the problem with any idea of greatness is that there's little agreement
>> on the standards of greatness.
>>
>> But it was in a slightly longish post like this one that requires
>> reading. Too much work on a holiday.
>>
>> J. -- The idea of a separation between "scholars" and "artists" doesn't
>> hold up well.  Most academics who study poetry have also published
>> poetry.  There are many successful mid-list novelists who also teach
>> because that's a more stable source of income.  Arthur Miller, T.S.
>> Eliot, Tolkein, Lewis, Annie Dillard -- all creative writers with strong
>> connections to academics.  Some started in the academy, some started as
>> creative writers.  To get an even better idea, though, go to the faculty
>> pages of any major university and check out the publications of
>> different faculty members.  You will usually find several who have also
>> published creative work.  I published poetry and other works before I
>> completed my undergraduate degree.  But $15.00-$25.00/poem plus a copy
>> of the magazine just doesn't cut it.  I could publish a book of poetry
>> and make big bucks, I guess.  We all know how well those sell.
>>
>> "Greater" is a comparative term.  The word "writing" covers everything.
>> Not so much about genre, but about what we expect a work to do while we
>> read it. PL is indeed one of the greatest works in English, probably in
>> any language. I don't know how anyone could possibly determine if any
>> work was greater or not.  For sheer poetic effect, the poem's syntax
>> sometimes makes reading it too much like figuring out a Sudoku puzzle.
>> But that's part of the poem's greatness as well.
>>
>> Jim R
>>
>>
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>
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