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John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the
Commonwealth of England The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to t ...
under its Council of State and later under
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his
epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of l ...
''
Paradise Lost ''Paradise Lost'' is an in by the 17th-century English poet (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of . A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the m ...

Paradise Lost
'' (1667). Written in
blank verse Blank verse is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in So ...
, Paradise Lost is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written. Writing in English,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime; his celebrated ''
Areopagitica ''Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc'd Printing, to the Parlament of England'' is a 1644 prose polemic by the English poet, scholar, and polemical author John Milton opposing Licensing Order of 1643, licensing ...
'' (1644), written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship, is among history's most influential and impassioned defences of
freedom of speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philoso ...

freedom of speech
and
freedom of the press Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philosophy and religion, it is associated with having free will and being w ...
. His desire for freedom extended into his style: he introduced new words (coined from Latin and Ancient Greek) to the English language, and was the first modern writer to employ unrhymed verse outside of the theatre or translations.
William Hayley William Hayley (9 November 174512 November 1820) was an English writer, best known as the biographer of his friend William Cowper. Biography Born at Chichester, he was sent to Eton College, Eton in 1757, and to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in 1762 ...

William Hayley
's 1796 biography called him the "greatest English author", and he remains generally regarded "as one of the pre-eminent writers in the English language", though critical reception has oscillated in the centuries since his death (often on account of his
republicanism Republicanism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use ...
).
Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709  – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic A critic is a person who communicates an asse ...
praised ''Paradise Lost'' as "a poem which ... with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind", though he (a
Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, ...
) described Milton's politics as those of an "acrimonious and surly republican". Poets such as
William Blake William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his life, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the Romantic poetry, poetry and visual art of t ...

William Blake
,
William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 177023 April 1850) was an English Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of ...

William Wordsworth
and
Thomas Hardy Thomas Hardy (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Literary realism, Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, including the poetr ...

Thomas Hardy
revered him.


Biography

The phases of Milton's life parallel the major historical and political divisions in
Stuart
Stuart
Britain. Milton studied, travelled, wrote poetry mostly for private circulation, and launched a career as pamphleteer and publicist under the increasingly personal rule of
Charles I Charles is a masculine given name predominantly found in English language, English and French language, French speaking countries. It is from the French form ''Charles'' of the Proto-Germanic, Proto-Germanic name ᚲᚨᚱᛁᛚᚨᛉ (in r ...

Charles I
and its breakdown into constitutional confusion and war. The shift in accepted attitudes in government placed him in public office under the
Commonwealth of England The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to t ...
, from being thought dangerously radical and heretical, and he even acted as an official spokesman in certain of his publications. The
Restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * The Restoration (1909 film), ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a ...
of 1660 deprived Milton, now completely blind, of his public platform, but this period saw him complete most of his major works of poetry. Milton's views developed from his very extensive reading, as well as travel and experience, from his student days of the 1620s to the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, ...
. By the time of his death in 1674, Milton was impoverished and on the margins of English intellectual life, yet famous throughout Europe and unrepentant for his political choices.


Early life

John Milton was born in
Bread Street Bread Street is one of the 25 wards of the City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre a ...
, London, on 9 December 1608, the son of composer
John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best kno ...
and his wife Sarah Jeffrey. The senior John Milton (1562–1647) moved to London around 1583 after being disinherited by his devout Catholic father Richard "the Ranger" Milton for embracing Protestantism. In London, the senior John Milton married Sarah Jeffrey (1572–1637) and found lasting financial success as a
scrivener A scrivener (or scribe A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist A copyist is a person who makes copies. The term is sometimes used for artists who make copies of other artists' paintings. However, the modern use of the ...
. He lived in and worked from a house on Bread Street, where the
Mermaid Tavern The Mermaid Tavern was a tavern on Cheapside in London during the Elizabethan era, located east of St. Paul's Cathedral on the corner of Friday Street and Bread Street. It was the site of the so-called "Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen", a drin ...
was located in
Cheapside Cheapside is a street in the City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and the prima ...

Cheapside
. The elder Milton was noted for his skill as a musical composer, and this talent left his son with a lifelong appreciation for music and friendships with musicians such as
Henry Lawes Henry Lawes (1596 – 1662) was the leading English songwriter of the mid-17th century. He was elder brother of fellow composer William Lawes. Life Henry Lawes (baptised 5 January 1596 – 21 October 1662),Ian Spink, "Lawes, Henry," ''Grove Musi ...

Henry Lawes
. Milton's father's prosperity provided his eldest son with a private tutor, Thomas Young, a Scottish Presbyterian with an M.A. from the
University of St. Andrews (Aien aristeuein) , motto_lang = grc , mottoeng = Ever to ExcelorEver to be the Best , established = , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the g ...
. Research suggests that Young's influence served as the poet's introduction to religious radicalism. After Young's tutorship, Milton attended St Paul's School in London. There he began the study of Latin and Greek, and the classical languages left an imprint on both his poetry and prose in English (he also wrote in Latin and Italian). Milton's first datable compositions are two psalms done at age 15 at
Long Bennington Long Bennington is a linear village and Civil parishes in England, civil parish in South Kesteven Non-metropolitan district, district of Lincolnshire, England, just off the A1 road (Great Britain), A1 road, north of Grantham and south of Newark ...
. One contemporary source is the ''
Brief Lives ''Brief Lives'' is a collection of short Biography, biographies written by John Aubrey (1626–1697) in the last decades of the 17th century. Writing Aubrey initially began collecting biographical material to assist the Oxford scholar Anthony W ...
'' of
John Aubrey John Aubrey (12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697) was an English antiquarian, antiquary, Natural philosophy, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the ''Brief Lives'', his collection of short biographical pieces. ...

John Aubrey
, an uneven compilation including first-hand reports. In the work, Aubrey quotes Christopher, Milton's younger brother: "When he was young, he studied very hard and sat up very late, commonly till twelve or one o'clock at night". Aubrey adds, "His complexion exceeding faire—he was so faire that they called him the Lady of Christ's College."Dick 1962 pp. 270–75. In 1625, Milton began attending
Christ's College, Cambridge Christ's College is a constituent college A collegiate university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education ...
. He graduated with a B.A. in 1629, ranking fourth of 24 honours graduates that year in the University of Cambridge. Preparing to become an
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; t ...
priest, Milton stayed on and obtained his
Master of Arts degree A Master of Arts ( la, Magister Artium or ''Artium Magister''; abbreviated MA or AM) is the holder of a master's degree awarded by University, universities in many countries. The degree is usually contrasted with that of Master of Science. Thos ...
on 3 July 1632. Milton may have been rusticated (suspended) in his first year for quarrelling with his tutor, Bishop William Chappell. He was certainly at home in London in the Lent Term 1626; there he wrote his ''Elegia Prima'', a first Latin
elegy In English literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, usually a lament for the dead. However, according to ''The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy'', "for all of its pervasiveness ... the 'elegy' remains remarkably ill defined: sometimes us ...
, to Charles Diodati, a friend from St Paul's. Based on remarks of
John Aubrey John Aubrey (12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697) was an English antiquarian, antiquary, Natural philosophy, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the ''Brief Lives'', his collection of short biographical pieces. ...

John Aubrey
, Chappell "whipt" Milton. This story is now disputed, though certainly Milton disliked Chappell. Historian Christopher Hill cautiously notes that Milton was "apparently" rusticated, and that the differences between Chappell and Milton may have been either religious or personal. It is also possible that, like
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics a ...

Isaac Newton
four decades later, Milton was sent home because of the
plague Plague or The Plague may refer to: Agriculture, fauna, and medicine *Plague (disease), a disease caused by ''Yersinia pestis'' * An epidemic of infectious disease (medical or agricultural) * A pandemic caused by such a disease * A Swarm behavi ...
, by which Cambridge was badly affected in 1625. In 1626, Milton's tutor was Nathaniel Tovey. At Cambridge, Milton was on good terms with Edward King, for whom he later wrote "
Lycidas "Lycidas" () is a poem by John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a time of religious f ...

Lycidas
". He also befriended Anglo-American dissident and theologian
Roger Williams Roger Williams (c. 21 December 1603 – between 27 January and 15 March 1683) was a Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, ...
. Milton tutored Williams in Hebrew in exchange for lessons in Dutch. Despite developing a reputation for poetic skill and general erudition, Milton experienced alienation from his peers and university life as a whole. Having once watched his fellow students attempting comedy upon the college stage, he later observed 'they thought themselves gallant men, and I thought them fools'. Milton was disdainful of the university curriculum, which consisted of stilted formal debates conducted in Latin on abstruse topics. His own corpus is not devoid of humour, notably his sixth prolusion and his epitaphs on the death of
Thomas Hobson Thomas Hobson (c. 15441 January 1631) was an English carrier, best known as the origin of the expression Hobson's choice A Hobson's choice is a free choice Freedom of choice describes an individual's opportunity and autonomy File:Н ...
. While at Cambridge, he wrote a number of his well-known shorter English poems, among them "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity", his "Epitaph on the admirable Dramaticke Poet, W. Shakespeare" (his first poem to appear in print), ''
L'Allegro ''L'Allegro'' is a pastoral A pastoral lifestyle is that of shepherds herd A herd is a social group of certain animals of the same species, either wildness, wild or Domestication, domestic. The form of collective animal behavior a ...
'', and ''
Il Penseroso ''Il Penseroso'' (The thinker) is a poem by John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a t ...
''.


