[Milton-L] Fetishizing Greatness, was Re: Is Paradise Lost

jonnyangel junkopardner at comcast.net
Mon Apr 27 17:49:49 EDT 2009

On 4/27/09 11:18 AM, "Dr. Larry Gorman" <larry at eastwest.edu> wrote:

> George Lakoff argues that metaphor is embedded in language itself, that it is
> embedded in what seems to be non-poetic, ordinary phrases.  I think Frost¹s
> point was not so much that poems are poems because they use metaphors, but
> that poetry is valuable because it teaches us how the limits of metaphors; we
> can trust them so far but no farther.
> My point was not so much that poets could be philosophers and vice versa, but
> poetry is not one thing.  I think if one says Paradise Lost is the greatest
> poem in the English language, one is implying that poetry is one thing, that
> here is the standard by which we can judge the greatest poems; look we have
> found it!  Leaving aside Shakespeare¹s plays (and we could say these are plays
> and therefore are in another genre and don¹t count), we still have to deal
> with something like The Canterbury Tales, which seems to me trying to do
> something very different.
> I¹m not saying we shouldn¹t make judgments‹sometimes it¹s hard not to‹but that
> we shouldn¹t take those judgments so seriously.  I believe that what makes
> something literary is that it¹s a game.  Writers‹even serious writers like
> Milton‹are playing a game with us, and often they change the rules to keep the
> game interesting.  We evaluate the game on how interesting the game is and how
> well we think the writer plays by the rules.  Generally bad criticism is our
> getting the rules wrong.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
> Just something I thought was funny (don¹t shoot me).
> ³You have to understand academic publishing,² said Martin. ³No one reads these
> books. Everyone just agrees to publish everyone else¹s. It¹s one big circle
> jerk. It¹s a giant economic agreement. When you think about it, it probably
> violates the Sherman Act.²
>  from ³Terrific Mother² by Lorrie Moore
> As for the discussion(s) on ³Poetry², if anyone thinks that figurative
> language is ³poetry², then they¹re too far gone for me (and missing the point
> when they hear great poets talk about the craft). Great poets ³are²
> philosophers, but there are few philosophers that were ³poets². And poetry is
> ³one² thing, believe it or not. There are many genres over the history of
> poetry too numerous to name (the Epic, various Sonnet forms, Villanelle,
> Gazelle, all the way to ³Confessional poetry² etc. etc. etc.) There are also
> many metrical devices (my natural voice fits loose hexameter best, for
> instance - but there are many, many others). But you should look at a poetry
> lexicon sometime, for starters: I¹ve pasted one below. When I have more time
> (which is precious at the moment), I¹ll get more into detail about everything.
> But what burns my ass about Milton in ³academia² is that somehow (don¹t ask me
> how), a lot of academics seem to forget (as strange as it may seem) that
> Milton was ³first and foremost² a ³Poet².
> Back to work, 
> Mr. Angel (my nom de plume)
> P.S. - If you want my ³real² name (although I¹ve signed it to posts here and
> there), address, phone number(s) etc. then please let me know. My life is an
> open book. 

Poetry Lexicon 
Abstract - Having to do with ideas, concepts, and other intangibles (such as
truth or beauty.) Concrete is the opposite of abstract, and has to do with
the physical (such as a red wagon lodged in mud.)
Alliteration - the repetition of a sound, either the consonants at the
beginnings of words or any vowel sounds in successive or closely associated
syllables. Consonant example: "She sang slow songs in the shower." Vowel
example: "Apt alliteration's artful aid is an occasional ornament in prose."
Allusion - A reference to something outside of the writing itself, such as
classical mythology, popular culture, politics, history, other literature,
Ambiguity - the quality of having two or more possible meanings or
Anaphora ­ repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive
Association - the process of connecting words or ideas together.
Assonance - same or similar vowel sounds in stressed syllables that end with
different consonant sounds. example: Lake and fate. Bows and down.
(Contemporary poetry relies more on assonance as opposed to true rhymes like
lake and fake.)
Blank verse - unrhymed verse (usually metered.)
