[Milton-L] Milton's artistry

Ernst Oor eoor at planet.nl
Wed Jul 21 12:50:45 EDT 2010


I shall not comment on Richard Strier's first remark - I leave it to others,
if any are willing,  who are better qualified than I am to do so.

As for the line, which is my real point, I can give an analysis:
"' And knew not eating Death" by simply reading it the first time may
poetically not sound very attractive, yet the fact that it may have four
different meanings as explained, makes it very suggestive; by reading it
more times the reader may become aware of all the possibilities and may be
fascinated because he can project his own opinion.
I can illustrate this by taking a painting as an example. It is my
experience that when one looks at a (good) painting he/she perceives more
that he/she actually sees. What you see may be clear at first sight but one
may have the impression that there is more to it and that is where
fascination begins.
It is the art of the poet/painter to tell as much as possible in a limited
space - this can be done by suggestion.
What Milton does in the above line is in my opinion very artistic and part
of PL's fascination if taken together with all other instances in lines
created in the same way. That after so many years we still discuss the real
meaning of any line in PL is partly due to this phenomenon.

Best regards,

Enna Martina
----- Original Message -----
From: "richard strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 4:55 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton's artistry


> That Milton worked in PL to "prevent paradise even from being imagined,
> except on condition of its imminent loss" seems completely and utterly
wrong to
> me.  Much of the achievement of the poem -- and much of its uniqueness --
> comes from the extraordinary and sustained evocation it provides of
developed
> LIFE in Eden before the fall (relationships, work, sex, companionship,
picnics,
> story-telling, discussions, etc.).
>
> I am also willing to go on record thinking that "knew not eating Death" is
 quite a
> bad line, only perhaps justified by Death being thought of as the agent of
> "eating."  Seeing at as a "grecism" [sic] does not seem to me any sort of
poetic
> justification.
>
> RS
>
> ---- Original message ----
> >Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 16:00:24 +0200
> >From: "Ernst Oor" <eoor at planet.nl>
> >Subject: [Milton-L] Milton's artistry
> >To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> >
> >   Dear List Members,
> >
> >   Some time ago the list members discussed poetry and
> >    art in connection with the various interpretations
> >   of some passages in Paradise Lost.
> >
> >   I am reading Kenneth Haynes book English Literature
> >   and Ancient Languages  (Oxford University
> >   Press, 2003) and on p. 79 of his book Haynes gives a
> >   scholarly explanation showing, in my opinion,
> >   Milton's artistry.
> >   I quote:
> >
> >       Take a famous grecism from Paradise Lost. Eve
> >   plucks the fruit, eats
> >       (9.791-2):
> >
> >                          Greedily she ingorg'd without
> >   restraint,
> >                          And knew not eating Death:
> >
> >       Greek may use a participle after verbs of
> >   knowledge or perception,
> >       and the line, modelled after greek, means 'and
> >   knew not that she
> >       ate Death'. But the unusual syntax is not
> >   limited to its Greek model;
> >       rather it concentrates several meanings in the
> >   line: Eve did not know
> >       (that is, she was ignorant for the last time)
> >   while she was eating
> >       death; she did not know what she did (she ate
> >   death); she did not
> >       know the eating, devouring power of death...
> >
> >       [further down]
> >
> >       His [Milton's] most powerful writing insists on
> >   the loss of paradise, to
> >       prevent paradise even from being imagined,
> >   except on condition of its
> >       imminent loss. Imitations of Greek and Latin
> >   syntax and vocabulary
> >       provided Milton with one means to accomplish
> >   this...
> >
> >   Though Haynes' book is not about Milton, his poetry
> >   is often discussed and the book may be
> >   interesting to  Milton scholars who have not yet
> >   read it.
> >
> >   Best regards,
> >
> >   Enna Martina.
> >
> >
> >
> >
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