[Milton-L] Milton-L Digest, Vol 75, Issue 14

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Tue Feb 19 12:39:18 EST 2013

I read the tone as heroic in the face of adversity, Milton believing that
he suffered a loss of eyesight because of his defense of liberty in
England.  I don't mean to argue that "steer / Right onward" might sound
trite, but it could be that he hoped the serious tone of the poem up until
that point would carry that construction through as well, and that the
reference to his "noble task" would elevate it afterwards.  He also seems
to consider the fame he won for his engagement of this noble task as
compensation for his loss of eyesight.

So I would say that the "still bear up and steer / Right onward" is not
later to be rejected, but is supported by the rest of the poem, while the
previous clause beginning with "Yet I argue not..." is the idea to be
rejected: that Milton might argue with God about his loss of eyesight.  He
seems to be positioning himself as facing the temptations of Job here and
coming out on top.

Jim R

On Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 12:28 PM, Christopher Baker <
christopher.baker at armstrong.edu> wrote:

> Dear scholars,
>> I have read every article and chapter on "To Cyriack Skinner upon his
>> Blindness" that I could get my hands on and am working through the tone of
>> lines 6-9:
>> Yet I argue not
>> Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot
>> Of heart of hope; but sill bear up and steer
>> Right onward. What supports me dost thou ask?
>> Many editors note the revisions to the poem, including replacing
>> "Uphillward" with "Right onward." In addition to more clearly initiating
>> the sense of traveling/sailing  that other elements of the poem produce,
>> "Right onward" sounds to me as purposefully trite, more along the lines of
>> Milton's reference to the "fatal and perfidious bark" in "Lycidas," a trite
>> explanation called in to be ultimately rejected. I see the four aspirated
>> "h" sounds in the first halves of lines 7 and 8 as contributing to that
>> tone.
>> What are your thoughts? Many thanks.
>> Adios,
>> Angelica Duran
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