[Milton-L] "then" not "[then]"

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Sun Sep 15 15:00:28 EDT 2013


Michael Gillum --

Thanks for the response. I'm used to seeing elisions signaled as in your
example of heav'n, but it just occurred to me not so much in dipthongs.
It's interesting to me that you stress conventions of counting syllables in
your response to me and how Milton may have pronounced a line in your
response to Richard.

Jim R


On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM, J. Michael Gillum <mgillum at ret.unca.edu>wrote:

> James Rovira: It doesn't matter whether anyone pronounced "society" as a
> trisyllable, though I guess some did. It's a matter of *counting-as*,
> which may be slightly distinct from Richard's "seeing-as" or even
> hearing-as. Long established in the code of accentual-syllabic
> versification was the rule (or liberty) that adjacent vowel sounds or those
> separated by W, V, etc. can count as either two syllables or (by elision)
> one, according to what the meter wants. This rule may be rooted in
> variances in actual pronunciation (violet or vy-let), but it is a metric
> rather than linguistic rule.  I suspect no English speakers have actually
> pronounced a monosyllabic "heav'n."
>
> Richard Strier: I agree that line 1 of PL *can* be seen as a regular
> alternating line, but I wouldn't be so sure that Milton said it that way.
> As you know, there are inversions of the expected stress profile every few
> lines, usually following rules / liberties established in the iambic
> tradition since Spenser. I know of no evidence as to how people of Milton's
> time pronounced these, but I suspect they respected natural stress contours
> within a chant-like performance that registered five beats to the line.
>
> The big metrical issue about line 1 is the apparent "second-position
> trochee" (x//xx/x/x/ with the sense-required emphasis on "first"). These
> are unusual in the metrical tradition. Attridge, the leading metrical
> theorist whom Creaser generally follows, takes this feature as a sort of
> declaration of outlawry. That's  a view I find attractive.
>
> One of the Elizabethan metric theorists seems to have believed that stress
> inversions in the alternating line required the performer to mispronounce
> words to preserve the alternating meter. But those guys were used to very
> strict and regular iambic lines.
>
>
>
> On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 12:11 PM, Richard A. Strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu
> > wrote:
>
>>  I think Michael Gillum's post, building on John Leonard's, settles the
>> matter.  BUT I do think that sophisticated poets (Jonson, Herbert, Milton,
>> etc, etc) had a clear sense of the placement of accents as well as of
>> numbers of syllables.
>>
>>  Meter is a matter of what Wittgenstein would call "seeing as."  If one
>> could/can find a way of seeing a line as (regular) iambic pentameter then
>> it was/is iambic pentameter.
>>
>>  Take the first line of *PL*.  It can be made into metrical heavy
>> weather, but it can also easily be seen as perfectly regular iambic
>> pentameter:
>>
>>  Of MANS first DISobeDIENCE [one syllable -- "dgence"], AND the FRUIT.
>>
>>  The caesura before "and," as well as its metrical position allows for
>> the stress (eliminating punctuation, à la Teskey us a giant mistake).  I
>> have no doubt that Milton wanted us to see the line as presented above, and
>> to do the same sorts of operations with many others.  Empirical linguistics
>> (i.e. variations of stress/loudness) has virtually nothing to do with the
>> matter of meter.  Rhythm is another matter.  And performance, of course, is
>> yet another (meter is not meant as a guide to this, though it can, at
>> times, be so).  In line 1, for instance, I like the fact that "and" and
>> "fruit" are, so to speak, left hanging in the line.  But whether the line
>> needs to be performed that way is an open question.  It doesn't *need*to be, though it certainly can be.
>>
>>  RS
>>   ------------------------------
>> *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [
>> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of J. Michael Gillum [
>> mgillum at ret.unca.edu]
>> *Sent:* Sunday, September 15, 2013 10:39 AM
>>
>> *To:* John Milton Discussion List
>> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] "then" not "[then]"
>>
>>   Syllable count is the most salient feature in early modern English
>> metric theory. Sidney names the meters as "our line of ten syllables," "our
>> line of eleven syllables" etc. Many writers did not have a clear conceptual
