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 Front Cover
 Title Page
 Acknowledgement
 Author's note
 Table of Contents
 Some concepts and definitions
 Common varieties of elision
 John Milton's practice
 Milton's quantitative use...
 Milton's qualitative use of...
 Exceptions to the principles of...
 Degree of syllabic regularity in...
 Feminine endings and syllabized...
 Elisions in Paradise Regained
 Elisions in Comus and Samson...
 Summary of Milton's practice
 Appendix
 Tables
 Graph
 Back Matter


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Milton's elisions
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Acknowledgement
        Acknowledgement 1
        Acknowledgement 2
    Author's note
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Some concepts and definitions
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Common varieties of elision
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
    John Milton's practice
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Milton's quantitative use of elision
        Page 24
        Page 25
    Milton's qualitative use of elision
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    Exceptions to the principles of elision
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    Degree of syllabic regularity in Paradise Lost
        Page 40
    Feminine endings and syllabized -ed endings
        Page 41
    Elisions in Paradise Regained
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
    Elisions in Comus and Samson Agonistes
        Page 46
    Summary of Milton's practice
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
    Appendix
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
    Tables
        Page 65
        Page 66
    Graph
        Page 67
    Back Matter
        Page 68
Full Text

















MILTON'S ELISIONS
by Robert O. Evans


University of Florida Monographs
A
/ HUMANITIES No. 21
F6 3 Mu
27o4/2
cb-b
















UNIVERSITY
OF FLORIDA
LIBRARIES


COLLEGE LIBRARY


























MILTON'S ELISIONS

by Robert O. Evans


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA PRESS / GAINESVILLE, 1966










EDITORIAL COMMITTEE


Humanities Monographs


T. WALTER HERBERT, Chairman
Professor of English

G. PAUL MooRE
Professor of Speech

CHARLES W. MORRIS
Professor of Philosophy

REID POOLE
Professor of Music

C. A. ROBERTSON
Professor Emeritus of English

MELVIN E. VALK
Associate Professor of German

AUBREY L. WILLIAMS
Graduate Research Professor
of English


COPYRIGHT O 1966 Y THE BOARD OF
COMMISSIONERS OF STATE INSTITUTIONS
OF FLORIDA

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
CATALOG CARD No. 66-63842

PRINTED BY ROSE PRINTING COMPANY, INC.
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA


L. (

















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


M uch of the material that follows ap-
peared originally, in somewhat differ-
ent form, in my University of Florida doc-
toral dissertation, "The Theory and Practice
of Metrical Elision from Chaucer to Milton,
with special emphasis on Milton." The pri-
mary thesis of that paper was to demonstrate
that poetic elision was a deliberate prosodic
practice, consisting of a series of devices that
were traditionally passed on from one genera-
tion of poets to another. The purpose of this
monograph, to explain as fully as possible just
what Milton's practices were, is different.
I am deeply indebted to Professor Ants
Oras, who directed my dissertation and gen-
erously contributed advice for this work,
without whose kind encouragement and as-
tute assistance this monograph could never
have been written. I owe another kind of debt
to my wife whose patient encouragement,
especially through the long evenings in which
I gathered the material, has been invaluable.
I am also grateful to the University of Ken-
tucky Research Fund and to President John








W. Oswald, for kindly granting me a summer
research fellowship which permitted me to set
aside the time necessary to complete the work.
Finally I am deeply indebted to the Graduate
School of the University of Florida, both for
the time and patience spent on my education
and for making possible the publication of this
monograph.
ROBERT O. EVANS
Lexington, Kentucky
1966































AUTHOR'S NOTE



For reasons which will become clear to the
reader this study is based on the "New
Edition" of the Poetical Works of John Mil-
ton, edited by H. C. Beeching, "with Transla-
tions of the Italian, Latin and Greek Poems
from the Columbia University Edition and a
Reader's Guide by W. Skeat" (London: Ox-
ford University Press, 1938, first printed in
1904).











CONTENTS


1. Some Concepts
and Definitions 1
2. Common Varieties
of Elision 5
3. John Milton's Practice 12
4. Milton's Quantitative
Use of Elision 24
5. Milton's Qualitative
Use of Elision 26
6. Exceptions to the
Principles of Elision 37
7. Degree of Syllabic
Regularity in
Paradise Lost 40
8. Feminine Endings and
Syllabized -ed Endings 41
9. Elisions in
Paradise Regained 42
10. Elisions in Comus
and Samson Agonistes 46
11. Summary of
Milton's Practice 47
Appendix 51
Tables 65
Graph 67
































The measure is English Heroic Verse with-
out Rime. .. Not without cause therefore
some both Italian and Spanish Poets of prime
note have rejected Rime both in longer and
shorter Works, as have also long since our best
English Tragedies, as a thing of it self, to all
judicious eares, triveal and of no true musical
delight; which consists only in apt Numbers,
fit quantity of Syllables, and the sense var-
iously drawn out from one Verse to another.
-from a note "The Verse," added by
Milton in 1668 to the remaining
copies of the first edition of
Paradise Lost.








1. SOME CONCEPTS
AND DEFINITIONS



Metrical or poetic elision is a specialized technical term that
does not mean exactly what its etymology may suggest,
particularly to one whose introduction to the subject comes
through the classical languages. In this context it is strictly a
prosodic term, though a qualifying adjective like metrical or
poetic is not really sufficient to distinguish the technical meaning
from the ordinary, dictionary one. There are good reasons why
certain confusions exist about the term, for the language of pros-
ody is not at all a scientific, exact language, like that of chemistry,
for instance, where the terms are clear and well defined-to be
memorized by all the practitioners of the art. On the contrary,
prosodists (or perhaps metrists) and poets, those who practice
prosody, are inclined to invent their language as they go along,
often with considerable scorn for prior definitions. Even a hasty
examination of the metrical handbooks of, say, Italy, France, or
Spain will exhibit areas of violent contradiction in terminology,
caused in the main by one writer's referring to a certain thing by
a particular technical term while another may mean something
quite different by the same words, sometimes even something
diametrically opposite. Thus, it is important from the beginning
to be extremely careful of definitions and the concepts on which
they rest.
Thus elision, which is sometimes defined as the "cutting out"
of something in words, is concerned with the special study of
what happens to syllables in the flow of speech and, by extension,
to what happens to syllables in the flow of the poetic line. It is
furthermore concerned with the very nature of the syllable itself,
a concept so simple every child can grasp it almost at once yet
so complicated even the experts cannot agree about it. As A. Ro-
setti has said: "La definition et la delimitation de la syllabe
n'aurait pas suscite autant de discussions contradictoires, si l'on
s'6tait adresse dis le debut a la reality objective, en consultant







MILTON S ELISIONS
l'inscription de la voix parlee. Mais I'on a proceed autre-
ment. .. ."1
There are indeed at least five theories about the nature of the
syllable that find adherents today: the Sievers theory that a syl-
lable is characterized by a separate puff of breath, the Saussure
that the defining characteristics are an opening and closing of the
oral cavity, the Tomas theory concerning the single peak of
sonority, Grammont's theory of muscular tension, and De
Groot's idea that a syllable is a rhythmical grouping. With so
much trouble defining what we are talking about, no wonder
there is confusion when we try to describe particular things that
happen to the syllable under specified conditions. In a study of
syllables elision is the generic term referring to the cutting out or
slurring of a syllable in the flow of speech. In its broadest sense
elision includes everyday speech contractions, and sometimes pe-
culiarities of a poet's private pronunciation which may be dia-
lectal or idiosyncratic. This is the sense in which the term has
been used since the Renaissance, by writers like Bentley, Guest,
and others.2 Their meaning is undoubtedly an extension of what
English scholars learned from Greek grammar, where elision,
strictly speaking, is "the expulsion of a short vowel before a word
beginning with a vowel"; it may or may not be indicated in the
Greek MSS, but in any case "it seems to have occurred in speak-
ing."3 Robert Bridges objects to the use of the word in its ex-
tended meaning on the grounds that it is too broad and that it is
an inaccurate description of certain phonetic happenings: "Since
the word elision signifies the 'cutting out' there would seem an
impropriety in using it to describe the condition of syllabic vow-
els which are not truly elided or cut out of the pronunciation."4
There is a hint in this statement that Bridges thinks there is a sort

1. A. Rosetti, Sur la Theorie de la Syllabe (The Hague: Mouton & Co.,
1959), 11. (This pamphet is No. IX of the series Janua Linguarum, printed
originally in Bucharest in 1958.)
2. Ants Oras, Milton's Editors and Commentators from Patrick Hume to
Henry John Todd (Oxford, 1931) and Edwin Guest, A History of English
Rhythms, 2 vols. (London, 1838).
3. H. W. Smyth, A Greek Grammar for Colleges (New York, 1920), 23.
4. Robert Bridges, Milton's Prosody (Oxford, 1921), 9.







CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS
of elision which is not really a cutting out or syllabic reduction
of sounds. In fact one of Bridges' major contributions to the
theory of elision is that there may be elisions (as poetic devices)
that are really nothing more than a highly imaginative fiction,
places in the verse where no real reduction of sounds occurs but
where the mind, accustomed to the poetic device, reacts as if
elision had actually taken place. In addition to this fictive elision
Bridges attempts to demonstrate that the phenomenon differs
from that in Greek because in English it is permissive. That is, it
may or may not happen, depending on the meter. In Greek it
seems always to have occurred in speech, though the MSS that
have come down to us are highly inconsistent about indicating it
with an apostrophe. Bridges' theories are based on his own ob-
servations and on his reading of Milton aloud. Their great merit
is that they free us from the necessity of explaining all cases
where an apparent extrametrical syllable seems to exist in terms
of complete and real phonetic foreshortenings. What Bridges is
really arguing is that elision is a conscious poetic device rather
than always an actual phonetic phenomenon.
His objection to the term elision may be a sound one, but in its
place he proposes that we substitute that Latin term synaloepha.
It is, he says, "commonly used by correct grammarians."' It is-
in grammars-though the Greek term crasis is found more fre-
quently, but perhaps Bridges is attempting to substitute a term
too limited in its meaning, for synaloepha has come to refer espe-
cially to the dropping of a final vowel before a word beginning
with a vowel, semivowel, or aspirate. Bridges is right about his
Greek, however, for there synaloepha meant the blending to-
gether of two adjacent vowels by elision, crasis, synizesis-some-
times indicated in the spelling of the MS and sometimes not, but
always pronounced. What has happened is that, in the borrowing
from Greek to Latin to English, the two terms elision and syna-
loepha have exchanged meanings; the more general has become
the more particular and incidentally the less familiar. Synaloepha
is not commonly understood except by specialists; elision, on the
other hand, is known to nearly everybody, and there is usually a
5. Ibid.








MILTON S ELISIONS
good, practical definition of it in our handbooks: "Elision: The
omission of a part of a word for ease of pronunciation, for eu-
phony, or to secure a desired rhythmic effect. This is most often
accomplished by the omission of a final vowel as 'th' orient' for
'the orient' but elision also occurs between syllables of a word as
'ne'er' for 'never.' "6
6. Thrall and Hibbard, A Handbook to Literature (New York, 1936), 140.


4








2. COMMON VARIETIES
OF ELISION



T hough elision is a poetic device, all poets are not equally
skilled in its use; therefore, some poets may overwork one
variety or another while others develop a more balanced prac-
tice. Moreover, it can be noted, in a few cases it is not possible to
classify a particular elision at all; that is, some elisions seem to fit
the conditions of more than one type. However, by observation
and grouping, the common or traditional types may be isolated;
these account for more than 95 per cent of all the elisions in Eng-
lish verse between Chaucer and Milton. Others, that may be
thought of as exceptions, are mostly quite easy to describe,
though a few occur so infrequently that it is not possible to be
sure whether we are observing a rare variety of elision or a real
extrametrical syllable (sometimes perhaps an unintentional one).
In Milton's Prosody Bridges finds eight varieties of elision.
While there is little reason to quarrel with his careful observa-
tions, these classifications are somewhat untrustworthy because
they are based on his private, self-taught notions of phonetics.
His classifications are so complex, and often so unsound, that
they have been severely criticized. Some writers, however, have
made considerable use of them. For example, S. Ernest Sprott
reduces Bridges' eight varieties to two inclusive categories-con-
tractions and the synaloepha of vowels.' But for purposes of
comparison it is desirable to break down the categories further
than Sprott does. Practically all of the common elisions in Eng-
lish verse from Chaucer to Milton may be grouped into the fol-
lowing varieties: (1) hypermonosyllables; (2) elision over
liquids and nasals, and sometimes sibilants, where they are inter-
vocalic; (3) elision by synaloepha of a final vowel preceding a
word beginning with a vowel, semivowel, or aspirate; (4) elision
between contiguous vowels (either a common speech situation
1. S. E. Sprott, Milton's Art of Prosody (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1953), 54-
98. I refer to chapter VI, "Supernumerary Syllables and Elision."







MILTON'S ELISIONS
or a sort of poetic, fictional diphthongization); (5) speech con-
tractions themselves; (6) elision by considering a final inflection
as non-syllabic (usually -es, -ed, -eth, possibly -ing, and in some
cases a final liquid or nasal); (7) rarely, those few special items
where the principle is not readily discernible. As Milton does not
indulge in the last category, we may omit further consideration
of it here; speech contractions are also too well understood to
require attention.
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: Bridges explains these as words which
undergo what he calls a -y or -w glide, but this explanation is
phonetically very unsatisfactory. In fact hypermonosyllables are
that class of words whose pronunciation in English might histor-
ically be either monosyllabic or disyllabic, words like heaven or
power. For example, in II Penseroso Milton writes:
Whose power hath / a true / consent (line 95)

The meter indicates that power in the above line is a disyllable.
But in Paradise Lost it is quite consistently a monosyllable, as
it often is in Spenser and Shakespeare:
His ut/most power / with adverse power / opposed (1.103)
ELISION OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: When a liquid, nasal, or
sometimes a sibilant is intervocalic, elision may occur, usually of
the vowel preceding the consonant. Generally neither vowel is
stressed, but even when one is, elision may still take place; as with
Milton's monosyllabic use of the word spirit. An example of an
elision of the vowel preceding a liquid might be:
As one / who long / in populous Cit/y pent (IX.445)
Bridges considers this to be a real elision probably pronounced
populous, and Wyld reports the similar loss of an unstressed
vowel in abslate for absolute in 1641.2 In Milton this could occur
even between words.
In some cases it is not possible to state with certainty which
vowel is elided:
2. H. C. Wyld, A History of Modern Colloquial English (New York, 1937),
408.
6







COMMON VARIETIES
Not distant far / from thence / a mur/muring sound
(IV.453)
Here we find an intervocalic liquid; Bridges with his greater
number of categories calls this elision according to the "Rule of
R." It seems very likely that Milton considered the elision to
concern the initial vowel, with a pronunciation something like
murmuring in mind, but it is just conceivable that the following
vowel could undergo elision, murmur'n.
ELISION BY SYNALOEPHA: Strictly speaking, synaloepha is the
suppression of hiatus (that is, vowel clash) between words by the
cutting out or partial reduction of a vowel, rather than suppres-
sion of vowel clash by the insertion of a hiatus-filler (the favor-
ite textbook example, an adder). Commonly words ending in a
vowel, usually prepositions and articles, elide the final vowel of
the first word before a word beginning with another vowel, semi-
vowel, or aspirate:
Above / th'Ao/nian Mount / while it / pursues (I.15)

(There is another elision in the third foot which should not be
mistaken for an example of the variety under discussion.) It
should be pointed out that few, if any, English poets are very
consistent about indicating synaloepha orthographically. At one
time they may spell both words fully when the meter indicates
an elision; at another time they may write an apostrophe (e.g.,
th') where none is intended. In Milton such diacritical marks
might be the fault of his amanuensis, but in fact they occur often
enough in English poetry to lead us to suspect that the poet him-
self was often responsible.
ELISION BETWEEN CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: Two different kinds
of elision fall under this category. First, we should consider com-
mon speech situations. For instance, the suffix -tion, originally
disyllabic, underwent a sound change, the result of which made
it monosyllabic. In Marlowe's and Shakespeare's time the suffix
is generally used monsyllabically, though Renaissance poets, par-
ticularly Spenser, often reserved the license to revert to an older
pronunciation when it suited their purposes:







MILTON S ELISIONS
Thus grace/less holds / he dis/puta/ti-on
(The Rape of Lucrece, 246)

In view of such practices, when a Renaissance poet uses the suf-
fix monosyllabically, we may consider it an example of elision,
because the possibility of an archaic, disyllabic pronunciation
was always open to him, even if he did not exactly have it in
mind while writing. But whether a prosodist should count -tion
suffixes in his statistical tabulations is quite another matter. As
Shakespeare, for example, usually used this suffix monosyllabi-
cally and as that was the current pronunciation, it would seem
desirable not to clutter our tabulations with a large number of
-tion instances, even though Shakespeare might have thought of
each one of them as a matter of poetic elision (as unlikely as
that may be).
In some other cases we seem more likely to be dealing with a
poetic device than a linguistic circumstance. For example, in the
suffix -ience, probably disyllabic in the seventeenth century as it
is in American speech today, the first syllable is very short. It
does not require much imaginative license for a poet to consider
the entire suffix to be monosyllabic. In fact, the initial vowel
need not actually disappear, or be reduced to a semivowel as it
often is today, for a poet to treat the suffix as an elision. Examples
occur frequently, as in Samson Agonistes for instance:
Now of / my own / experience, not / by talk (line 188)
NON-SYLLABIC INFLECTIONS: In English there is a tendency for
final inflections to lose their syllabic quality and sometimes even-
tually to disappear. Thus, thinkest becomes thinks, and doeth
(at least in most dialects) becomes doth before it gives way to
does. Again passed has long since been monosyllabic, though we
are all familiar with the conscious archaism with which some
poets, notably Spenser, reattribute syllabic quality to the inflec-
tion. In modern printing this is often indicated by an accent mark
over the inflectional vowel. A close study of poetry indicates
that the matter was not entirely one of linguistic change; it was
often a poetic device. Perhaps it arose at a time when the pro-






COMMON VARIETIES
nunciation of the inflections was unstable, and poets-noting an
instability in common speech-took poetic advantage and elided
whenever the meter offered a suitable opportunity. For example,
in Paradise Lost Milton wrote:
He trusted to / have e/qual'd the / most High (1.40)
The inflection in the fourth foot no longer has any syllabic value.
However, Milton often rehabilitated the inflections in adjectives
and participles (though not in finite verb forms), as he did with
thron-ed and fix-ed. He did not do this with trusted (in line 40,
above) because it is a finite verb form and also because the coin-
cidence of two dentals would make a monosyllabic pronuncia-
tion preposterous.
Not all poets used this device in the same fashion; some elided
only certain inflections, while others preferred different ones.
The loss of syllabic value in forms ending in -ed occurred early,
and words ending with a non-syllabic inflection, the list of which
is very long, were probably pronounced that way at the time
Shakespeare and Milton wrote. Thus, it would not be desirable
to consider all non-syllabic -ed forms as examples of poetic eli-
sion. It is much easier, and probably more accurate, to think of
syllabic -ed as another device, a conscious archaism as it clearly
was with Spenser.
With other inflections it is not always possible to ascertain
whether a poet was simply writing a familiar idiom or whether
he was constructing a poetic device. For instance, it is particu-
larly hard for modern readers to recognize the inflection -eth
(sometimes -ith) as a potential elision, though with Skelton and
Wyatt particularly it was a genuine poetic device usually spelled
with the vowel even when it was meant to be elided. Perhaps it
is especially hard to recognize because it was an elision that was
not carried forward through the sixteenth century. Somewhere
between Wyatt and Surrey that inflection disappeared in the
language of the poets and was replaced by the sibilant. And be-
cause we are familiar mostly with the elisions of the later poets
(and then only the very common ones), we are likely to consider
a non-syllabic occurrence of -eth to represent an extrametrical
9






MILTON S ELISIONS
syllable, even when that is not the case at all. The argument may
be clinched by tracing that inflection through the Middle Scots
poets, for there the sibilant replaced -eth much earlier, and we
find the syllabic -es form, which was elidible in the same fashion
that poets in the South used when they dealt with -eth.
The categories described above are based simply on observa-
tion of prosodic phenomena, rather than principles conceived
and stated by Renaissance writers or critics. The writers them-
selves, with certain exceptions such as Ben Jonson who had a
critical turn of mind, seldom discussed these devices, which were
perhaps so commonplace to them that they felt little need to
furnish explanations. Occasionally one rhetorician or another
would incorporate some of the devices into his rhetorical scheme,
usually it would seem in order to approach completeness. But the
lack of discussion of these matters in Renaissance works certainly
does not indicate that either the writers or the critics were in the
dark about them. On the whole Italian critics were rather more
voluble than English,3 but even in England the devices are some-
times referred to as if they were matters of familiar knowledge.
George Gascoigne, for example, wrote: "This poetical licence is
a shrewde fellow, and couereth many faults in a verse; it maketh
words longer, shorter, of mo sillables, of fewer, newer, older,
truer, falser; and, to conclude, it turkeneth all things at pleasure,
for example ydone for done, adowne for down, orecome for
overcome, tane for taken, power for powre, heauen for heaun."'
There is nevertheless some danger involved in any sort of clas-
sification, even that based on observation, for the poets them-
selves probably took no such pains but instead formed one eli-
sion after another by a process of analogy. That this was the
primary method of formation seems to be indicated by the fact
that the later a work the more complex are likely to be its eli-
sions. I do not mean that later poets employed more categories

3. An excellent summary of the Italian position, with extensive quotations
from Trissino, may be found in an article by George A. Kellogg, "Bridges'
Milton's Prosody and Renaissance Metrical Theory," PMLA (March, 1953),
268-85.
4. G. Gregory Smith (ed.), Elizabethan Critical Essays (Oxford, 1904), I,
53-54.
10







COMMON VARIETIES
but rather that their lists of elidible words are longer. But we
cannot consider this evidence conclusive, for poets were under
no orders to employ all the elisions they could conceive, nor
even to elide at all. Moreover, a favorite word elided in one poem
might not suit a poet in another, or simply because it was a poetic
device he might tire of it and allow it to fall into neglect. Milton,
for example, used feminine endings in abundance in his earlier
poems, largely abandoned them in the first half of Paradise Lost,
and turned to them again, though with considerable restraint, in
the last half of that poem and in Paradise Regained, and finally,
employed them in profusion again in Samson Agonistes. Then, in
the eighteenth century the whole practice of poetic elision fell
into disuse. Milton's editors, like Bentley, knew of the practice,
of course, but largely condemned it.' Thelwall insisted that elid-
ible syllables "should never in typography or utterance be super-
seded by the barbarous expedient of elision."6 Writers and critics
of the Renaissance would have thought this heresy.
5. Oras, 67.
6. Guest, I, 179.


11








3. JOHN MILTON'S PRACTICE


With Milton the syllabic tradition reaches its culmination.
Accordingly, Milton is the most rewarding poet to exam-
ine with regard to these matters, but there is still another reason
for directing our attention to him. More has been written about
Milton's prosody than about the prosody of all the other Eng-
lish poets put together. Moreover, though much of the best
thinking about prosodic problems has been accomplished by Mil-
ton scholars, much also has been written, and continues to be
written, that is questionable. For example, F. T. Prince in 1954,
arguing for a greater influence on Milton from the Italians than
has hitherto been recognized-in a book that otherwise possesses
many merits-flatly denies the existence of any prosodical
schemes in Milton's versification governing the treatment of syl-
lables. A study of the Italian models, he says, makes "unnecessary
the construction of any such system of prosody as that which
Robert Bridges attempted and which is generally considered in-
dispensable by scholars."' Prince's chapter is confusing because
he fails to keep separate the problems concerning accent and
those dealing with the number of syllables in the verses, and ac-
cordingly issues a blanket denial that any such problems exist
at all. The verse unit in Milton, and the Italians, he claims, was
simply the line itself. But interesting as this theory is, it has not
managed to persuade many writers. Seymour Chatman, in one of
the most recent statements on the subject, says, "By distinguish-
ing between scansion and metrical analysis, we may conceive of
either performance, with or without scansional elision, without
denying the metrical existence of elision at this point."2 Indeed,
if English poets had not been concerned with meter, and accord-
ingly with the number of syllables within the line, English
poetry could hardly have developed as it did. Moreover, Milton,
1. F. T. Prince, The Italian Element in Milton's Verse (Oxford, 1954), 139.
2. Seymour Chatman, A Theory of Meter (The Hague: Mouton & Co.,
1965), 106.
12







MILTON'S PRACTICE
no matter what his debt to the Italians (and it was large), drew
his basic prosodic techniques from a strong English tradition.8
To begin with, when Milton began to compose Paradise Lost,
he was faced, perhaps more acutely than anyone before him, with
the problem of securing variation in the line. Having chosen to
write in the orthodox metrical fashion, he largely solved this
problem by employing devices that were ready to his hand. But
he brought to his task such great genius and such an infinite
and painstaking capacity for attention to fine detail that it be-
came almost impossible for a lesser poet to emulate, much less
equal, him.
Through the years so much has been written about Milton's
prosody, and, since Robert Bridges, so much about his tech-
niques of metrical elision, that it would be impossible to deal
with all of it even briefly. Certain theories, however, require
commentary, especially Bridges' which, despite all the contro-
versy on the subject, remains the most important statement of
Milton's practice, though it was by no means the first attempt
to describe it.
ROBERT BRIDGES' THEORY: Bridges' final statements are to be
found in the 1921 edition of Milton's Prosody, but if one traces
his way through the earlier editions and reads Bridges' articles
he will find that Bridges altered his position from time to time.4
These changes led Prince to conclude that Bridges "had deep
mental reservations concerning his method of analysis."5 But the
evidence does not quite support that implication. Bridges, a poet
himself in what was perhaps a rather vulnerable position, who
may have first stated his findings too hastily, was soundly at-
tacked for his views and, as a result, never ceased his work of
prosodical analysis. Moreover, Prince overstates his objections,
as many of Bridges' critics had already done, and his conclusion
that the English decasyllable (also called the iambic pentameter
line) does not exist is untenable.
3. Robert Owen Evans, "The Theory and Practice of Poetic Elision from
Chaucer to Milton, with special emphasis on Milton" (University of Florida
dissertation, 1954). (Available in University of Michigan Microfilm series.)
4. Robert Bridges, "A Letter to a Musician on English Prosody," The Musi-
cal Antiquary, I (October, 1909), 13-27. 5. Prince, 136.
13







MILTON S ELISIONS
What Bridges did was scan the corpus of Milton's poetry very
carefully listing all the seeming irregularities. Unfortunately he
lived in an age when the Renaissance traditions had been so far
forgotten that all situations involving metrical elision seemed to
him, at first, to be irregularities, requiring either that one accept
them as instances of extrametrical syllables or provide some sort
of alternative explanation. Bridges chose to seek an answer to the
questions that arose concerning the number of syllables in the
line, and later he extended his analysis to include problems of ac-
cent and other matters. So far as Bridges' opinions of Milton's
treatment of syllables are concerned, there is room for objection
-but not to his methods. Bridges isolated all of the lines that
seemed to him to have more than the required ten syllables and
then, by comparing the actual instances, attempted to formulate
a set of principles which could explain what Milton had been
doing. In the main he forgot, as so many other prosodists have
done, that what Milton had been doing was what the poets
before him had done. Milton was operating in a well-known
tradition. In his zeal to formulate principles, which he called
"rules," Bridges turned to phonetics. Unfortunately, he was not
a trained nor astute phonetician; he might have done better to
adhere to descriptive principles that could have been tested by
observation. Moreover, there is no reason to suspect that Milton,
like Bridges, sought for complex phonetic explanations of any
of his elisions. On the contrary, he constructed his devices on
the models he found in Spenser and Shakespeare.
Bridges invented eight classifications of elision, and the pho-
netic principles that sometimes support them are highly original.
In short, these classifications may be summarized in the follow-
ing manner.
1. Vowel Elisions of Common Speech: By this Bridges refers
to words containing contiguous vowels that were originally syl-
labic in common speech (e.g., obedience). Most of the words
he discusses in this category end in -ian or -ion. He points out a
few cases where the vowels are still syllabic in Milton (e.g.,
consci-ence, Comus, 212), but in most cases a disyllabic pro-
nunciation has been replaced in British English by a monosyllabic
14







MILTON'S PRACTICE
one. Further, he discusses in this category words that have not
"established absolutely fixed values in English prosody."6 These
include hypermonosyllables, which he classifies as -y or -w
glides. His examples of -y glides include fire, desire, tire; -w
glides power. But it is never quite clear what Bridges meant by
a glide, and sometimes he becomes very confusing.
2. The Poetic Elision of Vowels: About these Bridges says:
"When two vowel sounds come together, then if the first of the
two has a tail glide, there may be an elision, i.e. the sounds may
be glided together so as to make a sound which can be reckoned
as one syllable in the disyllabic verse .. 'Diphthongs' are in-
cluded and -h is often considered as no letter."' Again he speaks
of two types of glides, but one difficulty with the category is
that under it he considers too many examples of elision. For in-
stance, common synaloepha, like so oft and to ask, are coupled
with elisions concerning contiguous vowels in the same word,
like virtuous.
3. Elision Through -H: This category refers to only one
variety of synaloepha, the elision between two words, the first
ending in a vowel, the second beginning with an aspirate. He also
tries to explain this as a glide, though in fact no glide through
-h is possible.
4. Poetic Elision of the Semivowels: Here Bridges discusses
unaccented vowels in syllables closed by liquids and nasals, when
they are followed by a syllable beginning with a vowel. He
invents a special definition of the term semivowel, quite different
from the common one. Again the category is too inclusive,
containing heaven and prison (hypermonosyllables) alongside
wandering and glimmering (elisions of the vowel preceding an
intervocalic liquid).
5. The Rule of -R: Oddly, this "rule" covers exactly the same
ground as the preceding one, and Bridges even cites glimmering
again as an example. By this time his divisions have become hope-
lessly confused.
6. The Rule of -L: This is an extension of the "rule" of -r
6. Bridges, Milton's Prosody, 19.
7. Ibid., 23.
15







MILTON S ELISIONS
to include the other liquid. Bridges lists examples both within
and between words, but he does not take notice of cases where
an -able termination precedes a word beginning with a vowel.
This would be the place to include such matters if one intended
to mention them at all.
7. The Rule of -N: He simply extends the former two "rules"
to include the nasal -n; examples: hardening and opening.
8. Elision of Final Asyllabic -N: In this category Bridges dis-
cusses "the final syllabic semivowel -n as asyllabic."8 Again
semivowel has a special definition, but what he is discussing is
clear, an elision of the final inflection; for example, ris'n, eat'n.
About a third of Bridges' book is devoted to Milton's treatment
of syllables in elidible situations, and most of the discussion in-
volves these "rules." Clearly such principles will permit a large
number of exceptional cases, the discussion of which Bridges
does not stint. Because of the highly original phonetic explana-
tions Bridges conceived, later prosodists seem to have experi-
enced great difficulty recognizing that the elisions Milton em-
ployed were really conventional devices for manipulating the
number of syllables within the line, devices he inherited from a
long poetic tradition.
In general Bridges' observations are very accurate, but his
explanations are hopelessly confusing. His failure to recognize
that he was dealing with a longstanding prosodic tradition caused
him to seek overly subtle explanations, in an area where he was
not fully competent, for observations that were excellent. Later
writers, who do not understand Bridges' shortcomings, are
sometimes tempted to invalidate the whole basis of his analysis.
But that is unwarranted, for Bridges has made a significant con-
tribution. He has shown that elisions are essentially metrical
devices and that in English these are permissive in character.
Not only that, but he has implied that in some cases elisions are
fictive. That is to say, no real cutting out of the syllable in ques-
tion had to occur. Poets accepted certain situations as conven-
tional. Nevertheless, metrical elision must have had its birth in
linguistic change and in the growth of variant pronunciations.
8. Ibid., 33.
16