Study, poetry, and travel

Upon receiving his M.A. in 1632, Milton retired to
Hammersmith Hammersmith is a district of West London West London is the western part of London, England. The area lies north of the River Thames and extends from its historic and commercial core of Westminster and the West End of London, West End to t ...

Hammersmith
, his father's new home since the previous year. He also lived at Horton, Berkshire, from 1635 and undertook six years of self-directed private study. Hill argues that this was not retreat into a rural idyll; Hammersmith was then a "suburban village" falling into the orbit of London, and even Horton was becoming deforested and suffered from the plague. He read both ancient and modern works of theology, philosophy, history, politics, literature, and science in preparation for a prospective poetical career. Milton's intellectual development can be charted via entries in his
commonplace book Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. They have been kept from antiquity, and were kept particularly during the Renaissance and in the nineteenth century. Such books are simi ...
(like a scrapbook), now in the
British Library The British Library is the national library A national library is a library established by a government as a country's preeminent repository of information. Unlike public library, public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow book ...

British Library
. As a result of such intensive study, Milton is considered to be among the most learned of all English poets. In addition to his years of private study, Milton had command of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and Italian from his school and undergraduate days; he also added Old English to his linguistic repertoire in the 1650s while researching his ''History of Britain'', and probably acquired proficiency in Dutch soon after. Milton continued to write poetry during this period of study; his ''
Arcades Arcade most often refers to: * Arcade (architecture), a series of adjoining arches * Shopping mall, one or more buildings forming a complex of shops, also sometimes called a shopping arcade * Amusement arcade, a place with arcade games * Arcade gam ...
'' and ''
Comus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A beli ...
'' were both commissioned for
masques The masque was a form of festive Noble court, courtly entertainment that flourished in 16th- and early 17th-century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio (a public version of the masque was the medie ...

masques
composed for noble patrons, connections of the Egerton family, and performed in 1632 and 1634 respectively. ''Comus'' argues for the virtuousness of
temperance Temperance may refer to: Moderation *Temperance movement, movement to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed *Temperance (virtue), habitual moderation in the indulgence of a natural appetite or passion Culture *Temperance (group), Canadian danc ...
and
chastity Chastity, also known as purity, is a virtue Virtue ( la, virtus ''Virtus'' () was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strength ...

chastity
. He contributed his
pastoral A pastoral lifestyle is that of shepherds herd A herd is a social group of certain animals of the same species, either wildness, wild or Domestication, domestic. The form of collective animal behavior associated with this is called ''he ...

pastoral
elegy In English literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, usually a lament for the dead. However, according to ''The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy'', "for all of its pervasiveness ... the 'elegy' remains remarkably ill defined: sometimes us ...
''
Lycidas "Lycidas" () is a poem by John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a time of religious f ...

Lycidas
'' to a memorial collection for one of his fellow-students at Cambridge. Drafts of these poems are preserved in Milton's poetry notebook, known as the Trinity Manuscript because it is now kept at
Trinity College Trinity College may refer to: Australia * Trinity Anglican College, an Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican coeducational primary and secondary school in , New South Wales * Trinity Catholic College, Auburn, a coeducational school in the inner-w ...
, Cambridge. In May 1638, Milton embarked upon a tour of France and Italy that lasted until July or August 1639. His travels supplemented his study with new and direct experience of artistic and religious traditions, especially Roman Catholicism. He met famous theorists and intellectuals of the time, and was able to display his poetic skills. For specific details of what happened within Milton's "
grand tour The Grand Tour was the principally 17th- mid-19th-century custom of a traditional trip through Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rath ...

grand tour
", there appears to be just one
primary source In the study of history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

primary source
: Milton's own ''
Defensio Secunda ''Defension Secunda'' was a 1654 political tract by John Milton, a sequel to his ''Defensio pro Populo Anglicano''. It is a defence of the Parliamentary regime, by then controlled by Oliver Cromwell; and also defense of his own reputation against ...
''. There are other records, including some letters and some references in his other prose tracts, but the bulk of the information about the tour comes from a work that, according to
Barbara Lewalski Barbara Josephine Lewalski (; February 22, 1931 – March 2, 2018)Roberts, Sam (March 29, 2018).. ''The New York Times''. nytimes.com. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
, "was not intended as autobiography but as rhetoric, designed to emphasise his sterling reputation with the learned of Europe." He first went to
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
and then on to Paris, riding horseback, with a letter from diplomat
Henry Wotton Sir Henry Wotton (; 30 March 1568 – December 1639) was an English author, diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chamber ...
to ambassador John Scudamore. Through Scudamore, Milton met
Hugo Grotius Hugo Grotius (; 10 April 1583 – 28 August 1645), also known as Huig de Groot () and in Dutch as Hugo de Groot (), was a Dutch humanist Humanism is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundam ...

Hugo Grotius
, a Dutch law philosopher, playwright, and poet. Milton left France soon after this meeting. He travelled south from
Nice Nice ( , ; Niçard: , classical norm, or , nonstandard, ; it, Nizza ; grc, Νίκαια; la, Nicaea) is the Urban area (France)#List of France's aires urbaines (metropolitan areas), seventh most populous urban area in France and the prefectu ...

Nice
to
Genoa Genoa ( ; it, Genova ; locally ; lij, Zêna ; English, historically, and la, Genua) is the capital of the Regions of Italy, Italian region of Liguria and the List of cities in Italy, sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived ...

Genoa
, and then to
Livorno Livorno () is a port city on the Ligurian Sea 300px, The Ligurian Sea The Ligurian Sea ( it, Mar Ligure; french: Mer Ligurienne; lij, Mâ Ligure) is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlant ...

Livorno
and
Pisa Pisa ( , or ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides essential public ser ...

Pisa
. He reached Florence in July 1638. While there, Milton enjoyed many of the sites and structures of the city. His candour of manner and erudite neo-Latin poetry earned him friends in Florentine intellectual circles, and he met the astronomer
Galileo Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei ( , ; 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642), commonly referred to as Galileo, was an astronomer An astronomer is a in the field of who focuses their studies on a specific question or field o ...

Galileo
who was under
house arrest In justice Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo of the Virgin of Mercy, Madonna of Mercy, Palazzo Altemps, Rome Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle t ...
at
Arcetri Arcetri is a location in Florence, Italy, positioned among the hills south of the city centre. __TOC__ Landmarks A number of historic buildings are situated there, including the house of the famous scientist Galileo Galilei (called ''Villa Il Gio ...
, as well as others. Milton probably visited the Florentine Academy and the
Accademia della Crusca Accademia (Italian for "academy An academy ( Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was ...
along with smaller academies in the area, including the Apatisti and the Svogliati. He left Florence in September to continue to Rome. With the connections from Florence, Milton was able to have easy access to Rome's intellectual society. His poetic abilities impressed those like Giovanni Salzilli, who praised Milton within an epigram. In late October, Milton attended a dinner given by the
English College, Rome The Venerable English College (), commonly referred to as the English College, is a Catholic Church, Catholic seminary in Rome, Italy, for the training of priests for Catholic Church in England and Wales, England and Wales. It was founded in 157 ...
, despite his dislike for the
Society of Jesus , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbolism ...
, meeting English Catholics who were also guests—theologian and the poet
Patrick Cary Patrick Cary (Carey) (c. 1623 – 1657) was an English poet, an early user in English of the triolet form. Life He was a younger son of Henry Cary, 1st Viscount Falkland, by Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland, Elizabeth Cary née Tanfield. At an early ...
. He also attended musical events, including oratorios, operas, and melodramas. Milton left for
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of and the third-largest city of , after and , with a population of 967,069 within the city's administrative limits as of ...

Naples
toward the end of November, where he stayed only for a month because of the Spanish control. During that time, he was introduced to Giovanni Battista Manso, patron to both
Torquato Tasso Torquato Tasso ( , also , ; 11 March 154425 April 1595) was an Italian poet of the 16th century, known for his 1591 poem ''Gerusalemme liberata'' (Jerusalem Delivered), in which he depicts a highly imaginative version of the combats between ...

Torquato Tasso
and to
Giambattista Marino Giambattista Marino (also Giovan Battista Marini) (14 October 1569 – 26 March 1625) was an Italian poet who was born in Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ; grc, wikt:Νεάπολις, Νεάπολις, Neápolis), from grc ...

