[Milton-L] Milton-L Digest, Vol 132, Issue 11

Andrew Herpich andrewherpich77 at gmail.com
Sun Nov 5 18:48:37 EST 2017


I always thought that 'dark with excessive bright' was a sort of implicit
warning against reading too literally the metaphor, 'God is light' ... This
impression is strengthened by the marvellously apophatic passage at the end
of Book III that attempts (and fails) to describe the sun. If our language
fails to describe physical light, how can we possibly hope for an adequate
description of the metaphysical / -phorical 'light' that 'is' God? Note how
the narrator has to draw on an even more 'terrestrial' metaphorical
language - from mundane riches, no less! - to generate descriptions of the
sun's light: applied to God, then, this is, in a sense, twice-fallen
language ...

The place he found beyond expression bright,
Compar'd with aught on Earth, Medal or Stone;
Not all parts like, but all alike informd
With radiant light, as glowing Iron with fire;
If mettal, part seemd Gold, part Silver cleer;
If stone, Carbuncle most or Chrysolite,
Rubie or Topaz, to the Twelve that shon
In Aarons Brest-plate, and a stone besides
Imagind rather oft then elsewhere seen,
That stone, or like to that which here below
Philosophers in vain so long have sought,
In vain, though by thir powerful Art they binde
Volatil *Hermes*, and call up unbound
In various shapes old Proteus from the Sea,
Draind through a Limbec to his Native forme.

On 5 November 2017 at 01:59, <milton-l-request at richmond.edu> wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
>
>    1. Re: Milton and "the majesty of darkness" (was "Credited
>       Wiki") (Carol Barton, PhD, CPCM)
>    2. Re: Milton and "the majesty of darkness" (was     "Credited
>       Wiki") (John Leonard)
>    3. Re: Milton and "the majesty of darkness" (was "Credited
>       Wiki") (Hannibal Hamlin)
>
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Message: 1
> Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2017 10:52:23 -0400
> From: "Carol Barton, PhD, CPCM" <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>
> To: "milton-l at richmond.edu" <milton-l at richmond.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and "the majesty of darkness" (was
>         "Credited Wiki")
> Message-ID: <DB3D2D09-5994-44B7-8F65-59B945B3B439 at verizon.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>
> Think about a camera?s flash, or a solar eclipse, or someone?s ?brights?
> in your eyes, on an otherwise dark road: too-bright light can be blinding,
> hence ?dark with excessive bright.? Light and dark are not antitheses, but
> dualities, in Milton?s world: each is inextricably bound to the other, yin
> and yang.
>
>
> Carol Barton, PhD, CPCM
> cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
>
> A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
> I have lived in this world just long enough to look carefully the second
> time into things that I am most certain of the first time. -Josh Billings,
> columnist and humorist (21 Apr 1818-1885)
>
> > On Nov 4, 2017, at 10:37 AM, Jameela Lares <Jameela.Lares at usm.edu>
> wrote:
> >
> > Not to mention ?Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appeer? (3.380).
> >
> > Jameela Lares
> > Professor of English
> > Charles W. Moorman Distinguished Professor, 2017-2019
> > The University of Southern Mississippi
> > 108 College Drive #5037
> > Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
> >
> >
> >
> > From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <mailto:milton-l-bounces@
> richmond.edu> [mailto:milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <mailto:
> milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu>] On Behalf Of John Leonard
> > Sent: Saturday, November 4, 2017 8:24 AM
> > To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at richmond.edu <mailto:
> milton-l at richmond.edu>>
> > Subject: [Milton-L] Milton and "the majesty of darkness" (was "Credited
> Wiki")
> >
> > In the note he appends to his illustration of Satan as ?a black man,?
> Terrance Liddell writes: ?In Paradise Lost clearly dark is bad and light is
> good. So Satan as a black man might be symbolically appropriate. . .? But
> is it really the case in Paradise Lost that ?dark is bad and light is
> good?? The statement has a certain prima facie plausibility based on some
> memorable lines (?Hail holy light?, ?what in me is dark,? ?the dark
> unbottomed infinite abyss?) which is no doubt why the topic of ?dark and
> light? has so often (and boringly) been assigned for student essays. (I
> wonder if that is where Terrance?s image comes from?) Milton?s imagination
> is much richer than this crude binary. Some of his most hauntingly
> beautiful images come from the mingling of light and dark, and the
> challenging of our easy assumption that ?dark is bad and light is good.?
> Recall the eclipse simile in book one where Satan ?darkened so, yet shone.?
> Milton?s Satan is the Prince of Twilight, not the Pr!
>  ince of Darkness.  If there is something light about Hell?s darkness,
> there is also something dark about Heaven?s light. God also has his dark
> side, and not in a bad way:
> >                                                        This deep world
> >       Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
> >       Thick clouds and dark doth Heav?n?s all-ruling Sire
> >       Choose to reside, his glory unobscured,
> >       And with the majesty of darkness round
> >       Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar
> >       Must?ring their rage, and Heav?n resembles Hell?
