Friday, December 12, 2008

A kind of Jingle in his Words

The 2008 Lady Margaret Lectures are available as mp3 files on the Christ's College site. Geoffrey Hill's lecture - entitled 'Milton as Muse' is a highlight.

Here is Addison in The Spectator, of Saturday, February 9, 1712, pointing out Milton's defects, although for us it helps reveal the similarities with Hill's work:

A second Fault in his Language is, that he often affects a kind of Jingle in his Words, as in the following Passages, and many others:

And brought into the World a World of woe

- Begirt th' Almighty Throne

Beseeching or besieging -

This tempted our attempt -

At one Slight bound high overleapt all bound

I know there are Figures of this kind of Speech, that some of the greatest Ancients have been guilty of it, and that Aristotle himself has given it a place in his Rhetorick among the Beauties of that Art. But as it is in itself poor and trifling, it is I think at present universally exploded by all the Masters of polite Writing.

So to Addison, Milton was no Master of polite Writing. One suspects that he might have considered Geoffrey Hill downright rude.

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