Yet Once More: Verbal and Psychological Pattern in Milton

By Edward S. Le Comte | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE MEETING OF PROSE AND POETRY

THE PLACE WHFRE, if anywhere, we should expect Milton's prose to come verbally close to his poetry is in the Arguments to Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes. Actually, the Argument to the drama exhibits no connections of this sort (unless we count "captive . . . blind," S.A., 366, 1474) and the Arguments to the twelve books of the epic very little--extraordinarily little--as if Milton were on his guard against repetition. Where the Argument has "celestial motions" (viii) the poem has "planetary motions" (x, 658); where the Argument has "meditated guile" (ix) the poem has "meditated fraud' (ix, 55). "Future things" in prose (xi) is "future days" in verse (vi, 502; xi, 114, 357), "the fiery sword" (xii) "that flaming brand" (xii, 643). Naturally the subject, "Man's . . . disobedience," is stated the same way ( Arg. i; i, 1). It is, in fact, the Argument to the first book that has the most connections, but some of these are matter for detection rather than common observation, since the correspondences lie outside the first book. One recognizes "utter darkness" ( Arg. i; i, 72; v, 614) readily enough, and also "Satan, with his angels lying on the burning lake" ( Arg.i):

the Arch-fiend lay,
Chained on the burning lake (i, 209) we lay
Chained on the burning lake. (ii, 169; cf. 576)

But "array of battle" (i) does not exactly come in until xi, 644. "Driven out of Heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep" (i) is not narratively dealt with until Book vi, when God bids the Son,

drive them out From all Heaven's bounds into the utter deep. (715)

-82-

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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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