Yet Once More: Verbal and Psychological Pattern in Milton

By Edward S. Le Comte | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
FROM POEM TO POEM

WHATEVER the rationale for repetition within a single poem, there are numerous surprises in store for us when we proceed to consider Milton's borrowings from poem to poem. Embedded in his various English poems are about three hundred duplicated phrases that connect them in sometimes very odd ways and open up possibilities of increasing our knowledge of not only how the poet wrote but how he thought.

Aproximately one hundred of these phrases connect Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. To this group we naturally turn first, since, the Quaker Ellwood's perhaps too naive story apart, Milton himself clearly regarded his short epic as a sequel to his long one (which is not to say, as some critics fear, that Paradise Lost is incomplete). We have as initial evidence not only the title but the opening lines, modeled after those that the early editions of the Aeneid gave Renaissance readers to understand Virgil had prefixed to his epic:

I, who erewhile the happy garden sung,
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recovered Paradise to all mankind,
By one man's firm obedience fully tried . . . .

The self-echoing begins in the first line, with "the happy garden" (iii, 66). That it continues, despite the great difference in style between the two epics, is of course largely to be attributed to this position of Paradise Regained as a sequel, in which the same forces of good and evil are pitted against each other, on an earth the topography of which Paradise Lost has sometimes used the same words to describe. In Milton's words, here again are "devilish machination (s)" (vi, 504; P.R., 1, 181), here again is "the prince of darkness" (x, 383; 4, 441), "the subtle fiend" (ii, 815; x, 20; 1, 465; 2, 323), who, "fraught with envy" (v, 661), "with

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Yet Once More: Verbal and Psychological Pattern in Milton
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter I- Connections 3
  • Chapter II- Epic Reiteration 19
  • Chapter III- From Poem to Poem 48
  • Chapter IV- Prose to Prose 69
  • Chapter V- The Meeting of Prose and Poetry 82
  • Chapter VI- Latin Borrowings 103
  • Chapter VII- Women and Bishops 123
  • Chapter VIII- Parallels as Clues 142
  • Notes 153
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