MILTON'S PRACTICE
However, one should not forget that the poets were familiar
with the practice and not the explanation.
A final objection to the analysis in Milton's Prosody is that
it was entirely qualitative. Bridges made no attempt to discover
how much elision of one variety or another occurred in any
particular selection and thus limited the usefulness of his study.
S. ERNEST SPROTT'S THEORY: Under normal circumstances
Sprott's book might be eliminated from serious discussion,9 not
because it is inadequate and immature but because it rests on a
fatal error in methodology. Sprott fails to cite anything but per-
centages; with no items listed it is impossible to check his ac-
curacy. Accordingly, his readers cannot tell whether he was a
careful observer or not. Certain of the percentages make us sus-
picious. For example, he cites two lists of feminine endings in
Comus, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes,
both in percentages.10 According to Sprott, the figures in the
first column are comparable to those furnished by Professor
Ants Oras in "Milton's Blank Verse and the Chronology of His
Major Poems,"" except that Sprott's figures are percentages and
Professor Oras expresses his in frequencies per 1000 lines. For
Book I of Paradise Lost Sprott shows 1.1 per cent; Professor
Oras cites a frequency of 12.5 per 1000 lines, indicating that his
figure is based on 10 actual incidences. The difference here is not
very significant; it would appear that Sprott failed to find one or
two examples that Professor Oras discovered. For Book II, how-
ever, Sprott cites 0.4 per cent and Professor Oras, translating
his figures to hundreds, 0.85 per cent. The difference is greater
than 100 per cent, and from this point the two sets of figures
are substantially different. My own observations agree with
those of Professor Oras.
Besides accuracy, which cannot be checked because Sprott
fails to supply sufficient evidence, another problem arises in this
work because Sprott also fails to recognize that the devices of
9. That is, S. Ernest Sprott, Milton's Art of Prosody.
10. Sprott, 57.
11. Ants Oras, "Milton's Blank Verse and the Chronology of His Major
Poems," in SAMLA Studies in Milton, ed. J. Max Patrick (Gainesville, Fla.,
1953), 161.
17







MILTON'S ELISIONS
metrical elision were traditional, and he proceeds from the cate-
gories Bridges invented. Like most of us, he finds these confusing
and attempts to simplify them. He reduces elisions to contrac-
tions and synaloepha, though under these categories, broadly
treated, he can discuss nearly everything observable. But difficul-
ties arise when one tries to make comparisons. It is simply un-
tenable to count virtue hath and dissolute (both metrically
disyllabic) as examples of the same phenomenon and to intimate,
however vaguely, that poets considered the two identical. It is
very possible that poets never consciously thought of the types
of elision discussed here, but because they constructed their eli-
sions by analogy there is every indication that they considered,
for example, 'twas, 'tis, and o're one thing and glimmering an-
other.
A further shortcoming of Sprott's study is his lack of interest
in quantitative analysis of the treatment of syllables. Like Bridges,
he seeks only to explain qualitatively what happened. Neverthe-
less, the study is not valueless if only because it reminds readers
of certain principles that tend to be forgotten. For example,
Sprott argues: "When once we have understood that elision is a
technique of verse theory, that is, the process whereby Milton
mentally removes a syllable which will not otherwise fit into his
prosodical scheme, most of our difficulties over its acceptance
will have vanished."12 The alternative conclusion is to "forego
the superior artistic unity conferred on a work by this restric-
tion; one is at liberty to do so.""' But as Sprott well knows and
as his study reminds us, one is at liberty to do so only if he is
willing to close his eyes to the overwhelming evidence of Mil-
ton's verse and the whole history of English syllabic prosody.
In one respect Sprott makes a suggestion that may contribute a
new item to the theory of elision. He says that there may be cases
"where the next line following may begin with a vowel with
which the final syllable (under certain conditions) of the last
word in the previous line may elide."14 This is a very interesting

12. Sprott, 98.
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid., 55.
18







MILTON'S PRACTICE
idea, but unfortunately the four examples Sprott cites all concern
lines where other elisions could explain the circumstances. For
example, he calls our attention to a line ending in luminarie, fol-
lowed by one beginning with aloof. But as the elision involved
could as well be one over an intervocalic liquid, a fairly common-
place occurrence, there seems to be little need to seek a complex
explanation.
HELEN DARBISHIRE'S EDITION: Finally we should examine the
1952 edition of Paradise Lost published by the Oxford Press.
Previously Oxford had relied on the Beeching edition, first pub-
lished in 1904, based on the first printed edition of the poem. One
presumes that after nearly fifty years the publisher considered
that edition outdated. Miss Darbishire's claim for the need of a
new edition is based largely on spelling, the importance of which,
she says, is "the main argument for a new text."'5 Anyone who
examines the new edition will quickly see that it departs from
many of the accepted principles of editing. It does so, however,
on what might be a valid argument, if Miss Darbishire had actu-
ally discovered, as she believes, what Milton's spelling system
was. There would then be good reason for a new edition to cor-
rect the many errors of various printers and, perhaps, different
amanuenses. Miss Darbishire, however, fails, I believe, on two
counts. First, she neglected to examine the evidence exhaus-
tively. This is more important than it seems, for only a very
comprehensive examination can reveal to what extent Milton,
who apparently did use some sort of spelling system, was con-
sistent. Second, Miss Darbishire at times, perhaps quite uninten-
tionally, suppresses metrical evidence, though she must have em-
ployed some metrical criteria. How, for instance, can she be sure
that heav'n (with an apostrophe) is monosyllabic without any
metrical criteria at all? Indeed, heav'n (with apostrophe) is
usually monosyllabic, but by assuming that the apostrophe in
heav'n or giv'n indicates a cutting out of a vowel, Miss Darbi-
shire works herself into an inconsistency, for she also assumes
that the same mark before a syllabic -n or -1 means just the op-
15. Helen Darbishire (ed.), The Poetic Works of John Milton (Oxford,
1952), I, ix.
19







MILTON'S ELISIONS
posite. In my opinion the apostrophe in op'n, for example, is
merely a spelling convention and not, as she argues, the sign
of a syllabic vowel. To support her case, Miss Darbishire cites
forbidden, but that is not very convincing evidence. It occurs
three times with an elided final syllable in Paradise Lost, twice
with the apostrophe and once without it.
There is already some doubt then about Miss Darbishire's
first rule, that an apostrophe before -n or -1 indicates a syllabic
vowel. It is not difficult to find the evidence Miss Darbishire
has used. In Book V, for instance, we find burd'nd, hast'n, and
startled as disyllables; forbidden, disheart'nd, assembled, forsak'n
as trisyllables. In Book VI there are more: bustl'd, clov'n,
mangl'd, heav'ns, hidd'n, settled, stumbled, hightn'd, hard'nd,
disburd'nd, list'n, all with an apostrophe where a syllabic vowel
might be (these examples are listed in the order of their occur-
rence). In some books there are more examples. As Miss Darbi-
shire understood, -l'd termination is syllabic in certain other
spelling systems (particularly Ben Jonson's), but there the -1
very often appears to be a syllabic -1 anyhow, suggesting that
the apostrophe indicates no more than that the vowel of the -ed
inflection was cut out, perhaps in imitation of standard speech.
The same may be true of Milton. Certainly the apostrophe in
such words does not have to indicate a syllabic vowel at all, as
Miss Darbishire believes. Probably in these cases there is no
syllabic vowel, but rather we are confronted with a syllabic
-1. If Milton had wished to indicate a syllabic vowel, there is no
reason why he should not have written it rather than employ
an apostrophe. However, in normal English, words ending in
-le sometimes do have a syllabic vowel and other times merely
a syllabic -1, depending to some extent on the speaker. Perhaps
some of the poets, those who were particularly careful of their
spelling, considered the possibility that a spelling like tabled
could be mistaken by a reader (perhaps even for a trisyllable).
In order to avoid ambiguity they might have inserted an apos-
trophe to indicate that the inflectional vowel was supposed to be
silent (e.g., tabl'd). This seems to be the explanation for the 42
cases Miss Darbishire has in mind.
20







MILTON'S PRACTICE
Some 79 other occurrences involve -n (alone-37; -nd-37;
-ns-2; -nst-2; -ning-1). This is still not a great deal of evi-
dence, but here I think Miss Darbishire is at least partly right.
The poet does not seem to indicate with an apostrophe the pres-
ence of a syllabic nasal. That contention, however, would sug-
gest that Milton was inconsistent about spelling phonetically,
thus detracting from Miss Darbishire's central argument. One
can partially agree with her, that Milton tried frequently to
"indicate the precise sounds he requires for the reading of his
lines: they are in fact a necessary part of his technique as a
metrical artist."'6 Absolute consistency, however, was not part
of that technique. Moreover, in these 79 instances it would have
been just as easy for Milton to indicate a vowel sound by writing
the letter which symbolizes it. I believe that an explanation for
the apparent inconsistency we have discovered lies in the fact
that in Milton's speech, in these cases, there may actually have
been no vowel involved. He may have used a syllabic nasal, and,
realizing this (however he might have verbalized it), felt it
important to indicate that with an apostrophe.'7 On the other
hand, the 79 instances could simply be misprints that eluded
the proofreaders; it seems most unlikely that Milton had the
whole 10,000 lines of the poem spelled back to him. In at least
three instances he allowed a th' to stand where no elision of the
vowel is required. In two other cases he allowed the spelling
e're (VII.304 and VIII.273). If, as seems likely, he reserved
this spelling for the contraction of ever, the first of these in-
stances is an error, and the second may also be wrong. Milton
frequently used ere (from OE aer) to mean "precedent in time."
In the first book of Paradise Lost (line 150) there is an occur-
rence of the spelling with an apostrophe, unquestionably mean-
ing ever. After that he seems to have thought the contraction

16. Ibid., xviii.
17. Wyld, 403. Wyld also considers the possibility that Milton intended the
apostrophe in these instances to indicate a syllabic nasal, but he rejects this
theory on the grounds of inconsistency in Milton's practice. Wyld's observa-
tions are unquestionably correct; however, he does not take into account the
frequency with which the apostrophe occurs where a syllabic nasal might have
been intended.
21







MILTON'S ELISIONS
of ever would be confusing (with the possible exception in
Book VIII).
Miss Darbishire's second rule for the use of the apostrophe
is that it indicates elision. Very often this is correct. She cites
24 instances of the spelling giv'n as a monosyllable (I find 25)
in Paradise Lost, but she is ready to accept only two of the
spelling given as monosyllabic. Presumably these are V.454 and
IX.951. She halfway rejects an occurrence at XII.287:
And therefore was / law given / them to / evince
In this line the -en in unstressed position is almost certainly not
intended to be a metrical syllable, particularly in view of the
following word. There is another instance in Book V where
given precedes him; Miss Darbishire accepts this one as an in-
stance of elision, though the word is fully spelled, but it is not
possible to ascertain just what sort of elision she thought oc-
curred. It is difficult to understand why she accepts some in-
stances and rejects others.
Finally, Miss Darbishire often fails to recognize metrical
elision at all. "The earth and the air," she says, "are the usual
forms, representing two metrical syllables; th'earth representing
one metrical syllable occurs a few times, th'air only twice."18
She is right about th'air; however, the aire (without apostro-
phe) also occurs twice as an elision. Th' earth occurs more than
a few times; I find ten and also th' earths. Moreover, the earth
(without apostrophe) also occurs elided at least six times.
The entire case rests on such evidence. When Miss Darbishire
fails to recognize the metrical elisions involved and when she
sometimes neglects to cite all the pertinent facts, she damages her
argument. Surely, there is some truth to the premise that Milton
employed a spelling system, but that he was sufficiently consis-
tent to warrant a new edition has not been proved. Accordingly,
I have based this study on the H. C. Beeching text, which in turn
was carefully based on the 1667 edition, though in fact there are
not a great many differences between Beeching's edition and
Miss Darbishire's that would affect these conclusions. In two
18. Darbishire, xxvii-xxviii.
22







MILTON'S PRACTICE
cases I have accepted Miss Darbishire's reading in preference to
Beeching's, both instances where she prints the 1674 text be-
cause a word has clearly been dropped in the printing of the
earlier edition. Beeching, of course, cites these differences in a
footnote.19
19. A strong practical consideration involved in the selection of the Beech-
ing edition for a text has been the fact that many studies of Milton's prosody
are based on that edition.


23








4. MILTON'S QUANTITATIVE
USE OF ELISION




Tables 1 and 2 supply the figures for Milton's use of elision,
the first showing the actual number of elisions involved and
the second translating the figures into the frequency per 1000
lines. Table 2 indicates that Milton began Paradise Lost with a
very heavy use of metrical devices, 391/1000 lines. That is a
much higher frequency than we are accustomed to find in other
poets and the highest to be found in Milton. This high fre-
quency is accounted for primarily by Milton's extensive use of
elision over contiguous vowels, synaloephae, and elision over
liquids and nasals in Book I, though the first category is the
most significant. There is no way of knowing why Milton com-
posed in this fashion, which is really contrary to the practice of
most poets. Usually the techniques of metrical elision develop
and become more complex throughout a poet's career, which is
substantially the same as saying that poets broadened the base
of their techniques by adding gradually more and more elidible
instances (though sometimes poets also discovered additional
categories). But in Paradise Lost the opposite happens. Milton
had thought his system through before he began the poem, and
perhaps he was somewhat more attentive to his system in the
first book, where doubtless he had to consider it consciously,
than later after it became second nature to him.
As one might expect after examining Professor Oras' figures
for the frequency of pauses of all varieties, or polysyllables,
and run-on lines, there is a break in Milton's technique after the
sixth book. This break would appear even sharper had the sev-
enth book been of average length. But the seventh is the shortest
book, and Milton has a tendency at times to crowd more elisions
into the first half than the second. If Books VII and VIII are
added together, then the break after Book VI is magnified. The
frequency of elision for the two books (VII and VIII) together
24






QUANTITATIVE USE
becomes 320/1000 lines, compared to 351/1000 lines for Books
V and VI added together.
In the first six books, there is considerable elision in the initial
book, the next two are about average, the fourth is relatively
low, and the fifth and sixth are about average again. That pat-
tern is almost repeated in the second half of the poem on a
slightly lower scale. The initial book (that is, the seventh) is
relatively high, the eighth about average for that half of the
poem, the ninth (that is, the third book in the second half instead
of the fourth, as in the first half) is low, and the last three are
about average again.
The total frequency of Milton's elision by books in Paradise
Lost supports Professor Hanford's contention that the poem
may very likely have been interrupted in the middle of produc-
tion. While this conclusion seems undoubtedly valid (there is a
great deal of evidence to support it), analysis of the frequencies
of the varieties of elision does not always point in that direction.
In the most frequent category of elision, however, that over
contiguous vowels, there is an apparent break in technique after
the sixth book. The low spots that appear in the total frequency
do not seem to be very significant for this variety of elision.
Synaloephae are especially rare in Books IV, VI, VIII, IX, XI,
and XII, and occur only in the final half of Book VIII. Less use
of elision over liquids and nasals is made in Books VI and IX than
otherwise in the respective halves of the poem, and significantly
less use of hypermonosyllables is made in Books IX, X, XI, and
to some degree in XII. The practice regarding hypermonosylla-
bles may be partially explained in terms of the content of the
poem, as the most frequent hypermonosyllable is the word
heav'n. This situation suggests that the devices of elision are
properly to be thought of as of a metrical nature; there is a point
at which their use becomes almost unconscious, though by and
large Milton seems to have planned rather carefully whether
he employs devices with more or less frequency in one or an-
other portion of the poem.


