[Milton-L] Re prelaps seasons: when is a question a good one?

Nancy Charlton nbcharlton at comcast.net
Fri Jan 8 14:02:37 EST 2010


Hard on the heels of Jim's latest post came a newsletter featuring the 
economy of Brazil. This caught my eye:

    Brazil has 23% of the world’s arable land and at least 40% of it is
    unused. That’s more than all the farmland in the U.S. combined! And
    its abundant rainfall and tropical location allows for *multiple
    planting seasons* with high yields.

So, it may have been possible that both arguments have st lest some 
elements of correctness. "Multiple planting seasons" (note the plural) 
are possible if the conditions of "abundant rainfall" and "tropical 
location" obtain. Milton doesn't seem to qualify "seasons" as "planting" 
but it is implicit in the lines Jim quotes -- but it sounds like they 
had to pull the tomatoes and pears and let them ripen in-- what? a paper 
bag? But there is an unpleasant natural process implied by "superfluous 
moist." The store was subject to mold and mildew.

All of which goes to prove that Eden was really in Brazil and Satan 
could turn himself into a fungus!

"Ripe apples drop about my head," comes to mind. It strikes me that 
Marvell's description of the delights of the abundant garden is 
non-sequential: apples, grapes, "nectarine, and curious peach," melons, 
flowers, grass. This is before the days of Mexican and Chilean imports, 
so autumnal apples probably and grapes certainly would come after the 
summer fruits and the melons. Grass is certainly a constant, and in this 
context unnamed generic "flowers" also. But that's England, and rather 
than "of God inspir'd" it is the "skillful gardener" who "drew/ of herbs 
and flowers this dial new;". The sun runs through "a fragrant zodiac" 
and the "industrious bee/ Computes its time [thyme] as well as we."

Nice to contemplate while unwontedly snowed in, I hope!

Nancy Charlton



James Rovira wrote:
> Actually looking at the poem caused the problem to begin with, 
> Richard. Looking at these lines again reinforces the problem:
>
> <<To whom thus Eve. Adam, earths hallowd mould,
> > Of God inspir'd, small store will serve, where
> > store,
> > All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk;
> > Save what by frugal storing firmness gains
> > To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes: [ 325
> > ]>>
>
> Eve's reference to "small store" means that Adam and Eve don't need to 
> keep much food in stock, because "all seasons, ripe for use hangs on 
> the stalk." Edible fruit (I'd imagine this word refers to all growing, 
> edible things) is available to Adam and Eve year round right on the 
> stalk. All seasons are harvest and growing seasons. There's nothing 
> natural about this in terms of our current climate.
>
> Not something you'd expect in normal four season climate with a real 
> winter.
>
> Jim R
>
> On Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 11:46 AM, richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu 
> <mailto:rastrier at uchicago.edu>> wrote:
>
>     Interesting that the more that folks ACTUALLY LOOK at the poem,
>     the less
>     tenable the "no seasons," or only one, or even only two becomes. I
>     guess I'm a
>     naive reader, but "all seasons" kind of seems to me to mean all
>     seasons. I will
>     not repeat my argument about why I think M is not worried about
>     saying this.
>     He seems to be going out of his way to indicate that all natural
>     processes take
>     place in Eden.
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
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