Giambattista Marino
. Originally, Milton wanted to leave Naples in order to travel to
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
and then on to Greece, but he returned to England during the summer of 1639 because of what he claimed in ''Defensio Secunda'' were "sad tidings of civil war in England." Matters became more complicated when Milton received word that his childhood friend Diodati had died. Milton in fact stayed another seven months on the continent, and spent time at
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge Carouge () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. History Carouge is first mentioned in the Early Middle Ages as ''Quadruvium'' and ''Quatruvio''. In 124 ...

Geneva
with Diodati's uncle after he returned to Rome. In ''Defensio Secunda'', Milton proclaimed that he was warned against a return to Rome because of his frankness about religion, but he stayed in the city for two months and was able to experience
Carnival Carnival is a Western Christian 250px, St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the largest church building in the world today. Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abr ...
and meet Lukas Holste, a Vatican librarian who guided Milton through its collection. He was introduced to Cardinal Francesco Barberini who invited Milton to an opera hosted by the Cardinal. Around March, Milton travelled once again to Florence, staying there for two months, attending further meetings of the academies, and spending time with friends. After leaving Florence, he travelled through Lucca, Bologna, and Ferrara before coming to
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...

Venice
. In Venice, Milton was exposed to a model of Republicanism, later important in his political writings, but he soon found another model when he travelled to Geneva. From Switzerland, Milton travelled to Paris and then to Calais before finally arriving back in England in either July or August 1639.


Civil war, prose tracts, and marriage

On returning to England where the
Bishops' Wars The 1639 and 1640 Bishops' Wars were the first of the conflicts known collectively as the 1638 to 1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which took place in Kingdom of Scotland, Scotland, Kingdom of England, England and Kingdom of Ireland, Ireland. ...
presaged further armed conflict, Milton began to write prose
tracts Tract may refer to: Geography and Real estate * Tract housing, Housing tract, an area of land that is subdivided into smaller individual lots * Land lot or tract, a section of land * Census tract, a geographic region defined for the purpose of taki ...
against
episcopacy An episcopal polity is a hierarchical form of church governance ("ecclesiastical polity") in which the chief local authorities are called bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christi ...
, in the service of the
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of J ...

Puritan
and
Parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' an ...
cause. Milton's first foray into polemics was ''Of Reformation touching Church Discipline in England'' (1641), followed by ''Of Prelatical Episcopacy'', the two defences of
Smectymnuus Smectymnuus was the ''nom de plume'' of a group of Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the ...
(a group of Presbyterian divines named from their initials; the "TY" belonged to Milton's old tutor Thomas Young), and ''
The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty ''The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty'' is an essay by English poet John Milton distributed as one of a series of religious Pamphlet, pamphlets by the writer. Published in 1642, the political work details Milton's preference for ...
''. He vigorously attacked the High-church party of the Church of England and their leader
William Laud William Laud (; 7 October 1573 – 10 January 1645) was a clergyman in the Church of England, appointed Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic ...

William Laud
,
Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Cat ...
, with frequent passages of real eloquence lighting up the rough controversial style of the period, and deploying a wide knowledge of church history. He was supported by his father's investments, but Milton became a private schoolmaster at this time, educating his nephews and other children of the well-to-do. This experience and discussions with educational reformer
Samuel Hartlib Samuel Hartlib or Hartlieb (c. 1600 – 10 March 1662)
M. Greengrass, "Hartlib, Samuel (c. 1600–1662)", ''Oxford D ...
led him to write his short tract '' Of Education'' in 1644, urging a reform of the national universities. In June 1642, Milton paid a visit to the manor house at Forest Hill, Oxfordshire, and at 34 got married to 17 year old Mary Powell The marriage got off to a poor start as Mary did not adapt to Milton's austere lifestyle or get along with his nephews. Milton found her intellectually unsatisfying and disliked the royalist views she'd absorbed from her family. It is also speculated that she refused to consummate the marriage. Mary soon returned home to her parents and did not come back until 1645, partly because of the outbreak of the
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publis ...
. In the meantime, her desertion prompted Milton to publish a series of pamphlets over the next three years arguing for the legality and morality of divorce beyond grounds of adultery. ( Anna Beer, one of Milton's most recent biographers, points to a lack of evidence and the dangers of cynicism in urging that it was not necessarily the case that the private life so animated the public polemicising.) In 1643, Milton had a brush with the authorities over these writings, in parallel with Hezekiah Woodward, who had more trouble. It was the hostile response accorded the divorce tracts that spurred Milton to write '' Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc'd Printing, to the Parlament of England'', his celebrated attack on pre-printing censorship. In ''Areopagitica'', Milton aligns himself with the parliamentary cause, and he also begins to synthesize the ideal of neo-Roman liberty with that of Christian liberty. Milton also courted another woman during this time; we know nothing of her except that her name was Davis and she turned him down. However, it was enough to induce Mary Powell into returning to him which she did unexpectedly by begging him to take her back. She bore him two daughters in quick succession following their reconciliation.


Secretary for Foreign Tongues

With the Parliamentary victory in the Civil War, Milton used his pen in defence of the republican principles represented by the Commonwealth. ''
The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates ''The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates'' is a book by John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrot ...
'' (1649) defended the right of the people to hold their rulers to account, and implicitly sanctioned the
regicide Regicide is the purposeful killing of a monarch or sovereign of a polity and is often associated with Usurper, the usurpation of power. A regicide can also be the person responsible for the killing. The word comes from the latin roots of ''re ...
; Milton's political reputation got him appointed Secretary for Foreign Tongues by the Council of State in March 1649. His main job description was to compose the English Republic's foreign correspondence in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
and other languages, but he also was called upon to produce propaganda for the regime and to serve as a censor. In October 1649, he published ''
Eikonoklastes ''Eikonoklastes'' (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Eikonoklastes
'', an explicit defence of the regicide, in response to the ''
Eikon Basilike The ''Eikon Basilike'' (Greek language, Greek: Εἰκὼν Βασιλική, the "Royal Portrait"), ''The Pourtrature of His Sacred Majestie in His Solitudes and Sufferings'', is a purported spiritual autobiography attributed to King Charles I ...
'', a phenomenal best-seller popularly attributed to Charles I that portrayed the King as an innocent Christian
martyr A martyr (, ''mártys'', "witness", or , ''marturia'', stem Stem or STEM may refer to: Biology * Plant stem, the aboveground structures that have vascular tissue and that support leaves and flowers ** Stipe (botany), a stalk that supports some ...

martyr
. Milton tried to break this powerful image of Charles I (the literal translation of Eikonoklastes is 'the image breaker'). A month later, however, the exiled and his party published the defence of monarchy ''Defensio Regia pro Carolo Primo'', written by leading humanist
Claudius Salmasius Claude Saumaise (15 April 1588 – 3 September 1653), also known by the Latin name Claudius Salmasius, was a French classical scholar. Life Salmasius was born at Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy (region), Burgundy. His father, a counsellor of the parl ...
. By January of the following year, Milton was ordered to write a defence of the English people by the
Council of State A Council of State is a governmental body in a country, or a subdivision of a country, with a function that varies by jurisdiction. It may be the formal name for the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-sha ...
. Milton worked more slowly than usual, given the European audience and the English Republic's desire to establish diplomatic and cultural legitimacy, as he drew on the learning marshalled by his years of study to compose a riposte. On 24 February 1652, Milton published his Latin defence of the English people ''
Defensio pro Populo Anglicano ''Defensio pro Populo Anglicano'' is a Latin polemic by John Milton, published in 1651. The full title in English is ''John Milton an Englishman His Defence of the People of England.'' It was a piece of propaganda, and made political argument in ...
'', also known as the ''First Defence''. Milton's pure Latin prose and evident learning exemplified in the ''First Defence'' quickly made him a European reputation, and the work ran to numerous editions. He addressed his ''Sonnet 16'' to 'The Lord Generall Cromwell in May 1652' beginning "Cromwell, our chief of men...", although it was not published until 1654. In 1654, Milton completed the second defence of the English nation ''Defensio secunda'' in response to an anonymous Royalist tract ''"Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Coelum Adversus Parricidas Anglicanos"'' he Cry of the Royal Blood to Heaven Against the English Parricides a work that made many personal attacks on Milton. The second defence praised
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
, now Lord Protector, while exhorting him to remain true to the principles of the Revolution.
Alexander Morus Alexander Morus (or Moir or More) (25 September 1616, Castres - 28 September 1670, Paris) was a Franco-Scottish Protestantism, Protestant preacher. Biography More's father, born in Scotland, was a rector at a Huguenot college in the town of Cast ...
, to whom Milton wrongly attributed the ''Clamor'' (in fact by Peter du Moulin), published an attack on Milton, in response to which Milton published the autobiographical ''Defensio pro se'' in 1655. Milton held the appointment of Secretary for Foreign Tongues to the Commonwealth Council of State until 1660, although after he had become totally blind, most of the work was done by his deputies, Georg Rudolph Wecklein, then Philip Meadows, and from 1657 by the poet
Andrew Marvell Andrew Marvell (; 31 March 1621 – 16 August 1678) was an English metaphysical poet, satirist and politician who sat in the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the U ...