> >       As he our darkness, cannot we his light
> >       Imitate when we please? (PL 2.262-70)
> > The speaker is admittedly Mammon, but the lines also have a ring of
> truth (biblical truth): ?he made darkness his secret place? (Ps. 18); ?the
> Lord hath said he would dwell in thick darkness? (II Chron. 6.1). Terrance
> coarsens both Milton?s art and his own with that flat statement ?in
> Paradise Lost clearly dark is bad and light is good.? Mammon claims
> darkness for Hell, but his acknowledgement of God?s ?majesty of darkness?
> gives him the lie. Hell?s darkness, no less than its light, is plagiarized
> from Heaven (?cannot we . . . Imitate when we please??)
> > John Leonard
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Milton-L mailing list
> > Milton-L at richmond.edu <mailto:Milton-L at richmond.edu>
> > Manage your list membership and access list archives at
> https://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l <
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> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 2
> Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2017 15:24:42 +0000
> From: John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>
> To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at richmond.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and "the majesty of darkness" (was
>         "Credited       Wiki")
> Message-ID:
>         <YTXPR0101MB1805E3BE07C746E19A2321D2AE520 at YTXPR0101MB1805.
> CANPRD01.PROD.OUTLOOK.COM>
>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252"
>
> As for the danger of associating a rich skin tone with "darkness," Milton
> was a man of his time, prone to the prejudices of his time (especially in
> the prose), but Terrance should recall that the goddess Melancholy in Il
> Penseroso is
>
>
> Black, but in esteem,
>
> Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
>
> Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove
>
> To set her beauty's praise above
>
> The sea-nymphs
>
>
> The Ethiop queen is Cassiopeia. Ovid depicts her daughter Andromeda as
> black. Milton seems to be following this tradition rather than that of
> European painting, which depicts Andromeda as lily white.
>
>
> John Leonard
>
> ________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> on
> behalf of Margaret Thickstun <mthickst at hamilton.edu>
> Sent: November 4, 2017 10:44:26 AM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and "the majesty of darkness" (was
> "Credited Wiki")
>
> Thank you for this illuminating post. I would also like to point out the
> danger of associating a rich skin tone with "darkness."
>
> On Sat, Nov 4, 2017 at 9:23 AM, John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca<mailto:
> jleonard at uwo.ca>> wrote:
>
> In the note he appends to his illustration of Satan as ?a black man,?
> Terrance Liddell writes: ?In Paradise Lost clearly dark is bad and light is
> good. So Satan as a black man might be symbolically appropriate. . .? But
> is it really the case in Paradise Lost that ?dark is bad and light is
> good?? The statement has a certain prima facie plausibility based on some
> memorable lines (?Hail holy light?, ?what in me is dark,? ?the dark
> unbottomed infinite abyss?) which is no doubt why the topic of ?dark and
> light? has so often (and boringly) been assigned for student essays. (I
> wonder if that is where Terrance?s image comes from?) Milton?s imagination
> is much richer than this crude binary. Some of his most hauntingly
> beautiful images come from the mingling of light and dark, and the
> challenging of our easy assumption that ?dark is bad and light is good.?
> Recall the eclipse simile in book one where Satan ?darkened so, yet shone.?
> Milton?s Satan is the Prince of Twilight, not the Prin!
>  ce of Darkness.  If there is something light about Hell?s darkness, there
> is also something dark about Heaven?s light. God also has his dark side,
> and not in a bad way:
>
>                                                        This deep world
>
>       Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
>
>       Thick clouds and dark doth Heav?n?s all-ruling Sire
>
>       Choose to reside, his glory unobscured,
>
>       And with the majesty of darkness round
>
>       Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar
>
>       Must?ring their rage, and Heav?n resembles Hell?
>
>       As he our darkness, cannot we his light
>
>       Imitate when we please? (PL 2.262-70)
>
> The speaker is admittedly Mammon, but the lines also have a ring of truth
> (biblical truth): ?he made darkness his secret place? (Ps. 18); ?the Lord
> hath said he would dwell in thick darkness? (II Chron. 6.1). Terrance
> coarsens both Milton?s art and his own with that flat statement ?in
> Paradise Lost clearly dark is bad and light is good.? Mammon claims
> darkness for Hell, but his acknowledgement of God?s ?majesty of darkness?
> gives him the lie. Hell?s darkness, no less than its light, is plagiarized
> from Heaven (?cannot we . . . Imitate when we please??)
