[Milton-L] seasons in PL

Duran, Angelica A duran0 at purdue.edu
Wed Jan 6 11:11:33 EST 2010

I am glad for John Leonard’s early attempt to share his thoughts on this amazing passage, and the packed word. Poetry also works effectively when it provides undercurrents of subsidiary meanings that contribute to various motifs. I am reminded that “season” had meant to render food delicious — and the OED has a 1601 use of “seasoning” as a noun referring to food savoring. The OED also reminds us that season is directly related to “a time of year when a plant flourishes, when it blooms or bears fruit.” For me, all these meanings redound on fruition and creativity but also the fruit-related prohibition.

Adios, Angelica Duran

On 1/5/10 10:59 PM, "John Leonard" <jleonard at uwo.ca> 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 <mailto:jamesrovira at gmail.com>

To: John Milton Discussion List <mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>

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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