[Milton-L] seasons in PL

John Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Tue Jan 5 22:59:55 EST 2010


"Seasons" can mean "time of day," and Eve probably does use that sense when she speaks of "all seasons and their change" in the same breath as "breath of morn."  But it is hard to withhold the sense "seasons of the year" in book 7 when Raphael speaks of migrating birds "Intelligent of seasons" as they embark on their "annual voyage" (7.427-31).  Twenty years ago I tried to rescue these lines for innocence by arguing that "seasons" need not have the obvious meaning, but I now find my argument desperate and unconvincing.  This is a problematic moment in PL, for the "intelligent" birds clearly intuit a coming Fall even before Adam and Eve are created.  Maybe Milton just slipped, but it is still a suggestive moment.

John Leonard
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: James Rovira 
  To: John Milton Discussion List 
  Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:52 PM
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton's Prelapsarian Cosmos


  Ha...yes, Jeffery, this sentence of yours sums it up:

  <<Yesterday, I noted that Milton seems to give Adam and Eve a prelapsarian understanding of the seasons that will characterize only the postlapsarian world, so let us turn unto the seasons that occur throughout Paradise Lost.>>

  Seems like it was a theological commonplace that unfallen Eden was in a perpetual Spring, though, and probably still is among Evangelicals.  It makes sense for God to say at creation that the stars were given for the seasons.  If he said so in front of the the angelic host, that would distribute knowledge of the changes of the seasons before they occurred.  I don't recall if Raphael's use of the word "seasons" occurs before or after A and E's first use of it.  But we could conceivably reconstruct word of mouth knowledge from God to the angels to human beings.  

  I'm not completely satisfied as none of these characters would know what they were talking about, except for God, but they seem to.

  Jim R


  On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 8:39 PM, Horace Jeffery Hodges <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com> wrote:

    Thanks, Jim. Those are some of the very passages that I've been puzzling over recently. At the risk of cluttering this listserve and tooting my own horn -- though this actually litters the list less -- here are my recent blog entries on this issue:



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