[Milton-L] Peter Ackroyd examines Milton

Sara van den Berg vandens at slu.edu
Sat Feb 23 14:43:10 EST 2008

"As one who prayed" has always seemed to me not just ambiguity but a 
piece of realism.  The passage is the messenger's narrative, and he 
could see Samson and speculate about what he was doing.  He could not 
hear Samson (who was too far away) or know for certain if Samson was 
silently praying.  Much of the final part of the poem (including the 
judgments of the Chorus and Manoa) is their subjective judgment.  In the 
case of the Messenger, his narrative is imbedded in Milton's text which 
is itself a rewriting of Judges.

Sara van den Berg

 James Rovira wrote:
> Paul -- I don't see how this passage contradicts Carey's claim that in
> Milton Samson's prayer is omitted.  Carey claims that Samson's prayer
> is included in the Book of Judges, which it is:
> << 16:28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, "O Sovereign LORD, remember
> me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one
> blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.">>
> And that it is omitted from Milton's account, which it is.  We don't
> have the language of Samson's prayer in Milton's account of the story,
> just the rather ambiguous phrase, "as one who prayed."  Carey's point
> doesn't seem to me to be that Milton didn't pray, but that by omitting
> the language of the prayer Samson's acts are rendered far more
> ambiguous in Milton's account than in the Book of Judges.
> Jim R
> On Sat, Feb 23, 2008 at 12:43 PM, Paul Miller <pm9 at comcast.net> wrote:
>> James Rovira ---> "The Ackroyd piece isn't nearly as interesting as Carey's
>> review of
>>  Beer's biography"
>>  I missed the link the first time and as I read his review I came across
>>  this:
>>  Carey ---> "In Samson Agonistes, too, Beer misses the crucial point. In the
>>  Book of Judges Samson prays to God for strength, and is granted it, before
>>  pulling down the building on the heads of the Philistines. But in Milton's
>>  account the prayer is omitted"
>>  No Milton really didn't omit the prayer he uses his own poetic nuance in the
>>  depiction of it.
>>  "He unsuspitious led him; which when Samson
>>  Felt in his arms, with head a while enclin'd,
>>  And eyes fast fixt he stood, as one who pray'd,
>>  Or some great matter in his mind revolv'd". SA Milton
>>  Paul Miller
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