[Milton-L] Milton Senior

Beth Quitslund 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.

cheers,
Beth



At 06:35 AM 1/21/2010, you 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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********************************************************************
Beth Quitslund
Associate Professor
Department of English
Ohio University
Athens, OH  45701

email: quitslun at ohio.edu
phone: (740) 593-2829
FAX: (740) 593-2818 
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