Andrew Marvell
. By 1652, Milton had become totally blind; the cause of his blindness is debated but bilateral
retinal detachment Retinal detachment is a disorder of the eye in which the retina peels away from its underlying layer of support tissue. Initial detachment may be localized, but without rapid treatment the entire retina may detach, leading to vision loss and blin ...
or
glaucoma Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases which result in damage to the optic nerve The optic nerve, also known as cranial nerve II, or simply as CN II, is a paired cranial nerve Cranial nerves are the nerve A nerve is an enclosed, cable-l ...

glaucoma
are most likely. His blindness forced him to dictate his
verse Verse may refer to: Poetry * Verse, an occasional synonym for poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language ...
and prose to
amanuenses An amanuensis () is a person employed to write or type what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another, and also refers to a person who signs a document on behalf of another under the latter's authority. The term is often used ...
who copied them out for him; one of these was Andrew Marvell. One of his best-known sonnets, ''
When I Consider How My Light is Spent "When I Consider How My Light is Spent" (Also known as "On His Blindness") is one of the best known of the sonnet A sonnet is a poetic form Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from ...
'', titled by a later editor,
John Newton John Newton (; – 21 December 1807) was an English Anglican cleric The Anglican ministry is both the leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion. "Ministry" commonly refers to the office of ordination, ordained cler ...

John Newton
, "''On His Blindness''", is presumed to date from this period.


The Restoration

Cromwell's death in 1658 caused the English Republic to collapse into feuding military and political factions. Milton, however, stubbornly clung to the beliefs that had originally inspired him to write for the Commonwealth. In 1659, he published ''
A Treatise of Civil Power ''A Treatise of Civil Power'' was published by John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a ti ...
'', attacking the concept of a state-dominated church (the position known as
Erastianism Thomas Erastus (original surname Lüber, Lieber, or Liebler; September 7, 1524December 31, 1583) was a Swiss people, Swiss physician and Calvinist theology, Calvinist theologian. He wrote 100 theses (later reduced to 75) in which he argued that th ...
), as well as ''Considerations touching the likeliest means to remove hirelings'', denouncing corrupt practises in church governance. As the Republic disintegrated, Milton wrote several proposals to retain a non-monarchical government against the wishes of parliament, soldiers, and the people. *''A Letter to a Friend, Concerning the Ruptures of the Commonwealth'', written in October 1659, was a response to General Lambert's recent dissolution of the
Rump Parliament The Rump Parliament was the English Parliament The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gath ...

Rump Parliament
. *''Proposals of certain expedients for the preventing of a civil war now feared'', written in November 1659. *'' The Ready and Easy Way to Establishing a Free Commonwealth'', in two editions, responded to
General Monck George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle Justice of the Peace, JP Order of the Garter, KG Privy Council of England, PC (6 December 1608 – 3 January 1670) was an England, English soldier, who fought on both sides during the Wars of the Three Kingdom ...
's march towards London to restore the
Long Parliament The Long Parliament was an English Parliament The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the mid 13th to 17th century. The first English Parliament was convened in 1215, with the creation and signing of ...
(which led to the restoration of the monarchy). The work is an impassioned, bitter, and futile
jeremiad A jeremiad is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in verse (poetry), verse, in which the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of soc ...
damning the English people for backsliding from the cause of
liberty Broadly speaking, liberty is the ability to do as one pleases, or a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant (i.e. privilege). It is a synonym for the word freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change withou ...

liberty
and advocating the establishment of an authoritarian rule by an
oligarchy Oligarchy (; ) is a form of power structure A power structure is an overall system of influence between any individual and every other individual within any selected group of people. A description of a power structure would capture the way in ...
set up by unelected parliament. Upon the
Restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * The Restoration (1909 film), ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a ...
in May 1660, Milton, fearing for his life, went into hiding, while a warrant was issued for his arrest and his writings were burnt. He re-emerged after a general pardon was issued, but was nevertheless arrested and briefly imprisoned before influential friends intervened, such as Marvell, now an MP. Milton married for a third and final time on 24 February 1663, marrying Elizabeth (Betty) Minshull, aged 24, a native of
Wistaston Wistaston is a civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the ...
, Cheshire. He spent the remaining decade of his life living quietly in London, only retiring to a cottage during the
Great Plague of London The Great Plague of London, lasting from 1665 to 1666, was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by the plague bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular ba ...
Milton's Cottage in
Chalfont St. Giles Chalfont St Giles is a village and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and cou ...
, his only extant home. During this period, Milton published several minor prose works, such as the grammar textbook ''Art of Logic'' and a ''History of Britain''. His only explicitly political tracts were the 1672 ''Of True Religion'', arguing for
toleration Toleration is the allowing, permitting, or acceptance Acceptance in human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence ...
(except for Catholics), and a translation of a Polish tract advocating an elective monarchy. Both these works were referred to in the Exclusion debate, the attempt to exclude the heir presumptive from the throne of England—
James, Duke of York James II and VII (14 October 1633Old Style and New Style dates, O.S.16 September 1701) was King of England and King of Ireland as James II, and King of Scotland as James VII from the death of his elder brother, Charles II of England, Charles I ...

James, Duke of York
—because he was Roman Catholic. That debate preoccupied politics in the 1670s and 1680s and precipitated the formation of the Whig party and the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
.


Death

Milton died on 8 November 1674 and was buried in the church of
St Giles-without-Cripplegate St Giles-without-Cripplegate is an Church of England, Anglican church in the City of London, located on Fore Street (London), Fore Street within the modern Barbican Estate, Barbican complex. When built it stood without (that is, outside) the Londo ...

St Giles-without-Cripplegate
,
Fore Street "Fore Street" is a Street name, name often used for the main street of a town or village in Great Britain. Usage is prevalent in the South West England, south-west of England, with over seventy "Fore Streets" in Cornwall and about seventy-five in ...

Fore Street
, London.Walter Thornbury, 'Cripplegate', in Old and New London: Volume 2 (London, 1878), pp. 229-245. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol2/pp229-245 ccessed 7 July 2020 However, sources differ as to whether the cause of death was tuberculosis, consumption or gout. According to an early biographer, his funeral was attended by "his learned and great Friends in London, not without a friendly concourse of the Vulgar." A monument was added in 1793, sculpted by John Bacon (sculptor, born 1740), John Bacon the Elder.


Family

Milton and his first wife Mary Powell (1625–1652) had four children: *Anne (born 29 July 1646) *Mary (born 25 October 1648) *John (16 March 1651 – June 1652) *Deborah (2 May 1652 – 10 August 1727) Mary Powell died on 5 May 1652 from complications following Deborah's birth. Milton's daughters survived to adulthood, but he always had a strained relationship with them. On 12 November 1656, Milton was married to Katherine Woodcock at St Margaret's, Westminster. She died on 3 February 1658, less than four months after giving birth to her daughter Katherine, who also died. Milton married for a third time on 24 February 1663 to Elizabeth Mynshull or Minshull (1638–1728), the niece of Thomas Mynshull, a wealthy apothecary and philanthropist in Manchester. The marriage took place at St Mary Aldermary in the City of London. Despite a 31-year age gap, the marriage seemed happy, according to
John Aubrey John Aubrey (12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697) was an English antiquarian, antiquary, Natural philosophy, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the ''Brief Lives'', his collection of short biographical pieces. ...

John Aubrey
, and lasted more than 12 years until Milton's death. (A plaque on the wall of Mynshull's House in Manchester describes Elizabeth as Milton's "3rd and Best wife".) Samuel Johnson, however, claims that Mynshull was "a domestic companion and attendant" and that Milton's nephew Edward Phillips relates that Mynshull "oppressed his children in his lifetime, and cheated them at his death". His nephews, Edward Phillips, Edward and John Phillips (author), John Phillips (sons of Milton's sister Anne), were educated by Milton and became writers themselves. John acted as a secretary, and Edward was Milton's first biographer.


Poetry

Milton's poetry was slow to see the light of day, at least under his name. His first published poem was "On Shakespeare" (1630), anonymously included in the Second Folio edition of William Shakespeare's plays in 1632. An annotated copy of the First Folio has been suggested to contain marginal notes by Milton. Milton collected his work in ''1645 Poems'' in the midst of the excitement attending the possibility of establishing a new English government. The anonymous edition of ''Comus'' was published in 1637, and the publication of ''Lycidas'' in 1638 in ''Justa Edouardo King Naufrago'' was signed J. M. Otherwise. The 1645 collection was the only poetry of his to see print until ''
Paradise Lost ''Paradise Lost'' is an in by the 17th-century English poet (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of . A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the m ...

