[Milton-L] Not everybody likes Milton
johnegeraghty at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 27 10:06:20 EST 2010
Maybe PL was too Velikovskian for him.
Vaughn and Vaughan:
Are we the eagle nation Milton SAW,
Mewing its mighty youth,
S oon to possess the mountain winds of truth,
A nd be a swift familiar of the sun
W here aye before God's face His trumpets run?
Or have we but the talons and the maw,
And for the abject likeness of our heart
Shall some less lordly bird be set apart?
Some gross-billed wader where the swamps are fat?
Some gorger in the sun? Some prowler with the bat?
Here much displeased, that anything like Night
S hould meet him in his proud and lofty flight,
T hat such dull tinctures should advance so far,
A nd rival in the glories of a star:
R esolved he is a nobler course to try,
And measures out his voyage with his eye.
Then with such fury he begins his flight,
As if his wings contended with his sight.
Leaving the moon, whose humble light doth trade
With spots, and deals most in the dark and shade:
To the Day's royal planet he doth pass
With daring eyes, and makes the sun his glass.
Two examples of linguistic games in Aratus are very widely accepted as not only real, but significant: the acrostic Λ-Ε-Π-Τ-Η in verses 783-787, about the phases of the moon as weather-signs, and the (barely) concealed ‘signature’ ἄρρητον at the start of verse 2.4 In modern times, the acrostic (a so-called ‘gamma-acrostic’: the lambda-initial word that starts off Λ-Ε-Π-Τ-Η is itself λεπτή) was first pointed out by J.-M. Jacques in 1960; because it employs the (supposedly Callimachean) buzzword λεπτόϛ 5 and because Aratus, not unlike Lucretius a couple of centuries later, uses the elements of language to explain the elements of the natural universe, the acrostic now receives nearly obligatory mention in work on the Phaenomena, even when it is not in the first place about wordplay. 6 Scholarly recognition that Aratus in effect signs his name in a droll way at the start of his poem (ἄρρητον is a ‘speaking name’ that literally means «unspoken») was a decade or two slower in coming, but thanks above all to Douglas Kidd and Peter Bing (see [n. 4 above]), ἄρρητον — which evidently harks back to Hesiod’s likewise
verse-initial merism ῥητοί τ’ ἄρρητοί τε «spoken and unspoken» in the proem of the Works and Days (4)7 — is well on its way to achieving the same level of respect accorded to Λ-Ε-Π-Τ-Η.8
O ur foile in Heav'n; here thou shalt Monarch reign,
T here didst not; there let him still Victor sway,
A s Battel hath adjudg'd, from this new World
R etiring, by his own doom alienated,
A nd henceforth Monarchie with thee divide
Of all things parted by th' Empyreal bounds,
His Quadrature, from thy Orbicular World,
Or trie thee now more dang'rous to his Throne.
"Aratus, the poet cited by Paul, based his poem, entitled “Phenomena,” upon a prose work by the same name written by Eudoxus (390-337 B.C.E. ), the pupil of Plato, whose Eudoxian method was employed by Archimedes in attempting to prove the quadrature of the circle."
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Horace Jeffery Hodges
Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 8:01 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] Not everybody likes Milton
The astronomer Harlow Shapley, interviewed on June 8, 1966 by Charles Weiner and Helen Wright, admitted to enjoying poety and liking Tennyson, but when asked by Wright, "How about Milton?", replied:
"Milton's tedious. And also I had to study him in some school. That always queers a poet."
That's unfortunate, for Shapley might have answered all our questions about astronomy and the seasons of Paradise Lost . . . prelapsarian questions, I mean. Perhaps Milton shouldn't be taught in school . . .
At any rate, here's the website with the interview (thought that's all that he says about Milton):
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