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

J. Michael Gillum mgillum at ret.unca.edu
Sun Sep 15 16:59:22 EDT 2013


Ben Moran--See *Well-Weigh'd Syllables* by Derek Attridge. This is an
account of the Elizabethans' muddled attempt to come to a conceptual
understanding of English meter in relation to the Latin metric system that
they already understood, or thought they did. They were hopelessly
confused. For example Sidney said (in paraphrase), "We don't have meter; we
have rime as our ornament instead."

I don't know of anyone speaking of the value of metric inversions. There
was some early criticism of inversions as not properly metrical.

It is not clear what Milton's conceptual understanding of English meter was
beyond counting syllables. However, he does pretty much the same variations
as Spenser and Shakespeare. It's the extreme use of off-center cesuras and
enjambment that are unusual. 'Lycidas' has some odd terminal inversions.


On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 4:12 PM, Benjamin (Ben) Moran <
bamoran at crimson.ua.edu> wrote:

> I may have misread Professor Strier's email, but I didn't think he was
> placing a stress on 'of,' but simply capitalizing the first letter of the
> line/sentence.  I'm not sure I've ever read 'Of' as an accented beat, but
> I'd be interested in hearing if anyone else has.
>
> I've followed this thread with great interest.  Over the course of the
> last day or so, a couple of questions have come to mind, and I hope you'll
> excuse a graduate student's ignorance if they're silly: were there any
> early modern theories in place that suggested that metrical substitutions
> carried particular significance?  Or were substitutions looked at as
> acceptable (but insignificant) deviances from a standard model?  I know
> that there was a good deal of substitution in Latin dactylic hexameter
> (except, for the most part, on the fifth foot), but I have no clue what
> people believed in the early modern period.  These questions come up as I
> recall a passage from PL where the meter falls to pieces for half a dozen
> lines or so; I remember this being somehow connected to the sense of the
> narrative description (I don't believe it was a speech).  If anyone on the
> list could give direction on this matter, I'd appreciate it.
>
> Best,
>
> Ben Moran
> The University of Alabama
>
>
> On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 2:46 PM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>wrote:
>
>> 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>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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