How to Earn an Instant A for Participation

Part of my unorthodox background in literary study means that sometimes cool stuff — even the occasional craftsman’s touch — slips by me. I got another example of that in my Brit Survey class today. We wrapped up Paradise Lost, looking chiefly at Books 9 and 10, with a quick overview of the remainder.

As the lecture/discussion wrapped, a student raised his hand. “Dr. Mondo, have you ever noticed the acrostic in Book 9, lines 510-14?”

“Huh?” I riposted, flipping pages, where I saw that the acrostic actually extends to line 516, as Satan approaches Eve:

Scipio, the highth of Rome. With tract oblique
At first, as one who sought access, but feared
To interrupt, side-long he works his way.
As when a ship, by skilful steersmen wrought
Nigh river’s mouth or foreland, where the wind
Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail:
So varied he, and of his tortuous train […]

I had never known that — my student said he had run across it while reading a review of Milton’s masterpiece.

Well played, both to Mr. Milton and my student. Useful folks, students.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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