[Milton-L] "Particular Falls"

john rumrich rumrichj at gmail.com
Tue Jan 20 22:42:53 EST 2015


Yes, Matthew, that's one sense the line seems to me to allow (among the
implications others have noted).  I suppose one could even identify "their
god" as Satan.  But it also seems to me that by "their god," the author
could be distancing herself from the God worshipped by Milton/Christians in
a way that is both like and unlike Empson's distancing:  wistful pity
elicited by the tragic "story" instead of hot condemnation of a deity and a
religion deemed inexcusable.

On Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 6:10 PM, Matthew Jordan <matthewjorda at gmail.com>
wrote:

> John: is your implication something like - "if there is such a god as the
> one they imagine / have dreamt up, it's one we should pity"?
>
> Again, stating the obv.: "bleakest" a (the?) crucial word...
>
> On 20 January 2015 at 23:55, Matthew Jordan <matthewjorda at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
>> Which then suggests God as inconsolable parent...
>>
>> On 20 January 2015 at 23:53, Matthew Jordan <matthewjorda at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> I'm also thinking of the famous Herbert poems which stage divine
>>> intercession...
>>>
>>> On 20 January 2015 at 23:44, Matthew Jordan <matthewjorda at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>> Ie. there are falls which are part of a larger movement or harmony, and
>>>> falls which, er, aren't...there is pattern or order to the late falls,
>>>> here, but it's static - or at least not, aha, regenerative...or summat...
>>>>
>>>> On 20 January 2015 at 23:41, Matthew Jordan <matthewjorda at gmail.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> Sometimes particular verbal cruces get me going, sometimes more
>>>>> nebulous notions.
>>>>>
>>>>> I'm starting vague, here: Fortunate Fall (obv.), plus something I
>>>>> think I once read in Michael McKeon, tho I can hardly believe he was the
>>>>> first: that the idea of "poetic justice" takes hold in a world that no
>>>>> longer believes in the other kind...
>>>>>
>>>>> Please bear in mind it's rather later, here; at least for me...
>>>>>
>>>>> On 20 January 2015 at 21:44, john rumrich <rumrich at austin.utexas.edu>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> The last three words are intriguing metrically, too, since after the
>>>>>> initial trochee (Never) the line changes from two successive iambic feet
>>>>>> (to hope to rise) to a trochee (Pity) and then to what in the metrical
>>>>>> context reads to me like an ambiguous iamb with a lot of stress on "their."
>>>>>>  *Their* god might not be god unmodified by a possessive.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I'm not denying the Empsonian ambiguity; it strikes me as as even
>>>>>> more ambiguous than that, however.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> {This was bounced at first; I'm now sending a slightly modified
>>>>>> version from my institutional address.}
>>>>>>
>>>>>> On Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 3:26 PM, john rumrich <rumrichj at gmail.com>
>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> The last three words are intriguing metrically, too, since the line
>>>>>>> changes from two successive iambic feet to a trochee and then to what reads
>>>>>>> to me like an ambiguous iamb with a lot of stress on "their."
>>>>>>> *Their* god might not be god unmodified by a possessive.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> I'm not denying the Empsonian ambiguity; it strikes me as as even
>>>>>>> more ambiguous than that, however.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> On Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 2:36 PM, Matthew Jordan <
>>>>>>> matthewjorda at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> Just very quickly (for now): the notion I had in mind was a kind of
>>>>>>>> step beyond Empson's view of Milton's God - that He's a horror, but horrors
>>>>>>>> are also pitiable and pitiful...I haven't thought through the rest of the
>>>>>>>> poem in light of that possibility...yet...
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> On 20 January 2015 at 20:14, Stella Revard <srevard at siue.edu>
>>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> Okay, the real challenge of the poem is its last three words, in
>>>>>>>>> which I assume Rogers shocks us with what seems a request to her readers
>>>>>>>>> (us) to have pity on "their" god, and I assume the antecedent of "their" is
>>>>>>>>> the fallen angels.  (A possible alternative reading might take "pity" as a
>>>>>>>>> noun....)  What do you expert readers of poetry think is her point in those
>>>>>>>>> last three words, which seem to bring the whole poem to such a (to me)
>>>>>>>>> surprising completion?  Why pity, and why pity for "their god," not for the
>>>>>>>>> fallen beings in their hopeless eternal torment?  And would a good answer
>>>>>>>>> here bring out even more strongly the "Miltonic" dimensions of the poem?
>>>>>>>>> Maybe useful questions for MLK Day.
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> With best wishes,
>>>>>>>>> Carter
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> On 01/20/15, *Matthew Jordan * <matthewjorda at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> It may be almost too obvious to say, but the "Not...not..." thing
>>>>>>>>> (and "nec...nec"?) is typically Miltonic / epic...
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> On 20 January 2015 at 16:15, Matthew Jordan <
>>>>>>>>> matthewjorda at gmail.com <matthewjorda at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> Good stuff! Thanks.
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> As a comparison / contrast, my recollection is that in eg.