>> grasp (as opposed to a functional grasp) of metrical accent, but anybody
>> can count syllables, as Pope complains. It is overwhelmingly probable that
>> the printer dropped a word when setting the "they then" line first edition
>> and that Milton would have chosen to correct it in an epic (as opposed to
>> dramatic) text. So I agree with John that we should not consider this to be
>> an emendation.
>>
>>  As to the supposed twelve-syllable lines-- "Ta dum ta dum ta dum ta dum
>> society" would be a hexameter in a hexameter context, or a pentameter in a
>> pentameter context. The last syllable would be (or count as) a weak sixth
>> beat in the hexameter, or a doesn't-count extra offbeat (feminine ending)
>> in the pentameter. "Society" would count as four syllables in the hexameter
>> and three syllables in the pentameter, by actual or theoretical elision of
>> I and E. In the context of PL, the line is a pentameter. Obviously, the
>> "satiety" line is the same case.
>>
>>
>> On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 10:57 AM, Nancy Charlton <
>> charltonwordorder1 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>>  Yes, that is certainly possible. I have no access to the 1667, so
>>> assumed that [then] in brackets was an emendation. If it looks like a
>>> duck...
>>>
>>>  Nancy Charlton
>>>
>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>
>>> On Sep 15, 2013, at 6:37 AM, John K Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca> wrote:
>>>
>>>   Emendation? It is true that "then" in 10.827 does not appear in the
>>> first edition (1667), but it does appear in the second (1674), so a case
>>> can be made for seeing it as Milton's correction of a printer's error
>>> rather than a Bentleyan emendation of an expressive omission.
>>>
>>> John Leonard
>>>
>>> On 09/15/13, *Nancy Charlton *<charltonwordorder1 at gmail.com> wrote:**
>>>
>>>     I was thinking the same thing, except I would liken it to a
>>> quarter-rest in music, with perhaps a fermata on "me". This to me has
>>> better rhetorical logic, particularly if the line is left stark without the
>>> emendation "then."
>>>
>>>  Nancy Charlton
>>>
>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>
>>> On Sep 14, 2013, at 8:32 PM, "Salwa Khoddam" <skhoddam at cox.net> wrote:
>>>
>>>   But how can these nine-syllable lines be scanned as unmetrical?? If
>>> we include pauses when they are spoken, it seems to me they scan quite
>>> regularly. For instance, a pause after the question mark in this line
>>> (10.827).
>>> Salwa
>>> Salwa Khoddam PhD
>>> Professor of English Emerita
>>> Oklahoma City University
>>> skhoddam at cox.net
>>>
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> *From:* Gregory Machacek <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu>
>>> *To:* John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>>> *Sent:* Saturday, September 14, 2013 5:32 PM
>>> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] Query on scansion
>>>
>>>  With me? How can they [then] acquitted stand (10.827)
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Greg Machacek
>>> Professor of English
>>> Marist College
>>>
>>>
>>> -----milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu wrote: -----
>>> To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>>> From: JCarl Bellinger **
>>> Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
>>> Date: 09/14/2013 04:12PM
>>> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Query on scansion
>>>
>>> I don't recall who made the observation but a line of just nine
>>> syllables, a truncated line, appears just where Eve suggests to Adam they
>>> might choose to remain childless in order to limit to their own persons the
>>> Woe otherwise destined now for all generations of their progeny.
>>>
>>> Perhaps someone could locate the line (I'm away from my desk at the
>>> moment)...
>>> I think that not a few editions of PL have rejected the nine syllable
>>> line as unmetrical, which it most certainly is, and have replaced it with a
>>> line that will scan.
>>> -Carl
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>>
>>
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>
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-- 
Dr. James Rovira
Associate Professor of English
Tiffin University
http://www.jamesrovira.com
Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety
Continuum 2010
http://jamesrovira.com/blake-and-kierkegaard-creation-and-anxiety/
Text, Identity, Subjectivity
http://scalar.usc.edu/works/text-identity-subjectivity/index
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