ENGLISH LITERATURE 1642-1740
WEDNESDAY WEEK 1
10am COLLIER ROOM
1667 AND ALL THAT
This handout comprises a variety of readings: some by writers you will recognize and others by writers unknown to you. The poems you’ll recognize as ‘literary’ texts; the journal, proclamation and parliamentary act you may wonder about.
Please read through all the texts before the class and think about the following questions:
I suggest that you should find out when the most significant events of the Civil War and Restoration period occurred.
JOHN MILTON: PARADISE LOST (1667)
The measure is English heroic verse without rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin—rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame metre; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, than else they would have expressed them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rime both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings—a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.
ANDREW MARVELL: ‘ON MR. MILTON’S PARADISE LOST’ (1674)
When I beheld the poet blind, yet bold,
In slender book his vast design unfold,
Messiah crowned, God's reconciled decree,
Rebelling Angels, the Forbidden Tree,
Heaven, Hell, Earth, Chaos, all; the argument
Held me a while, misdoubting his intent
That he would ruin (for I saw him strong)
The sacred truth to fable and old song,
(So Sampson groped the temple's posts in spite)
The world o'erwhelming to revenge his sight.
Yet as I read, soon growing less severe,
I liked his project, the success did fear;
Through that wide field how he his way should find
O'er which lame faith leads understanding blind;
Lest he perplexed the things he would explain,
And what was easy he should render vain.
Or if a work so infinite he spanned,
Jealous I was that some less skilful hand
(Such as disquiet always what is well,
And by ill imitating would excel)
Might hence presume the whole creation's day
To change in scenes, and show it in a play.
Pardon me, Mighty Poet, nor despise
My causeless, yet not impious, surmise.
But I am now convinced that none will dare
Within thy labors to pretend a share.
Thou hast not missed one thought that could be fit,
And all that was improper dost omit:
So that no room is here for writers left,
But to detect their ignorance or theft.
That majesty which through thy work doth reign
Draws the devout, deterring the profane.
And things divine thou treat'st of in such state
As them preserves, and thee, inviolate.
At once delight and horror on us seize,
Thou sing'st with so much gravity and ease;
And above human flight dost soar aloft,
With plume so strong, so equal, and so soft.
The bird named from that paradise you sing
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.
Where couldst thou words of such a compass find?
Whence furnish such a vast expanse of mind?
Just heaven thee, like Tiresias, to requite,
Rewards with prophecy the loss of sight.
Well mightst thou scorn thy readers to allure
With tinkling rhyme, of thine own sense secure;
While the Town-Bayes writes all the while and spells,
And like a pack-horse tires without his bells.
Their fancies like our bushy points appear,
The poets tag them; we for fashion wear.
I too, transported by the mode, offend,
And while I meant to praise thee must commend.
The verse created like thy theme sublime,
In number, weight, and measure, needs not rhyme.
ROBERT HERRICK (1591-1674)
The Bad Season Makes the Poet Sad (1648)
Dull to my self, and almost dead to these
My many fresh and fragrant mistresses:
Lost to all music, now; since every thing
Puts on the semblance here of sorrowing.
Sick is the land to'th' heart; and doth endure
More dangerous faintings by her desp'rate cure.
But if that golden age would come again,
And Charles here rule, as he before did reign;
If smooth and unperplext the Seasons were,
As when the Sweet Maria lived here:
I should delight to have my curls half drown'd
In Tyrian dews, and head with roses crown'd.
And once more yet (ere I am laid out dead)
Knock at a star with my exalted head.
The Argument of his Book(1648)
I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July-flowers;
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides and of their bridal-cakes;
I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness;
I sing of dews, of rains, and piece by piece
Of balm, of oil, of spice and ambergris;
I sing of times trans-shifting, and I write
How roses first came red and lilies white;
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab, and of the fairy king;
I write of Hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of Heaven, and hope to have it after all.
RICHARD LOVELACE (1618-1656/7)
To Lucasta, Going to the Wars (1649)
Tell me not (sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast, and quite mind,
To war and arms I fly.
True; a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.
Yet this inconstancy is such,
As you too shall adore:
I could not love thee (dear) so much,
Loved I not honour more.
To Althea, From Prison (1649)
When Love with unconfined wings
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair,
And fetter'd to her eye,
The gods, that wanton in the air,
Know no such liberty
When flowing cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with roses bound,
Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty grief in wine we steep,
When healths and draughts go free,
Fishes, that tipple in the deep,
Know no such liberty.
