They Will Sew the Blue Sail

MILTON | Camille Guthrie

How shall I part and wither wander down

Into a lower world, to this obscure

And wild? How shall we breathe in other air

Less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits?

Paradise Lost, Book XI

Students say Say-in

when they read Paradise Lost

White girls from Catholic schools

forever long to be cool

The Lord of Darkness needs a hard T

whichever way he flies

I long to meet that blank verse

but his daughter, Deborah,

forced scribe, gets in my way

He turned her out & the lame sister too

for his third wife, Happiness

at last, after the divorce tracts

two wives in the blood-soaked

childbed & Civil War, failures

Blind Milton, or Mil-in, worked

his great poem in a green suit

and sword, leg hooked over a chair

made his daughters milk him

in ten languages, they sold

some of his books

Milton’s grand ambivalence

gets in my way, my dreams

long for no tyrant on a cloud-ship

I want the plastic red apple

despite everything

in this lower world