Caesura ­ a normal speech pause that occurs within a line, usually
Cliché - an overused expression that has lost its vitality, freshness, and
to some extent its meaning. Clichés usually reveal a failure to use the
imagination or to really see: Her eyes twinkled like stars; he was mad as
hell; or she worked like a dog.
Conflict - a struggle, often built up through tension between two opposing
forces. Possible sources of conflict are man vs. man, man vs. nature, man
vs. society, man vs. himself, etc.
Connotation - the emotional implication and/or association a word carries,
so that it stands for more than the literal definition; suggesting something
in addition to what is explicit.
Consonance - the final consonants in the stressed syllables agree, but the
vowels that precede them differ, as in star and door or river and ever.
Denotation - the basic, primary, or literal meaning of a word; explicit.
Diction ­ word choice. If you look up a word in the thesaurus, you¹ll find
words that basically mean the same thing, but they sound different, carry
different tones or connotations, and may indicate different kinds of
speakers or personas.
Dramatic situation ­ what is literally happening in the poem; however, in
poetry, what is happening may not seem all that dramatic.
End-stopped ­ when the end of a line coincides with a normal speech pause
(usually at punctuation).
Enjambment ­ lines that end without any parallel to normal speech; the
running of a sentence from one line of a poem to the next without a pause or
grammatical break.
Epiphany ­ a sudden manifestation of the meaning or essence of something; a
comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive
Extended metaphor - a metaphor that continues throughout the poem. Example:
a family reunion could be described through the metaphor of a battle.
Foot - a rhythmical unit in poetry. A foot consists of one or more stressed
( / ) or unstressed ( u ) syllables. Common feet are (stressed syllables in
         iamb (iambic) [unstressed/stressed]                    the tree
         trochee (trochaic) [stressed/unstressed]                  beat -en
         anapest (anapestic) [2 unstressed/stressed]          man-do-lin
            dactyl (dactylic)   (stressed/2 unstressed]         Bu -da -pest
            spondee (spondaic) [2 stressed]
A poem may also be described by the number of feet in a line, i.e. monometer
(one foot), dimeter (two foot), trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter,
and so on. Scansion - is the detailed analysis of the metrical patterns of
lines and stanzas. 
Form - refers to the metrical and stanzaic organization of a poem, and to
how it is structured. There are traditional forms that have been used for
centuries, such as the sonnet, sestina, and villanelle, all of which are
complex and sophisticated. For many poets the use of form provides an
interesting challenge, like making all your belongings fit into a tiny
U-haul, or putting together a puzzle. A good poem connects form to content
in some meaningful way.
Free verse - a poem that experiments beyond the limits of meter, set forms,
and rhyme schemes. Elements of form do exist, but they do not occur
regularly or according to a preconceived pattern. It often relies on an ear
for cadence. Cadences are phrases that fall into the symmetrical patterns
observed when speech rhythm is highly organized.
Image - a representation in words of sensory experience including sight,
touch, taste, sound, and smell. Image is basic to poetry because emotion and
idea are embodied and communicated in physical sensation. That is, we
experience the world as physical beings through our senses. In everyday life
we translate that data into verbalized emotions and ideas. In poetry, we
want to get away from every day abstraction and back to the roots of how we
actually experience the world. Concrete images are specific and help us to
imagine clearly what the writing is talking about: a bruised hand or a wet,
black bough. Good concrete images also linger in the mind longer than
abstract words.
Imagery ­ collective character of the images in a particular work: its
sensory content and the suggestive nature of that content.
Irony - figurative speech in which what is said is incongruent with what is
actually meant. Sarcasm, saying one thing and meaning the opposite, is a
form of irony. 
Line ­ unit of composition in poetry; line as an expressive concern is one
of the few absolute distinctions between poetry and prose.
Line Break ­ convention of how lines end in a particular poem or how a
particular line ends. Line breaks may coincide with or counterpoint sense
and syntax. They may be preset or unpredictable. They may or may not be
reinforced by repeated sounds.
Lyric ­ a short poem expressing the thoughts and feelings of a single
speaker. Often written in first person, lyric poetry traditionally has a
songlike immediacy and emotional force.
