Brief Return to "Seasons" in Paradise Lost
I don't recall if I mentioned that an article of mine will be appearing in a coming edition of the Milton Quarterly, maybe this October, and that's good news since this journal is the toughest one to publish in.
My article on the seasons in Paradise Lost, however, was rejected from a journal. In the words of one referee:
Despite the fairly extensive research . . . and clear prose, this is a dry piece . . . . Reading and pondering the astronomical matters that it raises fail to shake a nagging question, one that the essay never addresses: so what?I suppose I could be annoyed by that remark, but I had to laugh . . . and agree. I agreed with several other points as well, but I won't go into them here. The editor, incidentally, was "not personally in accord with this view" and would have voted to publish, but "conceded to the other three readers," who felt that "the subject did not strike . . . as sufficiently significant" for publication. I can't argue with a trinity of referees, who are probably right. I'll have to improve the article.
Just as a reminder, the reference to prelapsarian "seasons" in Paradise Lost occurs explicitly, literally in 4.640, 5.323, 7.342, 427, and 8.69. Reference to postlapsarian "seasons" in Paradise Lost occurs explicitly, literally in 10.678 and 1063.
I lack time this morning to develop this theme, and I first need to re-read my own article, but the basic problem that interested me was what Milton meant by prelapsarian seasons since he believed that the seasonal changes from spring to summer to fall to winter (and round and round) resulted from a postlapsarian tilting of the cosmic axis by 23.5 degrees as punishment for mankind's sin.
He couldn't avoid prelapsarian seasons, of course, for Genesis 1.14 of the creation account specifies:
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years . . . [KJV]Milton explicitly echos this verse in PL 7.339-342:
Again th' Almightie spake: Let there be LightsMy question remains the same. In Milton's prelapsarian paradise, what did "seasons" imply?
High in th' expanse of Heaven to divide
The Day from Night; and let them be for Signes,
For Seasons, and for Dayes, and circling Years . . .
Thomas H. Luxon, The Milton Reading Room, July 2011
I'll try to find time to return to this question . . .