Milton and This Pendant World

Milton and This Pendant World

Milton and This Pendant World

Milton and This Pendant World

Excerpt

From the intensive study and analysis of individual poems the thoughtful student will acquire some understanding of the meaning and form of poetry; but it seems improbable that much real profit is to be derived from that phase of modern criticism which, without respect for tradition, is preoccupied with mere image and pattern, and which, as F. L. Lucas has observed, is overgrown with thickets of jargon and submerged in the swamps of pseudo psychology and fancy metaphysics. The prudent student will rely mainly on that historical approach which unfortunately, as we have just been reminded (The Times Literary Supplement,March 16, 1956), "has recently fallen out of fashion." By no means disparaging the closest scrutiny of poetic form and meaning, I urge that only a patient and thorough investigation of tradition and the historical setting will enable the student to understand fully what Milton means. For in Milton, as perhaps in no other poet, more is meant than meets the ear and the eye of the critic. A true understanding of Milton's poetry depends upon the comprehension of his thought and its relation to an extensive and complex background, literary, intellectual, and spiritual. At this distance of time and in this secular age, no one, however sedulous and resourceful, may hope to become familiar with the entire tradition which is embodied and reflected in the art and thought of this poet, who towers above the rest in thought and art, "In shape and gesture proudly eminent."

It may, however, be possible to isolate and study definite ideas and themes in various poems. In each of the following essays the . . .

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