Music In Milton Essay

926 words - 4 pages

In "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso," by John Milton, the musical references enhance the reader's perspective. The music shows the reader more fully the feelings of the speaker. In "L'Allegro," the music is shown to be a simple melody, devoid of harmony and complexities, to fill the reader's mind with a view of happiness and simplicity. In "Il Penseroso," however, the music is has the harmony added to the melody, which makes it more complex and full to show the speaker's state of meditation and melancholy.

        Milton knows that simple melodies are easily understood as he makes references to music in "L'Allegro." The speaker tells of sounds in nature that are simple and melodious,

        The melting voice through mazes running,

        Untwisting all the chains that ty

        The hidden soul of harmony. (142-144)
These sounds are easily understood. They are not complex with bass notes, or more than one line of music to hear. The music the speaker tells us of is that of the new day beginning, and equally the sounds accompanying it. The speaker hears the sounds of the workers on a farm beginning their work for the new day,

        While the Plowman near at hand,

        Whistles ore the Furrow'd Land,

        And the Milkmaid singeth blithe,

        And the Mower whets his sithe. (63-65)
These people do not despair over their work, but they enjoy it. These sounds make the speaker feel at ease with the world around him. The music that the speaker hears takes him to a place where everything is simple and good, "Lap me in soft Lydian Aires," (136) a place where ancient myths and tales of sorrow can be rewritten,

        That Orpheus self may heave his head

        From golden slumber on a bed

        Of heapt Elysian flowres, and hear

        Such streins as would have won the ear

        Of Pluto, to have quite set free

        His half regain'd Eurydice. (145-150)
Through the peace the speaker feels from these sounds of joy, he feels as though he could take those tales of pain and give them all happy endings.

        "Il Penseroso" and "L'Allegro" are very similar in the aspect of using music to more fully involve the reader with the speaker's feelings. The types of music that are described in the two works show the state of the speaker's mind. In "L'Allegro" the speaker uses the sounds of day arising, and the sounds of people cheerfully performing their everyday...

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