Paradise Lost
'' appeared in 1667.


''Paradise Lost''

Milton's ''Masterpiece, magnum opus'', the blank-verse
epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of l ...
''
Paradise Lost ''Paradise Lost'' is an in by the 17th-century English poet (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of . A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the m ...

Paradise Lost
'', was composed by the blind and impoverished Milton from 1658 to 1664 (first edition), with small but significant revisions published in 1674 (second edition). As a blind poet, Milton dictated his verse to a series of aides in his employ. It has been argued that the poem reflects his personal despair at the failure of the English Civil War, Revolution yet affirms an ultimate optimism in human potential. Some literary critics have argued that Milton encoded many references to his unyielding support for the "Good Old Cause". On 27 April 1667, Milton sold the publication rights for ''Paradise Lost'' to publisher Samuel Simmons for £5 (equivalent to approximately £770 in 2015 purchasing power), with a further £5 to be paid if and when each print run sold out of between 1,300 and 1,500 copies. The first run was a Bookbinding, quarto edition priced at three shilling (English coin), shillings per copy (about £23 in 2015 purchasing power equivalent), published in August 1667, and it sold out in eighteen months. Milton followed up the publication ''Paradise Lost'' with its sequel ''Paradise Regained'', which was published alongside the tragedy ''Samson Agonistes'' in 1671. Both of these works also reflect Milton's post-Restoration political situation. Just before his death in 1674, Milton supervised a second edition of ''Paradise Lost'', accompanied by an explanation of "why the poem rhymes not", and prefatory verses by
Andrew Marvell Andrew Marvell (; 31 March 1621 – 16 August 1678) was an English metaphysical poet, satirist and politician who sat in the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the U ...

Andrew Marvell
. In 1673, Milton republished his ''1645 Poems'', as well as a collection of his letters and the Latin prolusions from his Cambridge days.


Views

An unfinished religious manifesto, ''De Doctrina Christiana (Milton), De doctrina christiana'', probably written by Milton, lays out many of his heterodox theological views, and was not discovered and published until 1823. Milton's key beliefs were idiosyncratic, not those of an identifiable group or faction, and often they go well beyond the orthodoxy of the time. Their tone, however, stemmed from the Puritan emphasis on the centrality and inviolability of conscience. He was his own man, but he was anticipated by Henry Robinson (writer), Henry Robinson in ''Areopagitica''.


Philosophy

While Milton's beliefs are generally considered to be consistent with Protestant Christianity, Stephen Fallon argues that by the late 1650s, Milton may have at least toyed with the idea of monism or animist materialism, the notion that a single material substance which is "animate, self-active, and free" composes everything in the universe: from stones and trees and bodies to minds, souls, angels, and God. Fallon claims that Milton devised this position to avoid the dualism (philosophy of mind), mind-body dualism of Plato and René Descartes, Descartes as well as the mechanism (philosophy), mechanistic determinism of Thomas Hobbes, Hobbes. According to Fallon, Milton's monism is most notably reflected in ''Paradise Lost'' when he has angels eat (5.433–39) and apparently engage in sexual intercourse (8.622–29) and the ''De Doctrina'', where he denies the dual natures of man and argues for a theory of Creation Ex nihilo, ''ex Deo''.


Political thought

Milton was a "passionately individual Christian Humanist poet." He appears on the pages of seventeenth century English Puritanism, an age characterized as "the world turned upside down." He was a Puritan and yet was unwilling to surrender conscience to party positions on public policy. Thus, Milton's political thought, driven by competing convictions, a Reformed faith and a Humanist spirit, led to enigmatic outcomes.
Milton’s apparently contradictory stance on the vital problems of his age, arose from religious contestations, to the questions of the divine rights of kings. In both the cases, he seems in control, taking stock of the situation arising from the polarization of the English society on religious and political lines. He fought with the Puritans against the Cavaliers i.e. the King’s party, and helped win the day. But the very same constitutional and republican polity, when tried to curtail freedom of speech, Milton, given his humanistic zeal, wrote ''Areopagitica'' . . .
Milton's political thought may be best categorized according to respective periods in his life and times. The years 1641–42 were dedicated to church politics and the struggle against episcopacy. After his divorce writings, ''Areopagitica'', and a gap, he wrote in 1649–54 in the aftermath of the execution of Charles I, and in polemic justification of the regicide and the existing Parliamentarian regime. Then in 1659–60 he foresaw the Restoration, and wrote to head it off. Milton's own beliefs were in some cases unpopular, particularly his commitment to
republicanism Republicanism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use ...
. In coming centuries, Milton would be claimed as an early apostle of liberalism. According to James Tully: A friend and ally in the pamphlet wars was Marchamont Nedham. Austin Woolrych considers that although they were quite close, there is "little real affinity, beyond a broad republicanism", between their approaches. Blair Worden remarks that both Milton and Nedham, with others such as
Andrew Marvell Andrew Marvell (; 31 March 1621 – 16 August 1678) was an English metaphysical poet, satirist and politician who sat in the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the U ...

Andrew Marvell
and James Harrington (author), James Harrington, would have taken their problem with the
Rump Parliament The Rump Parliament was the English Parliament The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gath ...

Rump Parliament
to be not the republic itself, but the fact that it was not a proper republic. Woolrych speaks of "the gulf between Milton's vision of the Commonwealth's future and the reality". In the early version of his ''History of Britain (John Milton), History of Britain'', begun in 1649, Milton was already writing off the members of the
Long Parliament The Long Parliament was an English Parliament The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the mid 13th to 17th century. The first English Parliament was convened in 1215, with the creation and signing of ...
as incorrigible. He praised
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
as the Protectorate was set up; though subsequently he had major reservations. When Cromwell seemed to be backsliding as a revolutionary, after a couple of years in power, Milton moved closer to the position of Henry Vane the Younger, Sir Henry Vane, to whom he wrote a sonnet in 1652. The group of disaffected republicans included, besides Vane, John Bradshaw (judge), John Bradshaw, John Hutchinson (Colonel), John Hutchinson, Edmund Ludlow, Henry Marten (regicide), Henry Marten, Robert Overton, Edward Sexby and John Streater; but not Marvell, who remained with Cromwell's party. Milton had already commended Overton, along with Edmund Whalley and Bulstrode Whitelocke, in ''
Defensio Secunda ''Defension Secunda'' was a 1654 political tract by John Milton, a sequel to his ''Defensio pro Populo Anglicano''. It is a defence of the Parliamentary regime, by then controlled by Oliver Cromwell; and also defense of his own reputation against ...
''. Nigel Smith writes that As Richard Cromwell fell from power, he envisaged a step towards a freer republic or "free commonwealth", writing in the hope of this outcome in early 1660. Milton had argued for an awkward position, in the ''The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, Ready and Easy Way'', because he wanted to invoke the Good Old Cause and gain the support of the republicans, but without offering a democratic solution of any kind. His proposal, backed by reference (amongst other reasons) to the oligarchical Dutch and Venetian constitutions, was for a council with perpetual membership. This attitude cut right across the grain of popular opinion of the time, which swung decisively behind the restoration of the Stuart monarchy that took place later in the year. Milton, an associate of and advocate on behalf of the regicides, was silenced on political matters as Charles II returned.