Metaphor - a figure of speech that implies a comparison or equation between
two things [called the tenor and the vehicle], changing or enhancing our
understanding of one or both. Example: "Juliet is the sun." Shakespeare
transfers the qualities of the sun (the vehicle] to Juliet [the tenor]. If
he had written, "Juliet is like the sun," he would have written a simile,
which dilutes the assertive power of the image. Tenor [the subject of the
figurative equation] and vehicle (the medium for the expression of something
or someone.)
Though metaphors are literal lies, they allow a writer to evoke the way
things feel, not just the way they appear.
A dead metaphor is one that has been overworked and has lost its figurative
vividness and its image content. When we say ³she works like a dog² we are
using a dead metaphor because the meaning is now merely denotative. What was
once concrete is in the process of becoming an abstraction. We no longer
envision a working dog. A dead metaphor is often a cliché.
Meter - the regular rhythmic pattern in the words of a line of poetry,
created by fixed and recurrent patterns of stressed and unstressed
syllables. Meter is described in terms of the foot.
Metonymy - an identifying emblem which is substituted for the whole name.
For example: "egghead" for an intellectual or "suit" for a business person.
Also, "the pen is mightier than the sword" and "her voice is full of money."
Narrative poem - a poem that tells a story; one of the four traditional
modes of poetry, along with lyric, dramatic, and didactic. Ballads and epics
are two common forms of narrative poetry.
Negative Capability ­ ³Šwhen a man is capable of being in uncertainties,
mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reasonŠwith
a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or
rather obliterates all consideration.² ­ John Keats.
Perhaps Keats calls this ³negative² capability, because the artist must
negate the ego‹the need to be right, to know, to judge, to take credit for
or impose one¹s self upon experience‹and serve, in a sense, as a means
through which all facets of experience can come together on the page without
censor. An artist seeks to evoke and preserve the mysteries of being through
his or her art not to explain away or resolve such seemingly contradictory
or paradoxical experiences like life and death, love and hate, desire and
repulsion, etc, allowing that some things cannot be resolved or understood,
except as mystery.
Occasion ­ in a poem, whatever seems to have prompted its writing; the
initiating or precipitating  event or action.
Onomatopoeia - figurative speech in which the sound of the words imitates
that which is being expressed. Examples: boom, clang, tap tap.
Parallelism or parallel structure ­ similarity of structure in a pair or
series of related words, phrases or clauses. Examples: parallelism of words:
She tried to make her pastry fluffy, sweet, and delicate. parallelism of
phrases: Singing a song or writing a poem is joyous. parallelism of clauses:
Perch are inexpensive; cod are cheap; trout are abundant; but salmon are
Persona - the mask or character adopted by the poet. This could be a real
person in history, mythology, an imaginary character, etc. The poet speaks
through that person's point of view. Therefore, just because a poem is
written in the first person (³I²) we should not assume the ³I² is the
author; it could very well be a persona [see speaker]
Personification ­ treating something inanimate as if it had the qualities of
a person. 
Point of view - indicates the perspective of the speaker (could be a persona
of the poet, a character created by the poet, etc.).
Prose poem ­ poetic language printed in prose paragraphs, but displaying the
careful attention to sound, imagery, and figurative language characteristic
of poetry.
Repetend - the irregular repetition of a word or phrase throughout a poem to
give a musical quality by repetition of sound.
Rhyme - the repetition of the same or similar sounds (usually stressed) at
regular intervals. Internal rhyme is rhyme that occurs at some place before
the last syllables in a line. Example: "Here I am, the old man with the dry
mouth." Slant rhyme is when the final consonant sounds are the same but the
vowel sounds are different, as in letter and litter, bone and bean (may also
be called near rhyme, off rhyme, or imperfect rhyme‹see also Consonance].
Rhythm ­ The pattern of stresses and pauses in a poem. A fixed and recurring
rhythm in a poem is called meter.
Simile - is like a metaphor except that in a simile the two things are
connected by the word "like" or "as."
