[Milton-L] To Cyriack Skinner upon his Blindness

Salwa Khoddam skhoddam at cox.net
Fri Feb 22 12:57:05 EST 2013


"birdes piping for pain of cold." The original has even more alliteration 
spread over 2 lines: "With mony bryddez unblythe upon bare twyges,/ That 
pitously there piped for pyne of the colde" (745-465). I don't think it is 
"gooey." Reading it I feel cold and freezing. Besides, the image of the 
birds is striking.
Best,

Salwa


Salwa Khoddam PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Oklahoma City University
skhoddam at cox.net
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nancy Charlton" <nbcharlton at comcast.net>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2013 5:18 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] To Cyriack Skinner upon his Blindness


> Dear Angelica et al.,
>
> I have followed this thread with great interest, as I am an aficionada of 
> Old English as well as of Milton.  So it was with delight that I made my 
> daily trek to Poetry Daily, and found this lovely meditation by Jacob 
> Polley:
>
>  http://poems.com  (click on Today's Poem.)
>
> It is so easy to overdo alliteration, to have it slip from unifying to 
> banal.  Coleridge's "five miles meandering in a mazy motion," to me has 
> always sounded overdone. Perhaps it's the Latinisms and feminine endings 
> of -ing, -y, =tion, but it just doesn't have the punch of "thaes ofereode, 
> thises ealswa maeg."  And "ofereode," literally 'over-went',  which seems 
> more devastating than simply "passed." Somehow, this "brings the eternal 
> note of sadness in" far more than the other.  It may not be a fair 
> comparison, however, but this line from Sir Gawain comes to mind, the 
> "birdes piping for pain of cold."  This may be a bit gooey, but in a 
> different way from the Coleridge.  Milton's alliteration in "Cyriack" 
> carries a restraint that keeps it from the overdoneness of these examples. 
> Milton needs the consciousness of having fought for liberty perhaps more 
> than Cyriack does and is not lacking in sympathy for one who fought a 
> fight similar to his own.
>
> So I think Roy Flannagan has a point.
>
> Nancy Charlton
>
> P.S.   Some minor asides:  For a corking good story and a masterly 
> appropriation of Old English/Icelandic/Norwegian, read Judith Lindbergh's 
> 2006 novel "The Thrall's Tale."  It delivers a punch much akin to the 
> ending of Downton Abbey, Season 3, just as heartbreaking and inevitable.
>
>
>
> On 2/19/2013 1:30 PM, Duran, Angelica A wrote:
>> 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.
>>
>> Adios,
>> Angelica
>>
>>
>>
>> On 2/19/13 3:54 PM, "Salwa Khoddam" <skhoddam at cox.net> wrote:
>>
>>> Angelica,
>>> I agree with those who think the tone of this passage that you quoted of
>>> the
>>> sonnet is heroic and the imagery of sailing onward sustains this tone. 
>>> It
>>> is
>>> 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
>>> over-all
>>> theme overrides whatever common usage it might suggest. I see no
>>> triteness
>>> 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.
>>> Best,
>>> Salwa
>>>
>>> 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
>>>> heading
>>>> "[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
>>>> typo
>>>> 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
>>>>> 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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>>>>>
>>>>>
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>>>>
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>
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