Yay for John Milton:)



Wouldn’t it marvellous to invent a word which was still in use 400 years later. I would like that very much. I would indeed. Just one word which rang out through he ages and spawned many others. One word which felt fresh through each age.

Well one knows that Shakespeare did, back in the  16th century, those old days appear to be very inventive days. Of course those were the days with few rules as to grammar or spelling, forget correct usage and all the other pedantic reasons for not straying from the path, but even so,it was an incredible word count, so many hundreds of our common day words were invented way back them Shakespeare was prolific but, John Milton even more so.

According to Dr Gavin Alexander who trawled through the Oxford Dictionary something like 630 words which are still in existence can be attributed to Milton, and many more which lagged at the first gate.

630 new words, or meanings of words. I would like to be able to do one!

Not as many people know Milton as they do Shakespeare, not so often taught at school, not taken over by Hollywood although I think Paradise Lost would make a seat on the edge film:)

Mostly he is known for Paradise Lost and less famously for Paradise Regained – splendid works to be remembered by. He is also known in more academic circles for his treatise on the freedom of the presses, Areopagitica, which rang such a clarion call that it is quoted in the Supreme Court of America to this day. Not bad for a man from the 17th century.

I suppose being a Puritan in those days of Roman Catholicism, he was always destined to be a rebel.Many of his contemporaries complained of his blatant flouting of supposed ‘poetical rules’ and the authorities complained bitterly at the words condemning their actions. He was a great champion of free speech, with caveats!, A champion of divorce, with limits. He was after all a man of his times and even going as far as he did was perilous.

Anyway – his words. The first one I was ever aware of was Pandemonium – I am not sure how many years I have known about the word being his. I read Paradise Lost for the first time many decades ago maybe back in the 1960s so it may be that long.I liked the idea of Satan’s castle being named so.

I have discovered over the years other words and more recently I have read about them from such as John Crace

Among them


He took space which was just a space and threw in up into the eaves and became the first to use it in the ‘universe’ meaning of the word

He invented sayings

trip the light fantastic
All ears
All hell break loose
Silver lining (in the cloud sense)



We got padlock, embellish, stunning and complacency
Unprincipled and unaccountable

Just to name a few. All seem quite modern, well maybe some such as debauchery aren’t used as much in everyday speech but are still used in writing. They don’t look like made up words – what does one of them look like? After all we willingly take on new words which become common place in a few months even – but will they last 400 years I wonder? It is the very commonplaceness of Milton’s invented words and meanings which delight me. They may have caused comment back then, been disregarded by other educated men, may have caused rage and fury for all I know, however every fibre of me responds with a smile and a ‘yes’ to the champions of nimble inventiveness and maverick disregard for the status quo.

Yay for John Milton:)




Nothing heard or seen is ever wasted: Writers Quote Wednesday

the boy stood 3

The boy stood on the burning deck; whence all but he had fled;
Felicia Hemans 1739-1835

From the age of seven my two grandmothers lived upstairs. I could and frequently did pop in and spend time with them I liked visiting them and I also liked the chocolate or sweet they could always ‘find’ for me:)
They would tell me stories of when they were young, teach me tongue twisters and introduced me to poetry.

My grandmothers loved this poem, my father’s mother in particular.When I was very young I would thrill when either of them recited it, which they would frequently. I would cry as well, as they would, mourning the brave little fellow who would not leave his post until his father said he could.

‘Speak, father!’ once again he cried,
If yet my task is done!
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on,

I imagined the captain telling his young son to stay at his post, be a brave boy. Imagined the boy watching all the crew jumping overboard, manning the boats, or dying at his feet. Imagined the captain croaking on his last breathe to save his son. Ah it was beautiful:)

But the noblest thing which perished there
Was that young faithful heart!

Then I grew a little older, joined the swinging sixties, and began to to see through the sentimental romanticism of it all. Why did none of the men fleeing scoop up the boy,save their captain’s beloved son? Why did the boy not run from the flames and save himself, surely he would guess his father didn’t want him to die.

No I was disenchanted with this poem for a long time. Discovered it wasn’t even about a British boy, a true story but one of the enemy! An event that happened in 1798 for goodness sake. I was living in the present. My grandmothers had died I no longer heard it recited with passion. Forgot it.

