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

J. Michael Gillum mgillum at ret.unca.edu
Sun Sep 15 15:35:28 EDT 2013


James--the issue I addressed with Richard could be framed in terms of
metrical convention. Did Milton think iambic verse conventions allowed a
beat to be realized in the third syllable position in the pattern x//xx? Or
did conventions of performance require that the natural stress on the word
"first" be overridden and the beat realized on "dis-"?


On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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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>
>
>
> --
> 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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