When (like committed linnets) I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my king;
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how great should be,
Enlarged winds, that curl the flood,
Know no such liberty.
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free
Angels alone that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.
JAMES SHIRLEY (1596-1666)
The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate,
Death lays his icy hand on kings.
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill,
But their strong nerves at last must yield,
They tame but one another still.
Early or late,
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
When they, pale captives, creep to death.
The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds,
Upon death's purple altar now,
See where the victor-victim bleeds.
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb,
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust. (1646)
GERARD WINSTANLEY (1609-?1676)
The Diggers’ Song
You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now,
You noble Diggers all, stand up now,
The wast land to maintain, seeing Cavaliers by name
Your digging does maintain, and persons all defame
Stand up now, stand up now.
Your houses they pull down, stand up now, stand up now,
Your houses they pull down, stand up now.
Your houses they pull down to fright your men in town
But the gentry must come down, and the poor shall wear the crown.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
With spades and hoes and plowes, stand up now, stand up now
With spades and hoes and plowes stand up now,
Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold
To kill you if they could, and rights from you to hold.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
Theire self-will is theire law, stand up now, stand up now,
Theire self-will is theire law, stand up now.
Since tyranny came in they count it now no sin
To make a gaol a gin, to starve poor men therein.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The gentrye are all round, stand up now, stand up now,
The gentrye are all round, stand up now.
The gentrye are all round, on each side they are found,
Theire wisdom's so profound, to cheat us of our ground
Stand up now, stand up now.
The lawyers they conjoyne, stand up now, stand up now,
The lawyers they conjoyne, stand up now,
To arrest you they advise, such fury they devise,
The devill in them lies, and hath blinded both their eyes.
Stand up now, stand up now.
The clergy they come in, stand up now, stand up now,
The clergy they come in, stand up now.
The clergy they come in, and say it is a sin
That we should now begin, our freedom for to win.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The tithes they yet will have, stand up now, stand up now,
The tithes they yet will have, stand up now.
The tithes they yet will have, and lawyers their fees crave,
And this they say is brave, to make the poor their slave.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
'Gainst lawyers and 'gainst Priests, stand up now, stand up now,
'Gainst lawyers and 'gainst Priests stand up now.
For tyrants they are both even flatt againnst their oath,
To grant us they are loath free meat and drink and cloth.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The club is all their law, stand up now, stand up now,
The club is all their law, stand up now.
The club is all their law to keep men in awe,
But they no vision saw to maintain such a law.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now, stand up now,
The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now;
The Cavaleers are foes, themselves they do disclose
By verses not in prose to please the singing boyes.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
To conquer them by love, come in now, come in now
To conquer them by love, come in now;
To conquer them by love, as itt does you behove,
For hee is King above, noe power is like to love,
Glory heere, Diggers all.
KATHERINE PHILIPS (1632-1664)
On the double murther of the King. (1667)
(In answer to a libellous paper written by V: Powell, at my house) These verses were those mention’d in the precedent coppy.
I think not on the State, nor am concern’d,
Which way soever that great Helm is turn’d.
But as that Son, whose Fathers danger nigh
Did force his native dumbness, & unty
The fetterd Organs, so this is a cause 5
That will excuse the breach of Nature’s laws,
Silence were criminall, nay, passion now
Wise men themselves, for merit will allow.
What humane Ey could see, & careless pass,
The dying Lyon kick’d by every Ass. 10
Hath Charles so broke Gods Laws he must not have
A quiet Scepter, nor a quiet Grave.
Tombs have been Sanctuary’s, Thieves ly there,
Secure from all their penalty, & feare.
Great Charles his double misery was this, 15
Unfaithfull friends, ignoble Enemy’s.
Had any Heathen been this Princes foe.
He would have wept to see him Injurd soe.
His tytle was his crime, they’d reason good,
To quarrell at a right they had withstood. 20
He broke Gods law’s, & therfore he must dy,
And what shall then become of you, & I?
Slander must follow Treason, but yet, stay,
Take not our Judgment with our King away,
Though you have seiz’d upon all our defence, 25
Yet doe not sequester our common-sence,
But I admire not at this new supply,
No bounds will hold those who at Scepters fly.
Christ will be King, but I ne’re understood
His subjects built his Kingdome up with blood. 30
Except their own, nor that he would dispence
With his commands, though for his defence.
O! to what height of horrour are they come,
Who dare pull down a Crown, tear up a Tomb.