Theology

Milton was neither a clergyman nor a theologian; however, theology, and particularly English Calvinism, formed the palette on which John Milton created his greatest thoughts. John Milton wrestled with the great doctrines of the Church amidst the theological crosswinds of his age. The great poet was undoubtedly Reformed (though his grandfather, Richard "the Ranger" Milton had been Roman Catholic). However, Milton's Calvinism had to find expression in a broad-spirited Humanism. Like many Renaissance artists before him, Milton attempted to integrate Christian theology with classical modes. In his early poems, the poet narrator expresses a tension between vice and virtue, the latter invariably related to Protestantism. In ''Comus'', Milton may make ironic use of the Charles I of England, Caroline court masque by elevating notions of purity and virtue over the conventions of court revelry and superstition. In his later poems, Milton's theological concerns become more explicit. His use of biblical citation was wide-ranging; Harris Fletcher, standing at the beginning of the intensification of the study of the use of scripture in Milton's work (poetry and prose, in all languages Milton mastered), notes that typically Milton clipped and adapted biblical quotations to suit the purpose, giving precise chapter and verse only in texts for a more specialized readership. As for the plenitude of Milton's quotations from scripture, Fletcher comments, "For this work, I have in all actually collated about twenty-five hundred of the five to ten thousand direct Biblical quotations which appear therein". Milton's customary English Bible was the King James Version#Authorized Version, Authorized King James. When citing and writing in other languages, he usually employed the Latin translation by Immanuel Tremellius, though "he was equipped to read the Bible in Latin, in Greek, and in Hebrew, including the Targumim or Aramaic paraphrases of the Old Testament, and the Syriac version of the New, together with the available commentaries of those several versions". Milton embraced many heterodox Christian theological views. He has been accused of rejecting the Trinity, believing instead that the Son was subordinate to the Father, a position known as Arianism; and his sympathy or curiosity was probably engaged by Socinianism: in August 1650 he licensed for publication by William Dugard the ''Racovian Catechism'', based on a non-trinitarian creed. Milton's alleged Arianism, like much of his theology, is still subject of debate and controversy. Rufus Wilmot Griswold argued that "In none of his great works is there a passage from which it can be inferred that he was an Arian; and in the very last of his writings he declares that "the doctrine of the Trinity is a plain doctrine in Scripture." In ''Areopagitica,'' Milton classified Arians and Socinians as "errorists" and "schismatics" alongside Arminians and Anabaptists. A source has interpreted him as broadly Protestant, if not always easy to locate in a more precise religious category. In 2019, John Rogers stated, "Heretics both, John Milton and Isaac Newton were, as most scholars now agree, Arians." In his 1641 treatise, ''Of Reformation'', Milton expressed his dislike for Catholicism and episcopacy, presenting Rome as a modern Babylon, and bishops as Egyptian taskmasters. These analogies conform to Milton's puritanical preference for Old Testament imagery. He knew at least four commentaries on ''Genesis'': those of John Calvin, Paulus Fagius, David Pareus and Andreus Rivetus. Through the Interregnum (1649–1660), Interregnum, Milton often presents England, rescued from the trappings of a worldly monarchy, as an elect nation akin to the Old Testament Israel, and shows its leader,
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
, as a latter-day Moses. These views were bound up in Protestant views of the Millennialism, Millennium, which some sects, such as the Fifth Monarchists predicted would arrive in England. Milton, however, would later criticise the "worldly" millenarian views of these and others, and expressed orthodox ideas on the prophecy of the Four Empires. The Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 began a new phase in Milton's work. In ''Paradise Lost'', ''Paradise Regained'' and ''Samson Agonistes'', Milton mourns the end of the godly English Commonwealth, Commonwealth. The Garden of Eden may allegorically reflect Milton's view of England's recent The Fall of Man, Fall from Grace, while Samson's blindness and captivity—mirroring Milton's own lost sight—may be a metaphor for England's blind acceptance of as king. Illustrated by ''Paradise Lost'' is Soul sleep, mortalism, the belief that the soul lies dormant after the body dies. Despite the Restoration of the monarchy, Milton did not lose his personal faith; ''Samson'' shows how the loss of national salvation did not necessarily preclude the salvation of the individual, while ''Paradise Regained'' expresses Milton's continuing belief in the promise of Christian salvation through Jesus Christ. Though he maintained his personal faith in spite of the defeats suffered by his cause, the ''Dictionary of National Biography'' recounted how he had been alienated from the Church of England by Archbishop William Laud, and then moved similarly from the Dissenters by their denunciation of religious tolerance in England. Writing of the enigmatic and often conflicting views of Milton in the Puritan age, David Daiches wrote convincingly,
"Christian and Humanist, Protestant, patriot and heir of the golden ages of Greece and Rome, he faced what appeared to him to be the birth-pangs of a new and regenerate England with high excitement and idealistic optimism.”
A fair theological summary may be: that John Milton was a Puritan, though his tendency to press further for liberty of conscience, sometimes out of conviction and often out of mere intellectual curiosity, made the great man, at least, a vital if not uncomfortable ally in the broader Puritan movement.


Religious toleration

Milton called in the ''
Areopagitica ''Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc'd Printing, to the Parlament of England'' is a 1644 prose polemic by the English poet, scholar, and polemical author John Milton opposing Licensing Order of 1643, licensing ...
'' for "the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties" to the conflicting Protestant denominations. According to American historian William Hunter, "Milton argued for disestablishment as the only effective way of achieving broad Religious toleration, toleration. Rather than force a man's conscience, government should recognise the persuasive force of the gospel."


Divorce

Milton wrote ''The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce'' in 1643, at the beginning of the English Civil War. In August of that year, he presented his thoughts to the Westminster Assembly of Divines, which had been created by the
Long Parliament The Long Parliament was an English Parliament The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the mid 13th to 17th century. The first English Parliament was convened in 1215, with the creation and signing of ...
to bring greater reform to the Church of England. The Assembly convened on 1 July against the will of King Charles I. Milton's thinking on divorce caused him considerable trouble with the authorities. An orthodox Presbyterian view of the time was that Milton's views on divorce constituted a one-man heresy: Even here, though, his originality is qualified: Thomas Gataker had already identified "mutual solace" as a principal goal in marriage. Milton abandoned his campaign to legitimise divorce after 1645, but he expressed support for polygamy in the ''De Doctrina Christiana (Milton), De Doctrina Christiana'', the theological treatise that provides the clearest evidence for his views. Milton wrote during a period when thoughts about divorce were anything but simplistic; rather, there was active debate among thinkers and intellectuals at the time. However, Milton's basic approval of divorce within strict parameters set by the biblical witness was typical of many influential Christian intellectuals, particularly the Westminster divines. Milton addressed the Assembly on the matter of divorce in August 1643, at a moment when the Assembly was beginning to form its opinion on the matter. In the Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce, Milton argued that divorce was a private matter, not a legal or ecclesiastical one. Neither the Assembly nor Parliament condemned Milton or his ideas. In fact, when the Westminster Assembly wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith they allowed for divorce ('Of Marriage and Divorce,' Chapter 24, Section 5) in cases of infidelity or abandonment. Thus, the Christian community, at least a majority within the 'Puritan' sub-set, approved of Milton's views. Nevertheless, reaction among Puritans to Milton's views on divorce was mixed. Herbert Palmer (Puritan), Herbert Palmer, a member of the Westminster Assembly, condemned Milton in the strongest possible language: Palmer expressed his disapproval in a sermon addressed to the Westminster Assembly. The Scottish commissioner Robert Baillie described Palmer's sermon as one "of the most Scottish and free sermons that ever I heard any where."


History

History was particularly important for the political class of the period, and Lewalski considers that Milton "more than most illustrates" a remark of Thomas Hobbes on the weight placed at the time on the classical Latin historical writers Tacitus, Livy, Sallust and Cicero, and their republican attitudes. Milton himself wrote that "Worthy deeds are not often destitute of worthy relaters", in Book II of his ''History of Britain''. A sense of history mattered greatly to him:


Legacy and influence

Once ''Paradise Lost'' was published, Milton's stature as epic poet was immediately recognised. He cast a formidable shadow over English poetry in the 18th and 19th centuries; he was often judged equal or superior to all other English poets, including Shakespeare. Very early on, though, he was championed by Whig (British political faction), Whigs, and decried by Tories: with the regicide Edmund Ludlow he was claimed as an early Whig, while the High Tory Anglican minister Luke Milbourne lumped Milton in with other "Agents of Darkness" such as John Knox, George Buchanan, Richard Baxter, Algernon Sidney and John Locke. The political ideas of Milton, Locke, Sidney, and James Harrington (author), James Harrington strongly influenced the Radical Whigs, whose ideology in turn was central to the American Revolution. Modern scholars of Milton's life, politics, and work are known as Miltonists: "his work is the subject of a very large amount of academic scholarship". In 2008, John Milton Passage, a short passage by Bread Street into St Mary-le-Bow Churchyard in London, was unveiled.


Early reception of the poetry

John Dryden, an early enthusiast, in 1677 began the trend of describing Milton as the poet of the sublime (philosophy), sublime. Dryden's ''The State of Innocence and the Fall of Man: an Opera'' (1677) is evidence of an immediate cultural influence. In 1695, Patrick Hume (editor), Patrick Hume became the first editor of ''Paradise Lost'', providing an extensive apparatus of annotation and commentary, particularly chasing down allusions. In 1732, the classical scholar Richard Bentley offered a corrected version of ''Paradise Lost''. Bentley was considered presumptuous, and was attacked in the following year by Zachary Pearce. Christopher Ricks judges that, as critic, Bentley was both acute and wrong-headed, and "incorrigibly eccentric"; William Empson also finds Pearce to be more sympathetic to Bentley's underlying line of thought than is warranted. There was an early, partial translation of ''Paradise Lost'' into German by Theodore Haak, and based on that a standard verse translation by Ernest Gottlieb von Berge. A subsequent prose translation by Johann Jakob Bodmer was very popular; it influenced Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock. The German-language Milton tradition returned to England in the person of the artist Henry Fuseli. Many Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century revered and commented on Milton's poetry and non-poetical works. In addition to John Dryden, among them were Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison, Thomas Newton, and
Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709  – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic A critic is a person who communicates an asse ...
. For example, in ''The Spectator (1711), The Spectator'', Joseph Addison wrote extensive notes, annotations, and interpretations of certain passages of ''Paradise Lost''. Jonathan Richardson (painter), Jonathan Richardson, senior, and Jonathan Richardson, the younger, co-wrote a book of criticism. In 1749, Thomas Newton published an extensive edition of Milton's poetical works with annotations provided by himself, Dryden, Pope, Addison, the Richardsons (father and son) and others. Newton's edition of Milton was a culmination of the honour bestowed upon Milton by early Enlightenment thinkers; it may also have been prompted by Richard Bentley's infamous edition, described above. Samuel Johnson wrote numerous essays on ''Paradise Lost'', and Milton was included in his ''Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets'' (1779–1781). In ''The Age of Louis XIV'', Voltaire said "Milton remains the glory and the wonder (''l'admiration'') of England."


