[Milton-L] Milton Senior

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Thu Jan 21 09:07:02 EST 2010

A point on behalf of the hypothesis is that "sighs" doesn't have a
rhyme-partner, while all the other end-words do. That case would be somewhat
of an aberration in 17th-century lyric verse. In "Lycidas" Milton Jr. mixed
blank lines with rhyme, but more than once, so it doesn't look like an
accident. Of course, the uneven stanza mixing various line lengths is normal
practice at the time, but usually these stanzas incorporate more than one
shift of length. Your analysis seems sound.


On Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 6:35 AM, William Poole
<william.poole at new.ox.ac.uk>wrote:

> Dear all,
> At Leeds last weekend Michael Chance and Fretwork performed the consort
> music of John Milton Senior. They then spent the next fews days recording
> it, and a CD and a printed edition, edited by Richard Rastall, of Milton
> Senior's music are both forthcoming for later in the year. Some of you may
> already have the Milton/Peerson CD of the vocal music, performed by Selwyn
> College Choir again from Rastall's edition.
> Meanwhile, the evening threw up a potential prosodic question. Now Milton
> Senior's 'In Nomine' for voice and five viols sets the following text:
> Inomine:
> If that a sin[n]er[‘s] sig[h]es
> sent from a soule oprest
> maye pearce the firmement and mount the throane
> wheare greate Jehovah sittes, the god of rest,
> then heare O Lord the sad tune of my mone
> O gratious god, whoes goodnes gives mee light,
> receave my teares and prayeres in thy sight
> Now this is sometimes transcribed by conflating the first two lines above
> to achieve a simple ABABCC stanza, and this looks more or less right. But it
> leaves us the problem that the first, reconstituted line is now hypermetric
> by one foot. If we could knock out a foot from the first two lines we get a
> simple ABABCC rhymed iambic pentameter prayer, of a kind that would be quite
> plausible. But the
> splitting up of the first putative line into two isocola, while it might
> make musical sense in context, gives us a hypermetrical line in a most
> unlikely place for a poem-in-itself. This supports the notion that the
> poem existed first and was slightly refitted for the music. I wonder if the
> original poem ran 'If that these sighs' ... ? This would give us strong
> alliteration within the first line of the original poem, and also the hint
> about where to take the poem if one 5-foot line had to become two three-foot
> lines. Might this then suggest that the composer is slightly refitting a
> prior poem, not written by him? But then 'sad tune', I grant, does sound as
> if music was always in the writer's mind ... so perhaps Milton Sr after all?
> What do people think? Am I right to see a prior, metrically sound poem
> behind this one, or should I be content with what I have as
> more-or-less-OK-from-a-setting-composer's-point-of-view? And who wrote it,
> and in one or two iterations? Milton or Leighton or someone else? -- 'pearce
> the firmement and mount the throane' sounds very familiar, and perhaps I am
> missing something very obvious.
> I'm asking this on behalf of Rastall, who would be interested to hear what
> those closer to Milton Jr and text than to Milton Sr and music have to say.
> All best,
> William Poole
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