Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Alice Mattison

Dear Editor,

Thank you for Daisy Fried’s cogent essay on Paradise Lost, which convincingly argues for both the pleasure of reading Milton and the pleasure of breastfeeding [“Sing, God-awful Muse,” July/August 2009]. Fried is right not only in her conclusions but in her choice of comparison. Breastfeeding makes the nursing mother acutely, pleasantly conscious of her body. So does Milton: his words tingle in the mouth and the beat of his lines thumps in the blood. We can’t all be nursing mothers, and certainly not all the time, but we can all read Milton.

I memorized “Lycidas” in graduate school—first because I was afraid I’d fail to recognize lines from that great but long poem on an exam, then because it was so much fun to say, and even more moving and beautiful than I’d thought. Years later I recited it to my babies while they nursed or fell asleep. Now I say the poem on long walks alone in remote places.

new haven, connecticut

Originally Published: October 1, 2009

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This prose originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2009

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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