Then years later I read the poem again. Trying to figure out what had appealed so much to them. I was old enough by then to imagine another time, another mindset. Go back to 1800s – their time. Back to Empire, their days, to when brothers and cousins were sent to far off nations to bring glory to these islands. when they all hoped their menfolk would behave bravely against all odds. Back to a time of heroes and the English stiff upper lift. We haven’t always been known for stiff lips it is a comparatively new even in the British psyche.

The women left back home, while their menfolk wandered through endless dangers far from home, were fed a steady diet of hope and propaganda.

Heroes were not made at adulthood, heroes were trained from infancy. With the drip feeding of a code of honour, of an attitude, of the ‘stiff upper lip’. This poem is about the young hero, a boy full of duty, keeping promises, willing to die for honour. The grannies as many other women wept over the little fellow taken to heaven so soon, it didn’t matter what nationality he was, it was the bravery which mattered , the courage so admired.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm-
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, through childlike form.

This boy may have grown to be a Shackleton, a Scott or even a Titus Oates leaving his companions to go out into the blizzard and certain death to help give his friends a chance at life. He could have.

My grandmothers were patriots through and through and they had their heroes. Not film stars, not footballers, but the brave(if foolishly so sometimes), full of dare and do. I grew up on tales of these men and women.

Then the world changed after the mess and loss of two world wars, the loss of the empire people’s tastes turned away from those heroes of old, away from romanticism bravery and nationhood. Our stiff lips grew weaker and then dissolved into a different kind of romanticism. I imbibed the grandmothers version and haven’t embraced the new.

I like my heroes old fashioned. The heroes in my books have all the old fashioned attitudes I grew up with. I admire the qualities my grandmother admired. Honesty, honour, truthfulness, loyalty. Grit and endurance, never say die and get on with it attitude. That little boy I wept over in childhood probably promised his father he wouldn’t move until told to and though he was scared he kept his promise. He didn’t desert the ship he was his fathers son and went down with the ship as the son of a captain should.

The flames rolled on – he would not go
Without his father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

I have revisited this poem again now, older than my grannies were when I first heard it, because in my latest book a scenario with similarities has just been written, after I have finished the writing of the chapter I was reminded again of the boy. It had obviously lingered in my self conscious all these years. My boy (a girl) does get away from the flames, and feels guilt for having not obeyed her mother. The poem plus my common sense 60s attitude come together.  Nothing heard or seen is ever wasted:)


This quote is part of Silver Threading’s  Writer’s Quote series. Writer’s who have helped inspire my writing and my life. Pop over and follow other quotes there are many inspiring posts


2016 goals for ROW80

ROW80LogocopyI faded last year as can be seen by the last date I posted! I found the task of reclaiming the garden stole all my energy and left me too exhausted even to face social media for days/weeks on end. It was important to do the garden it had been three years plus since I had done anything to it, beyond keeping the short path, my sister needed to walk, on weed free. The wild had become wilderness and the vegetable had grown wild! Another year and it would have become more than I could do.

I managed.
However, writing most definitely suffered.

So I face the new year with a reasonable tidy house (done in 2014) and a garden (2015)with higher hopes than I have had for a long while:) I am keeping my aims small and select at least until I see how much energy I can summon to aid me.

I have a major tidy up of my working space and hope the de-cluttering will free the mind a trifle:)

A small problem toward writing more is the fact that this past year arthritis in my right hand has become very painful, physiotherapy is helping and I have called on the Dragon to come out of hibernation and rescue me. We will see:)

Goals for 2016


Round 1 Finish The Children’s Tale (not too  bad as 3/4 of it is written)During this last couple of weeks I have gone through and structured it, so ready to start again.

Round 2 Polish the short story collection I drafted in spring 2015

Round 3 Get both of these to publishing standard.

Round 4 Make three trailers for books missing them.
Blogs: Get into reg. routine and spend one day a week writing them and schedule them on sites. Some such as Three Thing Thursday and Musing Monday can only be done on the day.

Reading: As I joined two more book groups last year (= 4 books that must be read a month) I must cut down on reading challenges so will probably just do Goodreads Challenge as it also a good way of keeping track of what I have read.

Networking: Be more diligent – what more can I say:)

So that is the list for moi. Maybe it will increase maybe it is still too much time will tell.

I hope every one has a good year.