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Milton and the Ineffable$
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Noam Reisner

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572625

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572625.001.0001

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Milton's Poems 1645: the problem with soaring

Milton's Poems 1645: the problem with soaring

(p.105) 3 Milton's Poems 1645: the problem with soaring
Milton and the Ineffable

Noam Reisner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

After a brief reconsideration of Milton's well-documented impatience with, or even fear of, ineffable mystery in more general terms, and his place in the intellectual apophatic tradition traced so far, this chapter examines the shape and development of Milton's prophetic and pastoral voices in Poems 1645. It focuses in particular on the elusive presence of ineffable mystery and rapture in the ‘Nativity Ode’, ‘The Passion’, ‘At a Solemn Music’, A Masque, ‘Lycidas’ and ‘Epitaphium Damonis’, in the order they appear in the volume. It explores the difficulty Milton faced as a young devout Protestant, still unsure of his own radical ideas, in resolving the conceptual contradiction between his religious belief in the power and perspicuity of words, and his desire to capture that which is beyond words in rapturous poetic flight.

Keywords:   Milton, mystery, Poems 1645, Protestant, Nativity Ode, The Passion, A Masque, Lycidas, prophetic voices, pastoral voices

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