[Milton-L] Canaries in the coal mine

John Rumrich rumrich at mail.utexas.edu
Wed Jan 6 11:02:22 EST 2010


Fortunately for the theodicy, avian foreknowledge, however immutable,  
carries with it not the least impulse or shadow of fate.

On the other hand, we are left with the edgy if not blasphemous  
implication that bird brains partake of the divine image more than  
human brains do.  I have at times suspected as much, at least in my  
own case.

All best for a new year of seasons and their change,

John


On Jan 5, 2010, at 9:59 PM, John Leonard wrote:

> "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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