[Milton-L] light fantastic

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Fri Oct 19 20:53:50 EDT 2012

Just to add a little more:

Once the noun phrase “the light fantastic” floats or dances free from Milton’s sentence and becomes a term for dance itself or the movements of dance, and once we start to “trip” that, rather than just to “trip it,” which in “L’Allegro” is just a command to Mirth that she trip or dance rather than just walk as she comes, things get genuinely fantastic.  The phrase begins to suggest more than just the light (in terms of weight), fantastic (magical, but also fanciful) movement of a dance or dancer and begins to sound like the ground on which or the space in which the dance is done, and the dance itself even almost starts to sound like a “trip” in the sense connected to travel, an excursion (or perhaps the “eccentric” parts of the “mystical dance” Raphael describes at 5.618-27 of PL).  You enter a space of the fanstastic.  In other words, it gets “trippy” in yet another sense, although that one’s obviously anachronistic.  But like Carol I’m having trouble resisting….

Maybe that’s the best part of the trip?


Louis Schwartz
Professor of English
English Department
University of Richmond
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA  23173
(804) 289-8315
lschwart at richmond.edu<mailto:lschwart at richmond.edu>

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