Blake

William Blake William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his life, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the Romantic poetry, poetry and visual art of t ...

William Blake
considered Milton the major English poet. Blake placed Edmund Spenser as Milton's precursor, and saw himself as Milton's poetical son. In his ''Milton: A Poem in Two Books'', Blake uses Milton as a character.


Romantic theory

Edmund Burke was a theorist of the sublime (literary), sublime, and he regarded Milton's description of Hell as exemplary of sublimity as an aesthetics, aesthetic concept. For Burke, it was to set alongside mountain-tops, a storm at sea, and infinity. In ''The Beautiful and the Sublime'', he wrote: "No person seems better to have understood the secret of heightening, or of setting terrible things, if I may use the expression, in their strongest light, by the force of a judicious obscurity than Milton." The Romanticism, Romantic poets valued his exploration of
blank verse Blank verse is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in So ...
, but for the most part rejected his religiosity.
William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 177023 April 1850) was an English Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of ...

William Wordsworth
began his sonnet "London, 1802" with "Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour" and modelled ''The Prelude'', his own blank verse epic, on ''Paradise Lost''. John Keats found the yoke of Milton's style uncongenial; he exclaimed that "Miltonic verse cannot be written but in an artful or rather artist's humour."Leader, Zachary. "Revision and Romantic Authorship". Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. 298. . Keats felt that ''Paradise Lost'' was a "beautiful and grand curiosity", but his own unfinished attempt at epic poetry, ''Hyperion (poem), Hyperion'', was unsatisfactory to the author because, amongst other things, it had too many "Miltonic inversions". In ''The Madwoman in the Attic'', Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar note that Mary Shelley's novel ''Frankenstein'' is, in the view of many critics, "one of the key 'Romantic' readings of ''Paradise Lost''."


Later legacy

The Victorian age witnessed a continuation of Milton's influence, George Eliot and
Thomas Hardy Thomas Hardy (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Literary realism, Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, including the poetr ...

Thomas Hardy
being particularly inspired by Milton's poetry and biography. Hostile 20th-century criticism by T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound did not reduce Milton's stature. F. R. Leavis, in ''The Common Pursuit'', responded to the points made by Eliot, in particular the claim that "the study of Milton could be of no help: it was only a hindrance", by arguing, "As if it were a matter of deciding ''not'' to study Milton! The problem, rather, was to escape from an influence that was so difficult to escape from because it was unrecognized, belonging, as it did, to the climate of the habitual and 'natural'." Harold Bloom, in ''The Anxiety of Influence'', wrote that "Milton is the central problem in any theory and history of poetic influence in English [...]". Milton's ''
Areopagitica ''Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc'd Printing, to the Parlament of England'' is a 1644 prose polemic by the English poet, scholar, and polemical author John Milton opposing Licensing Order of 1643, licensing ...
'' is still cited as relevant to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. A quotation from ''Areopagitica''—"A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life"—is displayed in many public libraries, including the New York Public Library. The title of Philip Pullman's ''His Dark Materials'' trilogy is derived from a quotation, "His dark materials to create more worlds", line 915 of Book II in ''Paradise Lost''. Pullman was concerned to produce a version of Milton's poem accessible to teenagers, and has spoken of Milton as "our greatest public poet". Titles of a number of other well-known literary works are also derived from Milton's writings. Examples include Thomas Wolfe's ''Look Homeward, Angel'', Aldous Huxley's ''Eyeless in Gaza (novel), Eyeless in Gaza'', Arthur Koestler's ''Darkness at Noon'', and William Golding's ''Darkness Visible (novel), Darkness Visible''. T. S. Eliot believed that "of no other poet is it so difficult to consider the poetry simply as poetry, without our theological and political dispositions... making unlawful entry".


Literary legacy

Milton's use of
blank verse Blank verse is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in So ...
, in addition to his stylistic innovations (such as grandiloquence of voice and vision, peculiar diction and phraseology) influenced later poets. At the time, poetic blank verse was considered distinct from its use in verse drama, and ''
Paradise Lost ''Paradise Lost'' is an in by the 17th-century English poet (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of . A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the m ...

Paradise Lost
'' was taken as a unique examplar. Said Isaac Watts in 1734, "Mr. Milton is esteemed the parent and author of blank verse among us". "Miltonic verse" might be synonymous for a century with blank verse as poetry, a new poetic terrain independent from both the drama and the heroic couplet. Lack of rhyme was sometimes taken as Milton's defining innovation. He himself considered the rhymeless quality of ''
Paradise Lost ''Paradise Lost'' is an in by the 17th-century English poet (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of . A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the m ...

Paradise Lost
'' to be an extension of his own personal liberty: This pursuit of freedom was largely a reaction against conservative values entrenched within the rigid heroic couplet. Within a dominant culture that stressed elegance and finish, he granted primacy to freedom, breadth and imaginative suggestiveness, eventually developed into the romantic vision of sublime terror. Reaction to Milton's poetic worldview included, grudgingly, acknowledgement that of poet's resemblance to classical writers (Greek and Roman poetry being unrhymed). Blank verse came to be a recognised medium for religious works and for translations of the classics. Unrhymed lyrics like William Collins (poet), Collins' ''Ode to Evening'' (in the meter of Milton's translation of Horace's ''Ode to Pyrrha'') were not uncommon after 1740. A second aspect of Milton's blank verse was the use of unconventional rhythm: Before Milton, "the sense of regular rhythm ... had been knocked into the English head so securely that it was part of their nature". The "Heroick measure", according to
Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709  – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic A critic is a person who communicates an asse ...
, "is pure ... when the accent rests upon every second syllable through the whole line ... The repetition of this sound or percussion at equal times, is the most complete harmony of which a single verse is capable". Caesural pauses, most agreed, were best placed at the middle and the end of the line. In order to support this symmetry, lines were most often octo- or deca-syllabic, with no enjambed endings. To this schema Milton introduced modifications, which included hypermetrical syllables (trisyllabic Foot (prosody), feet), inversion (prosody), inversion or slighting of stress (linguistics), stresses, and the shifting of pauses to all parts of the line. Milton deemed these features to be reflective of "the transcendental union of order and freedom". Admirers remained hesitant to adopt such departures from traditional metrical schemes: "The English ... had been writing separate lines for so long that they could not rid themselves of the habit". Isaac Watts preferred his lines distinct from each other, as did Oliver Goldsmith, Henry Pemberton, and Scott of Amwell, whose general opinion it was that Milton's frequent omission of the initial unaccented foot was "displeasing to a nice ear". It was not until the late 18th century that poets (beginning with Thomas Gray, Gray) began to appreciate "the composition of Milton's harmony ... how he loved to vary his pauses, his measures, and his feet, which gives that enchanting air of freedom and wilderness to his versification". By the 20th century, American poet and critic John Hollander would go so far as to say that Milton "was able, by plying that most remarkable instrument of English meter ... to invent a new mode of image-making in English poetry." Milton's pursuit of liberty extended into his vocabulary as well. It included many Latinate neologisms, as well as obsolete words already dropped from popular usage so completely that their meanings were no longer understood. In 1740, Francis Peck identified some examples of Milton's "old" words (now popular). The "Miltonian dialect", as it was called, was emulated by later poets; Pope used the diction of ''Paradise Lost'' in his Homer translation, while the lyric poetry of Gray and Collins was frequently criticised for their use of "obsolete words out of Spenser and Milton". The language of James Thomson (poet), Thomson's finest poems (e.g. ''The Seasons (Thomson poem), The Seasons'', ''The Castle of Indolence'') was self-consciously modelled after the Miltonian dialect, with the same tone and sensibilities as ''Paradise Lost''. Following to Milton, English poetry from Pope to John Keats exhibited a steadily increasing attention to the connotative, the imaginative and poetic, value of words.Saintsbury 1908 ii. 468.


Musical settings

Milton's ode ''At a solemn Musick'' was set for choir and orchestra as ''Blest Pair of Sirens'' by Hubert Parry (1848–1918), and Milton's poem ''On the Morning of Christ's Nativity'' was set as a large-scale choral work by Cyril Rootham (1875–1938). Milton also wrote the hymn Let us with a gladsome mind, a versification of Psalm 136. His 'L'Allegro' and 'Il Penseroso', with additional material, were magnificently set by Handel (1740).