Sonnet ­ from the Italian sonnetto: ³little song,² especially popular for
love poetry. A fixed form of 14 lines, traditionally written in iambic
pentameter with fixed rhyme scheme; the Petrarchan or Italian sonnet is made
up of an octave (the first eight lines] using envelope rhyme, and a
concluding sestet (six lines) with various rhymes: abbaabba/cdcdcd (or
cdecde or cddcdd). The English or Shakespearean sonnet consists of three
quatrains [four lines] of alternating rhyme followed by a couplet [two
lines]: ababcdcdefefgg. Most sonnets turn, or shift in tone in focus, after
the octave, though placement of the turn may vary.
Speaker ­ The narrating consciousness of the poem, not necessarily the poet
[see related concept of persona].
Stanza - In Italian, "stanza" means room; a stanza is to a poem what a room
is to a house. It is a section of a poem, like a paragraph, and it often
follows a set pattern. Usually, there's a line space between stanzas. Poets
can combine several different kinds of stanzas in one poem.
Symbol - an image or action that stands for more than itself. There are both
personal and universal symbols. Symbols that cross cultures and times, like
harvest, sunrise, and the full moon, are called archetypes. The connection
between spring and rebirth is universal.
Syntax ­ the order in which words are used or arranged in a sentence; the
structure of a sentence.
Tone - an aspect of voice, tone is the attitude of the speaker expressed
through voice. Language, rhythm, sound, images, and diction can all affect
tone. Tone is often described by adjectives such as sad, intimate, angry,
joyful, bitter, sarcastic, etc.
Villanelle ­ fixed form developed by French courtly poets of the Middle Ages
in imitation of Italian folk song; nineteen-line poem in which the first and
third lines of the first tercet (three-lined stanza) are alternately the
last lines of the following four tercets and also form the couplet (two
end-rhymed lines) that ends the concluding quatrain (four-line stanza):
A1bA2 abA1 abA2 abA1 abA2 abA1A2
Voice - the character of the speaker coming through the poem. It may be
described by adjectives such as strong, timid, light-hearted, serious,
mournful, etc. The elements of poetic voice are the same as those in prose:
word choice (diction], syntax, rhythm, pace, tone or attitude.
White space ­ any portion of the page left empty either around or within the
poem; can be used similarly to line break or punctuation, for emphasis or
evocation of silence.

> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Salwa Khoddam
> Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2009 8:07 PM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fetishizing Greatness, was Re: Is Paradise Lost
> Tony wrote:
> "And if we consider Frost's definition of metaphor- that it is "saying one
> thing in terms of another," language must be metaphor. But for what?"
> To experience things, both poet and audience, that they wouldn't be able to
> experience otherwise.
> Salwa
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Tony Demarest <mailto:tonydemarest at hotmail.com>
>> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>> Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 3:50 PM
>> Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Fetishizing Greatness, was Re: Is Paradise Lost
>> Mallarme said "there is no such thing as prose. . . There is the alphabet. .
>> . and as long as there is a straining toward style, there is versification."
>> And if we consider Frost's definition of metaphor- that it is "saying one
>> thing in terms of another," language must be metaphor. But for what?
>> Tony
>>> > Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 16:28:09 -0400
>>> > Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fetishizing Greatness, was Re: Is Paradise Lost
>>> > From: jamesrovira at gmail.com
>>> > To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>>> > 
>>> > Can you give me a reason to accept this definition, Salwa? Doesn't it
>>> > ultimately descend from thinking that would have us ban all poets from
>>> > our ideal Republic? If we were to extend our thought along these
>>> > lines we might also consider all language as metaphor, and therefore
>>> > all language as poetry, and perhaps then we should abandon either the
>>> > word "poetry" or "language" as they have become co-extensive.
>>> > 
>>> > I think our real options here are "limited" or "rigid" or "narrow"
>>> > definitions of the word poetry -- which is what I thought any
>>> > definition is to begin with -- or no meaningful definition at all.
>>> > 
>>> > Jim R
>>> > 
>>> > On Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 4:20 PM, Salwa Khoddam <skhoddam at cox.net> wrote:
>>> > 
>>>> >> Where there's metaphor, there's poetry.
>>>> >> Salwa
>>>> >>

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