Article

‘A Mind of Most Exceptional Energy’: Verse Rhythm in Paradise Lost

John Creaser

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697885
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199697885.013.0025

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 ‘A Mind of Most Exceptional Energy’: Verse Rhythm in Paradise Lost

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The sketch of prosodic theory presented in this article helps to clarify how the blank verse of Paradise Lost is virtually a new beginning and transmits a quite un-Shakespearean energy. Prosodic analysis shows that John Milton ranges freely within his chosen limits: there is no iambic jog-trot, and the rhythms are endlessly varied. The verse of Paradise Lost is distinguished by the sustained length of its sentences, which are on average about ten lines long, despite the frequent use of short sentences for rhetorical effect. Its blank verse is a deliberate and distinctive creation, influenced by but antithetical to late Shakespeare, through working within a strict discipline. Prosody and syntax are almost inseparable in effect in Paradise Lost.

Keywords: Paradise Lost; John Milton; prosody; syntax; orthodox expectations; prosodic theory

Article.  9266 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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