[Milton-L] An antidote . . .

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Thu Apr 17 17:43:08 EDT 2014

Yes.  I was actually thinking about the lines from Donne's "Elegy 19:"

To enter in these bonds is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.


The poem also has some things to say about the difference/no difference between pre and post-lapsarian sex issue.  That's, I think, oddly enough, part of the point of the midwife image that Richard mentioned earlier, but that's another, longer discussion.


Louis Schwartz
Professor of English
English Department
University of Richmond
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA  23173
(804) 289-8315
lschwart at richmond.edu<mailto:lschwart at richmond.edu>

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of John K Leonard
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2014 3:12 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] An antidote . . .

 Excellent point by Louis below. It might also be relevant that "seal" was a common early modern pun for sexual penetration (Donne uses it frequently). Much more plausible than the other pun that has so distracted us.

John Leonard

On 04/17/14, "Schwartz, Louis" <lschwart at richmond.edu<mailto:lschwart at richmond.edu>> wrote

For me the key and most poetically brilliant touch-and it happens to come right before we're told that the force of the "fallacious Fruit" with its "exhilerating vapor bland" is "exhal'd" out of the bodies of Adam and Eve-is the way that Milton has the narrator call Adam's and Eve's taking their "fill of Love and Loves disport" both the "seal" of "thir mutual guilt" and "The solace of thir sin [italics mine]."  "Seal" and "solace."  A pact, a union, a broken union, a consolation, isolation, impression; "seis'd" and taken largely, nothing loath.  Sole alas, unsavory of itself, but also soul, associate soul, one heart one flesh one soul.  It's a striking bit of overdetermination (it starts with the more conventional "seal" of guilt and then branches off unchecked from the addition of "solace"-and the further roving is supported by a series of puns and echoes).

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