Monday, October 12, 2015

What Would Milton Do?

    So far, I have looked at John Milton to see how he operated as the major English writer after Shakespeare. There was a brief series on Lycidas, where I thought poetically about this short poem. From those outworkings, you have seen that he blended Christian and pagan elements as he overcomes the loss of his friend. For example, he was compared to Orpheus whose corpse went down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore.

    I think that since he had an encyclopedic knowledge of Classical myth as well as a studied interest in the holy scriptures, which he has used to defend topics such as divorce (domestic liberty) and regicide (freedom from tyrants), then he would naturally use those tropes and references in his poetry. Much like how Shakespeare was known to the public first as a poet and then as a playwright, Milton was a political polemicist before he was known as the proper epic poet within English.

    Eventually, Milton published Paradise Lost, an epic poem in blank verse. During the time he was writing his poem, he lost his position as Secretary of Foreign Tongues within the Interregnum, when Cromwell ruled, since Charles II took over among other political considerations. So after that brief republican government, the blind Milton much like Homer composed the poem, which I'd like to write about next time.

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