[Milton-L] Milton-L Digest, Vol 82, Issue 24

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Wed Sep 18 11:46:24 EDT 2013


What I usually hear when I read this line is:

"of MANS FIRST DISoBEdience AND the FRUIT"

So that "first" takes a stress somewhere in between "MANS" and "of." I'd
normally register it as unstressed because it has a lower relative stress,
but that's not quite right. It would be easier for me to say it takes a
full stress rather than is completely unstressed.  "AND," later in the
line, is being promoted only by its position between two unstressed
syllables in a generally iambic line, so isn't stressed as much as "MANS"
but still takes a stress. The preponderance of stresses in general slows
down the line and gives it a sense of majesty.

I think I agree with Michael Gillum contra Wimsatt here: what we hear when
we read takes priority over the rules of the verse. What's "illegal"
doesn't matter more than what's written and how it sounds, which of course
can vary.

Jim R
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