>>>>>>>>>> Augustine, rather gruesomely (morbidly??), one of the pleasures of the
>>>>>>>>>> saved is precisely their good view of the suffering of the damned . . . (?)
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> Best, Matt
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> On 20 January 2015 at 16:06, Stella Revard <srevard at siue.edu <
>>>>>>>>>> srevard at siue.edu>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> Thanks, Nancy, for sending on the poem by Pattiann Rogers.  She
>>>>>>>>>>> is one of the best poets now writing in the US, but has not been given her
>>>>>>>>>>> due by the cliquers and claquers of the Award Giving dumbasses.  And the
>>>>>>>>>>> Georgia Review prints a lot of veryt fine work. Nice to know you are
>>>>>>>>>>> reading it well.
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> On 01/20/15, *Hannibal Hamlin * <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com <
>>>>>>>>>>> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> Thanks. The use of enjambment (all that carefully positioned
>>>>>>>>>>> falling) also seems somewhat Miltonic.
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> Hannibal
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> On Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 2:36 AM, Nancy Charlton <
>>>>>>>>>>> charltonwordorder1 at gmail.com <charltonwordorder1 at gmail.com> <
>>>>>>>>>>> charltonwordorder1 at gmail.com <charltonwordorder1 at gmail.com>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> I felt that you all would enjoy this poem. Since I couldn't get
>>>>>>>>>>>> Poetry Daily to send it from their form, I'll take my chances with the
>>>>>>>>>>>> copyright police and simply copy it into this email.
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> The last stanza (?) is particularly Miltonic.
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> Nancy Charlton
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> Particular Falls
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> Not as three strands of braided hair,
>>>>>>>>>>>> being loosened, fall then together in waves
>>>>>>>>>>>> to touch the shoulders; and not as a white-
>>>>>>>>>>>> winged hawk releases and falls sinking
>>>>>>>>>>>> on the wind until its wings swerve upward
>>>>>>>>>>>> riding the current again toward the sun.
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> Not the freefall that comes before
>>>>>>>>>>>> the parachute spreads and opens above
>>>>>>>>>>>> like a prayer and halts the plunge;
>>>>>>>>>>>> and not the tumbling fall of an acrobat
>>>>>>>>>>>> before he catches the trapeze his partner
>>>>>>>>>>>> drops as she falls to catch his feet.
>>>>>>>>>>>> Not any of those falls.
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> And not the continual plummeting
>>>>>>>>>>>> fall of mountain snowmelt creating icy
>>>>>>>>>>>> weather in summer; nor the spider gliding
>>>>>>>>>>>> down her string, floating more than falling
>>>>>>>>>>>> in descent just as day falls and drifts
>>>>>>>>>>>> in its own ways into night; and not as one falls
>>>>>>>>>>>> with eyes closed into sleep where faith
>>>>>>>>>>>> is with the falling; nor as one falls
>>>>>>>>>>>> into love where riotous ascent begins
>>>>>>>>>>>> simultaneous with the falling.
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> But consider the falling that is immutable:
>>>>>>>>>>>> the naked body of a nestling lying spilled
>>>>>>>>>>>> and broken on the sidewalk; wind-felled fruit,
>>>>>>>>>>>> sick odor of rotting pulp below the tree, slick
>>>>>>>>>>>> mass oozing into earth; the cold, frightening
>>>>>>>>>>>> stillness of those who lie fallen in battle.
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> And remember the story of the bleakest
>>>>>>>>>>>> fall, the fall of those who once were angels,
>>>>>>>>>>>> who fell and fell into the deepest chasm
>>>>>>>>>>>> of blindness, irredeemable, never to rise,
>>>>>>>>>>>> never to hope to rise. Pity their god.
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> PATTIANN ROGERS <http://poems.com/feature.php?date=16455>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> The Georgia Review <http://garev.uga.edu/>
>>>>>>>>>>>> Winter 2014
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>>>>>>>>>> Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu <Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu>>
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>>>>>>>>>>>>
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>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>>>> Hannibal Hamlin
>>>>>>>>>>> Professor of English
>>>>>>>>>>> The Ohio State University
>>>>>>>>>>> Author of *The Bible in Shakespeare*, now available through all
>>>>>>>>>>> good bookshops, or direct from Oxford University Press at
>>>>>>>>>>> http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199677610.do
>>>>>>>>>>> Editor, *Reformation*
>>>>>>>>>>> 164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
>>>>>>>>>>> Columbus, OH 43210-1340
>>>>>>>>>>> hamlin.22 at osu.edu/
>>>>>>>>>>> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com> <
>>>>>>>>>>> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>>
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>
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>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>
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>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
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>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>
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>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>
>
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