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William McCarthy’s “The Continuity of Milton’s Sonnets” Ryan Gutierrez.

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Presentation on theme: "William McCarthy’s “The Continuity of Milton’s Sonnets” Ryan Gutierrez."— Presentation transcript:

1 William McCarthy’s “The Continuity of Milton’s Sonnets” Ryan Gutierrez

2 Unity Milton wrote his sonnets over thirty years (1628 to 1658) Milton wrote his sonnets over thirty years (1628 to 1658) E.A.J. Honigmann argues that the sonnets constitute a loose unity from the continuity of subject and sometimes from theme. E.A.J. Honigmann argues that the sonnets constitute a loose unity from the continuity of subject and sometimes from theme. McCarthy’s view is that they are a sequence by virtue of large patterns or a structure of imagery having thematic implications developed by one implied author. McCarthy’s view is that they are a sequence by virtue of large patterns or a structure of imagery having thematic implications developed by one implied author. The sonnets take their unity from the form of Milton’s public and private life. The sonnets take their unity from the form of Milton’s public and private life.

3 McCarthy’s Pattern The pattern is a human career in its three conventional phases of youth, maturity, and old age. The pattern is a human career in its three conventional phases of youth, maturity, and old age. McCarthy would call the sonnets a archetype of Milton’s career rather than Milton’s own career. McCarthy would call the sonnets a archetype of Milton’s career rather than Milton’s own career. The Milton in the sonnets is an implied author whom Wayne Booth calls, “an ideal, literary, created version of the real man (Milton)” (p. 75). The Milton in the sonnets is an implied author whom Wayne Booth calls, “an ideal, literary, created version of the real man (Milton)” (p. 75).

4 McCarthy’s Suggestions/Arguments and Two principles of Order McCarthy suggests that Milton’s career gave the sonnets the main lines of their order and is itself reflected in them. McCarthy suggests that Milton’s career gave the sonnets the main lines of their order and is itself reflected in them. McCarthy also suggests that two principles of order seem applicable. McCarthy also suggests that two principles of order seem applicable. First, the stylization of human life into distinct “ages.” First, the stylization of human life into distinct “ages.” The second is directing the career of the poet. The second is directing the career of the poet.

5 McCarthy on the projection of a poet’s career in Milton’s Sonnets McCarthy refers to Sonnets 1 through 6 as “the poet’s awakening” where the poet schools himself in service of a higher power. (Youth) McCarthy refers to Sonnets 1 through 6 as “the poet’s awakening” where the poet schools himself in service of a higher power. (Youth) In Sonnets 8 through 18 the poet considers himself the spokesman and conscience of his community. (Maturity) In Sonnets 8 through 18 the poet considers himself the spokesman and conscience of his community. (Maturity) Sonnets 18 and on detail the poet closing his public career and the poet aspiring to prophecy. (Old Age) Sonnets 18 and on detail the poet closing his public career and the poet aspiring to prophecy. (Old Age)

6 What do Milton’s Sonnets according to McCarthy McCarthy suggests poets record human action and turned into poetry, today’s actions become lasting images of action. McCarthy suggests poets record human action and turned into poetry, today’s actions become lasting images of action. Milton is mimetic and wants readers to believe that the originals of figures in his works did attain the virtues which he praises them for. Milton is mimetic and wants readers to believe that the originals of figures in his works did attain the virtues which he praises them for. Milton’s strategy is to start with the historical person and then transform the person into an image of virtue for which he praises them for. Milton’s strategy is to start with the historical person and then transform the person into an image of virtue for which he praises them for.

7 Sonnet # 3 (As On A Rugged Moutain) YOUTH As, on a rugged mountain when As, on a rugged mountain when Twilight is darkening, the young Twilight is darkening, the young Shepherd girl, familiar with the spot, Shepherd girl, familiar with the spot, waters a strange and lovely little waters a strange and lovely little plant which spreads it leaves feebly plant which spreads it leaves feebly in the alien clime, remote from its in the alien clime, remote from its Fostering, native springtime; so on Fostering, native springtime; so on my prompt tongue Love calls forth my prompt tongue Love calls forth the novel flower of foreign speech, the novel flower of foreign speech, when I sing of you, graciously when I sing of you, graciously proud lady, and change the fair proud lady, and change the fair Thames for the fair Arno- not Thames for the fair Arno- not understood by my own good coun- understood by my own good coun- trymen. Love willed it, and at the trymen. Love willed it, and at the cost of others I know that Love cost of others I know that Love never willed anything in vain. never willed anything in vain. Ah, that my dull heart and hard Ah, that my dull heart and hard breast might be as good a soil for breast might be as good a soil for Him who plants from heaven. Him who plants from heaven.

8 Sonnet # 7 (How Soon Hath Time) MATURITY How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, Stol'n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year! My hasting days fly on with full career, But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th. Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth That I to manhood am arrived so near; And inward ripeness doth much less appear, That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th. Yet it be less or more, or soon or slow, It shall be still in strictest measure even To that same lot, however mean or high, Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav'n: All is, if I have grace to use it so As ever in my great Task-Master's eye. How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, Stol'n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year! My hasting days fly on with full career, But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th. Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth That I to manhood am arrived so near; And inward ripeness doth much less appear, That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th. Yet it be less or more, or soon or slow, It shall be still in strictest measure even To that same lot, however mean or high, Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav'n: All is, if I have grace to use it so As ever in my great Task-Master's eye.

9 Sonnet # 19 (When I consider…) Old Age When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest He returning chide; "Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?" I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need Either man's work or His own gifts. Who best Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed, And post o'er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait." When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest He returning chide; "Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?" I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need Either man's work or His own gifts. Who best Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed, And post o'er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait."

10 Works Cited McCarthy, William. "The Continuity of Milton's Sonnets." PMLA 92.1 (1977): JSTOR. Monmouth College Library, Monmouth. 20 Feb McCarthy, William. "The Continuity of Milton's Sonnets." PMLA 92.1 (1977): JSTOR. Monmouth College Library, Monmouth. 20 Feb Hughes, Merritt Y. Complete Poems and Major Prose. Indianapolis: Hackett Company Inc., Hughes, Merritt Y. Complete Poems and Major Prose. Indianapolis: Hackett Company Inc.,


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