[Milton-L] is "egypt, divided by the river nile" a poor line of verse, then?

Hugh M. RICHMOND hmr at berkeley.edu
Thu Apr 14 14:03:15 EDT 2016

 I have just completed a Milton course in which I celebrated the Sonnet on
his dead wife as the climax of his self-recognition, which was the
necessary precedent for his pending poetic triumphs. When I read it aloud
to audiences I find its personal immediacy has enormous dramatic impact. So
this time I used the memorable recitation of the poem by Ian Richardson to
communicate its full emotional potential, as found on our website at
miltonrevealed.berkeley.edu at the following address:



Some of the earlier discussion echoes the Augustan criteria by which Waller
was celebrated as a leading poet, because he never wrote an incorrect line.
But effective performance is everything!

On Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 10:51 AM, John K Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca> wrote:

> On 04/14/16, *Gregory Machacek * <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote:
> Ok, so can we get it confirmed by all of y'all that "Egypt, divided by the
> river Nile" is a poor line of verse?
> Because the other candidate for a bad line--"casting a dim religious
> light"--got championed within fourteen minutes of its being proposed as a
> poor line.
> Greg,
> What would it take to "get it confirmed by all of y'all"? A post from
> every single subscriber (to be checked by you against a central database of
> names)? What if even one lurker remains silent? Does that mean you win your
> bet that someone out there is willing to pretend that bad lines are good?
> And what if the Egypt line *is* now "championed within fourteen minutes"?
> Does that mean everyone ("y'all") is implicated in a bad faith endeavour to
> make bad lines look good? What if I (who offered this an instance of a bad
> line) am persuaded by A. N. Other's argument that it is good? Would that
> make me complicit in a bad faith conspiracy? There is something false about
> your "Greg against the Miltonists" rhetoric. The cards are hugely stacked
> in your favour because any disagreement on the part of "y'all" (everyone
> but you) can be presented by you as evidence of "y'all's" bad faith. But
> for you to claim victory you have only to agree with yourself (and who
> among us does not find that easy?).
> All best,
> John
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