25








5. MILTON'S QUALITATIVE
USE OF ELISION




HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: There is no significant change in
Milton's use of these devices throughout the poem. After
heav'n, powers) is the most frequent hypermonosyllable. In
fact one finds just about the same hypermonosyllables in every
book with one exception; in Books IX, X, and XI there are
one or two instances of evil and devil elided. The former is used
rather consistently throughout the poem as a disyllable; how-
ever, in a few cases Milton intended it to be a monosyllable. Of
course there is always the possibility that in those cases he meant
to compose a line with a real extrametrical syllable, but he is
so entirely consistent about denying such lines throughout the
poem that the possibility should be discounted. Devil does not
occur very often, and we cannot say that he employed it more
one way than another. After Book IX Milton increased his list
of hypermonosyllables slightly. There may in fact be a few
more occurrences than appear in the Appendix, for I have tabu-
lated three instances of devilish with elisions over the liquid -1.
Milton may have considered these also to be hypermonosylla-
bles, or at least analagous to them.
One should certainly first point to heav'n as an example of
this category:
Th' Apoc/alyps, / heard cry / in Heav'n / aloud (IV.2)
Heav'n occurs thirty times written as an elided form in this
book (Book IV), and twice it occurs elided but fully spelled:
A Heaven / on Earth: / for bliss/ful Par/adise (IV.208)
Miss Darbishire suggests that line 208 was a mistake on the part
of either the amanuensis or the printer, but I cannot agree.
There is no reason why we should expect Milton to have been
entirely consistent, though indeed he was perhaps more so than
26







QUALITATIVE USE
any English poet before him. But the seventeenth century mind
simply did not place our values on consistency.
This word also appears as a disyllable:
From my / prevailing arme, / though Heav/ens King
(IV.973)
That is what we should expect of an elision, though it is per-
haps remarkable how seldom Milton used this particular word
disyllabically.
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: Except that the evidence
would be very slight in each, this category might be divided
into three subcategories: elisions over the liquid -r, over the
liquid -1, and over the nasal -n. About 80 per cent of the elisions
are over the liquid -r, and there is very slight qualitative differ-
ence in Milton's technique among the books of Paradise Lost.
Most of these elisions concern the cutting out of a vowel, usu-
ally a neutral one, preceding an -r within a word, usually an
-r before a suffix of one sort or another. Examples may be
found in words like answering, and wondering (usually spelled
without an -e), temperance, reverence, and amorous. There are
a few cases where Milton seems to have extended the principle
to operate between words, possibly by analogy with synaloe-
pha. Pillar of seemed highly fictive to Bridges, but another ex-
ample, river of, makes the former elision more plausible.
The same words occur over and over again in the lists for
each book, but gradually Milton adds new examples. Most of
these elisions are still familiar to us in either pronunciation. Mil-
ton sometimes indicates the elided pronunciation by his spelling
and sometimes does not. With some words he tends to indicate
elision with considerable consistency of spelling; with others he
almost never spells phonetically. Glistering always has an -e
before the -r, but glistening substitutes an apostrophe before the
-n. Both are disyllables. Wandring, which occurs fairly fre-
quently, is always spelled without an -e, except once; it is never
trisyllabic.1 General is always spelled with the -e before the -r
1. There is some doubt about wandering which appears consistently in the
Renaissance as a disyllable, but never, to my recollection, as a trisyllable. Per-
haps it was not an intentional elision at all; Bridges, however, accepted it and
27







MILTON'S ELISIONS
and is invariably disyllabic, but that Milton was aware of its
potentialities seems indicated by his treatment of several, which
is also almost invariably disyllabic but on at least one occasion
is spelled several. In other poets general was occasionally tri-
syllabic.
Words like sovran are much more difficult to classify, be-
cause this is a special Miltonic spelling for sovereign, according
to the Oxford English Dictionary. Other writers usually spelled
the word trisyllabically, though elision frequently took place.
The occurrence of the spelling sov'ranty (with apostrophe) on
one occasion clearly suggests that Milton thought of the word
as an example of a device of poetic elision.
The word most commonly elided in this category is spirits)
(or spiritual-often a disyllable). In this case there is no way of
making certain which vowel is being elided because it is not
possible to determine how Milton pronounced the monosyllabic
form. But Bridges had a theory about this matter which seems
quite logical; the first vowel, he argued, cannot have been elided
because it is stressed. But if the second vowel is elided, Bridges
claims, the word becomes an exception to Milton's practice.2
This may or may not be a valid contention. His second argu-
ment, it seems to me, is stronger, that if the initial vowel were
the one elided we should end up with sprite. He believes that if
Milton had wanted sprite he would have written it. There re-
mains the possibility of an elision parallel to that found in Italian
(spir'to: Dante, Inferno, V.139). This argument is very per-
suasive without being entirely convincing, because Milton con-
sistently elides the vowel preceding -r. It is also possible, how-
ever, that Milton thought of spirit more as a hypermonosyllable
than an elision in this category.
The following lines are typical examples of elision in this cate-
gory:
She all / night long / her am/orous des/cant sung (IV.603)
used it as an example, and it would seem unwarranted therefore to exclude it
altogether. For further discussion of this phonetic phenomenon, but not this
particular word, see Wyld, 407.
2. Bridges, Milton's Prosody, 34.
28







QUALITATIVE USE
Glistring / with dew; / fragant / the fer/til earth (IV.645)
And from / their Iv/orie Port / the Cher/ubim (IV.778)
Think not, / revolt/ed Spirit, / thy shape / the same (IV.835)
And for the other side of the matter (that is, no elision):
And sweet / reluctant amorous / delay (IV.311)
Add Ver/tue, Pat/ience, Temp/erance, /add Love
(XII.583)
Though not /but by / the Spir/it understood (XII.514)
Elisions over the liquid -1 are far less frequent and somewhat
more difficult to explain. Words like popular, populous, credu-
lous, ridiculous, and jav'lin seem to belong to this category,
though it is hard to believe that the entire vowel sound preced-
ing the liquid was cut out, except in a few words like jav'lin.
A handful of other words, like devillish and violate, are ques-
tionable examples, but there is little doubt Milton thought of
them as elidible forms of some sort. Most interesting here is the
fact that Milton permits elision between words, particularly
those ending in -le (where the sound is [al] or [1]. There are
a few clear-cut instances, like people and, temple enshrined, but
most cases are more complex because they involve the elision of
the suffix -able or, sometimes, -ible. For example, invisible else,
innumerable or, imaginable as, immeasurable abyss occur. Cases
of this type are difficult to classify because we do not know how
Milton accented the suffix. To be sure, the accent usually falls
on the -a in -able, particularly in compounds, but there are still
a good many cases where it does not.3 Usually these lines are
treated as follows:
O mis/era/ble Man/kind, to / what fall (XI.497)
However, not infrequently Milton will do the opposite:
Not un/agree/able, / to found / a path (X.256)
However in/support/able, / be all (X.134)
The difficulty in placing such cases arises when the suffix fol-
3. On this point Bridges' observations are not very reliable.
29







MILTON'S ELISIONS
lows a liquid or a nasal, or even perhaps a sibilant, for then it is
not possible to be certain that Milton did not intend a somewhat
unusual elision over a liquid or nasal rather than the elision be-
tween words. On the other hand, there is no reason to believe
he would hesitate to use the elision between words; an analogy
with the more common synaloepha certainly did not escape his
attention, and of course elisions like purple and are undeniable.
Elisions over intervocalic nasals operate just as do those over
liquids. Milton is very fond of covenant, count'nance, and
opening, but there are also a good many in which he does not
usually indicate the elision with an apostrophe; for example,
original, bituminous, reasoning, and ravenous. One also finds
rav'nous and on at least one occasion in Book XI the full spell-
ing of covenant (still a disyllable), a word where he almost
always uses the apostrophe. It seems Milton permitted elision
between words in this category also; he uses such expressions as
garden and, and reason and, though he also sometimes writes
garden of or eat'n and. The apostrophe is troublesome to explain
because an apostrophe before a final -n is sometimes the sign of a
non-syllabic final nasal, regardless of whether it precedes a word
beginning with a vowel or not. But this distinction is probably
too fine. It is doubtful Milton was so subtle, and besides it makes
little difference in our tabulations because the number of in-
stances is so small.
SYNALOEPHAE: (Renaissance rhetoricians sometimes prefer to
speak of crasis.) Milton's synaloephae are of two general vari-
eties: (1) those that concern the dropping of a vowel from a
short monosyllable, usually the article, before a word beginning
with a vowel, and (2) those that concern the dropping of a
final syllable from a disyllable or longer word under exactly the
same conditions. He also elides before an aspirate, but only in-
frequently; on a very few occasions he may elide before a semi-
vowel. He does use t' whom twice in Book II and once each in
Books VI and XI; these are remarkable examples because they
are also the only instances in which he indicates an elision of the
preposition with an apostrophe. On 33 other occasions to is
metrically elided before a vowel without there being any indica-
30







QUALITATIVE USE
don in the spelling.4 These cases are about evenly divided be-
tween the first and second halves of the poem (14 in the first
half, 19 in the second). On the other hand, Milton prefers to
use th' when he wishes to indicate an elision. This device oc-
curs 273 times in the poem (166 in the first half, 107 in the sec-
ond). The difference between halves of the poem, in this
respect, does not seem very significant, for Milton does not turn
very strongly in the second half to the in place of th'. He em-
ploys the 34 times in the poem (15 times in the first half, 19
in the second). Miss Darbishire leaves her readers with the im-
pression that the in an elidible situation is actually a mistake,
but there is no reason for believing that. She suppresses, or per-
haps was unaware of, the fact that the occurs 34 times in elidible
situations. While this is not an extremely large number of occur-
rences, it is still more evidence than she often relies on-and
it is too many instances to be lightly explained away as misprints.
There are really no appreciable differences, then, between the
two halves of Paradise Lost with regard to synaloepha. In the
first half approximately 65 per cent of the synaloephae depend
on elision of the article or the preposition to; in the second half
the figure is 61 per cent. One peculiarity with regard to this
category has already been noted of Book VIII; there Milton
makes but slight use of synaloephae, and almost all of these in-
stances are found in the second half of the book. There is no
ready explanation for this phenomenon other than that he simply
felt like making a change in his technique at this point. It is pos-
sible, however, to suggest a possible reason from an examination
of the contents of the book, for Book VIII is largely given over,
particularly at the beginning, to speeches made by Adam. The
careful reader may note that throughout the poem Adam is
somewhat parsimonious about the use of metrical elision, though
he certainly does not refrain from it with any great consistency.
Perhaps Milton felt that Adam, whose role is always a very
serious one, should speak very deliberately, or even very slowly
4. Miss Darbishire has neglected this evidence, which seems to detract from
her argument. Can she possibly be reading 33 instances where to precedes a
vowel in elidible situations as extrametricals? She does not remove the -o and
substitute an apostrophe in her text.
31







MILTONIS ELISIONS
in keeping with his primitive, simple nature, but of course the
lack of elision in his speeches may be mere fortuitous circum-
stance. There are some slight indications that Milton did occa-
sionally employ metrical elisions to emphasize the content of
particular passages. He did not, however, do so very often. Nor
was he consistent; at one point God may speak with many eli-
sions, at another with very few. But even a faint suggestion of
such a use of these metrical devices represents a great step for-
ward in metrical technique. Previously no poet, except perhaps
Shakespeare, appears to have thought of using such devices to
emphasize action or delineate character.5
Examples of synaloepha are too common to require much
attention. The first two of the following deal with the article:
In presence of / th' Almight/ie Fath/er, pleas'd (VII.11)
When such / was heard / declared / the Almight/ie's will
(VII.181)
And vit/al ver/tue infus'd, / and vit/al warmth (VII.236)
Of Rain/bows and / Starrie Eyes. / The Wat/ers thus
(VII.447)
It may be noted that as Milton progressed he grew more
daring with synaloepha, though the process begins quite early
in the poem. In Book III we find justly accuse, timely inter-
poses, and easie ascent in addition to the more commonplace ex-
amples, many a, shadow of, and mercy and. By the time he
reaches Book X, such combinations occur as sorrow abandoned,
sorrow infeignd, adversarie his, dutie erewhile, fully avenged,
they assayd.
ELISION OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: (Sometimes called syni-
zesis in Renaissance rhetorics) This is the variety of elision
Milton employs most extensively. There are 1,024 examples
(plus or minus a few of doubtful validity) in Paradise Lost. As
noted, there is a distinct break in the category after the sixth
5. In a forthcoming study, The Osier Cage (University of Kentucky Press)
I have attempted to show that Shakespeare uses rhetorical devices in a similar
manner, and, it is worth remembering, rhetorical and metrical devices were
often in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries considered as part of the same
technique.
32







QUALITATIVE USE
book. The frequency is 111 per 1000 lines in the first half of the
poem, 82 per 1000 lines in the second (that is, 601 actual elisions
of the variety in the first half, 5,426 lines, and 423 in the second
half, 5,132 lines).
By far the majority of elisions over contiguous vowels occur
in terminal syllables where a phonetic combination that ap-
proximates [i ], as in celestial, ethereal, immediate, various,
illustrious, is reduced to what may have approximated [j ]. A
good many other combinations may be cited, but their frequen-
cies are dwarfed by the number of times the one above appears.
There is no way of ascertaining exactly how these and similar
terminations sounded in Milton's speech. In present American
speech, for example, the separate vowels in terminations of this
nature are sometimes clearly distinguishable; at other times, de-
pending on the word involved and the individual speaker, they
are not. For example, celestial is a word with four distinct
syllables in the speech of many Americans (a dialect often sup-
posed to be closer to seventeenth century English than present
Received Standard British English). In British English, how-
ever, this word often has only three syllables; the -ial termina-
tion has undergone synizesis; elision has occurred. But with
Milton, we should remember, no real diphthongization was nec-
essary for an elision to be understood. His practice was a matter
of metrical convention. It seems, then, that the two final sylla-
bles, reduced to one in the verse, of words such as Proteus or
Uriel are really "fictional diphthongizations."6 There is no evi-
dence that Milton said [protibs], though that pronunciation is
now current. In many cases it does not seem possible for Milton
to have concealed the individual vowel qualities entirely with-
out serious distortion.
One need not search far for examples of this variety of elision;
there is one in the first line of the poem:
Of Man's First Disobedience, and the Fruit

6. Uriel may have had a disyllabic pronunciation, not unlike rural American
denial ) for Daniel (unquestionably a survival from earlier British). Also
McDannell is a Scot variant for McDaniel. Hence Uriel as a disyllable may
have been more than a literary elision.
33







MILTON S ELISIONS
Certain words of this sort occur over and over again in their
elided forms. Among his favorites are being, hideous, glorious.
But Milton was also quite capable of using the expanded forms
of these words. For example, the -iel termination is fully sylla-
bized three times in Book IV in Ithuriel (4 metrical syllables),
twice in Gabriel (3 metrical syllables). The last also occurs
fairly frequently as a disyllable. Moreover, in Book IV he also
uses su-per-flu-ous (usually a trisyllable), am-i-a-blie, and in-
flu-ence. To these might be added a class of proper names,
usually those of remote connotation, which generally he fully
syllabizes, refraining from elision unless their pronunciation was
fairly well known; for example, Astrea (3 metrical syllables),
Nyseian (3 metrical syllables).7 In Book V pi-ous, Tob-i-as,
hi-er-arch, eth-er-e-al, Raph-a-el, di-a-mond, vi-o-lence all oc-
cur, words that are also frequently found elided. The list could
be extended, but these examples are enough to make it clear
that, in this respect, Milton is dealing with a well-formulated
practice of metrical elision.
NON-SYLLABIC -EST INFLECTION: At this juncture it seems
desirable to depart from the procedure previously outlined to
discuss verbal inflections. (Those few cases of -est as the sign
of the superlative that have entered into these tabulations are
properly dealt with under the category of elision over contigu-
ous vowels.) For purposes of consistency all elided -est verbal
inflections are considered here, even those which might have
been included as elisions over contiguous vowels, the two most
prominent examples being seest and maist. These elisions occur
slightly more often in the last half of the poem than in the
first; there are 133 in the last half and 108 in the first. But there
is a question whether Milton intended all of them to be elisions
or perhaps thought of some of them as normal pronunciations.
He employs an apostrophe frequently but only with certain
words. Words like canst, maist (or mayst), seest, shouldst,
knotwst occur almost without exception without an apostrophe;

7. He usually avoids eliding proper nouns of classical origin, unless they
are fairly common names, with respect for all varieties of elision. For example
Hesperus is a trisyllable, though it might readily undergo elision over -r.
34







QUALITATIVE USE
words like gav'st, draw'st, took'st, fli'st, hear'st generally have
one, indicating that a cutting out of the inflectional vowel was
certainly intentional and that elision took place. It is very puz-
zling for us to observe that while shouldst usually has no apos-
trophe, would'st generally has; could'st, which does not occur
very often, is found both ways. As it is not possible to ascer-
tain beyond reasonable doubt what Milton intended, it has
seemed discreet to include nearly all verbs ending in -st in this
category, excepting only a very few, such as hast, which is
not an -est form anyhow. Did-est and can-est are of course very
farfetched (these spellings never occur in Milton), but it has
been necessary to include their syncopated forms in the tabula-
tions to attain consistency. Besides, we must be careful of our
impressions of these matters; went-est, for instance, actually
occurs.
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: These are largely confined to
three words: giv'n, fall'n, driven; a few others, such as chos'n,
ris'n, unshak'n do occur though very infrequently. There are
slightly fewer elisions of this nature in the second half of the
poem than in the first (43 instances compared to 46 in the first
half). Sometimes Milton indicates these elisions with an apos-
trophe, sometimes not; alongside of giv'n there is given; we also
find fallen, risen, forbidden, prison, driven, and possibly reason.
CONTRACTIONS: Almost 66 per cent of the common speech
contractions in Paradise Lost, used for poetic purposes as if they
were elisions, concern the single item o're for over. In 34 of
these instances the word stands by itself; in 12 cases it is part of a
compound. Usually the apostrophe occurs, indicating the cut-
ting out of a vowel and hence a syllable, but in six cases the
apostrophe is omitted. The omission of the apostrophe need not
concern the reader, for it is clear from the context that it is the
contraction Milton intends and not the homonym; however, it is
of interest to note that once again Milton is not consistent.
It would seem that e're is, in a few instances, a contraction of
ever. In Book I, line 150, it is; there it is spelled with an apostro-
phe. In other cases where it is spelled without an apostrophe the
meaning seems to be "previous in time," suggesting that Milton
35







MILTON'S ELISIONS
intended the different word ere (from OE aer). Of the two other
instances in the poem with an apostrophe, Miss Darbishire cor-
rects one (VII.304) and allows the other (VIII.273) to stand.
She might also have found reasons for correcting the occurrence
in Book VIII. (Accordingly, only the first of these contractions
is included in this tabulation.)
This category must perforce serve as something of a catchall.
Strictly speaking it does not seem proper to consider aphetic
forms as contractions, but to make a further division of such a
small amount of evidence hardly seems worthwhile. We may
note the aphetic forms gan and twixt, both common in poetic
diction, scape, and the form sdeignd for disdained.8 Along with
these are at least two instances of the form submiss for submis-
sion. These devices are confined almost entirely to the first half
of the poem; there are only 17 contractions in the final half of
the poem, six of them o're. About halfway through the poem
Milton virtually abandoned the device.
8. The word sdeignd was surely borrowed from Spenser.


