[Milton-L] Longfellow on Milton

Wittreich, Joseph JWittreich at gc.cuny.edu
Tue Feb 10 15:11:13 EST 2015


dear Marjorie,

Just wanted to assure you that the Neue Galerie membership card arrived today and for you to know further how very grateful we are for this gift.  There is no Christmas party like theirs, really.  It is usually mid-December.  How nice it would be if one of these Decembers you could be my date!  We can smuggle Stuart in, I'm sure.  Just back from cataract surgery, new lenses in both eyes now. did you see Joel's letter in. The NY T today?

Anyway, again we are much in your debt, and send you lots of love in return.

As ever,

Joe
________________________________________
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 2:21 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Longfellow on Milton

Jameela and others:
Greetings, and now NZ has indeed woken up, I will try to explain my remark:
I've been writing a newspaper column on language matters. Last week was the start of its ninth year, and in it I was playing with expressions which have a NINE in them. Is it just = "a lot of" or is there a dance of threes, or any more of the sort of thing which abounds in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, that delightful junk-shop of the mind?
        Along came Longfellow's poem, as if by more than chance. I disliked the implication of regularity in "ninth wave". It suits the regularity of the Faerie Queene stanza, though, where every last or ninth line is a hexameter, so that the image of a larger one washing over the traces of the previous eight fits it beautifully. The ninth lines usually attempt to summarise or cap or in some other way give a final and superseding force to the longer line. In PL, by contrast, the lines are not felt as individual lines as much as in Spenser, and there is nothing special about the number nine. Or seven. Or ten, or any other number ascribed to larger than normal waves. I was more struck by the nuance of recurrence or homogenizing in Longfellow's slightly cosy image. By contrast, Milton's periods find their own right length — more, not less, like the waves of the sea. See his Note on the Verse.
Another way to express the sea's motion is Shakespeare's in Florizel's comparison of Perdita to a wave, dancing and irregular. Or the orchestral passages from Peter Grimes, little cross-eddies inside  the larger flow of the tide. So I think better of Milton's verse and of the sea than I feel Longfellow does.
Now bury me under brickbats, please.

John Hale
________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Arlene Stiebel [amstiebel at aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, 11 February 2015 7:05 a.m.
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Longfellow on Milton

"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<mailto: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<mailto: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<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 Hale <john.hale at otago.ac.nz<mailto: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<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 Bob Blair [bblair48 at yahoo.com<mailto:bblair48 at yahoo.com>]
Sent: Tuesday, 10 February 2015 7:20 p.m.
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto: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.


_______________________________________________
Milton-L mailing list
Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu>
Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/

_______________________________________________
Milton-L mailing list
Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/

_______________________________________________
Milton-L mailing list
Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/



_______________________________________________
Milton-L mailing list
Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu>
Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/




More information about the Milton-L mailing list