Nothing to blog home about.

Milton’s Prose – The Reason of Church-Government
Monday June 30th 2008, 1:37 pm
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Well to begin, I have to say that I strongly prefer Milton’s poetry to his prose.  I, too, question whether I belive some of the arguments that Milton makes for The Reason of Church-Government.  For starters, Milton draws his immediate Biblical justification from the Old Testament, which while his arguments are strong, they seem to argue for the wrong religion in some ways.  The Old Testament refers to the religion and government of the Hebrew people, rather than the New Testament which focuses on the latter chosen people – Christians.  Milton’s prose in this section contains many similar themes to his poetry, often providing Biblical and mythological references, but at times it feels like his argument is hidden behind his flowery language.  Perhaps I am being too hard on Milton because I had so much difficulty reading his prose, but I do have to give him credit for his rhetoric.  His arguments and reasons for his case are sometimes convoluted but he weaves such an intricate and beautiful representation of language that I sometimes got lost in them and his original case no longer took precedence over his presentation.  He holds an almost manipulative or hypnotic element because his argument is so intelligently worded that I could almost blindly agree with him.  It was only when I stepped back and analyzed what he was actually saying that I realized the concrete points of his argument, some of which are contradictory.  I really disliked his prose because I felt like I really had to sift through his poetic language to retrieve the points he was attempting to drive.  At the same time, I suppose that is the very reason why many political figures are respected – not because of the argument but because of how the argument is presented. 

 In conclusion, I love Milton’s poetry, I feel tricked by his prose, but I have to acknowledge that he is damn convincing and good at what he does.

Monday June 30th 2008, 12:42 pm
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One of the most interesting aspects of Milton’s poetry to me is the vast amount of allusions that occur in each.  Though his poetry often has a religious context, it filled with constant references to greek and roman mythology and consistently reminds me of other writers (though perhaps it is the other writers that are influenced by Milton rather than the other way around).  I will always remember how on my first day of Creative Writing almost two years ago Professor Rochelle told the class, “the two most important books that you will ever read are the Bible and Edith Hamilton’s Greek Mythology”.  I feel like this statement is manifested completely in reading works by Milton which constantly reference both.  One part of the elegy that particularly intrigued me is, “Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep Closed o’er the head of your loved Lycidas?” For some reason that line stood out to me and holds a sort of heartbreaking quality.  Often when a person loses a loved one, they question their god or higher being, sometimes bargaining or begging to know “why?”.  Throughout Lycidas it seems as though Milton does the same, though instead of questioning the God he believes in, he questions instead the mythical gods and creatures.  There is a certain sort of exasperation in that line, and by asking the nymphs why they didn’t stop the drowning, Milton shows that because he cannot change the past or explain why this accident happened, he must turn to mythical creatures to ease his sadness.  Something about that one question feels like a sort of overwhelming cry.

L’allegro and Il Penseroso
Monday June 30th 2008, 12:19 pm
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One of the most beautiful aspects of these poems is the musical cadence that occurs throughout.  After taking eight years of piano, itis impossible for me to read these without applying musical features to both.  The diction and syntax of the poems unite perfectly with their musical counterparts.

Allegro pieces are generally played at middle C or an octave higher. They consist often of staccato notes and have a playful and young sounding melody.  In L’allegro, the musical parallel is profound.  The poem plays with these same elements, containing moments that are youthful and joyous and seem to be relatively fast paced and exciting.  It is a daytime melody, the words feel like warmth and sunshine and build in a crescendo until the glee filled ending which explicitly involves the sound of  music and reads like a clear and fluid melody.  The description of the Elysian Fields and the audible hymn hold a sort of cinematic quality with images of frolicking in a meadow in the summer.

Il Penseroso holds the opposite musical quality, resembling something like a sonata.  It would be played at a lower octave with legato notes, slow and overlapping.  There is a certain sort of control and restrain connected to largo pieces, the notes are deep and broad and move almost like waves. The poem is essentially the same in its composition, there is a certain level of control and maturity associated with it, and it has a slow and steady rhythm throughout.  It is a night poem, dimmed by a lack of sunshine and in contrast to the crescendo of L’allegro, Il Penseroso has a diminuendo effect.  It ends not in the same sort of chaotic climax, but rather flows slowly to the end where it seems to fade.

I do not think that Milton is exclusively represented in either of the poems, but rather attempts to show the balance created from two opposite feelings. Though the poems depict very different imagery, there is an essential link between them.  However, I don’t think that an Il Moderato piece would necessarily depict Milton either.  It seems as though you need to experience the insenity of both L’Allegro and Il Penseroso to the extreme to create a silent inner Il Moderato.