[Milton-L] "Particular Falls"

Matthew Jordan matthewjorda at gmail.com
Wed Jan 21 16:08:49 EST 2015


A couple of last points. 1) I think the "dynamics" of the various falls
would bear still further consideration (varying kinds of fortunateness and
aptness); 2) It seems to me, on the evidence so far (attendant on 1)), that
all the attitudes to "their god" canvassed thus far, are distinctly
possible.

I haven't the energy / focus to get involved in 1) just now, though I'm
sure I'll ponder it further...

Best, Matt

On 21 January 2015 at 19:44, Nancy Charlton <charltonwordorder1 at gmail.com>
wrote:

> O Carter! what oft was thought but ne'er so well exprest! I started to
> write something like this, but between a sick dog, broken pipes, and the
> surrounding hassles, I didn't finish it.
>
> I did have one thought, however, hoky though it may be. Suppose the title,
> Particular Falls, is taken as a sentence in which "particular" is the
> subject and "falls" the verb.The particular(s) fall, but those in the first
> stanza all rise or go back to what they were before. In the second, the
> falling may (the trapeze acrobats) or may not (the snowmelt and the spider)
> have consequences or be final. With the nestling, the decayed fruit, and
> most chillingly the fallen in battle--these have fallen into something from
> which there is no return  Finally, the angels. As noted, they had the
> potential to remain unfallen, or even to rise if they did fall. But they
> are "irredeemable" in the "chasm of blindness" Not only are they never to
> rise, but never to HOPE to rise. Where there is no hope, there must be the
> despair that is a denial of God. A god who cannot offer succor is to be
> pitied: not only felt sorry for, but unsympathized with.
>
> Yes, I will send this correspondence off to Pattiann at the Georgia
> Review. In an interview found online she did say that she doesn't analyze
> her own poetry much, which would corroborate Carter's observation. But I
> hope she'll enjoy this exchange as much as we have!
>
> On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 9:36 AM, Stella Revard <srevard at siue.edu> wrote:
>
>> Interesting that Empson's influence is so strong.  My take is quite
>> different, probably because I think Empson so mistaken about Milton's God.
>> I propose that "Pity their god" recognizes the actual Miltonic account,
>> carefully laid out in Book III and reinforced in Books X, XI, and XII:  God
>> created a universe of perfect beings who were also given free will so they
>> could go utterly wrong, and even if they did go wrong those who by grace
>> repented would be freed from Hell and death.  But (in Milton's version,
>> which correlates mostly with Christian doctrine) the means to achieve this,
>> as the dialogue between God and Son in Book III carefully explains, is the
>> begetting of God's only Son, who takes upon himself the guilt and the
>> punishment due to those who fell (this salvation was available to Satan and
>> his cohorts, but repeatedly refused, as Milton makes amply clear in Books
>> I, II, IV and V and VI as well as throughout the poem).  The Son, fully
>> divine, must therefore suffer inexpressibly and endure death itself, but as
>> we hear in his dialogue with God the Father in Book III, he will not be
>> left, but will be taken from the grave and brought back up to Heaven--as
>> will all those who by grace are saved and will at the end of time enter
>> into Heaven.
>>
>> So I propose that "Pity their god" may evoke the suffering of the Son:
>> we are asked to pity the god who created angels and humans and a beautiful
>> perfect universe, and who after a third of the angels and all the humans
>> fell, must see his only begotten Son suffer and die to redeem them.
>> Milton's God, like the old curmudgeon of the Book of Job, seems
>> impervious--but the point of Book III is that the Son expresses the mercy,
>> love, and compassion of the Father.  Father and Son together are to be
>> pitied....
>>
>> What so disgusted Empson, I assume, is that Milton's God never says he's
>> sorry, and lays the blame on those who fell.  The analogy I would draw is
>> to a judge hearing the lawsuit against a drunken driver who crashed the car
>> and killed all the family, as well as those in another car--even though
>> roads, weather, car, and traffic were ideal.  One would expect at least
>> that the judge, however strict in laying legal blame, would express pity
>> and compassion for all those killed.  So I will point out that just such
>> pity and compassion is expressed in Paradise Lost by the Son, and that
>> Empson really should have read not only Book III but also Books X, XI, and
>> XII, a bit more carefully--though I realize that would ask more than
>> brilliant readers are willing to do once they have made up their minds
>> about matters.  I venerate Empson's Studies in Words, and Pastoral Poetry,
>> and many essays--truly one of the most brilliant and original readers in
>> all the history of English letters.  I think however he is quite wrong
>> about Milton's God.
>>
>> AND: NANCY, IT WOULD BE LOVELY IF YOU COULD BUNDLE AND SEND SOME OF THESE
>> COMMENTS ON THE POEM BY PATTIANN ROGERS TO THE *GEORGIA REVIEW.  *If she
>> is like most poets she may not want to address our discussion, but it would
>> be interesting if she did.
>>
>> I'd add only:  my compliments to her on a fine poem.  I wish I'd written
>> it!
>>
>> Carter Revard
>>
>> On 01/20/15, *"Richard A. Strier" * <rastrier at uchicago.edu> wrote:
>>
>>  Of course the last three words are meant to be a shock.  No preparation
>> for this shift.  But I think the point is indeed pure Empson.  The divine
>> being who wills such a situation is a horrible moral being.  One could, of
>> course, fear this being, but that would be what it wants.  The poet has the
>> right perspective, the truly moral one.  A divine being who cannot conceive
>> of loving its enemies is indeed pathetic in its limitations.  Milton's God.
>>
>>  RS
>>   ------------------------------
>> *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:* Tuesday, January 20, 2015 6:10 PM
>> *To:* John Milton Discussion List
>> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] "Particular Falls"
>>
>>
>>  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 <
>> 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 <
>>> 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 <
>>>> 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 <
>>>>> 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
>>>>>> <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 <
>>>>>>> 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 <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 <
>>>>>>>>> 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 <
>>>>>>>>>> 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> <
>>>>>>>>>> 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> <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> <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>> <
>>>>>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Milton-L mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>>>   Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu <Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu> <
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu <Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu>> <
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu <Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu> <
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu <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/
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>>>>>  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>> <
>>>>>>>>>>>> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com> <
>>>>>>>>>>>> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>> Milton-L mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>> Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu <Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu> <
>>>>>>>>>>>> Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu <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 <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 <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 <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/
>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.richmond.edu/pipermail/milton-l/attachments/20150121/11c4ed28/attachment-0001.html>


More information about the Milton-L mailing list