[Milton-L] seasons in PL

Campbell, W. Gardner Gardner_Campbell at baylor.edu
Wed Jan 6 12:39:11 EST 2010


I don’t have a solution to offer, just another couple of moments in the poetry. The “eternal spring” is explicit in 4.266-268:

                                               while Universal Pan
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance
Led on th’Eternal Spring.

And then again, in 5.391-395:

                                Rais’d of grassy turf
Thir Table was, and mossie seats had round,
And on her ample Square from side to side
All Autumn pil'd, though Spring and Autumn here
Danc'd hand in hand.

I sense some complexities here in which seasons are understood in the way Carol outlines, without any need for a *memento mori*. That’s one of the many things that continue to fascinate me about Milton’s Paradise: it’s full of urgency, and time is clearly experienced in terms of certain kinds of measures (not an eternal “now” or even Tillyard’s “perpetual youth”), yet the idea of measures of time is not bounded or defined by death. The idea of seizing the day co-exists with the need for standing and waiting—and both modes seem to be not only sanctioned by positively enacted by the colloquy between the human, the angelic, and the divine before the Fall.

Gardner



From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of John Leonard
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2010 10:54 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] seasons in PL

"Birth to death"?   Surely this is to jump from the frying pan into the fire.  Having seasons before the Fall is troubling enough (when there was meant to be eternal Spring), but death. . . .
----- Original Message -----
From: Carol Barton<mailto:cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2010 11:34 AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] seasons in PL


I wonder if we might not interpret the Book 7 "seasons" more loosely as the "seasons" of time, John*2? To do so, one has to take the line in context, I think: it's springtime, and the fish and birds are spawning/hatching, but they are intelligent of the short "seasons" (periods, from birth to death) of their lives, and the need to move on to the next phase. We visualize the birds "ranged in figure" (in typical arrowhead formation) flying south, because that's what we have, in our fallen world, seen. But that doesn't necesssarily mandate *seasonal* migration, in a prelapsarian Paradise. Maybe they just wanted to leave the berry patch for some grapes?

Here is the context, courtesy of the Milton Reading Room:
Mean while the tepid<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_7/notes.shtml#tepid> Caves, and Fens and shoares
Thir Brood as numerous hatch, from the Egg that soon
Bursting with kindly<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_7/notes.shtml#kindly> rupture forth disclos'd
Thir callow<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_7/notes.shtml#callow> young, but featherd soon and fledge [ 420 ]
They summ'd thir Penns<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_7/notes.shtml#summ.dpens>, and soaring th' air sublime
With clang<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_7/notes.shtml#clang> despis'd the ground, under a cloud
In prospect; there the Eagle and the Stork
On Cliffs and Cedar tops thir Eyries build:
Part loosly wing the Region, part more wise [ 425 ]
In common, rang'd in figure wedge thir way<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_7/notes.shtml#geese>,
Intelligent of seasons, and set forth
Thir Aierie Caravan high over Sea's
Flying, and over Lands with mutual wing
Easing thir flight;
Best to all,

Carol Barton



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