The Complete Poems of John Milton

The Complete Poems of John Milton

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The Complete Poems of John Milton

The Complete Poems of John Milton

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Among English men of letters there is none whose life and work stand in more intimate relation with the history of his times than those of Milton. Not only was he for a long period immersed in political controversy and public business, but there are few of his important works which do not become more significant in the light of contemporary events, and in turn help the understanding of these events themselves. It is evidence of this intimate relation, that the periods into which his life naturally falls coincide with the periods into which English history in the seventeenth century divides itself. The first of these extends from Milton's birth to his return from Italy, and corresponds with that period in the reigns of James I and Charles I during which the religious and political differences which culminated in the Civil War were working up to a climax. The second ends with his retirement into Private life in 1660, and coincides with the period of the Civil War and the Commonwealth. The third closes with his death in 1674, and falls within the period of the Restoration.

John Milton was born in Bread Street, London, on the ninth of December, 1608. He was the son of John Milton, a prosperous scrivener (i. e., attorney and law-stationer), a man of good family and considerable culture, especially devoted to music. In the education of the future Poet the elder Milton was exceptionally generous. From childhood he destined him for the Church, and the preparation begun at home was continued at St. Paul's School and at Cambridge. We have abundant evidence that the boy was from the first a quick and diligent student, and the late study to which he was addicted from childhood was the beginning of that injury to his eyes which ended in blindness. He entered Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1625, took the degree of B. A. in 1629, and that of M. A. in 1632, when he left the University after seven years' residence. But the development of affairs in the English Church had overturned his plans, and the interference of Laud with freedom of thought and preaching among the clergy led Milton "to prefer a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking bought with servitude and forswearing." So he retired . . .

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