Reading Milton

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

I get tough questions this semester, which is excellent and refreshing. I run off to find an answer or a solution, but when I figure it I can only give back a hint:

. . . if no better place,
Thank him who puts me loath to this revenge
On you who wrong me not for him who wrongd.

Here’s one of those areas where line breaks get in the way and where meter is beating sense, and also nonstandard orthography.

Thank, in other words, God for this, not me. Satan is beginning to rationalize.

Why? We can read “me not” as the end of the clause and put commas between “loath to this revenge” so the sentence would read “Thank Him who made me what I am for assailing you, who never did anything to me, sure, but it was Him who wronged.”


One response to “Reading Milton”

  1. Mary Ellen says:

    This is a very slippery sentence. Just when I think it’s breaking clear, the words realign and I think, “No, it’s not God, it’s Adam he’s talking about.” The biggest slider is the end bit:

    “this revenge / On you who wrong me not for him who wrongd.”

    This revenge on you
    –who wrong me not–
    for him who wronged.

    Or?

    This revenge on you who wrong me
    –not for him who wronged.

    The first is an apology for screwing up Adam’s life. The second says, “I can’t get back at God, so I’m taking out my frustration on Adam, because he’s so happy and I’m miserable and can’t accept that.”

    And every once in a while, I almost catch it that Satan is apologizing to the future generations for Adam’s weaknesses. Can’t make that one stick, though. Yet.