October 6, 2009

Today’s Disgusting Tidbit of Milton Lore

From The Book of Memory, by Mary Carruthers:

Metaphors which use digestive activities are so powerful and tenacious that digestion should be considered another basic functional model for the complementary activities of reading and composition, collection and recollection. Unlike the heart, no medical tradition seems to have placed any of the sensory-processing functions in the stomach, but “the stomach of memory” as a metaphoric model had a long run. Milton, his biographers agree, mentally composed a store of verses daily, which he then dictated to a secretary. […] And Milton’s anonymous biographer, speaking also of his mental composition, remarks that if the poet’s secretary were late, “he would complain, saying he wanted to be milked.” (207)

I now want to write a poem/song and title it “Milking Milton.” (Actually, I like the title “Milk Me, Milton!” better, but that sort of gets the quote backwards…)


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