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  • The Pattern of Milton’s Nativity Ode
  • Arthur Barker (bio)
Arthur Barker

Member of the English staff in Trinity College, has published a number of articles on Milton, and has in preparation a book on Milton’s prose writings.


1. Puritanism and Liberty, ed. A. S. P. Woodhouse (London, 1938), p. [38].

2. William Haller, The Rise of Puritanism (New York, 1938). P. 297.

3. In the lines appended to Elegia Septima in the 1645 edition of his Poems.

4. Especially Reason of Church Government, Works (Columbia), III, pp. 235–9; and Apology, Works, III, pp. 301–7.

5. “Milton’s Mosaic Inspiration” (University of Toronto Quarterly, VIII, p. 147).

6. The first stanza of “The Hymn” clearly refers to the sensuous imagery of Elegia quinta, In adventum veris.

7. Elegia sexta, II. 77–8, translated.

8. Apology, Works, III, p. 303.

9. Elegia sexta, II. 55 ff. He had already expressed his ambition to write upon such themes in At a Vacation Exercise, but without speaking of the required discipline.

10. See J. H. Hanford, “The Youth of Milton” (Studies in Shakespeare, Milton and Donne, University of Michigan Publications, Language and Literature, I, pp. 122–4); E. M. W. Tillyard, Milton, pp. 35–42; W. Haller, Op. cit.

11. Op. cit., pp. 37, 85. Similarly. G. W. Knight (The Burning Oracle, 1939, p. 64) thinks the Ode “somewhat fluid in its addition of stanza to stanza: there is no complex inter-knitting, that is, of central action with design, nor is such necessary,” A similar failure to recognize the design of Lycidas leads Professor Knight to describe that poem as “an accumulation of magnificent fragments” (p. 70).

12. Op. cit., pp. 80–5.

13. Mr Tillyard, finding it “difficult to describe the function” of this passage (II. 133–64), regards it as a transitional interlude, the third movement of the poem beginning with line 165. But the invocation of Alpheus in line 132 clearly marks the beginning of a third movement, and the flower passage performs for this movement exactly the same function as the similarly conventional passages of the preceding movements.

14. The unhappy personifications of Peace and Justice contain the only touches of colour in the nut two movements.

15. Milton wisely omits the announcement of Luke’s single angel which would have reduced the sharpness of the contrast.

16. Apology, Works, III, p. 303.

17. See the annotations by Verity (Pitt Press Series), Hughes (Paradise Regained…, Minor Poems). and Cook (Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, XV, pp. 307–68).

18. De re publica, 6.17; see S. G. S. Spaeth, Milton’s Knowledge of Music, appendix v.

19. Pyrhagoras, Elegia sexta, 1. 59.

20. Milton: Private Correspondence and Academic Exercises, trans. P. B. Tillyard, p. 66. The prolusion cannot be dated, but since Milton placed it second in the group it probably belongs to the beginning of his Cambridge career. Its connection with the Ode leads E. M. W. Tillyard to place it about 1629 (ibid., pp. xxvi–xxix).

21. Apolgy, Works, III, p. 306.

22. Hughes’ translation, II. 30–7. Cf. the apotheosis of Diodati in Epitaphium Damonis.

23. On the Renaissance identification of the muse of astronomy with the Holy Spirit as the inspirer of Christian poets, and on the place of Milton’s Paradise Lost invocations in this tradition, see Miss L. B. Campbell, “The Christian Muse” (Huntingdon Library Bulletin, 8).

24. Cf. Reason of Church Government, Works, III, p. 241.

25. Translation of a Latin note in Milton’s Commonplace Book, Works, XVIII, p. 139.



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