Wednesday, 9 December 2009

On this day...

English poet John Milton was born in 1608. Born into a time of social unrest, Milton became active on a political and religious scale from a young age; combining both elements in his later writings. Although more widely reknown for his poetry, Milton's literary career was initiated by a speech written during the civil war. A ideological defence of freedom of expression, 'Areopagitica' condemned the censorship of the day, arguing to be given 'the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.' In 1654, Milton became totally blind, forcing him to dictate his works to amanuenses; only going to increase the admiration surrounding his most famous work, 'Paradise Lost', composed over 10 years later. Taking inspiration from other epic poets such as Homer, Virgil and Dante, Milton's work of blank verse includes similar themes and is of comparable proportions, the work totalling almost 11,000 lines. Known by Dryden as a 'Poet of the Sublime', Milton's influence was felt throughout the Romantic and Victorian periods and he remains one of Britain's most popular poets. He died in 1674 at the age of 65.

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