I thought Milton's "Samson A" is an epic poem (just like Paradise
Lost/Regained). It's been ages since I've looked at it, but that is what I
remember (got a copy of it in my Viking Portable Library for Milton, so I
could look tonight). I would define 'epic poetry' as including description
of scenes (still in iambic pent, or whatever the writer set up), comments by
the writer to be read by the reader as part of the work (like if you deleted
this or that comment, the line would scan), et cetera. Of course, a person
could adapt the work for the stage by cutting here and there, adding some
stage directions. TSE's "Sweeney A" looks like a drama / play / skit / etc
because the words in it are to be spoken by this or that person (Sweeney,
Doris, whoever). Of course, it's unfinished; but still an unfinished drama.
Kind of like that unfinished opera that Mozart was working on (something
about a goose or duck or whatever) before he decided (after writing an
overture and a couple of arias) that it was really not worth the effort and
turned his attention to "Marriage of Figaro". My thought about the TSE bit
was that he gave up and started work for "Murder in the Cathedral". That
idea was reinforced by what I read in Sweeney A, there was some word (again,
I don't remember off the top of my head) that was repeated over and over
again by different characters that I thought TSE had some problem to get the
idea he had onto the stage. I'm not being critical of TSE, sometimes a work
just quite click (I've had that happen to me a lot of times) but even in an
fragmentary stage (a lot of times the 'structure' part of a work doesn't
come into play until halfway through the project, you just start writing and
later start editting what you've written) the work is very interesting.
With TSE it kind of goes without saying, I think.
From: Earls, JP [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, May 15, 2002 8:16 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: RE: Sweeney Agonistes: a drama or not? (Was, Furnished flats
(was: Small correction)
Cursorily reading through this thread, I haven't noted anyone bringing
Milton's _Samson Agonistes_ to bear on the discussion: if dramatic, seldom
played. In what ironic sense is Sweeney a modern Samson?
J. P. Earls, OSB
St. John's University
Collegeville, MN 56321
From: Jennifer Formichelli [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, May 15, 2002 2:21 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Sweeney Agonistes: a drama or not? (Was, Furnished flats (was:
Good point. I need some convincing that Sweeney A is a drama, too. The
subtitle describes it as 'Aristophanic melodrama'. Hmm. More obnubilate than
Let's talk about this.
> mean is that Eliot means to denigrate. The passage you include from The
> Land is much too complex in its accuracies for me to agree in that case,
> Dear Jennifer,
> I need some convincing that Sweeney A is a drama.