KING CHARLES II (1630-1685)
The Declaration of Breda (April 4 1660)
Charles, by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all our loving subjects, of what degree or quality soever, greeting.
If the general distraction and confusion which is spread over the whole kingdom doth not awaken all men to a desire and longing that those wounds which have so many years together been kept bleeding, may be bound up. all we can say will be to no purpose; however, after this long silence, we have thought it our duty to declare how much we desire to contribute thereunto; and that as we can never give over the hope, in good time, to obtain the possession of that right which God and nature hath made our due, so we do make it our daily suit to the Divine Providence, that He will, in compassion to us and our subjects, after so long misery and sufferings, remit and put us into a quiet and peaceable possession of that our right, with as little blood and damage to our people as is possible; nor do we desire more to enjoy what is ours, than that all our subjects may enjoy what by law is theirs, by a full and entire administration of justice throughout the land, and by extending our mercy where it is wanted and deserved.
And to the end that the fear of punishment may not engage any, conscious to themselves of what is past, to a perseverance in guilt for the future, by opposing the quiet and happiness of their country, in the restoration of King, Peers and people to their just, ancient and fundamental rights, we do, by these presents, declare, that we do grant a free and general pardon, which we are ready, upon demand, to pass under our Great Seal of England, to all our subjects, of what degree or quality soever, who, within forty days after the publishing hereof, shall lay hold upon this our grace and favour, and shall, by any public act, declare their doing so, and that they return to the loyalty and obedience of good subjects; excepting only such persons as shall hereafter be excepted by Parliament, those only to be excepted. Let all our subjects, how faulty soever, rely upon the word of a King, solemnly given by this present declaration, that no crime whatsoever, committed against us or our royal father before the publication of this, shall ever rise in judgment, or be brought in question, against any of them, to the least endamagement of them, either in their lives, liberties or estates or (as far forth as lies in our power) so much as to the prejudice of their reputations, by any reproach or term of distinction from the rest of our best subjects; we desiring and ordaining that henceforth all notes of discord, separation and difference of parties be utterly abolished among all our subjects, whom we invite and conjure to a perfect union among themselves, under our protection, for the re-settlement of our just rights and theirs in a free Parliament, by which, upon the word of a King, we will be advised.
And because the passion and uncharitableness of the times have produced several opinions in religion, by which men are engaged in parties and animosities against each other (which, when they shall hereafter unite in a freedom of conversation, will be composed or better understood), we do declare a liberty to tender consciences, and that no man shall be disquieted or called in question for differences of opinion in matter of religion, which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom; and that we shall be ready to consent to such an Act of Parliament, as, upon mature deliberation, shall be offered to us, for the full granting that indulgence.
And because, in the continued distractions of so many years, and so many and great revolutions, many grants and purchases of estates have been made to and by many officers, soldiers and others, who are now possessed of the same, and who may be liable to actions at law upon several titles, we are likewise willing that all such differences, and all things relating to such grants, sales and purchases, shall be determined in Parliament, which can best provide for the just satisfaction of all men who are concerned.
And we do further declare, that we will be ready to consent to any Act or Acts of Parliament to the purposes aforesaid, and for the full satisfaction of all arrears due to the officers and soldiers of the army under the command of General Monk; and that they shall be received into our service upon as good pay and conditions as they now enjoy.
Given under our Sign Manual and Privy Signet, at our Court at Breda, this 4/14 day of April, 1660, in the twelfth year of our reign.
JOHN DRYDEN (1631-1700)
From: Astraea Redux
ON THE HAPPY RESTORATION AND RETURN OF HIS SACRED MAJESTY CHARLES II 1660.
‘Jam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna.’--VIRG.
[‘The last great age, foretold by sacred rhymes,
Renews its finish'd course; Saturnian times
Roll round again.’]
And welcome now, great monarch, to your own! 250
Behold the approaching cliffs of Albion:
It is no longer motion cheats your view,
As you meet it, the land approacheth you.
The land returns, and, in the white it wears,
The marks of penitence and sorrow bears.
But you, whose goodness your descent doth show,
Your heavenly parentage and earthly too;
By that same mildness, which your father's crown
Before did ravish, shall secure your own.
Not tied to rules of policy, you find 260
Revenge less sweet than a forgiving mind.
Thus, when the Almighty would to Moses give
A sight of all he could behold and live;
A voice before his entry did proclaim
Long-suffering, goodness, mercy, in his name.
