[Milton-L] Longfellow on Milton

Arlene Stiebel amstiebel at aol.com
Tue Feb 10 13:05:48 EST 2015


"Evidently it is an old story." 

Yes.  Celtic lore describes the ninth wave as the border between this world and the Blessed Isles.  
Tennyson describes Arthur as coming from that world:

 And then the two
Dropt to the cove, and watched the great sea fall,
Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,
Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame:
And down the wave and in the flame was borne
A naked babe, and rode to Merlin's feet,
Who stoopt and caught the babe, and cried "The King!

It is always the ninth wave -- not the seventh.

-- Arlene

On Feb 10, 2015, at 5:43 AM, jsavoie at siue.edu wrote:

> Different John here, but Spenser and his alexandrine seems to be the association.
> 
> As a child swimming in oceans and Lake Michigan, with no thought of epic poets, we cultivated the legend of the special powers of the ninth wave, though some learned it as the seventh wave.  Evidently it is an old story.
> 
> As for Longfellow's poem, I'm curious if he had specific poems and poets in mind for waves 1-8.  If so, Homer to begin, Spencer near the end.
> 
> John Savoie
> 
> 
> Quoting Jameela Lares <jameela.lares at usm.edu>:
> 
>> Why do you say that, John?  I have never thought of Spenser in terms of movement such as a wave suggests--build up, spread, aftermath--but rather in terms of static if beautiful tableau.  It seems to me that Spenser spends half a stanza moving to the next scene and then 7-9 stanzas describing it.
>> 
>> Or are you saying that your own mind feels more engulfed while reading Spenser than while reading Milton?
>> 
>> Or are you saying that Spenser's cadences are more majestic and undulating?
>> 
>> Or--?
>> 
>> By the way, I have seen this poem before, but I never noticed the "sheeted emerald" before.  Nice! Thanks, Bob Blair.
>> 
>> Jameela Lares
>> Professor of English
>> The University of Southern Mississippi
>> 118 College Drive, #5037
>> Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
>> 601 266-4319 ofc
>> 601 266-5757 fax
>> ________________________________________
>> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> on behalf of John Hale <john.hale at otago.ac.nz>
>> Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 1:50 AM
>> To: John Milton Discussion List
>> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Longfellow on Milton
>> 
>> The ninth wave fits Spenser better.
>> John Hale
>> 
>> ________________________________________
>> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Bob Blair [bblair48 at yahoo.com]
>> Sent: Tuesday, 10 February 2015 7:20 p.m.
>> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>> Subject: [Milton-L] Longfellow on Milton
>> 
>> I'm probably the last person on this list to discover Longfellow's sonnet on Milton.  The theme of the ninth wave is so powerful, though, that I'm not ashamed to republlsh it:
>> 
>> I pace the sounding sea-beach and behold
>>      How the voluminous billows roll and run,
>>      Upheaving and subsiding, while the sun
>>      Shines through their sheeted emerald far unrolled,
>> And the ninth wave, slow gathering fold by fold
>>      All its loose-flowing garments into one,
>>      Plunges upon the shore, and floods the dun
>>      Pale reach of sands, and changes them to gold.
>> So in majestic cadence rise and fall
>>      The mighty undulations of thy song,
>>      O sightless bard, England's Mæonides!
>> And ever and anon, high over all
>>      Uplifted, a ninth wave superb and strong,
>>      Floods all the soul with its melodious seas.
>> 
>> 
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