[Milton-L] seizing | seizing; sex before and after

Brendan M. Prawdzik bprawdzi at cbu.edu
Mon Apr 14 20:58:26 EDT 2014


All,

Milton knew more than anyone what an enjambment could mean, what it could do to open up places of possibility and interest, opportunities for probing even prelapsarian psychology and affect.

It is the hand of Adam, not his act, that is described as "gentle" -- which by this time in Eve's life, the time that she says this, it might well be seen to be (as it so appears).  The poem does not read, "Thy hand seized mine/ Gently."

It's amazing to me how many are so eagerly quick to assume -- a la Stanley Fish -- that any disturbance we read in this passage is pure (fallen) projection; as many are quick to assume that Samson's rouzing motions, "must only, of course, be understood to be from God" (paraphrasing a few sources).  The disturbance is there, in the effect of the enjambment, and, moreover in the various odd juxtapositions that surround this passage.

None would ever be so foolish as to call Adam a rapist.  But let's try for a moment to feel from Eve's perspective here.  Walk yourself through the process, as the poem represents it, leading up to said "rapturous wedding night."  There are purposeful, productive disjunctions here, just as there will be when Eve hopes that the fruit will make her "more equal," "a thing not inferior," etc.  Anyone eager to explain away that?


Milton can be GREAT and also impossible fully to pin down, impossible to fit into some neatly canonical jewelry box of Truth.  If, as Haskin argues, Milton learned in the 1640s to render fruit from the contradictions, tensions, and "dark places" of scripture, why should we continually be surprised to find troubling aporia and "dark places" in Milton?


Brendan


________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Matthew Jordan [matthewjorda at gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 3:09 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] seizing | seizing; sex before and after

True, The Beatles; but the rough Beatles with Stones-envy of much of the White Album...


On 22 March 2013 22:53, Neil Forsyth <neil.forsyth at unil.ch<mailto:neil.forsyth at unil.ch>> wrote:
Beatles, Richard. Sorry for the pedantry.

Neil Forsyth
neil.forsyth at unil.ch<mailto:neil.forsyth at unil.ch>



On Mar 22, 2013, at 9:03 PM, Richard A. Strier wrote:

I don't see why the shady bank is any "nastier" than the bower.  Both are rather romantic.  It's not like the Rolling Stones wanting to "D' do it in the road."

RS
________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>] on behalf of John K Leonard [jleonard at uwo.ca<mailto:jleonard at uwo.ca>]
Sent: Friday, March 22, 2013 2:57 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] seizing | seizing; sex before and after

Well, there is one difference. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve make love in the bower; after, they do it in the big outdoors--'a shady bank'. Whether this is a change for the worse is, of course, a moot point. Some might argue that sex is all the better for having a tang of gnostic gnastiness. But there is a change.

JL

On 03/22/13, "Richard A. Strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu<mailto:rastrier at uchicago.edu>> wrote:
I've never been convinced by all the thousands of words written about the (supposed) difference between the sex before and after.  I think it's unnecessary moralism.  Clearly the repetition of the verb could be read differently.  I don't see that sex after is any dirtier or nastier than sex before.

RS



________________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>] on behalf of srevard at siue.edu<mailto:srevard at siue.edu> [srevard at siue.edu<mailto:srevard at siue.edu>]
Sent: Friday, March 22, 2013 2:17 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] seizing | seizing

Thanks,good reach:  before, a gentle loving taking of her hand, eager but not
necessarily intrusive or forcible--after eating the fruit, a kind of drunken
forceful taking of the hand to draw her off to orgiastic coupling.  Before, Adam
is in awe but understands God has provided him a companion and he knows this
will include what is later called marriage, which (whatever 17th century prudes
tried to argue) would mean a rapturous "wedding night" during which they did not
turn from each other.  After, like Satan and Sin, a rushing off to get at it.
Satan did not need to grab, he knew how to inveigle--rape and yet Sin complied.
Still, the result of Satan's coupling with Sin was a violent painful
transformation into bestial form. After the Fall, humans are halfway to devilish
but not all devils. Their coupling will raise Cain, of course.


Quoting JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca<mailto:jfleming at sfu.ca>>:

> Always glad to get a chance to think about this issue:
>
>
> 4.488-9
> "thy gentle hand | Seized mine"
>
>
> 9.1037
> "Her hand he seized"
>
>
> It is not the case, as one might think, that before the Fall there is no
> seizing, and that such actions start after. Rather, it is the case that
> before the Fall, seizing is gentle. *But it's precisely seizing that is
> gentle*: pleasant, licit, consistent with the moral law.
>
>
>
> --
>
> James Dougal Fleming
> Associate Professor and Undergraduate Chair
> Department of English
> Simon Fraser University
> 778-782-4713
>
>
>
>
>



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