36








6. EXCEPTIONS TO THE
PRINCIPLES OF ELISION


Afew lines appear to be exceptions to the principles of metri-
cal elision, or at least exceptions to Milton's usual practice
in Paradise Lost. These are:
1. In bill/ows, leave / i' th' midst / a hor/rid Vale (1.224)
2. Created evil, / for e/vil only good (11.623)
3. Som Cap/ital Cit/y, or less / then if / this frame
(11.924)
4. Listens delighted. Eevning approach (V.627)
5. For hee / who tempts, / though in vain, / at least / as-
perses (IX.296)
6. Both Good / and Evil, / Good lost, / and E/vil got
(IX.1072)
7. Because / thou hast heark/'nd to / the voice / of thy
wife (X.198)
8. With me; how can they acquitted stand (X.827)
9. Perhaps / thy Cap/ital Seate, / from whence / had spred
(XI.343)
10. Ith' midst / an Al/tar as / the Land-/mark stood
(XI.432)
11. Promisd / to Ab/raham and / his Seed: / the rest
(XII.260)
12. From Ab/raham, Son / of Is/aac, and / from him
(XII.268)
13. Just Ab/raham and /his Seed: / now first / I finde
(XII.273)
14. Foretold / to Ab/raham, as / in whom / shall trust
(XII.328)
15. Needs must / the Ser/pent now / his capital bruise
(XII.383)
16. Not one/ly to / the Sons / of Ab/rahams Loines
(XII.447)
All of these lines, with the exceptions of 4 and 8, are the same
37








MILTON'S ELISIONS
in Miss Darbishire's edition. In both of these exceptions she
adopts the reading of the 1674 edition, which is undoubtedly cor-
rect. In line 4 the 1667 edition somehow omitted the word now
before approached, and in line 8 the word then was left out be-
fore acquitted. Both lines are then regular decasyllables.
In lines 1 and 10, as far apart as Books I and XI, one is faced
with what in Milton's system would seem an impossible elision
indicated by the apostrophe after the article. The apostrophe
after the -i in line 1 does not matter because so long as the vowel
quality remains so does the syllabic value. There is really no way
to rationalize these extrametricals; perhaps they are the fault of
the amanuensis, who in reading the lines back to Milton somehow
slurred over the article so that the poet failed to recognize that
it was there. The lines would be just as sensible if the article,
th', were omitted.'
Lines 2 and 6 are exceptional because of the double occurrence
in each of the word evil, first as a hypermonosyllable and then
its more customary disyllabic form. As evil could be monosyl-
labic, the lines may be scanned as regular after the operation of
elision, but the trick of using both forms in the same line is very
unusual (though it is found in Chaucer). It is not hard to estab-
lish that evil had a monosyllabic form; Kokeritz, for example,
calls attention to "evil [as a] monosyllable in Cy[mbeline]
1.1.72, 5.5.60, M[acbeth] 4.3.57, MM [Measure for Measure]
1.2.134. .. ."2 If the word is monosyllabic in Shakespeare, there
is no reason why it should not be in Milton.3
1. According to the OED a use without the article would be rare but by
no means impossible. Spenser used "in middest" more than once, and an occur-
rence of "in midst" is recorded as early as 1617. On the other hand, the ith'
construction does occur elsewhere in Milton, in the 1st Psalm (1653) in the line,
"In counsel of the wicked, and ith' way." There, however, there is no question
of an extrametrical syllable because the vowel of the article, which is indi-
cated as elided, precedes a semivowel. It seems possible that the ith' construction
may have been a special archaism that Milton occasionally employed and that it
found its way into Paradise Lost as an exception, without his realizing that it
constituted a departure from principle. Nevertheless the possibility that the
construction was intentional seems to me more likely.
2. Helge Kbkeritz, Shakespeare's Pronunciation (New Haven, 1953), 204.
3. Bridges points out that Milton also writes "knowledge of good and ill"
for evil (Milton's Prosody, 32). But K6keritiz does not recognize the possi-
bility that in Shakespeare ill may have been felt to be a different form from evil.
38







EXCEPTIONS TO THE PRINCIPLES
Lines 3, 9, and 15 appear to have a light extrametrical syllable
depending on the word capital. None of the general principles
of elision that we observe in Milton work here. But in his own
speech Milton may have used a disyllabic pronunciation of the
word; there is no trisyllabic occurrence in the poem. Milton was
usually careful, if not consistent, about indicating his pronuncia-
tion, but if he commonly said something like [koeptl], the matter
might have slipped his attention. That pronunciation is occasion-
ally heard even today in British English. At any rate these few
doubtful instances cannot be taken as evidence that Milton per-
mitted extrametrical syllables.
Line 5 is exceptional because it contains a very odd elision,
though in, but phonetically it works satisfactorily.
Line 7 will present no great difficulties to the attentive stu-
dent, but it may puzzle the novice because it is barely possible to
scan it as a hexameter. In the second foot there is an unfamiliar
elision between thou and hast, though by no means an impossible
one, and in the final foot an elision depends on what is rare in
Milton, synaloepha across a semivowel.
Remaining to be explained are lines 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16, all of
which appear to have an extrametrical because of the name Abra-
ham. One might assume that Milton intended the pronunciation
of the formal variant, Abram, in these instances, were it not for
the biblical difficulties in which that might involve him. Of all
poets Milton would have been most careful of such matters.
But there is another possibility, that the name was pronounced
in some way in which the -h was silent, not unlike the present
British pronunciation of Wilbraham [wilbrIam]. In that case
an elision between contiguous vowels would account for the ap-
parent extrametrical syllable.4
4. C. W. Bardsley in the Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames (Lon-
don, 1901) records the spelling Abraam under Abraham in Middle English.
Eilert Ekwall in the Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names records
a spelling of Walsham from which the -h has been lost, Walessam. This is some-
what parallel to the modern pronunciation of Birmingham (in England) from
which -h has been dropped. But that is not quite the same thing that happened
in Abraham because -ham in place names comes from an Old English form of
the word home. However such phenomena suggest that this hypothetical ex-
planation of Milton's elision may not be so farfetched after all.
39








7. DEGREE OF SYLLABIC
REGULARITY IN
PARADISE LOST



The amount of metrical elision in each book of Paradise Lost
may quickly be read from Table 2. But these figures do not
entirely indicate what the degree of syllabic regularity is. In the
first place, many lines have multiple elisions in them, sometimes,
it would seem, for purposes of emphasizing the content of this or
that particular line. For example:
Gambold before them, th'unwieldy Elephant (IV.345)
Gabriel, thou hadst in Heav'n th'esteem of wise (IV.886)
Wallowing unweildie, enormous in their Gate (VII.411)
In the first and last of these lines the elisions seem to be calcu-
lated to enhance the feeling of ponderousness, while in the sec-
ond line, which begins a speech by Satan to an angel, the elisions
seem to emphasize the snarling, defiant mood of the archfiend.
Milton averages an elision about every four lines, but in reality
there are sometimes long passages with no elisions at all followed
by other passages in which the elisions are crowded on top of
each other. But lines with elision do not make the poem irregular
in terms of Milton's system, although their effect is not exactly
the same as that of regular decasyllables. There are, then, as we
have seen, only 16 lines in the whole poem about which there is
any doubt concerning their decasyllabic intention. All of these
are capable of explanation, some perhaps as exceptional cases. If,
however, we choose to disregard all of these explanations, which
would seem unwarranted, the poem still contains more than 99
per cent regular decasyllables, once the elisions are understood.


40








8. FEMININE ENDINGS AND
SYLLABIZED -ED ENDINGS



Strictly speaking neither of these devices concerns metrical
elision, but as they concern the number of syllables in the
line it is desirable to mention both. Syllabized -ed's occur in both
halves of Paradise Lost, though there are fewer in the second half
than in the first. Feminine endings are very infrequent in the first
half of the poem and only slightly more common in the second
half, but their quality changes in the second half. There they are
unmistakable feminine endings; whereas, in the first half of the
poem a large number of them could be taken for elision in end-
line position. I have nothing further to add on these subjects,
both of which have received extensive treatment in Professor
Oras' "Milton's Blank Verse and the Chronology of His Major
Poems."'
1. SAMLA Studies in Milton.


41








9. ELISIONS IN
PARADISE REGAINED



Doubtless, Milton's practice reached its apex in Paradise Lost,
and that is the ideal place, as Bridges and the others have
agreed, to study his technique. There we find elisions employed
with the greatest frequency in his works, and we also have avail-
able for investigation fine editions that were almost certainly
supervised through the press. Paradise Regained, however, is
nearly as interesting, though in a different way. There we find
(see Table 3) that on the whole the quantity of elision used in
the poem compares closely with that in the last six books of Para-
dise Lost: I have tabulated 597 elisions in the 2,070 lines; that is,
a frequency of 288 per 1000 lines. That is what we should expect
considering the chronology of the poem.
But bare statistics can be misleading. Actually, it is Books I and
IV of Paradise Regained that compare closely with the last six
books of the longer poem. Books II and III balance each other
with frequencies of 249 and 350 elisions per 1000 lines, respec-
tively. Book III, with a rate of 350 elisions per 1000 lines, com-
pares very closely with Books III, V, or VI of Paradise Lost.
Indeed the high incidence of elision in Book III suggests that
Milton may have been reworking earlier material in the prepara-
tion of that book, though an examination of other metrical de-
vices and of the elisions themselves indicates that he was cer-
tainly not simply adapting something he had done about the time
he wrote the first half of Paradise Lost. Book III of Paradise Re-
gained, for instance, contains a few very heavy feminine endings
that would never have been permitted in the longer poem (e.g.,
them, III.440).
Book II is also very interesting because there the total fre-
quency of elision, 249 per 1000 lines, compares almost exactly
with that in Samson Agonistes, his last great poetic work. (In
Samson there are 245 per 1000 lines.) There is some reason, then,
to suspect that Book II may have been the latest of the four books
42






IN "PARADISE REGAINED"
of Paradise Regained to be written, but another explanation also
suggests itself. It seems possible that when Milton wrote Book II
he permitted his attention to stray from the question of elision,
even though he was usually very careful about such matters. I
do not think we can charge Milton with carelessness, but it is al-
ways possible that something else demanded his attention at the
time. A poet, after all, cannot keep everything in mind at once,
not even Milton. I suggest that is what happened. There are some
reasons to believe that in Book II Milton was beginning to experi-
ment with elision not only as a metrical device, calculated pri-
marily for euphonic variation, but was beginning to consider the
possibilities of defining character in these terms. For example,
simple characters, as the Virgin Mary, speak with very little eli-
sion. Satan and Christ are the great exponents of the device. In
fact at places in Book II Satan and Christ seem to be engaged in
a metrical duel, much more subtle but not unlike the rhetorical
battles of repartee that Shakespeare loved so well.' Unfor-
tunately, Book II is not the only place where Milton appears to
be thinking of elisions as functional devices. There were some
hints of this technique in Paradise Lost; now the technique of
Book II seems to be carried over into Book III (indicating how
careful we should be about jumping to conclusions about the
chronology of the books on statistical evidence).
Notice the following lines, which turn on the key word glory:
Think not so slight of glory; therein least,
Resembling thy great Father: he seeks glory,
And for his glory all things made, all things
Orders and governs, nor content in Heaven
By all his Angels glorifi'd, requires
Glory from men, from all men good or bad,
(III.109-14)

In this passage Satan is speaking of the glory of God. There is
nothing unusual about his use of the word except the repetition,
which becomes rather burdensome, but it seems clear that Satan
1. I am presently engaged in a more extensive study of these matters in
Paradise Regained.
43






MILTON S ELISIONS
is permitting the idea of God's glory, and his own reiteration of
the word, to arouse his temper. In each instance thus far, glory
is used separately; that is, it is not involved in a metrical elision,
though in line 110 it provides a feminine ending. But now Satan
realizes that the word itself is making him angry, and allowing
his pride to gather, he shows off his metrical gift to Jesus:
Glory he / requires,/and glor/y he / receives (1II.117)
Here he indulges in a rather unusual synaloepha before an aspi-
rate, pointing it out to us by using the word over again in the
same line unelided. And he stresses his skill a little later, repeating
the same device:
From us his foes pronounc't / glory he / exacts (III.120)
It is the last line of a speech filled with sophistry wherein he
attempts to persuade Jesus that God is seeking his own glory.
He is treating Jesus rather contemptuously and showing off his
rhetorical ability at the same time.
This display does not go unnoticed. In the speech in which
Jesus answers Satan, we find the very unusual line:
But why should man / seek glor/y? who of / his own
(III.134)
Here Milton permits Jesus to use an even rarer sort of synaloe-
pha, as if to put Satan in his place by implying that his great
poetic ability is not enough to help him now that he has fallen.
And just so Satan, and the reader, will not miss the point, Jesus
ends the speech:
That who advance his glory, not their own,
Them he himself to glory will advance. (III.143-44)
Doubtless, there are several other such passages in Paradise Re-
gained where Milton experiments with a functional use of elision.
Examination of the statistics for the particular categories of
elision in the poem may not be very significant because the num-
ber of instances is small; the books are considerably shorter than
those in Paradise Lost. The high incidence of hypermonosyllables
44







IN "PARADISE REGAINED"
in the first book seems to have been deliberately balanced by a
reduction of elisions over liquids and nasals. As one might expect,
the word heaven accounts for most of the occurrences. One
other point is worth noting about the incidence of elision over
contiguous vowels. In Paradise Regained Milton actually seems
to be trying to depress this usage. There are a great many proper
names in the poem ending in -ia, -ian, and very often Milton af-
fords them their full complement of syllables. A few, such as
Parthian, he almost always elides, and that may indeed represent
his own pronunciation.


