Figure of the poet. In early poetry and in Paradise Lost. Select Paradise Lost and one work before, and one after. Demonstrate how Milton?s characterization of the poet changes. What is the task of the poet, in Milton?s understanding. Close reading for the poetic voice of: ?On the Morning of Christ?s Nativity?, or ?The Passion? Paradise Lost Paradise Regained or Samson Agonistes. Readings: Harmony and the Poet?s Voice in Some of Milton?s Early Poems (Donald Friedman) Milton?s poetic career was purposeful and profoundly conscious. His self-imposed discipline and development was rigorous, and directed toward epic poetry. To him, the powers and responsibilities of poetry (and of the poet) were incredibly exalted. ?A dual sense of his dedication to the art and the stringent preparation, both intellectual and spiritual, needed to enable him to discharge that dedication guided him in the performance of every poetic act that led to the composition of Paradise Lost. Milton experiments with the forms. In his early works, he gained a growing awareness of ?the deep, almost inevitable propriety of certain poetic subjects for his talents.? Harmony, especially the symbols and vocabulary of music. There were hesitations and doubts in the premature assumptions of the epic poet?s voice in ?Christ?s Nativity.? Fair Infant: explainer ? questioner Christ?s Nativity: New assurance and confidence maybe from his choice of a perspective in time, rather than on a social role or a fictive place or landscape. Competition between Heavenly Muse and the Magi, blend of ambition with obligatory pretense of ?humble ode? laid lowly at the baby?s feet. The description of universal peace in the 4th stanza is more prophetic than triumphant. It?s only a precarious suspension of brutal and destructive acts of man that will continue throughout our history. ?In a sense Milton is at war with his muse in this passage(127); while the power of her timeless vision touches him through the medium of harmonious musical sound, his intractable knowledge of man?s earthly state, partially ?deafened? by sin, pulls him back to the necessary acknowledgment of what must pass before he can submit himself fully to the muse?s joyous eschatology. Like the infant Christ, he can control this ?damned crew?(228), but only if he retreats from the challenge of the infinite horizons revealed by the Heavenly Muse and accepts, patiently, the limitations implied by the phrases, ?our human ears? (126) and ?our fancy? (134). The ambitious flight is checked not only by the known realities of history that the poem takes as its true subject (turning from the initial stance of celebration), but by Milton?s inherent recognition that he is not prepared to fulfill the musaic inspiration. Milton tries to hurry the process of his sober, prosaic process that Milton thinks of as slow and deliberate, but purposeful. Marchioness of Winchester: L?Allegro and Il Penseroso: the apostrophes to Mirth and Melancholy are both intensely personal and conceptually abstract. The beginning of PL announces the end of a long phase of Milton?s education The poet ?soaring in the high region of his fancies with his garland and singing robes about him.? Milton and Idolatry (Barbara K. Lewalski) Milton portrays both Nature and himself as a poet being led by wondrous sights and music to conflate the nativity with Christ?s second coming and the onset of the millennial Golden Age. ?Called back from that error, Milton gives the final third of his poem to what must happen before ?our bliss/Full and perfect is,? and that is a process of iconoclasm, the flight of all the pagan gods from their shrines.? Degrees of darkness and disorder. Stella P. Revard: Milton sets the new Sun/Son against the old Sun God Apollo, pointing to what Apollo had come to symbolize by the 17th century: the prominent iconographical symbol of Renaissance popes, as well as the self=chosen emblem of the Stuart kings, James I and Charles I. One major focus of Milton?s iconoclasm is the idolatry he thinks both the Laudian and the Roman Catholic churches have fostered. How does Milton perceive his role as a poet, and how has that perception changed? Why does he choose Urania to be his Muse? She is a Greek muse of astrology, so of Classical origins. [This involves the problem of how Milton fuses the Classical and Religious traditions.] She keeps her eyes and attention focused on the Heavens. Often associated with Universal Love and the Holy Spirit. How does Milton reconcile the Classical and Christian traditions? What is the nature of the relationship between the narrator and Urania? She?s his patroness. Why does she choose him as a patron, and why did he put himself through all that training? Because he?s a good vessel, he wanted to make himself the best vessel he can be. I think what?s really incredible about Milton is that he never lost sight of his purpose, or his cause. When he was young, his purpose was to consciously build himself up as a poet, to understand and absorb all the different forms of lingual expression and to master his chosen medium of expression. Before PL PL Comment by Qihua: All the cycles in the poem of descent and renascent, loss and restoration, departure and return are fully and finally harmonized for the reader and narrator in the tone of the closing lines, which conclude the song of the bird and the vision of the blind bard. Milton devised a number of stylistic devices to keep the narrator in the center and presence of the epic: Speaker?s practice of explicitly distinguishing his own situation in space and time from the experience of the readers or its characters. Useful in introducing a new scene, interpreting the vision of Hell, for instance. A sign of our mortality and limitations is that we must measure all experience by passing of time, the diurnal course which to us means change and loss. Use of slightly unfamiliar words and constructions, including archaisms Use of proper names, not solely for their sound, but because they are the names of splendid, remote, terrible, voluptuous, or celebrated things. Continued allusion to all the sources of heightened interest in our sense experience, but all over-topped and ?managed? with an air of magnanimous austerity. Milton unremittingly manipulates his readers, not allowing us to settle down and luxuriate on any one line or paragraph. Milton?s style is like organ music. We are the organ and Milton is the organist. Milton has to seem to describe paradise, but while doing so, he must arouse our imagination not to make definite pictures, but to find again in our own depth the paradisal light of which all explicit images are only the momentary reflection. What you owe to Milton is not any knowledge, of which a million separate items are still but a million of advancing steps ont eh same earthly elvel; what you owe is power ? that is, exercise and expansion to your own latent capacity of sympathy with the infinite, where every pulse and each weparate influx is a step upwards. Milton?s work was not a work to be raised from the heat of youth, or the vapours of wine; ? nor to be obtained by the invocation of dame memory and her siren daughters, but by devout prayer to that eternal Spirit, who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge? After PL
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