Your power to justice doth submit your cause,
Your goodness only is above the laws;
Whose rigid letter, while pronounced by you,
Is softer made. So winds that tempests brew,
When through Arabian groves they take their flight, 270
Made wanton with rich odours, lose their spite.
And as those lees, that trouble it, refine
The agitated soul of generous wine;
So tears of joy, for your returning spilt,
Work out, and expiate our former guilt.
Methinks I see those crowds on Dover's strand,
Who, in their haste to welcome you to land,
Choked up the beach with their still growing store,
And made a wilder torrent on the shore:
While, spurr'd with eager thoughts of past delight, 280
Those, who had seen you, court a second sight;
Preventing still your steps, and making haste
To meet you often wheresoe'er you past.
How shall I speak of that triumphant day,
When you renew'd the expiring pomp of May!
(A month that owns an interest in your name:
You and the flowers are its peculiar claim.)
That star that at your birth shone out so bright,
It stain'd the duller sun's meridian light,
Did once again its potent fires renew, 290
Guiding our eyes to find and worship you.
And now Time's whiter series is begun,
Which in soft centuries shall smoothly run:
Those clouds, that overcast your morn, shall fly,
Dispell'd to farthest corners of the sky.
Our nation with united interest blest,
Not now content to poise, shall sway the rest.
Abroad your empire shall no limits know,
But, like the sea, in boundless circles flow.
Your much-loved fleet shall, with a wide command, 300
Besiege the petty monarchs of the land:
And as old Time his offspring swallow'd down,
Our ocean in its depths all seas shall drown.
Their wealthy trade from pirates' rapine free,
Our merchants shall no more adventurers be:
Nor in the farthest East those dangers fear,
Which humble Holland must dissemble here.
Spain to your gift alone her Indies owes;
For what the powerful takes not, he bestows:
And France, that did an exile's presence fear, 310
May justly apprehend you still too near.
At home the hateful names of parties cease,
And factious souls are wearied into peace.
The discontented now are only they
Whose crimes before did your just cause betray:
Of those, your edicts some reclaim from sin,
But most your life and blest example win.
Oh, happy prince! whom Heaven hath taught the way,
By paying vows to have more vows to pay!
Oh, happy age! oh times like those alone, 320
By fate reserved for great Augustus' throne!
When the joint growth of arms and arts foreshow
The world a monarch, and that monarch you.
ANTHONY A WOOD (1632-1695)
Describes the effect of the Restoration on Oxford:
In this month (April) all tokens of monarchy restored. Arms that had been plastered over in the broken times, especially those in the Public Schools were all plastered over. The sign of the King’s Head that had been dashed out or daubed over in paint tempore Olivari [in Oliver’s time] (and in its place was written “This was the King’s Head”) was new painted....
May. --- Upon the votes in the Parliament House, May 1, Tuesday, the King’s arms are everywhere renewed.
May 1, Tuesday, May poles, May games. A May pole against the Bear [Inn] in Allhallows parish, set up on purpose to vex the Presbyterians and Independents. Dr John Conant, then Vice-Chancellor, came with his beadles and servants to have it sawed down but before he entered an inch into it, he and his party were forced to leave that place....
May 29, Tuesday, the day of the Restoration of King Charles 2 observed in all or most places in England, particularly at Oxon which did exceed any place of its bigness. Many from all parts flocked to London to see his entry; but A.W. was not there, but at Oxon, where the jollity of the day continued till next morning. The world of England was perfectly mad. They were freed from the chains of darkness and confusion which the Presbyterians and fanatics had brought upon them; yet some of them seeing then what mischief they had done, tacked about to participate in the universal joy, and at length closed with the royal party.
This Holy Thursday [May 31] the people of Oxon were so violent for May poles in opposition to the Puritans that there was numbered 12 May poles besides 3 or 4 morrisses, etc. But no opposition appearing afterwards, the rabble flagged in their zeal; and seldom after above 1 or 2 a year.....
June 16, Saturday, John Milton’s and John Goodwin’s books called in and burned. Taken out of those libraries where they were, especially out of the Public Library. About the same time, William Prynne’s books against the bishops and books against archbishop Laud were taken out of the Public Library and put in the study in the gallery.
FROM: THE ACT OF OBLIVION (1660)
The general Pardon; Treasons and other Offences mentioned since 1st Jan. 1637.
