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

Richard A. Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Sun Sep 15 16:15:52 EDT 2013

Re Jim R's post:  I do not see "Of" as receiving metrical stress (if that is the vocabulary we are using); nor, as far as I can see, has this been suggested.

My scansion for line 1 is that it can be seen as perfectly regular iambic (now set our properly):

Of MANS first DISoBEdience [one syllable -- "dgence"], AND the FRUIT.


Of MANS / first DIS /oBE / dience [one syllable -- "dgence"], AND / the FRUIT.

The other plausible scansion (with a spondee in the second foot) is:  Of MANS/ FIRST DIS / o BE / dience [one syllable -- "dgence"], AND / the FRUIT.

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of James Rovira [jamesrovira at gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 15, 2013 2:46 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] "then" not "[then]"

I know very little about Early Modern poetics to be sure -- so I very much appreciate your responses -- but even reading line 1 today, I would say that "first" could reasonably be demoted because a stressed syllable precedes and follows it. That particular case is both performance and convention, I would say. I like Richard's stress on "Of" because it's the opening word of an epic, so that applies even more pressure to demote "first."

The word "society" was only brought up in a hypothetical example of yours, was it not? In that case I trust your statement about EM convention and practice -- thank you.

Jim R

On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 3:35 PM, J. Michael Gillum <mgillum at ret.unca.edu<mailto:mgillum at ret.unca.edu>> wrote:
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-"?

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