[Milton-L] finding the bad in what you find good, installment 3

Carol Barton, Ph.D., CPCM cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Mon Apr 18 20:32:34 EDT 2016

Thank you for having the courtesy to acknowledge my post, Jim. 

I think Milton's reason for deviation from form is the depth of his pain, in this instance--something he characteristically has difficulty expressing. If you equate childbirth with Original Sin--it was, after all, God's curse on Eve--the concept of "salvation" /"purgation" in the OT sense of the ritual bath is not such a problem. A woman who had experienced everything that precipitates the birth of another sinner (Calvin, if not Milton) was stained by carnality, and by the evidence of her mortal transgression, in a way that, for example, the Virgin Mother was not. If she were purified thereafter, she received redemption, and the erasure of that taint. Given hellfire and brimstone--purgatory--and other concepts of the punishment accorded to those who committed earthly sins by contemporary standards--why wouldn't a husband who truly loved his wife (indeed, anyone who had lost someone he or she dearly loved) want to believe that the beloved had escaped all that (or at least not endured it for very long)?

Milton is (notoriously) not very good at writing about things that touch him deeply. Why, for example, can he wax eloquently poetic for a classmate he barely knew, when the loss of his own mother (almost concurrently) wrings not a tear from his poetic soul?

Best to all,

Carol Barton

From: James Rovira 
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2016 8:13 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List 
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] finding the bad in what you find good, installment 3

Carol -- 

Thanks very much for the response. What I expect from Milton's genius is a clear reason for deviation from form, one that's closely linked to theme or other content. I think the formal deviations are interesting in themselves. I just don't think they're meaningful. 

Harold -- 

Thanks very much for your response as well. I did read your post closely when it came up and have been attempting to respond to it a bit, though not with your background in classical or Renaissance poetics. Michael Gillum responded too -- you might want to check for it. 

Jim R

PS For what it's worth, the idea "salvation" under the "old law" doesn't bother me so much, as salvation would have been defined differently under the old covenant. There may also be an echo of the very NT 1 Tim. 2:15 here: "But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."


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