[Milton-L] To Cyriack Skinner upon his Blindness

Duran, Angelica A duran0 at purdue.edu
Tue Feb 19 16:30:30 EST 2013

Dear all,

This has indeed been helpful, especially but not only Christopher Baker's
reminder of the Biblical echo in the phrase. I do not consider
trite-sounding  as a negative per se. This discussion reminds me of how
much the trite-sounding conclusion of the Old English "Deor's Lament" that
I was memorizing for my PhD qualifying exams (_Beowulf_ to Billy Collins,
as we called it),"That too did pass; so shall this" (modern English
translation) encouraged me, not just for the exams (!) but for all facets
of life, even as much as I acknowledged that it sounded trite, well-worn
because so many of us have needed it or wanted it over the centuries.


On 2/19/13 3:54 PM, "Salwa Khoddam" <skhoddam at cox.net> wrote:

>I agree with those who think the tone of this passage that you quoted of
>sonnet is heroic and the imagery of sailing onward sustains this tone. It
>vivid as an image of life's journey and bearing up our "crosses." There
>should not be too much focus on the one phrase "right onward." The
>theme overrides whatever common usage it might suggest. I see no
>of tone in it but more of a tone of heroism in  accepting what God's
>commands and purposes are for us and forging ahead.
>Thank you for this interesting and provocative question.
>Salwa Khoddam PhD
>Professor of English Emerita
>Oklahoma City University
>skhoddam at cox.net
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Duran, Angelica A" <duran0 at purdue.edu>
>To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 2:04 PM
>Subject: [Milton-L] To Cyriack Skinner upon his Blindness
>> Dear Jameela et al,
>> Just a self-justification (!): my initial posting had the subject
>> "[Milton-L] To Cyriack Skinner upon his Blindness" which I include again
>> as the subject heading of this posting. I agree though with the
>> helpfulness of clear subject headings. That said, I apologize for the
>> in the quotation of Milton's lovely poem.
>> Adios,
>> Angelica Duran
>> Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature
>> Director, Religious Studies
>> Purdue University
>> 500 Oval Drive - Heavilon Hall
>> West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
>> U.S.A.
>> (765) 496-3957
>> <duran0 at purdue.edu>
>> <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/complit/directory/?personid=80>
>> <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/religious-studies/>
>> On 2/19/13 2:47 PM, "Jameela Lares" <Jameela.Lares at usm.edu> wrote:
>>>Might I humbly request that anyone posting to this list use a more
>>>descriptive subject line than "Milton-L Digest"?
>>>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 John Leonard
>>>[jleonard at uwo.ca]
>>>Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 12:14 PM
>>>To: John Milton Discussion List
>>>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton-L Digest, Vol 75, Issue 14
>>>I can hear nothing trite in 'bear up and steer / Right onward'.  I can
>>>see that 'uphillward' might convey that impression (especially after the
>>>nautical imagery in 'bear up' and 'steer'), but Jim is surely right on
>>>when he says 'Right onward' is 'heroic in the face of adversity'. Both
>>>the language and imagery (sailing against a head wind) look forward to
>>>Satan's journey through Hell and Chaos, when he is likened to a merchant
>>>fleet 'Close sailing from Bengala' as it plies 'Stemming nightly toward
>>>the pole'. ('Close' and 'stemming' are also nautical terms.) 'Bear up'
>>>also plays on the senses 'uphold principles' and 'keep up courage' (OED
>>>21), ideas that Milton took seriously.
>>>John Leonard
>>>On 19/02/2013 12:39 PM, James Rovira wrote:
>>>I read the tone as heroic in the face of adversity, Milton believing
>>>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
>>>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<mailto:christopher.baker at armstrong.edu>
>>>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
>>>to that tone.
>>>What are your thoughts? Many thanks.
>>>Angelica Duran
>>>Milton-L mailing list
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