[Milton-L] Milton and popular culture, a distant echo

John Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Fri Oct 19 08:32:54 EDT 2012


O darn, there goes another Milton 'first'.
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Schwartz, Louis 
  To: 'John Milton Discussion List' 
  Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 7:49 PM
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and popular culture, a distant echo


  John’s right, of course.  Milton echoes himself closely here.  It looks like he was fond of this (itself) fantastic bit of phrasing, but even though the OED cites the lines from "L'Allegro" as the first instance in the language, Milton might have gotten it from Michael Drayton's "Nimphidia, the Court of Fayrie," first published (I believe), along with The Battaile of Agincourt, in 1627, which puts it (I also believe) before the earliest estimates we’ve come up with for the date of the companion poems.  



  Drayton’s poet/speaker uses the phrase, “pretty light fantastick mayde” to describe the fairy Nimphidia:



  And thou NIMPHIDIA gentle Fay,

  Which meeting me vpon the way,

  These secrets didst to me bewray,

     Which now I am in telling.
  My pretty light fantastick mayde, 
  I here invoke thee to my ayde,

  That I may speake what thou hast sayd, 
     In numbers smoothly swelling. 



  That’s lines 25-32 of the poem (p. 118 of the 1627 volume).  



  Milton’s lines, not Drayton’s, are the source of the later instances of the phrase, but it’s interesting that he himself might have been borrowing or echoing. 



  I argue in chapter 5 of Milton and Maternal Mortality that Milton was interested in the Drayton volume for a couple of other reasons, but he might also have tripped over this phrase, and it stuck to his toe, although he did end up doing his own dance with it stuck there.  And that’s not the only bit he echoes, I think.  It’s a very “allegro” poem, and itself full of echoes (not suprisingly of A Midsummer Night’s Dream).  Native wood-notes wild all over the place.



  The “trip it…on” part is Milton’s, though.  But is it the best part of the trip?



  I wonder how the toe got cut off by the time it got to Mamie?



  Louis



  ===========================

  Louis Schwartz

  Professor of English

  English Department

  University of Richmond

  28 Westhampton Way

  Richmond, VA  23173

  (804) 289-8315

  lschwart at richmond.edu











  -----Original Message-----
  From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of John Leonard
  Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 4:38 PM
  To: John Milton Discussion List
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and popular culture, a distant echo



  The couplet Steve quoted is from "L'Allegro", but Michael is also right 

  to hear an echo of the masque. Comus might not "trip" the light 

  fantastic, but he does "beat the ground / In a light fantastic round" (144).



  On 18/10/2012 4:16 PM, Jameela Lares wrote:

  > The line is from "L'Allegro," of course, not the masque.

  > 

  > Jameela Lares

  > Professor of English

  > The University of Southern Mississippi

  > 118 College Drive, #5037

  > Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001

  > 601 266-4319 ofc

  > 601 266-5757 fax

  > ________________________________________

  > From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Michael Gillum [mgillum at unca.edu]

  > Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 3:04 PM

  > To: John Milton Discussion List

  > Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and popular culture, a distant echo

  > 

  > Then of course there's

  > 

  > Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O'Rourke

  > Tripped the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York.

  > 

  > I had no idea what that line meant until I read "Comus."

  > 

  > Michael

  > 

  > On Thu, Oct 18, 2012 at 10:55 AM, Steve Fallon <sfallon at nd.edu<mailto:sfallon at nd.edu>> wrote:

  > Come, and trip it as ye go

  > On the light fantastic toe.

  > 

  > http://bit.ly/3fqoy4

  > 

  > Click play

  > 

  > Steve Fallon

  > 

  > 

  > 

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