[Milton-L] Humble request (was Milton-L Digest, Vol 75, Issue 14)

Kemmer Anderson kanderso at mccallie.org
Wed Feb 20 11:35:14 EST 2013


The Wharton edition that I looked up has the enjambment "steer / Right
onward..".but looking at the previous sonnet "To Cyriac Skinner" the turn
is less metaphorical in construction: "know / Toward solid good what leads
the nearest way." My Ship of State: Nautical Metaphors of Thomas Jefferson
refers to Lycidas and Samson...Charles Miller quotes from Samson: "What
Pilot so expert but needs must wreck, / Imbark'd with such a Steermate at
the Helm?" Perhaps Cyriac was a kind of steermate. Certainly some US Vice
Presidents has been a kind Dalila steermate. In any case I will try to
convince my Homer scholar who is going to Annapolis to se the command
"Steer Right Onward" out in the Chesapeake Bay.Lord Nelson might have used
the term. It must be a command found in nautical logs.I ope the command
does not have to be uttered out inthe Persian Gulf. Kemmer Anderson

On Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 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 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<mailto: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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