Works


Poetry and drama

*1629: ''On the Morning of Christ's Nativity'' *1630: ''On Shakespeare'' *1631: ''On Arriving at the Age of Twenty-Three'' *1632: ''
L'Allegro ''L'Allegro'' is a pastoral A pastoral lifestyle is that of shepherds herd A herd is a social group of certain animals of the same species, either wildness, wild or Domestication, domestic. The form of collective animal behavior a ...
'' *1632: ''
Il Penseroso ''Il Penseroso'' (The thinker) is a poem by John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a t ...
'' *1634: ''A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634'', commonly known as ''
Comus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A beli ...
'' (a masque) *1637: ''
Lycidas "Lycidas" () is a poem by John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a time of religious f ...

Lycidas
'' *1645: ''Milton's 1645 Poems, Poems of Mr John Milton, Both English and Latin'' *1652: ''
When I Consider How My Light is Spent "When I Consider How My Light is Spent" (Also known as "On His Blindness") is one of the best known of the sonnet A sonnet is a poetic form Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from ...
'' (Commonly referred to as "On his blindness", though Milton did not use this title) *1655: ''On the Late Massacre in Piedmont'' *1667: ''
Paradise Lost ''Paradise Lost'' is an in by the 17th-century English poet (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of . A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the m ...

Paradise Lost
'' *1671: ''Paradise Regained'' *1671: ''Samson Agonistes'' *1673: ''Milton's 1673 Poems, Poems, &c, Upon Several Occasions'' *Arcades: a masque. (date is unknown). *On his Deceased wife, To The Nightingale, On reaching the Age of twenty four.


Prose

*''Of Reformation'' (1641) *''Of Prelatical Episcopacy'' (1641) *''Animadversions'' (1641) *''
The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty ''The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty'' is an essay by English poet John Milton distributed as one of a series of religious Pamphlet, pamphlets by the writer. Published in 1642, the political work details Milton's preference for ...
'' (1642) *''Apology for Smectymnuus'' (1642) *''Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce'' (1643) *''Judgement of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce'' (1644) *'' Of Education'' (1644) *''
Areopagitica ''Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc'd Printing, to the Parlament of England'' is a 1644 prose polemic by the English poet, scholar, and polemical author John Milton opposing Licensing Order of 1643, licensing ...
'' (1644) *''Tetrachordon'' (1645) *''Colasterion'' (1645) *''
The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates ''The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates'' is a book by John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrot ...
'' (1649) *''
Eikonoklastes ''Eikonoklastes'' (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Eikonoklastes
'' (1649) *''
Defensio pro Populo Anglicano ''Defensio pro Populo Anglicano'' is a Latin polemic by John Milton, published in 1651. The full title in English is ''John Milton an Englishman His Defence of the People of England.'' It was a piece of propaganda, and made political argument in ...
'' [''First Defence''] (1651) *''
Defensio Secunda ''Defension Secunda'' was a 1654 political tract by John Milton, a sequel to his ''Defensio pro Populo Anglicano''. It is a defence of the Parliamentary regime, by then controlled by Oliver Cromwell; and also defense of his own reputation against ...
'' [''Second Defence''] (1654) *''
A Treatise of Civil Power ''A Treatise of Civil Power'' was published by John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a ti ...
'' (1659) *''The Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings from the Church'' (1659) *''The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth'' (1660) *''Brief Notes Upon a Late Sermon'' (1660) *''Accedence Commenced Grammar'' (1669) *''The History of Britain (Milton), The History of Britain'' (1670) *''Artis logicae plenior institutio'' [''Art of Logic''] (1672) *''Of True Religion'' (1673) *''Epistolae Familiaries'' (1674) *''Prolusiones'' (1674) *''A brief History of Moscovia, and other less known Countries lying Eastward of Russia as far as Cathay, gathered from the writings of several Eye-witnesses'' (1682) *''De Doctrina Christiana (Milton), De Doctrina Christiana'' (1823)


Notes


References


Sources

*Beer, Anna. ''Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer, and Patriot''. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2008. *Gordon Campbell (scholar), Campbell, Gordon and Corns, Thomas. ''John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought''. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. *Chaney, Edward, ''The Grand Tour and the Great Rebellion: Richard Lassels and 'The Voyage of Italy' in the Seventeenth Century'' (Geneva, CIRVI, 1985) and "Milton's Visit to Vallombrosa: A literary tradition", ''The Evolution of the Grand Tour'', 2nd ed (Routledge, London, 2000). *Dexter, Raymond. ''The Influence of Milton on English Poetry''. London: Kessinger Publishing. 1922 *Dick, Oliver Lawson. ''Aubrey's Brief Lives''. Harmondsworth, Middl.: Penguin Books, 1962. *Thomas Stearns Eliot, Eliot, T. S. "Annual Lecture on a Master Mind: Milton", ''Proceedings of the British Academy'' 33 (1947). *Fish, Stanley. ''Versions of Antihumanism: Milton and Others.'' Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. . *Gray, Thomas. ''Observations on English Metre''. "The Works of Thomas Gray". ed. Mitford. London: William Pickering, 1835. *David Hawkes (professor of English), Hawkes, David, John Milton: A Hero of Our Time (Counterpoint Press: London and New York, 2009) *Christopher Hill (historian), Hill, Christopher. ''Milton and the English Revolution''. London: Faber, 1977. *Hobsbaum, Philip. "Meter, Rhythm and Verse Form". New York: Routledge, 1996. *Hunter, William Bridges. ''A Milton Encyclopedia''. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1980. *Johnson, Samuel. "Rambler #86" 1751. *Johnson, Samuel. ''Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets''. London: Dove, 1826. * Leonard, John. ''Faithful Labourers: A Reception History of Paradise Lost, 1667–1970''. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. *Lewalski, Barbara K. ''The Life of John Milton''. Oxford: Blackwells Publishers, 2003. * *David Masson, Masson, David. ''The Life of John Milton and History of His Time'', Vol. 1. Oxford: 1859. *McCalman, Iain. et al., ''An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age: British Culture, 1776–1832''. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. *Andrew Milner, Milner, Andrew. ''John Milton and the English Revolution: A Study in the Sociology of Literature''. London: Macmillan, 1981. *Milton, John. ''Complete Prose Works'' 8 Vols. gen. ed. Don M. Wolfe. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959. *Milton, John. ''The Verse'', "Paradise Lost". London, 1668. *Peck, Francis. "New Memoirs of Milton". London, 1740. *Pfeiffer, Robert H. "The Teaching of Hebrew in Colonial America", ''The Jewish Quarterly Review'' (April 1955). *Rosenfeld, Nancy. ''The Human Satan in Seventeenth-Century English Literature: From Milton to Rochester''. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008. *Saintsbury, George. "The Peace of the Augustans: A Survey of Eighteenth Century Literature as a Place of Rest and Refreshment". London: Oxford University Press. 1946. *Saintsbury, George. "A History of English Prosody: From the Twelfth Century to the Present Day". London: Macmillan and Co., 1908. *Scott, John. "Critical Essays". London, 1785. * *Sullivan, Ceri. ''Literature in the Public Service: Divine Bureaucracy'' (2013). *Toland, John. ''Life of Milton'' in ''The Early Lives of Milton''. Ed. Helen Darbishere. London: Constable, 1932. *von Maltzahn, Nicholas. "Milton's Readers" in ''The Oxford Companion to Milton''. ed. Dennis Richard Danielson, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. *Watts, Isaac. "Miscellaneous Thoughts" No. lxxiii. ''Works'' 1810 *C. V. Wedgwood, Wedgwood, C. V. ''Thomas Wentworth, First Earl of Strafford 1593–1641''. New York: Macmillan, 1961. *A. N. Wilson, Wilson, A. N. ''The Life of John Milton''. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.


External links

* * * *
The John Milton Reading Room
Dartmouth College
Biography of John Milton
at the ''Encyclopædia Britannica''
Milton's cottage

"Milton"
BBC Radio 4 discussion with John Carey, Lisa Jardine & Blair Worden (''In Our Time'', 7 March 2002) {{DEFAULTSORT:Milton, John John Milton, 1608 births 1674 deaths 17th-century Latin-language writers Alumni of Christ's College, Cambridge Blind people from England Blind writers Burials at St Giles-without-Cripplegate Anglican philosophers Anglican poets Anti-Catholicism in the United Kingdom Calvinist and Reformed poets English Anglican theologians Deaths from kidney failure English Dissenters English essayists English republicans 17th-century English poets 17th-century male writers Epic poets Neoclassical writers People educated at St Paul's School, London People from the City of London New Latin-language poets Sonneteers Male essayists English male poets Blind poets Freedom of speech in the United Kingdom Free speech activists Burials at Westminster Abbey Christian poets