That Two‐Handed Engine and the Millennium at the Door

John Leonard

in Young Milton

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698707
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191740756 | DOI:
That Two‐Handed Engine and the Millennium at the Door

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The two‐handed engine of Lycidas is not a winnowing fan (as recently argued by David Sansone) but more likely a threshing‐flail since flails (unlike fans or oars or sieves) smite the grain (not just toss it) and so accord better with the words ‘smite once and smite no more’. Critics should be mindful that Milton's phrase ‘at the door’ is not, and never has been, a mystery. A common biblical locution that invariably refers to the imminent Last Judgement and not to a physical door, the term would have caused no bewilderment whatsoever to a seventeenth‐century reader and was pellucid to Milton's early editors.

Keywords: crux; biblical sources; engine; door; threshing‐flail; literary criticism; biblical locution

Chapter.  12121 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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