[Milton-L] "brought to me"

Richard A. Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Thu Apr 21 12:59:29 EDT 2016

He experiences it as a gift.

From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu] on behalf of Gregory Machacek [Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu]
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2016 11:37 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] milton's poor sonnet, installment #4

For installment #4, I’m going to ask a fairly simple question.  (The only complexity will come from being clear about what I’m not asking).
In preparation for that question, would you be willing to take a moment to call to mind the entirety of the dream Milton reports--maybe as a little cinematic sequence--as you find the poem encourages you to imagine that dream?
 [Short pause, for those who are willing to play along, to run through such a cinematic.]
In your little movie of this dream, is the dream image of the late-espoused saint “brought” to Milton, or does that image simply “come” to Milton?  (The poem says two different things.) And if the dream image is “brought,” whom do you imagine as the agent of that bringing and how do you picture that agent?
To be clear, I am not, if you imagine the image as simply “coming,” asking you to supply who probably ought to be considered the agent of the bringing.  We can address that as a separate question in a moment.  I’m just asking you to say whether, for you, the dream image “comes” on her own—the way dream images can simply appear—or whether there’s any kind of third character (or force?), besides Milton himself and the saint, who, analogously with Jove’s great son in the Alcestis-Admetus story, “brings” the saint.
Also to be clear:  Although there may be a little inconsistency here, and although I do plan present a version of this inconsistency as a fault of the poem, do please know that I am not expecting this dream to be more logically rigorous than dreams in fact are: brought? came? I don’t know; it’s a dream; she was there.  For now, I really am just asking how much that “brought” figures in anyone’s actual envisioning of Milton’s dream.   I ask because no one, in recounting his or her experience with this poem, has yet mentioned a bringer as a distinct element of the dream Milton recounts, even though we are told flatly, and very first thing in the poem:  “Methought I saw my late-espoused Saint brought to me.”
Is there a bringer, as you imagine the scene?

Greg Machacek
Professor of English
Marist College
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