THE Kings most Excellent Majesty taking into His Gratious and Serious consideration the long and great Troubles Discords and Warrs that have for many Yeares past beene in this Kingdome, And that diverse of His Subjects are by occasion thereof and otherwise falne into, and be obnoxious to great paines and penaltyes, Out of a hearty and pious Desire to put an end to all Suites and Controversies that by occasion of the late Distractions have arisen and may arise betweene all His Subjects, And to the intent that noe Crime whatsoever committed against His Majesty or His Royall Father shall hereafter rise in Judgement or be brought in Question against any of them to the least endamagement of them either in their Lives Libertyes Estates or to the prejudice of their Reputations by any Reproach or Terme of Distinction, And to bury all Seeds of future Discords and remembrance of the former as well in His owne Breast as in the Breasts of His Subjects one towards another.
LUCY HUTCHINSON (?1620-?1675)
Elegy 3:Another on the sunshine
This morning through my window shot his rays,
Where with his hateful and unwelcome beams
He gilt the surface of affliction's streams.
In anger at their bold intrusion, I
Did yet into a darker covert fly;
But they, like impudent suitors brisk and rude,
Me even to my thickest shade pursued;
Whom when I saw that I could nowhere shun,
I thus began to chide th'immodest sun:
'How, gaudy masker, darest thou look on me
Whose sable coverings thy reproaches be?
Thou to our murderers thy taper bear'st;
Th'oppressive race of men thou warm'st and
The blood which thou hast seen pollutes thy light
And renders it more hateful than the night
All good men loathe. You're grown a common bawd,
The brave that lead'st impieties abroad;
Who smiling dost on lust and rapine shine,
Nor shrinkst thy head in at disgorged wine
Which sinners durst not let thee see before;
Now thy conniving looks they dread no more,
Because thou mak'st their pleasant gardens grow
And cherishest the fruitful seeds they sow
In fields which unto them descended not,
By violence, bribery and oppression got.
Thou sawst the league of God himself dissolved,
Which a whole nation in one curse involved;
Thou sawst a thankless people slaughtering those
Whose noble blood redeemed them from their foes;
Thy stained beams into the prison came
But lost their boasts, outshined with virtue's flame;
Thou saw'st the innocent to exile led;
And for all this veild'st not thy radiant head,
But com'st as a gay courtier to deride
Ruins we would in silent shadows hide.
'Since, then, thou wilt thrust into this dark room,
By thine own light read thy most certain doom:
Darkness shall shortly quench thy impure light
And thou shalt set in everlasting night.
Those whom thou flattered'st shall see thee expire
And have no light but their own funeral fire.
There shall they in a dreadful wild amaze
At once see all their glorious idols blaze.
Thy sister, the pale empress of the night,
Shall nevermore reflect thy borrowed light.
Into black blood shall her dark body turn
While your polluted spheres about you burn,
And the elemental heaven like melting lead
Drops down upon the impious rebels' head.
Then shall our king his shining host diaplay,
At whose approach our mists shall fly away,
And we, illuminated by his sight,
No more shall need thy ever-quenched light.
LECTURE NOTES “Milton and the God Problem”
Satan- the best lines linguistically delegate God- book 5, he asks the angels to cast off the yoke of God- 5.787-97
“Monarchy over equals”- issues of social inversion and transcending the god/mortal boundaries
CS Lewis- those who don’t like Milton’s god simply don’t like God. John Beale- C17- “Milton is a poet too full of the devil”. Romantic reading of Milton- the satanic energy breaks free from the religious constraints- Satan represents freedom and imagination- God is stuffy, repetitive, and cannot keep his temper.
Calvinism- 3.77-8- God has foreknowledge of what shall happen. 3.99- “the humans were sufficient to have stood, but free to fall”- Williamson says that God was working for the fall all along. How do we begin to assess the morality of God?
Not an issue of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ God, but the more important question is what it means to represent belief at all in poetry as a medium. L. suggests that poetry itself is Milton’s ‘God Problem’. How does matter bring forth and endorse transcendence/truth?
Early writing- religious/political conversion. Temporality, belief and the aesthetic. Lycidas- celebrates a specific death but transposes that onto dialogue about all time. 1629- Milton wrote the ode on Xmas eve- first published in 1645 as the first piece in his anthology. Represents the triumph of the infant Christ over the old gods of paganism. We don’t see two alternate ideas of the poet- the poet is the same, and the debt to Virgil is important. L24- “a humble ode”-39- “a self-deprecating, tedious song”- incorporates Pindaric ode form (originally to celebrate athlete’s achievement)- unites greek hymn and Christian hymn.
