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Paradise Lost – John Milton
John Milton, 1608–1674
Poet, was born 9th December 1608 in Bread Street, London. His father, also John, was the son of a yeoman of Oxfordshire, who cast him off on his becoming a Protestant. He had then become a scrivener in London, and grew to be a man of good estate. From him his illustrious son inherited his lofty integrity, and his love of, and proficiency in, music. Milton received his first education from a Scotch friend of his father’s, Thomas Young, a Puritan of some note, one of the writers of Smectymnuus. Thereafter he was at St. Paul’s School, and in 1625 went to Christ’s College, Cambridge, where for his beauty and his delicacy of mind he was nicknamed “the lady.” His sister Anne had married Edward Phillips, and the death of her first child in infancy gave to him the subject of his earliest poem, On the death of a Fair Infant . It was followed during his 7 years’ life at the University, along with others, by the poems, On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity , On the Circumcision, The Passion, Time, At a Solemn Music, On May Morning, and On Shakespeare, all in 1630; and two sonnets, To the Nightingale and On arriving at the Age of Twenty-three, in 1631.
In 1632, having given up the idea of entering the Church, for which his father had intended him, he lived for 6 years at Horton, near Windsor, to which the latter had retired, devoted to further study. Here he wrote L’Allegro and Il Penseroso in 1632, Arcades , Comus in 1634, and Lycidas in 1637. The first celebrates the pleasures of a life of cheerful innocence, and the second of contemplative, though not gloomy, retirement, and the last is a lament for a lost friend, Edward King, who perished at sea. Arcades and Comus are masques set to music by Henry Lawes, having for their motives respectively family affection and maiden purity. Had he written nothing else these would have given him a place among the immortals. In 1638 he completed his education by a period of travel in France and Italy, where he visited Grotius at Paris, and Galileo at Florence. The news of impending troubles in Church and State brought him home the following year, and with his return may be said to close the first of three well-marked divisions into which his life falls. These may be called (1) the period of preparation and of the early poems; (2) the period of controversy, and of the prose writings; and (3) the period of retirement and of the later poems.
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Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste Brought death into the World, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful seat, Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed In the beginning how the heavens and earth Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flowed Fast by the oracle of God, I thence Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer Before all temples th’ upright heart and pure, Instruct me, for thou know’st; thou from the first Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread, Dove-like sat’st brooding on the vast Abyss, And mad’st it pregnant: what in me is dark Illumine, what is low raise and support; That, to the height of this great argument, I may assert Eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to men.
Say first—for Heaven hides nothing from thy view, Nor the deep tract of Hell—say first what cause Moved our grandparents, in that happy state, Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint, lords of the World besides. Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was whose guile, Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived The mother of mankind, what time his pride Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host Of rebel Angels, by whose aid, aspiring To set himself in glory above his peers, He trusted to have equalled the Most High, If he opposed, and with ambitious aim Against the throne and monarchy of God, Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud, With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power Hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky, With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless perdition, there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire, Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.
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Ebook (PDF), 374 Pages
File Size: 5 MB
Author: John Milton
Genre: Epic poetry, Christian mythology
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