[Milton-L] The Metaphysicals

Hannibal Hamlin hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
Sun Jan 3 15:51:30 EST 2016


Thanks for this interesting thread, which I look forward to following
further. John (H.), what do you make of Milton's continued attention to
sonnets, in terms of your argument about Milton's attitude to rhyme? The
last of these, "Methought I saw my late espoused saint," makes me think of
Donne's "Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day" (as does, for different reasons,
"When I consider how my light is spent"). I'm not sure I can make a
convincing case for influence, but then I'm not sure anyone could make a
solid case against it. Tracking reading is generally very difficult, isn't
it? Demonstrable allusions are persuasive, as of course evidence from
letters or biographies. But this must cover only a small portion of the
consumption of so hungry a reader as Milton. Even after his blindness,
there's no way of knowing all that he was or wasn't read and by whom.

Hannibal



On Sun, Jan 3, 2016 at 3:37 PM, john rumrich <rumrich at austin.utexas.edu>
wrote:

>
> Alexander Gill Sr.'s grammar, and thus the curriculum at St Paul's school
> when Milton attended, is notable for including a wide range of examples
> from English poets.  This says nothing about Donne, Herbert, or Marvell.
> But my guess is that Milton read a great deal of early modern English
> poetry and, like Gill, was deeply committed to his native tongue and its
> development.
>
> John
>
>
>
> On Sun, Jan 3, 2016 at 1:49 PM, Nigel Smith <nsmith at princeton.edu> wrote:
>
>> Dear John, dear Richard,
>>
>> Happy new year!
>>
>> I begin to weigh in: I think there is a circumstantial case that Milton
>> may have read 'An Horatian Ode', or had it read to him, perhaps soon after
>> it was written.  I cannot put the evidence in front of you right now
>> because I am away from my books until Tuesday, so I will look to write
>> again as soon as I can.  Then I'll tell you in detail who Marvell may have
>> showed his poems to.  Milton echoes/borrows Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson,
>> Fletcher; all dramatists of course.  I find it perfectly believable that he
>> read Herbert; everyone else did.
>>
>> Nonetheless my sense is that John's hunch about Milton's reading habits
>> is in general terms correct.
>>
>> Best wishes, and more presently,
>>
>> Nigel.
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [
>> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of John Hale [
>> john.hale at otago.ac.nz]
>> *Sent:* Sunday, January 03, 2016 2:32 PM
>> *To:* John Milton Discussion List
>> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] The Metaphysicals
>>
>> Dear Richard and colleagues all:
>>
>> Thanks for suggesting this aspect of Herbert. A powerful suggestion.
>>
>> I hope indeed that Nigel or another can tell us who Marvell showed his
>> poems in MS to.
>>
>> My reason for asking the question was a hunch that (a)Milton read Greek
>> poems more than Latin ones, and more ancient than English ones, with
>> Italian somewhere in between.
>>
>> BUT
>>
>> (b)he may have read more new poems, new to him, before 1645 than
>> afterwards. He read or heard his known favourite authors lifelong, yet none
>> of those named is in English,
>>
>> SO
>>
>> (c)his ear for poetry and taste for it will have been continuously formed
>> from ancient poets, ergo among other things, no place for rhyme.
>>
>> But these are speculations: I was wondering if I had missed harder
>> evidence about his reading of English poets–what and when.
>>
>> I hope to hear more about the whole thing, in those quiet days of repose
>> or reflection before MLA.
>>
>> Thanks again​
>> John Hale
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu <
>> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> on behalf of Richard A. Strier <
>> rastrier at uchicago.edu>
>> *Sent:* Monday, 4 January 2016 8:07 a.m.
>> *To:* John Milton Discussion List
>> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] The Metaphysicals
>>
>> I have no direct evidence on this to cite, as we do on Milton reading
>> Shakespeare.  Certainly he knew Marvell, but I don't know whether Marvell
>> would have shared his lyrics.  Nigel Smith should weigh in on this.
>>
>> I do, however, think that I can make a plausible case that Milton read
>> Herbert.  Milton's great sonnet on his blindness seems to me to rely on
>> imagining a divine response to his own "murmurings" that is one of
>> Herbert's most identifiable poetic strategies.  I am not saying that this
>> is iron-clad, but I think that it does establish a possibility --
>> especially given the extreme popularity of *The Temple *and that the
>> poems therein were read and imitated by writers from all over the religious
>> spectrum, right to left.
>>
>>
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [
>> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of John Hale [
>> john.hale at otago.ac.nz]
>> *Sent:* Saturday, January 02, 2016 6:29 PM
>> *To:* John Milton Discussion List
>> *Subject:* [Milton-L] The Metaphysicals
>>
>> Dear Colleagues:
>>
>> What evidence is there that Milton had read the poems of Donne, Herbert,
>> and Vaughan? Or those of Marvell?
>>
>> Happy and productive 2016 to each and all.
>>
>>
>> John Hale
>> ------------------------------
>>
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>
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-- 
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
164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
Columbus, OH 43210-1340
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hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
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