45








10. ELISIONS IN COMUS
AND SAMSON AGONISTES



T his study would not be complete without presenting the
evidence with respect to Milton's first and last lengthy
poems. Neither, of course, is composed entirely of decasyllables.
The tabulations that follow (Table 4) are based on the decasyl-
labic lines; that is, for Comus lines 1-92, 145-299, and 244-858
(omitting seven broken lines that fall in the decasyllabic pas-
sages), a total of 785 lines. For Samson 479 chorus lines have
been omitted and lines 606-51, a lyrical speech by Samson, mak-
ing a total of 1,233 lines used. (The frequencies in Table 4 are
based on these figures.)
It should be immediately clear that Milton had not fully de-
veloped his system of elision when he wrote Comus. Quantita-
tively he used only 182 elisions per 1000 lines, and qualitatively
he was freer in this poem, sticking less rigidly to the categories
he later adopted, than elsewhere. When he wrote Comus, he
seems to have been well acquainted with the tradition of metrical
elision, but he was not quite at home with the practices.
In Samson he uses these devices with less frequency than he
did in Paradise Lost or Paradise Regained, except for the second
book of the latter poem. Perhaps his interest was, to some ex-
tent, tapering off, but there is another ready explanation. Elisions
are largely devices used to secure variation in the line, but in
Samson the need to secure variation is not so great as in the epic
poems because the decasyllabic passages are broken by the cho-
ruses. Furthermore, in Samson Milton made great use of feminine
endings in the decasyllabic portions, a practice which also tends
to alleviate tediousness in the verse.
The reader is invited to compare the frequencies per 1000
lines for each category of elision to ascertain how Milton's prac-
tice developed throughout his career.


46








11. SUMMARY OF
MILTON'S PRACTICE



t is abundantly clear that Milton employed the traditional sys-
tem of metrical elision that had been the heritage of English
poets since Chaucer. To this system he added no new categories.
He did, however, show great virtuosity in his treatment of each
variety of elision. In fact the list of words, and combinations of
words, that Milton permitted to elide is greater than that of any
other poet in the language, and on this circumstance his claim to
perfecting the entire technique of handling these devices must
largely rest.
Also, the tables indicate that elision was a technique that Mil-
ton had to learn as a practicing poet. In Comus he used it with
noticeable lack of sureness; his total use of these devices in that
poem amounts to only 182 elisions per 1000 lines. With respect to
the amount of use made of elision, Milton reached his peak in the
first half of Paradise Lost, particularly in the first book. There-
after, he shows a gradual tapering off. In the first six books the
frequency is 351 elisions per 1000 lines (all types considered).
This is, in fact, more than any other English poet had seen fit to
adopt since the final -e of Middle English ceased to be treated as
a metrical device.' In Books VII through XII the average
was 279 elisions per 1000 lines. That is substantially the average
Milton maintained in Paradise Regained (288 per 1000 lines),
though in that poem there is, as has been noted, considerable dif-
ference among the four books. In Samson Agonistes the fre-
quency of metrical elision decreases even further, to 245 per 1000
lines, but there Milton was not faced with exactly the same prob-
lems. Samson is dramatic verse and required less attention to de-
vices of this nature to prevent monotony. Moreover, in Samson
Milton did not return to the practice of Comus; with regard to
the frequency of elision Samson is much closer to Paradise Re-
1. I have treated this matter at some length elsewhere, in "The Theory and
Practice of Poetic Elision."


47







MILTON'S ELISIONS
gained and the last half of Paradise Lost than it is to Comus.
And if one were to examine each category of elision in detail in
Samson, it would quickly be noticed that so far as quality is con-
cerned Milton brings to the dramatic poem all of the skill he
showed in Paradise Lost plus, in some respects, considerably more
daring. He continued to extend the list of words that could enter
into elidible situations, but, by and large, where he intended the
lines to be decasyllabic, he was as regular in Samson as he had
been in Paradise Lost. This evidence tends to confirm the ortho-
dox chronology of Milton's work (see the Graph on page 67).
There can be little doubt that Milton learned his technique of
metrical elision from studying the English poets. But he must
also have picked up many pointers from the poetry and hand-
books of other languages. Surely, he noted with attentiveness
what took place in classical poetry, and there is little reason to
doubt that he found something to be learned in Italian poetry
and criticism. But, on the whole, his elisions were traditional Eng-
lish varieties, and the bulk of his actual cases were already fa-
miliar to him from his reading of English poetry. For example,
he made great use of the commonplace synaloephae involving
the article, and he also liked many a, an elision found frequently
in the earlier poets. To the use of elisions based on contiguous
vowels he brought great virtuosity, but many of his elisions in
this category were not his own inventions. The monosyllabic use
of being, for example, was almost as common in Marlowe and
Shakespeare as it was in Milton.
It is not possible to identify the influences on Milton's metrical
technique much more closely than that. A comparison of his
elisions with those of other poets indicates that he read and stud-
ied all the important poets with close attention. Sometimes one
finds an elision in Milton that seems to have come to him from
Donne or Shakespeare or Jonson, but there are too few of these
for one to generalize about them. On the whole the elisions be-
longed to everyone; they were part of a metrical tradition on
which all the poets could draw (and all the great ones did).
In one respect Milton seems to have adopted a technique di-
rectly from Chaucer; that is, the use of both elided and unelided
48







SUMMARY
forms in adjacent lines (e.g., Paradise Lost III.131-32, III.216-17,
or IX.1025-26).
Milton has always been recognized as a great prosodist; indeed
he has received more attention in this regard than any other poet
in the language. After Bridges' work most students were ready
to admit that Milton employed some system of metrical elision,
though they were not always willing to agree just what that was.
On the whole Milton's Prosody (especially since the 1921 edi-
tion) has proved convincing if not quite satisfactory. But Bridges
did not recognize that Milton's system was an extension and re-
finement of a strong metrical tradition that had existed for cen-
turies. Bridges believed, but was not always able to persuade his
readers to agree, that Milton's system was a conscious technique.
Some students still seem to believe that metrical elision, while
it exists, is essentially a reflection of a poet's pronunciation
under certain circumstances. Nothing could be further from the
truth. Even a cursory study of Milton shows how very much
aware he was of metrical matters, what refinements he went into
with regard to details, how anxious he was to guide the reader
with adequate, if not consistent, clues to his prosody so that no
one might mis-meter him.
Unfortunately, most of the devices Milton employed to make
his elisions received no notice in the critical works of his time,
though here and there one finds mention of this or that device,
usually in the handbooks on rhetoric. We in the twentieth
century have grown out of touch with these techniques, just as
we have ceased to recognize the tropes and figures of rhetoric
when they appear. It is of course our education that is at fault.
Over and over again the poets furnish more than adequate clues
to their practice.
The great bulk of Milton's work was done in the traditional
English decasyllable. A study of elision indicates that this line
was understood by the poets to be of a very high degree of regu-
larity, once the permissible elisions are recognized. It was in-
tended to have ten syllables, though the number might be varied
by the addition of a feminine ending and truncated lines (that is,
lines with the initial syllable omitted) were sometimes permitted.
49







MILTON S ELISIONS
But the poets on the whole did not permit any extrametrical syl-
lables. They wrote verse of great regularity, though their sys-
tem permitted a great deal of variation. Elision was primarily a
device whereby a poet could secure variation in his lines and thus
prevent euphonic monotony. It was also, especially in Milton, a
device for securing economy; that is, by clever manipulation of
elision a poet could pack his lines with much more meaning than
would otherwise be possible. Very generally, then, the extensive
system of metrical elision on which the English poets might draw
helped them to secure something of the same effect that the in-
flectional system of Latin provided for the Roman poet. Finally,
elision might be used functionally, almost symbolically, to help
the poet indicate certain things about particular speakers, or cer-
tain passages, in his poem. Milton did not employ these devices
in this regard often. In Paradise Lost, as we have seen, there are
a few passages that indicate he was experimenting with the use
of elision to emphasize the euphonic quality of the lines in ques-
tion. In Paradise Regained there is even more reason to believe
he was prepared to use elision very subtly to underscore the
meaning of the plain words of certain passages. But on the whole
Milton used these devices to secure variation, so that Paradise
Lost is not a monotonous poem to read-he had learned a great
deal by reading the Faerie Queene-but a very clever symphony
of sounds. He also used elisions to pack his lines with meaning.
There is scarcely any poetry in English, with the possible excep-
tion of Shakespeare's, so filled with matter as Milton's.


50









APPENDIX


F or the reader's convenience in locating the elisions in the text of
Paradise Lost, they are listed herein in their order of appearance,
excepting only multiple occurrences (indicated by number paren-
thetically) and one or two places where it seemed desirable for clar-
ity to list related forms together. Hypermonosyllables, a category
containing very few actual words, are listed according to this prin-
ciple, but it will be harder to locate these in the text.
The figures may not always agree exactly with those in the tables,
though differences are of no statistical importance, for I have con-
sidered a few doubtful instances in the tabulation. In cases where
there may be a doubt in which category to place an elision, I have
usually included it with that type of elision that occurs most fre-
quently. A small number of exceptions to this principle have been
permitted (on aesthetic grounds), but normally I have attempted
to be as consistent as possible. No deviation from principles af-
fects the frequency per 1000 lines more than a small fraction.
A few ligatured symbols employed by Milton are here repre-
sented by ae, Ae, or Oe (in words like pandaemonium). Also, in
the appendix Milton's capitals have usually been reduced to lower
case letters.
Many times an elision listed here may seem to the reader to be a
natural speech form. However, I have not included any instances
except those in which an expanded pronunciation occurs elsewhere
in Milton, elsewhere in the poets of Renaissance, or, in a very few
cases, where such a pronunciation might reasonably be expected by
analogy. For example, one might object that the word natural nor-
mally exists in the flow of speech as a disyllable, as well as a trisyl-
lable, and therefore may not be an elision at all. Milton, however,
uses both forms.
BOOK I:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'nly (3 times), heav'n(s) (35), pow-
er(s) (14), orepowr'd, heaven (2), imbowr, flowr, flowry, towrs
(2), towr, ev'n, even, flowers-(total 64).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: adventurous, spir-
it(s) (9), weltring, merit, conquerour (2), suffering, sulphurous,
51








MILTON S ELISIONS
glimmering, slumbring, thundring (2), mineral, sufferance (2), sov-
ran (2), ponderous, covering, generals) (2), hovering, barbarous,
wandering (2), emperors, watry, bordring, amorous, offerings, glit-
tering, deliberate, considerate, numerous, wondering, severing-(44);
(b) over -1: perilous, groveling, innumerable as, immeasurable anon,
populous, temple of-(6); over -n: prison ordain'd, ev'ning, lik'n-
ing, count'nance, hardning, original, op'ning-(7); (d) over -m
(very doubtful): ceremony-(1)-(58).
SYNALOEPHAE: th'Aonian, th'upright, th'infernal, glory above, th'-
ethereal, th'Omnipotent (2), th'utmost, th'Arch-Enemy, the un-
conquerable, ignominy and, th'excess (2), th'Apostate, th'imbattelld,
glory extinct, th'Arch-fiend, th'occasion, many a (3), th'ocean, be
it, th'Almighty (2), th'associates, th'oblivious, th'Etrurian, to adore,
th'advantage, th'uplifted, th'invisible, sanctuary it, valley of, th'ob-
scene, th'Asphaltick, th'offensive, also against, th'infection, th'Ion-
ian, th'Hesperian, to have (3), th'imperial, sorrow and, th'heroic
Marocco or, glory obscur'd, th'arch, th'event, th'abysse, th'ascend-
ing, th'Aegaean-(54).
ELISION OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: disobedience, Siloa's, Aon-
ian, impious (3), ethereal (2), hideous (2), tempestuous, myriads
(2), mutual, glorious, ruin, mightiest, dubious, suppliant, empyreal,
experience, perpetual, mightier (2), being (2), impetuous, satiate,
Titanian, unusual, subterranean, glorying, Stygian, celestial, asso-
ciates, oblivious, liveliest, pernicious, superior, toward (2), Etrurian,
Memphian (2), perfidious, chariot, warriors (2), Lybian, memorial,
various (3), promiscuous, opprobrious, Israel (3), Syrian (3), bes-
tial, Sidonian, uxorious, annual, Ezekiel, alienated, odious, Belial (2),
atheist, luxurious, riot, loftiest, Ionian, Delphian, Adria, Hesperian,
clarions, imperial, meteor, orient, Dorian, experienc't, Ilium, auxiliar,
Fontarabbia, followers, inglorious, caelestial, highest,1 Assyria, Au-
sonian, Aegaean, industrious, Pandaemonium, worthiest, champions,
expatiate, Indian, incorporeal-(101).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: didst (2), know'st, satst, mad'st, beest, seest
(2)-(8).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: fall'n (4), fal'n, ris'n, drivn, rea-
son, chos'n, giv'n (2), grav'n-(12) (and one case that is doubtful:
temple in [templav]).
1. In the case of highest the elision is not, strictly speaking, between con-
tiguous vowels but between a diphthong and vowel.
52







APPENDIX

CONTRACTIONS: o'rewhelm'd, orepowr'd, e're (for ever), oreblown,
i'th', nathless,2 scap't (for escaped), orethrew, ore (3), 'twixt,3 o're,
scape (for escape) (3)-(16).
BOOK II:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (63), heavn's, heaven, heavenly,
heav'nly (e) (4), showrs, showre, powers) (13), towrs (3), seven-
(fold), overpower, flowers, powerful (2), evil-(94).
ELISION OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: thunderers, ling-
ring (2), torturer, torturing, desperate, timorous, bordering (2),
vent'rous, conquerour (2), sovran, offerings, preferring,4 prosper-
ous, must'ring, blustring, pillar of, suffering, dangerous, neighbour-
ing, wandering (5), pondering (2), sov'ranty, tollerable, deliverance,
reverence, general (2), spirits) (6), lowering, several, adventurous,
shuddring, monstrous, labouring, artillery, hov'ring, ingendring,
battering, fluttring, faultring, numerous, wondrous, glimmering-
(56); (b) over -1: evil and, popular, inutterable and, impenitrable
impal'd, distinguishable in, invulnerable in, immeasurably all-(7);
(c) over -n: ominous, threatening (2), brightening, count'nance (2),
ev'ning, deafning, abominable, opening (2), original, weakning-
(13)-(76).
SYNALOEPHAE: th'Eternal, th'ascent, th'event, to have, th'other (4),
th'ethereal (2), th'Almighty (2), ignominy or, th'assembly (2), con-
tinue and, th'inevitable, difficulty or, do I, th'adventure, the highest,
glory excites, th'antagonist, hollow abyss, th'Olympian, th'enven-
om'd, th'Euboic, many a (7), glory and, th'obdured, Damiata and
(2), th'effect, th'attempt, th'adventrous, adversary of, th'undaunted,
folly and, thee and, th'Artick, fury 0, t'whom (2), th'host, th'-
unfounded, th'intricate, massie Iron, th'infernal, city or, th'advan-
tage, difficulty and (2), th'utmost, th'empyreal (2)-(61).
ELISION OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: gorgeous, insatiate, celestial,
glorious (2), happier (2), inferior, opprobrious, Tartarean, labo-
rious, being (4), perpetual (3), Belial (2), industrious, immediate,
ethereal (4), victorious (2), intellectual, doing, hideous (4), am-
2. Nathless is really a variant rather than a contraction, but as it appears to
be used with the same effect and same purpose as a contraction there seems
no reason to complicate matters by adding another very small category. A few
other examples are similar.
3. Aphetic forms, by the same virtue, are also not strictly speaking contrac-
tions.
4. In this category the elision would seem highly fictive.
53







MILTON'S ELISIONS
brosial (2), conspicuous, mightiest, audience (2), imperial (2), eas-
ier (2), orient, champions (2), empyreal (2), toward(s) (5), ra-
diant, Stygian (2), presumptuous, likeliest, Pythian, Olympian, Oea-
lia, Thessalian, Oeta, oblivion, Serbonian, periods, Gorgonian, pro-
digious, highest (2), aequinoctial, Ethiopian, Cerberean, Calabria,
Trinacrian, uglier, scorpions, Caspian, odious, violent, dalliance, vo-
luptuous, bestial, impetuous, chariots, empbryon, materials, ruinous,
tumultuous, flying, Arimaspian, various, readiest, following, dubious,
emptier-(97).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: breath'st, know'st, call'st (2), becam'st,
took'st, sawst, claim'st, show'st, gav'st, seest-(ll).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: fall'n (2), ris'n, driv'n (2), giv'n
(2), befalln-(8).
CONTRACTIONS: o're (4), e're (apparently for ever) (2), orewatcht,
scape, ore (without apostrophe) (3), o'respread, o'rematcht-(13).

