The Italian Element in Milton's Verse

The Italian Element in Milton's Verse

The Italian Element in Milton's Verse

The Italian Element in Milton's Verse

Excerpt

This study was suggested by Dr. Johnson's observation that one of the sources of Milton's peculiar diction was 'his familiarity with the Tuscan poets: the disposition of his words is I think, frequently Italian; perhaps sometimes combined with other tongues'. It proved to be impossible to confine the analysis, as it proceeded, to Milton's diction, for both prosody and diction turned out to be related to certain Italian experiments of the sixteenth century. My endeavour has been to show that this Italian influence on Milton's verse is deeper than it had been thought to be, especially as it affects the epic poetry.

Yet Milton's debt remains of a limited nature; and it should be clear that, however fully it is brought out, it does little to change our idea of Milton's relationship either to his Greek and Roman models or to his English predecessors. Virgil and Homer have always been acknowledged to be Milton's chief mentors. So far from displacing them from this position, an investigation of the Italian element in his verse confirms them in it. Milton turned to those Italian poets of the Renaissance who shared his purpose of reproducing the beauties of ancient poetry in vernacular speech. What he found in them, and what he could not have found in any other modern language, was a variety of verbal and metrical devices which they had worked out with the help of earlier Italian poetry, but with their eyes fixed on the new literary ideals. These experiments were useful to Milton because they were in a modern language, nearer to his own in syntax and idiom than Greek of Latin . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.