[Milton-L] Queering Milton

John Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Wed Jan 27 10:29:06 EST 2010

  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."


Interesting use there of the verb "queers."  I checked the OED and found the definition "spoil" (which is presumably the only sense Shapley intended).   These days "queers a poet" would have very different connotations, including (and especially) "in some school".  Queer, how words and institutions change.
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