Not a poem trying to create an historical image of what the nativity was like- very little Mary. The image of Jesus represents more the image of the baby Hercules- the Incarnation serves as the banishment of the pagan gods.
Has sometimes been described as the ‘baroque poem’- over-the-top representation of specific deities. Later on- poetry of the ear, as he was blind. L64-6- lines of stillness as contrast
178- “With hollow shriek, we hear the ? leaving”
The act of making music takes precedence over narration. S12- “and the well-balanced world on hinges hung…” sense of temperance so important from the Reformation
Laudian framework- beauty of holiness. Organ music was introduced in churches post-Baroque to endorse this
“And hell itself will pass away… to peering day”
Presentation of the Golden Age- not the representation. Self-construction v important.Presentation of music- s12, “bid the weltering waves their oozy channels keep”
Alexandrian form- ending with a line of 12 syllables. Last lines- angels surround the Christ child to protect him. ‘Sit in order servicable’. Doesn’t rhyme- doesn’t end properly- looking forward into the future that the poem indicates. Refusal to end- perhaps a concession to the ‘darksome house of clay’- base poetic art- God Problem is one involving the matter of poetic creation in itself
Mourns the drowning of a Cambridge man in 1637- Edward King. His tab colleagues produced a poetry anthology after him and Milton’s Lycidas was the last to appear in the anthology. Long series of poems that have come before- the mourning of King repeatedly raises questions about divine intervention- why did this person have to die?
1638- Milton experimenting with the prophetic voice that had previously been somewhat involved in the Nativity Ode. Has been placed in a line of Spenserian- nationalist, Protestant, republican.
The Christianised ending comes as a surprise- what connects these voices together?
Line 132- “Return, Alpheus, the dread voice is past”
Through the force of the ruptures- the stable ontological reality is doubted and therefore also the principle of devout art. Neither God knows what’s happened to Lycidas- the crisis in truth even in the deitic sphere shows the issues of the Civil War about the validity of language coming from mouths of authority. To revive the pastoral after deciding of its extinction is surely a nod towards self-control and definitism.
Physical catastrophe- drowned man/apocalypse. When the various voices in Lycidas comment on where he is, the geography of British coastline is united with the coastlines of Greek mythology- 153-62- I, me, whilst he the shores and sound of the seas wash far away, where erudite bones are hurled…” Identity is expressed in the wash of surf- sound and physicality v. important.
Presence of multiple voices- conventional for pastoral debate. However, the contingency for the splitting of voices shows the multifaceted victor over the voice of God- how do the multiple voices fit in with the ideas of God etc?
BOD NOTES Milton: Paradise Lost
Full Title Paradise Lost
Author John Milton
Type of work/genre Epic poem
Written 1656-74, England
Publication 1667 1st ed, 1674 2nd ed
Publisher S Simmons, England
Milton’s father had been disowned when he changed from Catholicism to Protestantism
Some readers consider Satan to be the hero, or protagonist, of the story, because he struggles to overcome his own doubts and weaknesses and accomplishes his goal of corrupting humankind. This goal, however, is evil, and Adam and Eve are the moral heroes at the end of the story, as they help to begin humankind’s slow process of redemption and salvation. Satan is far from being the story’s object of admiration, as most heroes are. Nor does it make sense for readers to celebrate or emulate him, as they might with a true hero. Yet there are many compelling qualities to his character that make him intriguing to readers.
One source of Satan’s fascination for us is that he is an extremely complex and subtle character. It would be difficult, perhaps impossible, for Milton to make perfect, infallible characters such as God the Father, God the Son, and the angels as interesting to read about as the flawed characters, such as Satan, Adam, and Eve. Satan, moreover, strikes a grand and majestic figure, apparently unafraid of being damned eternally, and uncowed by such terrifying figures as Chaos or Death. Many readers have argued that Milton deliberately makes Satan seem heroic and appealing early in the poem to draw us into sympathizing with him against our will, so that we may see how seductive evil is and learn to be more vigilant in resisting its appeal.
Milton devotes much of the poem’s early books to developing Satan’s character. Satan’s greatest fault is his pride. He casts himself as an innocent victim, overlooked for an important promotion. But his ability to think so selfishly in Heaven, where all angels are equal and loved and happy, is surprising. His confidence in thinking that he could ever overthrow God displays tremendous vanity and pride. When Satan shares his pain and alienation as he reaches Earth in Book IV, we may feel somewhat sympathetic to him or even identify with him. But Satan continues to devote himself to evil. Every speech he gives is fraudulent and every story he tells is a lie. He works diligently to trick his fellow devils in Hell by having Beelzebub present Satan’s own plan of action.
