Yet Once More: Verbal and Psychological Pattern in Milton

By Edward S. Le Comte | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
CONNECTIONS

IT IS USUAL to divide Milton's career into three parts. There is, first, the young Milton, closest chronologically and poetically to the Renaissance, the Milton of the Nativity Ode, "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso," Comus, and "Lycidas," the Milton of Cambridge, Horton, and the Italian journey. This period of preparation and innocence and perfection in little closes in 1640 with "Epitaphium Damonis." The second period got under way after Milton, having received "the melancholy tidings from England of the civil war" (VIII, 125), gave up his plan of going on to Sicily and Greece, and instead returned home, where for twenty years, from 1641 to 1660, from Of Reformation touching Church Discipline in England to The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, he exchanged "a calm and pleasing solitariness fed with cheerful and confident thoughts" for "a troubled sea of noises and hoarse disputes" (III, 241). The third and last period, of course, is that of the three major poems 1 which, in his blind old age, he brought out of the palpable ruins that "encompassed him around."

The feeling has been that these three parts of Milton are quite distinct. Thus it is possible, with some latter-day critics, 2 to admit the Milton of the first period into the realms of grace, while shutting out the Milton of the third period as a show without substance, a kind of automatic writer, of divided sensibility, an orotund dogmatist--in short, another author altogether. He is another author, or rather, three other authors. His extraordinary versatility will always call for the most careful discrimination in handing out praise or blame. But, as will be shown, his later self

-3-

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Yet Once More: Verbal and Psychological Pattern in Milton
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter I- Connections 3
  • Chapter II- Epic Reiteration 19
  • Chapter III- From Poem to Poem 48
  • Chapter IV- Prose to Prose 69
  • Chapter V- The Meeting of Prose and Poetry 82
  • Chapter VI- Latin Borrowings 103
  • Chapter VII- Women and Bishops 123
  • Chapter VIII- Parallels as Clues 142
  • Notes 153
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