John Milton

John Milton’s Life

John Milton was born on 9th December 1608 in Bread Street, London, in England. He was a renowned English poet, historian civil servant for Commonwealth and pamphleteer. After William Shakespeare, he is considered to be one of the great writers in England. He was a prominent author during a time of political upheaval and religious flux.

Milton graduated from the Christ College Cambridge in 1629 and secured 4th position his graduating year at university. He completed his master’s degree from the Cambridge University in 1632. Upon receiving his degree, he went to Horton, Berkshire.

He had good relations with Edward King and he wrote his popular poemLycidas” for him. From 1635 onwards, Milton did self-directed studies for six years; he read philosophy, politics, history, literature, science and theology in order to make him ready for a poetic career. Due to this intensive study, Milton is considered as one of the most learned English poets. On his return to England from France, the Bishops’ Wars and armed conflict further intensified and Milton started writing against episcopacy to serve the parliamentary cause and Puritans.

In 1642, Milton got married to a 16 year-old girl, Mary Powell. However, she left him due to financial issues. During his mid-thirties, Milton’s eyesight gradually deteriorated and he became blind in 1652. A widower and blind Milton got married again to Katherine Woodcock in 1656, but she passed away soon. Then, he married a third time to Elizabeth Mynshull in 1662. Milton died in November, 1674 and was buried at St. Giles, Cripplegate Church.

John Milton’s Works

Milton composed his great piece of work “Paradise Lost” (a magnum opus and an epic poem) as a blind poet during the period 1658-1664. Several critics are of the view that this poem reflects the personal despair of Milton due to the failure of Revolution.

In 1671, Milton published, “Paradise Regained” a sequel to “Paradise Lost”. In addition, he published a tragedySamson Agonistes” alongside that sequel in 1671. In 1673, Milton republished his 1645 poem collection accompanied by Latin prolusions and collections of his letters from his Cambridge days.

In his prose works, he advocated for the abolition of the Church of England and the execution of King Charles I. After the restoration of King Charles-II in 1660, he supported in his works a political philosophy, which opposed tyranny and religion that is state-sanctioned. He derived his philosophy from the English civil wars.

John Milton’s Style and Popular Poems

Since Milton was famous for his unique style of blank verse and sonnets, he won the praise of the romantic poets for his skills. However, they did not accept his religious views. William Wordsworth opens his popular sonnet with “Milton! thou should’st be living at this hour.<John Keats was also a great admirer of Miltonic verse and advocated that, “Miltonic verse cannot be written but in an artful or rather artist’s humor”. Keats also felt that his epic poem “Hyperion” was filled with several Miltonic inversions. During that time, poetic blank verse was thought to be a unique form of poetry rather than in drama verse.

In addition to the induction of stylish innovation of Milton, he also influenced later poets. Specifically, Thomas Hardy and George Eliot of the Victorian Age were greatly inspired by his poetry. Similarly, Milton was a great influence to Ezra Pound and T.S Eliot – two of the most famous 20th century critics. Milton gave paramount importance to liberty of conscience and the Scriptures for guidance in faith- related matters.

Among the popular poems of Milton are: “Arcades”, a masque he wrote to give praise to Alice Spencer’s character; “How Soon Hath Time”, a poem that talks about how fleeting time is; “At a Solemn Music”, a poem that describes the feelings and emotions brought about when listening to a solemn music; “An Epitaph on the Admirable Dramatic Poet, W. Shakespeare”; “Hymn on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”; “Lycidas”; “On His Blindness”; “ Samson Agonists”; “Paradise Lost”; “Paradise Regained”; “On His Deceased Wife”; “On Shakespeare”; and “O Nightingale”.

More About Milton

Milton continued his advocacy for republicanism and freedom of worship for England despite being in trouble himself after the Restoration. He himself supervised the publication of his major works and poems. Also, Milton was arrested for involvement in possible regicide while he was in Cromwell’s government.