BOOK III:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s), (33), heaven(s) (7), heavn,
heav'nly (4), flowrie, ev'n, even, power(s)(ful) (11), flour(s)(ie)
(4), seav'n (2), seven (2), browre-(70).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS; (a) over -r: sovran (2), Tire-
sias, utterance, uttering (2), deliv'rance, sufferance, offering, won-
dring, wondrous (3), general, river of, glittering, blustring, glimmer-
ing, neighboring (2), glistering, wondrously, spirits) (8), iron,
wandering (2), remembrance, several, cumbrous, reverence-(37);
(b) over -1: inimitable on-(l); (c) over -n: count'nance, ever-
threatning, op'ning-(3)-(43).
SYNALOEPHAE: th'eternal (2), I express, th'Orphean, the Almighty,
th'ethereal, also is, justly accuse, shadow of, the other, mercy and
(2), glorie excel, th'innumerable, th'incensed, th'unjust, th'Almighty
(3), many as, glory abounds, thy humiliation, the effulgence, glorie
abides, th'aspiring, only extold, mercie and, pitie enclin(e) (d) (2),
th'inroad, transitorie and, glorie or, th'other (2), th'unaccomplisht,
th'angelical, many a(n) (3), easie ascent, th'earth (2), th'horizon,
vertue even, th'arch-chimic, th'Aequator, body opaque, the aire, th'-
Arch-Angel, only evil, only in, timely interposes, the earth, th'-
eliptic-(54).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: effluence, ethereal (3), Styg-
54







APPENDIX

ian, Phineus, harmonious, shadiest, celestial (3), irradiate, radiant
(4), toward(s) (4), obedience (5), influence, ambrosial, glorious
(4), heavier, effectual, disobeying, speediest, victorious, inglorious,
filial, enjoying, worthiest, gloriously (2), Elisian, melodious, being,
conspicuous, chariot (2), copious, inferior, Indian, Elysium, em-
bryos, idiots, devious, orient, guardians, mysteriously, Arabian, Hes-
perian, various (3), Proteus, vertuous, terrestrial, visual, tiar, illus-
trious, Uriel (2), likeliest, empyreal, worthiest, material, superior-
(76).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: hear'st, didst (3), revisit'st, know'st, canst
(2), sit'st, shad'st, drov'st, seest (2)-(13).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: givn (2), fall'n (2), drivn-(5).
CONTRACTIONS: o're (6).

BOOK IV:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (29), heaven (2), heav'nl(y)-
(ie) (4), towrs, towre, powers) (9), powerful, powrd, showrd,
flour(s)(e) (9), bowrs, bower (4), flowers, shower(s)(d) (3),
lours, seavenfold, eeven-(70).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: sufferings, remem-
brance, verdurous, general (3), neighboring, odoriferous, odorous
(3), wandering (2), murmuring (3), gathering, clustring, whispering,
savourie, numerous, conquering, utterance, wondering, watry (2),
answering (2), amorous, slumbrous, glistring (2), glittering, min-
istring, sovran, adulterous, ivorie, ingendring, spirits) (7), spiritual
(2)-(47); (b) over -1: devillish, purple and, devilish, inviolable,
violate-(5); (c) over -n: threatening, eminent, gardening, sharpning
-(4)-(56).
SYNALOEPHAE: th'Apocalyps, the inhabitants, th'accuser, to ac-
cuse, th'Omnipotent, th'Assyrian, many a (3), th'ascent, th'other
(2), th'arch-fellon, the East, worthy of, only and, th'Eternal (2),
th'inspired, th'earth, th'unwieldy, unweildy elephant, th'ocean, th'-
ascending, continue and, th'expanse, th'Angelic (2), th'unarmed,
th'Almighties, th'East, th'hour, body or, beauty adornd, only en-
lighten, the unwiser, be it, th'accustomd, fancie and, th'animal,
vertue in, th'esteem, military obedience, th'acknowledg'd, th'infernal
-(45).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: furious, tumultuous, towards
55







MILTON'S ELISIONS
(2), meridian (2), glorious (3), easiest, highest, inferio(u)r (2),
heavier (2), Uriel (3), Assyrian (2), loftiest, stateliest, goodliest
(2), Media, substantial, Seleucia, ambrosial, orient (2), curious, var-
ious (3), amiable, Hesperian, irriguous, umbrageous, luxuriant, Lib-
yan, Ethiop, filial, mysterious (3), happiest (3), lovliest, dalliance,
Gordian, mutual (3), obedience (3), following (2), happier (3),
unexperienc't, being, individual, superior, envious, likelier, conspic-
uous, Gabriel (6), celestial (4), diamond, impetuous, alien, war-
riour (2), spiritual (2), earliest (2), echoing, beauteous, costliest,
shadier, connubial, bestial, holiest, perpetual, Patriarchs, casual, shad-
dowie, issuing, Uzziel, radiant, Ithuriel, contemptuous, presumptu-
ous, inexperience, easier, violence, scorpion-(109).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: look'st, hadst (4), had'st, knowst (5), cryd'st,
seest (2), fli'st (2), sitst, telst, bidst, mad'st, com'st, satst, stood'st,
resembl'st, wouldst (2), mightst, incurr'st, couldst, fledst, draw'st-
(31).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: unshak'n, giv'n (3), forbidden,
fall'n, ris'n, chos'n, driv'n-(9).
CONTRACTIONS: sdeind, o're (6), oreleapt, scap't, scape-(10).

BOOK V:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (42), heaven(s) (2), heav'nly
(4), powers) (17), pow'r, showers, showrd, towrs (2), towering,
flours (2), floure, flower, flouring, flourets, bowre (4), dowr, even,
ev'n, even (2), seaventimes-(87).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: temperat, whis-
pering, wondering (2), ventrous, (un)savourie (3), wandering, arbor-
ous, hov'ring, discovering, numerous (2), wondrous (2), sov'ran
(2), glittering (2), nectarous, reverence, several (2), differing, cor-
poral (2), surety, neighboring, innumerable, sovran, remembrest,
rememberest, sanctuarie, dextrous-(35); (b) over -1: inextricable
or-(1); (c) over -n: gard'n of, ris'n on, disburd'ning, unlibidinous,
lik'ning, awak'ning, count'nance, lightning, quick'ning-(9)-(45).
SYNALOEPHAE: th'eastern (2), th'only, envie or, we affirm, the
earth, the uncolourd, th'adopted, th'Eternal (2), th'angelic (3), th'-
empyreal (3), to all, many a, berrie and, to a, two only, the angelic,
to entertain, no ingrateful, the empiric, to have (2), th'occasion, me
and, journey and, me 0, th'invisible, shadow of, to other, th'Al-
56







APPENDIX
might (y) (ies) (2), into utter, th'Omnipotent, we have, th'all, the
unsleeping, envie against, th'unwarie, to erect, th'abuse, deitie and,
glory &, th'incensed (2), th'Apostat, th'anointed-(51).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: orient (2), shadowie, ambro-
sia (1) (3), happier, worthier, various (6), glorious (5), quaternion,
perpetual, melodious (2), bounteous, Raphael (2) violence, celestial
(3), empyreal (3), ethereal (3), Cassia, superfluous, juciest, kind-
liest, India, superior (3), meridian, spiritual (3), corporeal, mellif-
luous, transubstantiate, drossiest, being (5), radiant, gradual, intel-
lectual, diet, obedient (2), patriarch, disobediencee (5), delineate,
imperial (2), hierarch(al) (ies) (3), memorials, individual, bounte-
ous, copious, roseat, friendliest, contemptuous, myriads, shadowie,
associate, ambiguous, diamond, calumnious, audience, Abdiel (2),
impious (2), experience, illustrious, alienate, perfidious-(97).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: sleepst (2), mayst, canst (2), didst (3), sitst,
crownst, climb'st, fallst, meetst, fli'st, hear'st, find'st, couldst, con-
tinu'st, tellst, injoinst, seest, laugh'st, saist (2)-(24).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: risen, falln, fall'n (2), given, giv'n
(2)-(7).
CONTRACTIONS: o're (2), scap't, submiss, oreshades, twixt-(6).

BOOK VI:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (52), heaven, powers) (17),
heavenl(y)(ie) (3), overpowerd, powerfullest, towering, showr,
showrie, flour, flourets, eevn-(81).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: sovran, advent'-
rous, innumerable, inconquerable, ministring (2), spirits) (5), en-
countring, numerous (2), entering, nectarous, wondrous (2), answer-
ing (2), deliverer, deliverance, thundring, thunderer, dolorous,
neighboring, sanctuarie, dangerous, bickering, timerous, monstrous,
measuring-(32); (b) over -1: evil unknown, invulnerable impeni-
trably, dev'lish, devilish, devillish, invisible is-(6); over -n: streit'-
ning, opening (2), count'nance-(4)-(42).
SYNALOEPHAE: testimonie of, many a(n) (4), th'horizon, th'Eter-
nal (2), th'apostat, th'Almightie('s) (2), th'Omnipotent, th'unwise,
th'Arch-angel, armie against, the arch, th'angelic (2), to Almightie,
th'ethereal, many and, glorie aspires, th'inviolable, th'other (2), th'-
assembly, th'invention, th'inventer, easie it, th'originals, easie and, to
57







MILTON'S ELISIONS
oppose, th'assessor, vertue and, glorie account, th'undying, th'im-
pure, the uprooted, th'obdurate, t'whom, th'accurst, th'unsufferable,
th'explusion, to have-(44).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: perpetual (2), obsequious
(2), empyreal (2), orient (2), chariot(s) (er) (12), myriads, might-
ier, easier, glorious (2), Michael (5), celestial (4), Gabriel (2),
ethereal (2), obvious, various (2), furious (2), envier, hideous (3),
Abdiel (3), mightiest (5), highest (2), erroneous, dieties, worthiest
(4), worthier, impious (2), saying, warrior (2), plenteous, heav-
iest, easier, imperious, conspicuous, discontinuous, issuing, memo-
rial, bellowing, Uriel, diamond, atheist, Ariel, Arioc, Ramiel, obliv-
ion, ignominious, disobedience (3), violence, odious, superior,
ethereous, ambrosial, materials, beauteous, ambient, infuriate, mu-
tual, arguing, speediest, Zophiel, flying, shaddowing (2), ambiguous,
immediate, impetuous, Belial, shadowing, likeliest, filial, holiest, glad-
lier, obedience (2), radiant, illustrious, contiguous, tempestuous, vic-
torious-(121).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: didst, seest (3), returns, comst, errst, de-
prav'st, dar'st, saidst, canst, shouldst, call'st, believst, knowst, seekst,
declarst, lov'st, hat'st, maist (2)-(21).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: fall'n (2), giv'n (2), prison-(5).
CONTRACTIONS: gan, twixtt, orewearied, orewhelm, o're (2)-(6).

BOOK VII:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (37), heaven, heav'nl(y)(ie)
(4), powers) (3), powerful, flour'd, towre, eev'n (3), ev'n (2), evil
(2), seventh, seav'nth-(57).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: tempring, bar-
barous, wandering (2), differing, sovran, temperance, spirits) (5),
several, clustring, luminaries, numerous (2), innumerous, pasturing,
liveries, wondrous, answering-(22); (b) over -1: unimaginable as,
innumerable and, communicable in, immeasurable abyss-(4); (c)
over -n: listening (2), soft'ning, opening (2)-(5)-(31).
SYNALOEPHAE: th'Olympian, th'Almight(y) (ie) ('s) (4), th'Aleian,
timely of, the infinitly, th'invisible, folly as, th'Omnipotent,
th'ungodly, th'habitations, the Armoury, th'Omnific, th'abyss, ver-
tue infus'd, th'earth (3), the humble, the earth (4), th'expanse, to
illuminate, th'horizon, the op'n, unweildie enormous, the egg,
58







APPENDIX
th'air, th'other, starrie eyes, azure and, the Omnipotent, the Aire,
th'addition, th'impereal-(39).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: Urania (2), following,
Olympian, celestial (4), empyreal, Aleian, erroneous, narrower,
audience (2), conspicuous, ambient, illustrious, happier, victorious,
envious, obedience (2), overshadowing, filial (2), immediate, hier-
archies, radiance, radiant, sapience, chariot(s) (2), myriads, spon-
taneous, harmonious, furious, tartareous, ethereal (2), orient, cir-
cumfluous, contiguous, embryon, satiate, immediately, perpetual,
various, copious, glorious (2), borrowing, dividual, plenteously,
saying, wallowing, mutual, annual, clarion, ambiguous, sinuous,
parsimonious, varieties, symphonious, imperial, impiously-(65).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: dwell'st, didst, visit'st, maist, canst, knowst
(3), gav'st, suttl'st, becam'st, mai'st, eat'st, di'st, remember'st,
heard'st, seest, creat'st, seek'st-(19).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: fall'n (2), driv'n-(3).
No CONTRACTIONS.

BOOK VIII:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (22), heav'nl(y)(ie) (8), power
(3), powerful, overpowerd, flour(s) (3), flourie, bowers, boure,
bowre, seventh, eev'n-(44).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: entering, won-
drous, glistering, luminaries, spiritual, wandering (3), different (2),
several, sufferance, remembrance, sovran (2), wondering, endevor-
ing, murmuring, watry, cowring, ordering, solitarie, collateral,
spirits) (4), amorous, honouring, higher in-(30); (b) over -1:
invisible else, innumerable ordain'd-(2); (c) over -n: reasoning
(2), count'nance, luminous, discount'nanc't, reason and, condescen-
sion and -(7)-(39).
SYNALOEPHAE: to ask, the eye, me &, th'Almighty, the eighth,
to his, th'inferiour, occasionally and, the eare, I approve, only or,
happie and (2), body enjoy'st-(14).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: hystorian, officiate, punc-
tual, superfluous, (in)corporeal (2), studious, gladlier, mutual (2),
Raphael (2), spiritual, various(ly) (4), industrious, transpicuous,
terrestrial, obvious (2), being (3), easiest, easier, experience, satiate,
59







MILTON S ELISIONS
toward, obedience (2), furious, happier, goodliest, higher, pre-
sumptuous, inferiour (3), tedious, associates, deficience, celestial
(2), glorious, bounteous, enviest, obsequious, superior, vertuous-
est, loveliest, mysterious, harmonious, irradiance, virtual, immediate,
Hesperean, ethereal-(59).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: supposest, thinks (2), seest (4), sought,
eat'st, call'st, know'st (3), shouldst (2), seek'st, canst, spak'st,
saw'st, could'st, need'st, perceav'st, admir'st, maist (2), blam'st,
saist, enjoy'st-(28).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: giv'n (2).
CONTRACTIONS: o're (2), oreflow'd, e're (for ever), submiss-(5).

