[Milton-L] Milton's blank verse: stresses and sources

Dario Rivarossa dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Thu Oct 17 16:14:29 EDT 2013

Dear Michael, many thanks for your always precious insights. Just a
couple of details in addition, not properly answers to your questions:

>does Tasso or any other Italian poet known to Milton
treat the line-boundary in such a cavalier manner?

Possibly Tasso in his long poem "Il Mondo Creato" (The Creation of the
World), where he worked on hendecasyllables in a way that no Italian
poet before him had - nor would they even later, at least until the
20th century -, i.e. completely destructuring the verses, as well as
the plot and characters. Milton may have seen this poem in Naples
thanks to Giovanni Battista Manso, a friend an biographer of Tasso
(who had died meanwhile, in 1595).

>the effect of burying the couplet rhymes in enjambments.  I don't know if that is what Belli was talking about in his comment on "natural-seeming" rhyme.

I don't think so. Belli's are absolutely regular hendecasyllables,
though not looking like that at first sight. His verses sounded
'natural' because the wording came directly from 'the street.'
Witnesses said he was a great actor in reciting them (mid-19th
century). Incidentally, he worked as a theater censor for the then
Papal State, and he rejected "Macbeth" since it could justify
political assassinations :-)

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