Satan’s character—or our perception of his character—changes significantly from Book I to his final appearance in Book X. In Book I he is a strong, imposing figure with great abilities as a leader and public statesmen, whereas by the poem’s end he slinks back to Hell in serpent form. Satan’s gradual degradation is dramatized by the sequence of different shapes he assumes. He begins the poem as a just-fallen angel of enormous stature, looks like a comet or meteor as he leaves Hell, then disguises himself as a more humble cherub, then as a cormorant, a toad, and finally a snake. His ability to reason and argue also deteriorates. In Book I, he persuades the devils to agree to his plan. In Book IV, however, he reasons to himself that the Hell he feels inside of him is reason to do more evil. When he returns to Earth again, he believes that Earth is more beautiful than Heaven, and that he may be able to live on Earth after all. Satan, removed from Heaven long enough to forget its unparalleled grandeur, is completely demented, coming to believe in his own lies. He is a picture of incessant intellectual activity without the ability to think morally. Once a powerful angel, he has become blinded to God’s grace, forever unable to reconcile his past with his eternal punishment.
Adam is a strong, intelligent, and rational character possessed of a remarkable relationship with God. In fact, before the fall, he is as perfect as a human being can be. He has an enormous capacity for reason, and can understand the most sophisticated ideas instantly. He can converse with Raphael as a near-equal, and understand Raphael’s stories readily. But after the fall, his conversation with Michael during his visions is significantly one-sided. Also, his self-doubt and anger after the fall demonstrate his new ability to indulge in rash and irrational attitudes. As a result of the fall, he loses his pure reason and intellect.
Adam’s greatest weakness is his love for Eve. He falls in love with her immediately upon seeing her, and confides to Raphael that his attraction to her is almost overwhelming. Though Raphael warns him to keep his affections in check, Adam is powerless to prevent his love from overwhelming his reason. After Eve eats from the Tree of Knowledge, he quickly does the same, realizing that if she is doomed, he must follow her into doom as well if he wants to avoid losing her. Eve has become his companion for life, and he is unwilling to part with her even if that means disobeying God.
Adam’s curiosity and hunger for knowledge is another weakness. The questions he asks of Raphael about creation and the universe may suggest a growing temptation to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. But like his physical attraction to Eve, Adam is able to partly avoid this temptation. It is only through Eve that his temptations become unavoidable.
Created to be Adam’s mate, Eve is inferior to Adam, but only slightly. She surpasses Adam only in her beauty. She falls in love with her own image when she sees her reflection in a body of water. Ironically, her greatest asset produces her most serious weakness, vanity. After Satan compliments her on her beauty and godliness, he easily persuades her to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.
Aside from her beauty, Eve’s intelligence and spiritual purity are constantly tested. She is not unintelligent, but she is not ambitious to learn, content to be guided by Adam as God intended. As a result, she does not become more intelligent or learned as the story progresses, though she does attain the beginning of wisdom by the end of the poem. Her lack of learning is partly due to her absence for most of Raphael’s discussions with Adam in Books V, VI, and VII, and she also does not see the visions Michael shows Adam in Books XI and XII. Her absence from these important exchanges shows that she feels it is not her place to seek knowledge independently; she wants to hear Raphael’s stories through Adam later. The one instance in which she deviates from her passive role, telling Adam to trust her on her own and then seizing the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, is disastrous.
Eve’s strengths are her capacity for love, emotion, and forebearance. She persuades Adam to stay with her after the fall, and Adam in turn dissuades her from committing suicide, as they begin to work together as a powerful unit. Eve complements Adam’s strengths and corrects his weaknesses. Thus, Milton does not denigrate all women through his depiction of Eve. Rather he explores the role of women in his society and the positive and important role he felt they could offer in the divine union of marriage.
An omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent character who knows everything before it happens. Attempting to present such an unimaginable character accurately, Milton appropriates several of God’s biblical speeches into his speeches in Paradise Lost. God loves his creation and strongly defends humankind’s free will. He presents his love through his Son, who performs his will justly and mercifully.