BOOK IX:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (16), heav'nl(y) (ie) (5), pow'r,
powers) (8), powerful, flour(s) (9), flourie, deflourd, bowers,
bowre (2), tour'd, imbowr'd, lowr'd, seven, eevn, even, evil (6)-
(57).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: slumbring, con-
centring, centring, maistring, azure or, sovran (4), savorie (2),
wandering (2), wandering, spirits) (2), hovering, wondrous, ven-
tring, reverence, faultring, adventurous, liberal, muttering, amorous,
utterance, pasturing, covering-(28); (b) over -1: populous, infor-
midable exempt, capitoline, articulate, credulous-(5); (c) over -n:
gardening (2), reasoning (2), reason and, threatner, eat'n and, opener,
countnance, threatening-(10)-(43).
SYNALOEPHAE: the horizon, the eighth, vertue appeers, me as, the
infernal, th'angelic, he effected, many a (3), th'approach, th'earths,
th'hour, th'attempt (2), though in, th'assault, the influence, th'event
(2), th'other (2), dairie each, enemie of, beautie adore, thee and,
he obeyd, th'amaz'd, to excess, th'offence, be admired, bodie and,
th'effects, enemie hath, to incurr, so oft, th'American, to approve,
to have, th'accuser, to her-(41).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: venial, disobedience, alien-
ated, Lavinia, celestial (2), studious, Gabriel, heavier, Uriel, wor-
thier, terrestrial (2), gradual, (in)glorious (3), highest, bestial, in-
telligential, luxurious, casual, associate, lovelier (2), (in)satiate (3),
societie, envying (2), being (3), (un)seemliest (2), ineffectual,
superfluous, matrimonial, exterior, obedience, towards, patriarch,

60







APPENDIX
Oread, likeliest, stateliest, sapien(t)(ce) (3), dalliance (2), issuing,
intellectual (2), Illyria, Ammonian, Olympias, Scipio, tortuous,
duteous, various, fluctuats, audience, happier, easier, vertuous (2),
experience (2), following, continual, superior (2), inferior, am-
brosial, odious, deitie, amiable, illustrious, lascivious, mutual (2),
Herculean, Indian(s) (2), echoing, Amazonian, sensual-(88).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: receav'st, knowst, shouldst (4), fearst,
wouldst (2), seemst, foundst, canst (2), cam'st, command'st, op'nst,
giv'st, saidst (2), didst (4), hadst (3), imput'st, call'st, could'st-
(29).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: giv'n, given, driv'n, befall'n, for-
bidd'n, forbidden-(6).
CONTRACTIONS: twixt, submiss, 'gan-(3).

BOOK X:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (18), heaven (3), heav'nly (3),
powers) (16), powerful, impow'rd, showre, bowrs, flour(s) (2),
seav'n, eevn, devil,5 evill-(50).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: wondering (2),
whether in,6 collateral, faultring, sovran, adventurous, savour of,
hovering, wondrous (2), several, several (2), dangerous, numerous,
emperour, adventurer, accessories, spattering, conquering, thun-
drous, lateral, miserie, natural, spirit, thundring, incorporate, wan-
dring, reverence, recovering, shivering, labouring, shattering,
watering (2)-(36); (b) over -1: groveling, idlely, innumerable
and, obicular, abominable accurst, tollerable and, Serraliona, miser-
able of, miserable it-(9); (c) over -n: discount'nanc't, garden
and, opening, ravenous (2), listening, unoriginal, bituminous,
count'nance, reasoning, begotten and, rav'nous-(12)-(57).
SYNALOEPHAE: to have (2), th'angelic, th'unwelcome, th'ethereal,
thee and, mercie as, glorie him, deitie erewhile, to offend, obstinacie
and, thou art, thee above, th'accus'd, thou hast, thy wife,7 also and,

5. Devil like evil is an exceptional hypermonosyllable; it did, however, have
a monosyllabic pronunciation in some dialects.
6. In a few cases before Milton whether appears to have been used as a
hypermonosyllable itself.
7. Elisions of this nature, in which the word ending in a vowel precedes a
semivowel rather than another vowel or aspirate are extremely rare in Milton.
61







MILTON'S ELISIONS
th'herb, th'instant, difficulties of, th'infernal (2), many a (3), th'
imagined, th'indignant, to observe, vertue hath, fully aveng'd,
th'empyreal, th'affaires, th'other (2), the inland, th'upper, th'ac-
claime, only of, to our, my adventure, th'unreal, th'untractable,
fiercely opposed, to increase, th'account, th'open, th'applause,
th'offended, they assayd, th'equinoctial, th'horizon, th'irrational,
alreadie in, sorrow abandoned, happie is, glory who, thou enjoy,
me I, thee of, justly is, be it (2), th'extent, happie had, vertu all,
adversarie his, only I, unwarie and, thee I, pitie incline, th'inclem-
ent, sorrow unfeign'd (2)-(73).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: celestial, ethereal, toward(s)
(4), immediate (2), radiant, obvious, conspicuous, being (3), su-
perior, vitiated, mysterious, saying, pittying, opprobrious, happier,
impervious, following (4), Cronian, Gorgonian, Memnonian,
Asia,8 scorpion (2), various (2), stupendious, illustrious, alienated,
empyreal, glorious (4), associate, issuing (3), Pandaemonium,
Bactrian, Plutonian, Stygian, inferiour, Pythian, annual, actual, ha-
bitual, plenteous, incestuous, victorious, audience, extenuate, sol-
stitial, tempestuous, equinoctial, perpetual, Thyestean, Boreas, Cae-
cias, Thrascias, Libecchio, gloomiest, disobedient, corporeal,
heavier (2), Happiest, cruel, erroneous, easier, wiselier, highest,
piteous, pitying, commodiously, humiliation (2)-(86).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: mayst, knowst (2), shouldst, wouldst (2),
mad'st, gav'st, didst (4), did'st, had'st, view'st, hadst, thinks,
wouldst, couldst, desir'st (2), fearst, feelst, bearst-(24).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: stoln, fall'n (3), driv'n (4), giv'n
(3), ris'n (2), befall'n (2), forgiv'n, light'n-(17).
CONTRACTIONS: scape, gan-(2).

BOOK XI:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (18), heavn, heavn's, heav'nly
(5), powers) (4), powre, bowrs, bowre, flour(s) (3), flourie,
showr, towers, ev'n, eev'n (3), seventh, seavens, evil-(45).
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: regenerate,
spirits) (5), general, sovran, pastoral, reverence (3), glistering,

8. Though Asia with disyllabic value may seem unlikely to be an elision, it
occurs elsewhere as a trisyllable, particularly in the verse of Marlowe.
62







APPENDIX
recovering (2), whether among,9 suffering(s) (2), different (2),
offering, offering, (in)temperance (4), monstrous, feavorous, dis-
figuring, connatural, combrous, rendring, labouring, iron, neigh-
bouring, amorous (2), mustring, batterie, sulfurous, reverend, hov-
ering, numerous, wandering, watrie (2), degenerate, wondrous-
(48); (b) over -1: variable and, inhospitable appeer, jav'lin-(3);
(c) over -n: covenant (2), opening (2), count'nance, praeeminence,
chast'ning, original, resonant, opener, effeminate, threatening, be-
tok'ning, covenant-(14)-(65).
SYNALOEPHAE: th'ancient, th'angelic, th'Almighty, th'unholie,
th'archangelic, th'offended, to entitle, th'eastern, th'air, to offend,
th'Arch-angel (2), th'ambrosial, only his, th'earth (3), many a,
the hand, th'empire, th'effects, th'excepted, th'Angel (4), t'whom,
th'unjust, th'others, th'entrance, th'inabstinence, th'image, the harp,
th'eevning, to admit, pittie and, th'ensanguind, bodie or, be admir'd,
sorrow a, heav'nly instructer-(41).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: lowliest, speedier, Deuca-
lion, envious, propitiation, toward(s) (3), unharmonious, happier,
Michael (11), warriors (2), perpetual, sorrowing, easiest (2),
Arcadian, opiate, Leucothea, deitie, laborious, goodliest, orient,
radiant, glorious, guardians, Syrian, celestial (3), livelier, Zodiac,
ambrosial, highest, assiduous, virtual, following, obvious, higher,
mightiest, visual, ingredients, violent (3), pietie (2), immediately,
busiest, various, melodious, casual, studious, beauteous, atheists,
superior, rightlier, odious, marrying, impetuous, being, luxurious,
furious, conspicuous, violence-(76).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: didst (2), may'st, mayst (3), maist, know'st,
wak'st, slepst, lead'st, saw'st (3), eatst, drinkst, livst, beheldst (2),
stoodst, utterdst, canst, aim'st,-(23).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: fall'n (2), stolen, giv'n (2), befall'n,
grav'n, burd'n, drivn-(9).
CONTRACTIONS: wherere, o're (2), ope (for open), Ith'-(5).

BOOK XII:
HYPERMONOSYLLABLES: heav'n(s) (23), heav'nly, powers) (7),
powrd, bowre, showre, tower (2), towre, towrs, seven (2),
seventie-(41).
9. As previously noted whether may also be a monosyllable, in Chaucer, for
instance.
63







MILTON'S ELISIONS
ELISIONS OVER LIQUIDS AND NASALS: (a) over -r: labouring, wine-
offerings, sovrantie, spirits) (9), cumbrous, numerous (2), wan-
dring (3), neighboring, deliverer (2), wondrous (2), pillar of (2),
entering, deliverance (2), sanctuary, natural (2), remembering, suf-
fering (2), temporal, spiritual (2), slandrous, labourers, temperate,
lingring-(41); (b) over -1: ridiculous, temple enshrine, popular,
temple itself, answerable add-(5); (c) over -n: bituminous, original,
covenant (3), opening, hastning-(7)-(53).
SYNALOEPHAE: the Archangel (3), citie &, th'irreverent, inhos-
pitably and, glory and, th'Egyptian, th'earth, th'obdurst, citie his,
hereditarie and, many as, to appeer, glory and, th'unfaithful (2),
th'angel (2), to evangelize, to avail, th'ethereal, also in, sorrow and,
th'eastern-(25).
ELISIONS OVER CONTIGUOUS VOWELS: audience, plenteous, towards,
various (2), hideous, Michael (3), dividual, being (2), immediately,
violent, patriar(k)(ch) (2), plainlier, chariot, readiest, (in)glorious
(2), mediator, Messiah, obedien(t) (ce) (4), Zodiac, Gibeon, Israel,
shadowie (2), filial, Joshua, steddiest, deadlier, profluent, happier
(3), period, followers, spiritual (3), amplier, higher, ethereal,
Libyan-(49).
NON-SYLLABIC -EST: abhorr'st, canst (2), saw'st, didst, shouldst,
knowst, enjoydst,10 returns, wentst"-(10).
NON-SYLLABIC FINAL NASALS: giv'n (4), given, ris'n-(6).
CONTRACTIONS: stablisht (for established), o're-(2).
10. In a very few words in which the vowel of -est inflection has been
syncopated a -d may be inserted, either by some process of assimilation or per-
haps simply as a spelling error.
11. Wentest, though an unusual form, also occurs in Paradise Regained, IV.


64





TABLE 1
ELISIONS IN PARADISE LOST
ACTUAL NUMBER

Book I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII

Hypermonosyllables 64 94 70 70 87 81 57 44 57 50 45 41
Elis. over Liq. & Nasals 58 76 43 56 45 42 31 39 43 57 65 53
Synaloephae 54 61 54 45 51 44 39 14 41 73 41 25
Elis. over Cont. vowels 101 97 76 109 97 121 65 59 88 86 76 49
Non-syllabic -est 8 11 13 31 24 21 19 28 29 24 23 10
Non-syllabic final nasals 12 8 5 9 7 5 3 2 6 17 9 6
Contractions 16 13 6 10 6 6 0 5 3 2 5 2
Freq. All Elis. 313 360 267 330 317 320 214 191 267 309 264 186

A few extremely doubtful cases have been omitted.

TABLE 2
FREQUENCY OF ELISIONS PER 1000 LINES IN PARADISE LOST

Book I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII

Hypermonosyllables 80 89 94 70 96 90 89 68 48 45 50 63
Elis. over Liq. & Nasals 73 72 59 55 49 46 49 60 36 52 72 82
Synaloephae 68 57 73 44 56 48 61 22 34 66 45 39
Elis. over Cont. vowels 126 92 97 107 107 133 101 91 74 78 85 76
Non-syllabic -est 10 10 18 31 27 23 33 43 24 22 26 15
Non-syllabic final nasals 15 8 7 9 8 5 5 3 5 15 10 9
Contractions 20 12 8 10 7 7 0 8 2 2 5 3
Freq. All Elis. 391 341 360 325 351 351 334 293 225 279 293 287

A few extremely doubtful cases have been omitted.










TABLE 3
ELISIONS IN PARADISE REGAINED
ACTUAL NUMBER AND FREQUENCY PER 1000 LINES

Book I II III IV
No. Freq. No. Freq. No. Freq. No. Freq.

Hypermonosyllables 33 66 13 27 14 32 22 34
Elis. over Liq. &
Nasals 18 36 27 58 29 65 27 42
Synaloephae 24 48 20 41 27 61 26 41
Elis. over Cont.
vowels 38 76 37 76 60 135 63 100
Non-syllabic -est 17 34 20 41 20 45 31 49
Non-syllabic final
nasals 6 12 3 6 2 4 4 6
Contractions 11 22 1 2 3 7 1 2
Total Elis. 147 121 155 174
Freq. All Elis. 280 249 350 272


TABLE 4
ELISIONS IN COMUS AND SAMSON AGONISTES
ACTUAL NUMBER AND FREQUENCY PER 1000 LINES

Comus Samson Agonistes
No. Freq. No. Freq.

Hypermonosyllables 25 32 28 23
Elis. over Liq. & Nasals 49 62 67 54
Synaloephae 19 24 68 55
Elis. over Cont. Vowels 34 43 84 68
Non-syllabic -est 10 13 44 36
Non-syllabic final nasals 1 11 8
Total Elis. 1431 302
Freq. All Elis. 182 245

1A small number of contractions have been included in the total.


66











GRAPH
NUMBER OF ELISIONS PER 1,000 LINES


(351)


(288)


(279)


(245)


(182)


I I I


Comus P. L. P. L.
I-VI VII-XII


P. R. S. A.


350




300




250




200


150 +


100


50 4


67











UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA MONOGRAPHS


Humatuntiit-


No 1: 'roii.l._'tcd L-,tlcr of lamcn (Cates Percical
Fdit.di by H.1n-1' \\arfel
N., 2 L. ;-l i Huit t : .Aii./aii .-ri'/ii: Tit,, Earliit Sk. t/',.
E-ht,.d bi btr ph.n F. Fci.le
N,, 3. !Ri,,.' .ittrrUn itn EIt:alctilian anid Jacobc-n Drama
B, .\it, Oris,
No 4- Rlr'tric aind A.nr iic.an. Poetrii of thic EurlIy N\tional
I'. rred. B:y Gordon E. Bicelow
No-. 5 Tl,,' Background of Thie PrintcwC Casama',ima
BE'- X. H Tille
No if.. lJI '., S.ultui r, i, ti,:- John ,ina d Maabl' RitfizInig
M1,III, .i-f Art. By Ro:. C. Craven. Jr.
No. 7. The Ctitun. A A.ask
FJit..l 1,. Thorn.a B. Stroup
No,. S FTL',,lburlitot,' Pirt I aIUd it; .Arligdir
I. Fr.ii.k B. I i- r
No 9: The Cas .t /.-lni Da.rrcll. 1mitiWcr
tilnd l~.,'ri i.t. b:. C(or.inr IIn!!t Riskert
No. 10. Rctiheti',n .,t theI Caitl I',.r ill Si.'ttlthern Humlor
b \\W'.Je II. II ll
N.. 11: Clhari, Dodwrton. Snciiticiaito
B. D.mn,.r F. Kirk
No' 12: Thr-" .1h0,1ic EAi,._'i Rli..ioui Pocmis
htt- il ,\ Il II B ,%, r-
No. I -) T'1I,.' it,. i/,i inZ i'f 1.ts lu l d UC 1linilin,.
B1 I,-. t H .t rt., -J1,1,,rd.i
No. 14: F,,nr 'Siritual Crw. in Miid-C.-: tluar .Ami tt ca.n
F.,t.,oni B\ Houhrt DLt-il.:r
No. 15. Sti!.: uad S.-,a.id it ini G.riran
L.iii il Eijrts- .mL-;im. Py Eclcrt Krspyn
No. I,. Tie R,.i.it .'f Art: .\ Study in the P'riosdy ,.f Pope'
B3. I cob H. .-\Jlr
N,,. 1.: l1 lr.ntti. S irtrte, and Ar.i;..l' a F.'lil'icd N '.-,r i
B C(.iah.ira Si%),r.-
N':. IS: Lwa Cucrrac Catliia.s y el Reirwado
I1 :i. ,,. I i 1, ( /. ra 1, Rar. s del 'ol!._-t.. dn
I' 1r M wri Oirl.'r, L.,ado
No. I :. idicr,-t's t 'i d,' S. Is,a, t.'- A SwItan
".*a.- 1,:; .. By Douicl.i. A. Bonurieville
No. 2': B/.za.i \ ,-r,- and Cir)onolo.y
,', 1l-'t. B. .\rAnt Oras
N..X 21 'lit,ir i Eli it.n B r;...- rt 0. E.\.wi,