[Milton-L] milton's poor sonnet, installment #4

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Thu Apr 21 13:15:23 EDT 2016

I wouldn't say that there is a bringer, so much as at first the feeling of one-part of what inspires the allusion to Alcestis, who was brought by Herakles in Euripides' treatment of the story as a reward-for someone who in other ways does not deserve it-for acts of hospitality.  I agree with Richard that the feeling at the beginning of the poem is of gratitude.  It's gratitude for what felt at the time and in the recalling as an undeserved gift.

That it then shifts to "came" is, to me, part of the affective progress of the dream or dream account, increasing the sense of imagined intimacy with someone who has-for a brief period of time-chosen to come, and who then chose to begin inclining toward an embrace before the dreamer's awakening makes her flee (something that the sequence of the final line suggests happens both in the dream and in-or as a result of-its ending).  She begins to feel like her own giver before she then leaves him in darkness like Dido does in turning away from Aeneas.


Louis Schwartz
Professor of English
Chair, English Department
University of Richmond
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA  23173
Office:  Ryland Hall 308
Phone:  (804) 289-8315
Email:  lschwart at richmond.edu<mailto:lschwart at richmond.edu>

From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Gregory Machacek
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2016 12:37 PM
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
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.richmond.edu/pipermail/milton-l/attachments/20160421/5ce6b837/attachment.html>

More information about the Milton-L mailing list