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JOHN MILTON (THE MAN AND THE POET)



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JOHN MILTON (THE MAN AND THE POET)

We have a lot of biographical material about John Milton because he was a public ure, in major political events and subject to personal attacks.

John Milton was born in London in 1608 of an honest family.

He had a voracins appetite for knowledge in fact he hardly ever left his studies and for this reason he lose his sight.

After Cambridge he retired to his father's estate at Horton where he studied Greek and Latin Classics.

Then he left for a two year tour of Europe, he met Galileo in Florence, visited Rome, Naples and other Italians town.

On his return he married Mary Powell the daughter  of a Royalist, but the marriage proved a failure because of his Puritan austerity and for this reason he wrote four pamphlets in favour of divorce and of freedom of press.

During the Civil war, Milton became actively involved on the side of Parliament in fact he was appointed Latin Secretary to the Commonwealth and the restoration of the monarchy took no revenge on the poet.



We can divide his literary career into three periods.

During the first, he wrote poetry in Latin and in English for Example "l'allegro pensieroso".

The second period was the period of the political pamphlets.

In the last period Milton produced his major works: the Paradise Lost, its sequel the "Paradise Regained" and " Samson Agonists ".

This last work is a tragedy on the model of the "Aristotelian units" of time, place and action.

Then there are his twenty- three sonnets on the model of the Italian Sonnet with the division of the lines into an octave and a sestet.

The themes are: public personalities or events or personal emotions and situations.

As far as concerned the "Paradise Lost", we can say that the poem is the fruit of an intense study.

The subject is "man's disobedience" and so this work was written  in praise of God.

The poem's form isn't the drama as he had conceived originally, but the epic, an ancient form of poetry.

In his poem Milton observes epic conventions.

Paradise Lost opens with the statement of the theme and an invocation to the muse for the inspiration; the story begins in medias res, the setting is cosmic, there are a lot of fallen angels such as the warriors in Homer, main characters . . . Elevated speech, the style is dignified, there are a lot of Epic or Homeric similes that are multiple isons beginnings with "as" or " when".

The setting is tell, described with a wonderful "graphic picture" opposed to the kingdom of Heaven.



Hell, in the poem, has three meanings it's a peace of punishment, a manning place for the devils and a state of mind for the fallen angels.

The setting is fundamental in order to understand the poem.

The Milton's universe was composed first of Heaven or the Empyrean where God and his angels well.

It is a vast but not infinite region.

Below Heaven lies Chaos where there is a continuous battle of storm and wave and stunning sounds.

Hell is at the bottom of Chaos. It is simile to Dante's hell with excessive cold and fire.

The world is the centre of the Universe and hangs by a gold chain from the floor of Heaven(earth, seas, stars).

The Hero of the poem could be Adam, Christ or Satan, and he has epic traits such as great energy and vitality.

But the Hero isn't compatible with Milton's purpose to justify the ways of God to men.

The style is considered "grand" that is magnificent and elevated with Latin, stylistic influence in vocabulary and grammatical construction and so the poem is remote from the society it was born in from a stylistic point of view too. He adopted "blank verse" with an high musicality because of Milton's ability. The poem was attacked by critics such as Ezra Pound and Eliot that considered "Paradise Lost " artificial, rhetorical and remote from the ordinary language.

But them forgot that the Paradise lost was an epic poem and for this reason it observes the epic conventions.

Finally these objections resulted to be a source of inspiration for modern poets.







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