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Milton 3

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McGill University
English (Arts)
ENGL 316
Maggie Kilgour

Sept 8 *For next class: missing last line of "On the Death" (That till the world’s last end shall make thy name to live) - "Some of Milton's finest effects come from just this involving of what is deliberately excluded" Christopher Ricks, Milton's Grand Style - it's only by operating within constraints that one can be individual - writers conformed to tradition so that they could be part of the poetic community and to show off - you want to prove that you can do better than anyone else within the rules - Shakespearian sonnets move forward much better, and close with a couplet, which is nice - Petrarchic sonnets don't reach the same climax - the rhyming words are further apart - Milton is very interested in the relationship between beginnings and endings On The Morning of Christ's Nativity - pun: "on" both as an introduction to a poem, and as this being the day that he poem was written - this was the first poem in his anthology, though it was not the first that he wrote - Milton is working on two traditions: religious poems (like today's Christmas carols) - Virgil's 4th eclogue was written around the birth of Christ as well, seems to be searching for a time of peace at the end of a war. Virgil wrote of a child that would be born and bring peace on Earth - no one knows what child he was talking about, but future Christians saw him (though he was not Christian) as a prophet, prophesying the coming of Christ - Christianity did not try to break other religions; it just tried to absorb them. - Milton also takes and transforms pagan ritual - begins with rhyme royal (Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare) - at the end of a couplet, you get to take a little break -> this slows things down - reiterates the tension that though he would like to move forward, he need to hold himself back - speaking of God, but it's God in the form of a small child. Perhaps the poetic form may be too big for him - speaker says that he was there 1600 years ago. he's not talking about the magi; he's trying to butt in front of them - Milton is making up a form when he writes the second half - the length of the lines isn't even the same - there's something wrong with the world before Christ comes - speaking of winter, and saying that it's cold and bleak and infertile - he says that nature is nude -
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