Bridges' analysis of Milton's later work

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In his book Milton's Prosody, Robert Bridges continues his detailed analysis of the prosody of John Milton's Paradise Lost, by looking at the changes in Milton's practice with his later poems Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes.

Relaxation of the rules of elision[edit]

Bridges notes that Milton allows himself a wider range of elisions in the later poems. In particular he finds one instance apiece of elisions through SH and ST which he states are 'abhorrent' to the prosody of Paradise Lost.

The prosody and rhythm of Samson Agonistes[edit]

Inversions of the first two feet[edit]

Bridges notes Milton's increasing freedom with inversions. He cites a number of lines where both the first and second foot are inverted. Line 81 is particularly noteworthy, as it contains inversions of the first, second and fourth feet:

Irrecoverably dark, total Eclipse

Twelve-syllable lines[edit]

The twelve syllable, six stress line—also known as the alexandrine—only appears in the lyrical sections of the poem. Milton breaks with the traditional entirely regular caesura between syllables six and seven (that is, the 6 + 6 line). Bridges lists Milton's breaks:

  • 12 (no break) ... there are 7 of these
  • 6 + 6 ... there are 6
  • 7 + 5 ... there are 4
  • 8 + 4 ... there are 3
  • 4 + 5 + 3 ... only one
  • 5 + 7 ... only one
  • 5 + 3 + 4 ... only one

Bridges goes on to remark that some of these lines could be regarded as iambic pentameter with two extra-metrical syllables at the end, such as:

The Image of thy strength, and mighty minister (line 706, 6+6)