>
> John Leonard
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Milton-L mailing list
> Milton-L at richmond.edu<mailto:Milton-L at richmond.edu>
> Manage your list membership and access list archives at
> https://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l
>
> Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/
>
>
>
> --
> Margaret Thickstun
> Jane Watson Irwin Professor of Literature
> Chair, Literature and Creative Writing
> Hamilton College
> 198 College Hill Road
> Clinton, NY 13323
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> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 3
> Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2017 11:29:47 -0400
> From: Hannibal Hamlin <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>
> To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at richmond.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and "the majesty of darkness" (was
>         "Credited       Wiki")
> Message-ID:
>         <CAC6M=TKLbF68zg3=9NKwffCoNX30dTxJaQe=rX8=6-
> cUA2MzJg at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>
> He may also have somewhere in mind the episode in Acts, where the apostle
> Philip encounters "a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under
> Candace queen of the Ethiopians," who is reading Isaiah but having trouble
> understanding it. Philip explains that it's all about Jesus, and the
> Ethiopian asks to be baptized, which Philip then does.
>
> Hannibal
>
> On Sat, Nov 4, 2017 at 11:24 AM, John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca> wrote:
>
> > As for the danger of associating a rich skin tone with "darkness," Milton
> > was a man of his time, prone to the prejudices of his time (especially in
> > the prose), but Terrance should recall that the goddess Melancholy in Il
> > Penseroso is
> >
> >
> > Black, but in esteem,
> >
> > Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
> >
> > Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove
> >
> > To set her beauty's praise above
> >
> > The sea-nymphs
> >
> >
> > The Ethiop queen is Cassiopeia. Ovid depicts her daughter Andromeda as
> > black. Milton seems to be following this tradition rather than that of
> > European painting, which depicts Andromeda as lily white.
> >
> >
> > John Leonard
> > ------------------------------
> > *From:* milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> on
> > behalf of Margaret Thickstun <mthickst at hamilton.edu>
> > *Sent:* November 4, 2017 10:44:26 AM
> > *To:* John Milton Discussion List
> > *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] Milton and "the majesty of darkness" (was
> > "Credited Wiki")
> >
> > Thank you for this illuminating post. I would also like to point out the
> > danger of associating a rich skin tone with "darkness."
> >
> > On Sat, Nov 4, 2017 at 9:23 AM, John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca> wrote:
> >
> > In the note he appends to his illustration of Satan as ?a black man,?
> > Terrance Liddell writes: ?In Paradise Lost clearly dark is bad and light
> is
> > good. So Satan as a black man might be symbolically appropriate. . .? But
> > is it really the case in *Paradise Lost* that ?dark is bad and light is
> > good?? The statement has a certain prima facie plausibility based on some
> > memorable lines (?Hail holy light?, ?what in me is dark,? ?the dark
> > unbottomed infinite abyss?) which is no doubt why the topic of ?dark and
> > light? has so often (and boringly) been assigned for student essays. (I
> > wonder if that is where Terrance?s image comes from?) Milton?s
> imagination
> > is much richer than this crude binary. Some of his most hauntingly
> > beautiful images come from the mingling of light and dark, and the
> > challenging of our easy assumption that ?dark is bad and light is good.?
> > Recall the eclipse simile in book one where Satan ?darkened so, yet
> shone.?
> > Milton?s Satan is the Prince of Twilight, not the Prince of Darkness.  If
> > there is something light about Hell?s darkness, there is also something
> > dark about Heaven?s light. God also has his dark side, and not in a bad
> way:
> >
> >                                                        This deep world
> >
> >       Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
> >
> >       Thick clouds and dark doth Heav?n?s all-ruling Sire
> >
> >       Choose to reside, his glory unobscured,
> >
> >       And with the majesty of darkness round
> >
> >       Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar
> >
> >       Must?ring their rage, and Heav?n resembles Hell?
> >
> >       As he our darkness, cannot we his light
> >
> >       Imitate when we please? (PL 2.262-70)
> >
> > The speaker is admittedly Mammon, but the lines also have a ring of truth
> > (biblical truth): ?he made darkness his secret place? (Ps. 18); ?the Lord
> > hath said he would dwell in thick darkness? (II Chron. 6.1). Terrance
> > coarsens both Milton?s art and his own with that flat statement ?in
> > Paradise Lost clearly dark is bad and light is good.? Mammon claims
> > darkness for Hell, but his acknowledgement of God?s ?majesty of darkness?
> > gives him the lie. Hell?s darkness, no less than its light, is
> plagiarized
> > from Heaven (?cannot we . . . Imitate when we please??)
> >
> > John Leonard
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Milton-L mailing list
> > Milton-L at richmond.edu
> > Manage your list membership and access list archives at
> > https://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l
> >
> > Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Margaret Thickstun
> > Jane Watson Irwin Professor of Literature
> > Chair, Literature and Creative Writing
> > Hamilton College
> > 198 College Hill Road
> > Clinton, NY 13323
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Milton-L mailing list
> > Milton-L at richmond.edu
> > Manage your list membership and access list archives at
> > https://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l
> >
> > Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/
> >
>
>
>
> --
> 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 Annie & John Glenn Ave., 421 Denney Hall
> Columbus, OH 43210-1340
> hamlin.22 at osu.edu/
> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
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> Manage your membership and access list archives at
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>
> End of Milton-L Digest, Vol 132, Issue 11
> *****************************************
>
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