December 01, 2004

Mother of God, It's More Milton Blogging

Mixolydian Don, in jumping on the Hugh Hewitt Modern-Novels-I-Have-Read-More-Than-Once meme, lists Terry Pratchett's The Light Fantastic.

This caught my eye not because I've read the book (I haven't), but because "tripping the light fantastic" is one of those expressions which I've always found particularly aggravating. People, there is no such thing as a "light fantastic" and you cannot "trip" it no matter how hard you try.

In fact, the original was "light fantastic toe" and comes from Milton's L'Allegro:

"Come, and trip it as ye go,
on the light, fantastic toe"

In other words, let's dance.

Somewhere or other, I recall once reading that the Bible is the single greatest source of quotations in the English language. I also read that John Milton's poetry is perhaps the second greatest.

But let's keep the quotes straight. Let this sort of thing slide and the next thing you know you'll need Captain Kirk to explain your own writings to you like he did for the Yangs and the Coms.

Meanwhile, go read Milton's poem for the pure pleasure of the man's work.

Posted by Robert at December 1, 2004 09:18 AM

Man, you had me all excited for a minute. I thought you meant Milton Friedman Blogging.

Posted by: Gordon at December 1, 2004 09:19 AM

The Bard is undoubtedly #3. And the original Star Trek is #4.


Posted by: DWC at December 1, 2004 09:44 AM

Pilgrim's Progress has got to be way up there too.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 1, 2004 10:30 AM

I actually like "tripping the light fantastic". A brilliant flash of insight into that phrase once occured during a little "alternative reality" session back in the 60s, but the favorable impression stuck. So, Milton got the quote wrong. Or it's a different quote, riffing on his. Big deal.

"Tripping the light fantastic" has Fred Astaire written all over it, not John Milton.

Posted by: John at December 1, 2004 11:12 AM
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