[Milton-L] Just remotely Miltonic

Nancy Charlton charltonwordorder1 at gmail.com
Thu Sep 12 13:13:18 EDT 2013

Hello all,

Only by the most preposterous and charitable stretch can the following  have relevance to Milton, but it's still summertime and the livin' is easy, so I thought you might enjoy this exchange. 

To explain: in July a theater group here in Portland mounted productions of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" and John Fletcher's riposte, "A Woman's Prize, or The Tamer Tam'd. I went to Shrew with a friend, and though we had every intention of seeing the other, things came up and we missed its last performance. My friend meanwhile had checked the book out of the public library, read the play, and passed the book along to me. It's a hoot!

I'm not sure just why she sent me this, she being very busy with a move, a job search, a houseguest and a trip coming up. It could have waited, so I thought it deserved more than perfunctory thanks. And so when that came as a reasonably decent line of iambic pentameter I felt I had to run with it, but instead of an imitation of Fletcher's heroic couplets, it came out a sonnet -- a form as perfectly suited to tomfoolery as to high romance and undying love. 

Here's the Fletcher, provocatively ordered as Epilogue, Prologue:

Cambridge English Classics / Beaumont and Fletcher, Vol  VIII

Shelved in closed stacks

CEN  822  B37  v.8

the Woman's Prize, or The Tamer Tam'd

The Tamer's tam'd, but so, as nor the men
Can find one just cause to complain of, when
They fitly do consider in their lives,
They should not reign as Tyrants o'er their wives,
Nor can the Women from this president
Insult, or triumph; it being aptly meant,
To teach both Sexes due equality;
And as they stand bound, to love mutually.
If this effect arising from a cause
Well laid, and grounded, may deserve applause,
We something more than hope, our honest ends,
Will keep the Men, and Women too, our friends.  

Ladies to you, in whose defence and right,
Fletchers brave Muse prepar'd her self to fight
A battel without blood, 'twas well fought too,
(The victory's yours, though got with much ado.)
We do present this Comedy, in which
A rivulet of pure wit flows, strong and rich
In Fancy, Language, and all parts that may
Add Grace and Ornament to a merry Play.
Which this may prove.  Yet not to go too far
In promises from this our Female War.
We do intreat the angry men would not
Expect the mazes of a subtle plot,
Set Speeches, high Expressions, and what's worse,
In a true Comedy, politick discourse.
The end we aim at, is to make you sport;
Yet neither gall the City, nor the Court.
Hear, and observe his Comique strain, and when
Y' are sick of melancholy, see't agen.
'Tis no dear Physick since 'twill quit the cost
Or his intentions with our pains, are lost. .


And my effort:

Abundant thanks, my friend, to you is due
For bracketing with start and end "The Tamer Tam'd."
So freely did you read and well construe
The she and he of this, you might say, "framer fram'd,"
So well of quarrels rectified you write,
Pin-point precisely what is "namer nam'd,"
With first and secondary causes may delight
But alas, also, is justly "blamer blam'd."

   But tables turned and made the Tam'd the Tamer
And vindicated picked-on womenfolk,
And with a Cupid's dart -- heart-aimed by aimer,
Girls by running bag their woe-menfolk. 

   Then stand your ground, for by the claimer claim'd,
   No chance since namer's nam'd and Tamer's Tam'd!


I'm not sure Milton would have liked the play's intent "To teach both Sexes due equality," but if he has the Allegro disposition on, he might well "observe [Fletcher's] Comique strain, and when/ Y'are sick of melancholy, see't again."

I'd like t'have seen it once!


Nancy Charlton

Sent from my iPhone
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