[Milton-L] Milton Senior
quitslun at ohio.edu
Sun Jan 24 20:44:13 EST 2010
Dear William (et al.),
After some cursory poking around on my own, I passed this query on to
Steven May, who has done an enormous amount of bibliographical work on
English Renaissance poetry (including his completion of the invaluable
Elizabethan Poetry: A Bibliography and First-Line Index of English Verse).
His report: "I've run that stanza through every index and source I know to
check--it resembles EV 11286 in Eliz. Poetry, which begins 'If that a
sinner's sighs be angels' food,' and was set to music by Byrd in 1588.
There are several MSS. But the verbal resemblance ends after those first 6
words. It might be worth checking the music to see if it's the same tune.
Sorry, but that's all I came up with."
So if it's a prior poem, it's not obvious now.
At 06:35 AM 1/21/2010, you wrote:
>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:
>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.
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Department of English
Athens, OH 45701
email: quitslun at ohio.edu
phone: (740) 593-2829
FAX: (740) 593-2818
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