God, in Paradise Lost, is less a developed character than a personification of abstract ideas. He is unknowable to humankind and to some extent lacks emotion and depth. He has no weaknesses, embodies pure reason, and is always just. He explains why certain events happen, like Satan’s decision to corrupt Adam and Eve, tells his angels what will happen next, and gives his reasoning behind his actions in theological terms. God allows evil to occur, but he will make good out of evil. His plan to save humankind by offering his Son shows his unwavering control over Satan.
For Milton, the Son is the manifestation of God in action. While God the Father stays in the realm of Heaven, the Son performs the difficult tasks of banishing Satan and his rebel angels, creating the universe and humankind, and punishing Satan, Adam and Eve with justice and mercy. The Son physically connects God the Father with his creation. Together they form a complete and perfect God.
The Son personifies love and compassion. After the fall, he pities Adam and Eve and gives them clothing to help diminish their shame. His decision to volunteer to die for humankind shows his dedication and selflessness. The final vision that Adam sees in Book XII is of the Son’s (or Jesus’) sacrifice on the cross—through this vision, the Son is able to calm Adam’s worries for humankind and give Adam and Eve restored hope as they venture out of Paradise.
Obedience to God
Hierarchy of the Universe
The Fall as partly fortunate
Foreshadowing- Eve seeing her reflection in the lake, and Satan’s transformation into a snake ahead of his final punishment
The Cambridge Companion- Language and Knowledge
Book VIII, 8.267-77: “My self I then perused, and limb by limb / Surveyed, and sometimes went, and sometimes ran / With supple joints, and lively vigour led; / But who I was, or where, or from what cause, / Knew not; to speak I tried, and forthwith spake, / My tongue obeyed and readily could name / What e’er I saw. Thou sun, said I,fair light, / And thou enlightened earth, so fresh and gay, / Ye hills and dales, ye rivers, woods, and plains, / And ye that live and move, fair creatures, tell, / Tell, if ye saw, how came I thus, how here?”
Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding: “He that in a new-discovered Country, shall see several sorts of Animals and Vegetables… but can speak of them only by a description, till he shall either take the Names the Natives call them by, or give them Names himself.”
Milton, Tetrachordon: “Adam who had the wisdom giv’n him to know all creatures, and to name them according to their properties, no doubt but had the gift to discern perfectly” YP 2:602
“…of fellowship I speak / Such as I seek, fit to participate / All rational delight, wherein the brute / Cannot be human consort; they rejoice / Each with their kind, lion with lioness; / So fitly them in pairs thou hast combined; / Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl / So well converse, not with the ox the ape; / Worse then can man with beast, and least of all” 8.389-97
Naming is important- the fallen angels lose their names during the Fall, and Eve cannot name flowers after the Fall- “…of their names in heavenly records now/ Be no memorial blotted out and razed / By their rebellion, from the books of life. / Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve / Got them new names.” 1.361-5
Milton’s mentioning of the Classical world is apart, fragmented, from the immediacy of Paradise
Milton’s first editor, Patrick Hume, from the 1695 edition: “Why God was not pleased to create the World 100,000 Years before he did, and how he employed its infinite Power, Wisdom and other unaccountable Perfections before the Creation, are some of those ain and Atheistical Enquires of impertinent and daring Men, who, little acquainted with the turns and motions of their own frail and unruly Wills, would pry into the Secrets of the Eternal Mind, and ask a account of that Almighty Will which created all things how and when he pleas’d. Such Doubts are unresolvable, as not coming within the compass of Human comprehension, for the Question will at last run up to Eternity it self, and the Enquiry will come to this impious and absurd Demand, why God did not make the World co-eternal with himself?” 214
Satan tries to disrupt the hierarchy by making Eve question her own place- “Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste”
Prelapsarian: characteristic of the time before the Fall- innocent, undefiled
Genesis doesn’t even specify the serpent to be Satan, though this link was made from pre-Christian times
The genres of Paradise Lost
The epic is principally about knowing and choosing, and the ability to do so
Satan, like Achilles, is motivated by a ‘sense of injured merit’
F. Rhu, Lawrence . The Genesis of Tasso's Narrative Theory: English Translations of the Early Poetics and a Comparative Study of Their Significance. 1st ed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1993. Print.
Davis, Nick. Stories of Chaos. Vermont: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 1999. Print.
“In Milton’s Chaos, and Plato’s, the behaviour of elemental matter is only partly accountable by reference to antecedent conditions, since matter possesses a spontaneous power of self-movement; this allows it to move utterly at random, where random occurrence itself is not catchable in the nets of a mathematical science of probability.” P159
BOD NOTES John Milton