How camest thou speakable of mute

< Previous | Next >

nkaper

Senior Member
russian
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/26/pg26-images.html
Title: Paradise Lost
Author: John Milton

Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field I knew, but not with human voice endued; Redouble then this miracle, and say,
How camest thou speakable of mute, and how
To me so friendly grown above the rest
Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight?

Does this construction mean "How is it that you have turned speakable after being mute?". Or it is not about turning, but rather "How is it that you are a speakable exception among your mute class of beings?" ?
Thanks in advance.
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    According to a footnote in an 1844 edition, speakable means “able to speak”. So I would read it as:

    How did you come to be able to speak, when [before] you were mute?
    or
    How did you come from being mute to being able to speak?​
     

    nkaper

    Senior Member
    russian
    According to a footnote in an 1844 edition, speakable means “able to speak”. So I would read it as:

    How did you come to be able to speak, when [before] you were mute?
    or
    How did you come from being mute to being able to speak?​
    I've just come across another passage which seems to use the same construction (when "of" means "from being"). Am I right?

    (It's Adam complaining in his woe)
    Is this the end
    Of this new glorious world, and me so late
    The glory of that glory, who now become
    Accursed, of blessed?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes. I like it. That seems to be the same usage. :)

    EDIT: And I see that the line before that is the same: O miserable of happy!
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top