John Milton

Topics: John Milton, Epic poetry, Paradise Lost Pages: 8 (2646 words) Published: January 26, 2013
John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) also known as ‘The Renaissance poet’ was born in London on December 9, 1608, as a son of the composer John Milton and his wife Sarah Jeffrey into a middle-class family.  The senior John Milton moved to London around 1583 after being disinherited by his devout Catholic father, Richard Milton, for embracing Protestantism. In London, the senior John Milton married Sarah Jeffrey, the poet's mother, and found lasting financial success as a scrivener. Milton's father's prosperity provided his eldest son with a private tutor, Thomas Young, and then a place at St Paul's School in London. There he began the study of Latin and Greek, and the classical languages left an imprint on his poetry in English.

Study, poetry, and travel
An English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Common wealth of England under Oliver Cromwell was educated at St. Paul's School, then at Christ's College in 1625 and graduated with a B.A in 1629 ranking fourth of 24 honors graduates that year in the University of Cambridge, where he began to write poetry in Latin, Italian, and English, and prepared to enter the clergy. Milton was probably suspended for quarrelling in his first year with his tutor, William Chappell. He was certainly at home in the Lent term 1626; there he wrote his Elegia Prima, a first Latin elegy, to Charles Diodati, a friend from St Paul's. At Cambridge Milton was on good terms with Edward King, for whom he later wrote Lycidas. At Cambridge he developed a reputation for poetic skill and general erudition, but experienced alienation from his peers and university life as a whole. Watching his fellow students attempting comedy upon the college stage, he later observed 'they thought themselves gallant men, and I thought them fools'. Due to his long hair and general delicacy of manner, Milton was known as the "Lady of Christ's". After getting his Masters in Arts degree in 1632, Milton retired to Hammersmith, his father's new home since the previous year. However After university, he abandoned his plans to join the priesthood and spent the next six years in his father's country home in Buckinghamshire following a rigorous course of independent study to prepare for a career as a poet. His extensive reading included both classical and modern works of religion, science, philosophy, history, politics, and literature. In addition, Milton was proficient in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and Italian, and obtained a familiarity with Old English and Dutch as well.  He read both ancient and modern works of theology, philosophy, history, politics, literature and science, in preparation for a prospective poetical career. Milton's intellectual development can be charted via entries in his commonplace book now in the British Library. As a result of such intensive study, Milton is considered to be among the most learned of all English poets. In addition to his years of private study, Milton had command of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and Italian from his school and undergraduate days; he also added Old English to his linguistic repertoire in the 1650s while researching his History of Britain, and probably acquired proficiency in Dutch soon after. Milton continued to write poetry during this period of study: his Arcades and Comus were both commissioned for masques composed for noble patrons, connections of the Egerton family, and performed in 1632 and 1634 respectively. Comus argue for the virtuousness of temperance and chastity. He contributed his pastoral elegy Lycidas to a memorial collection for one of his Cambridge classmates. Drafts of these poems are preserved in Milton’s poetry notebook, known as the Trinity Manuscript because it is now kept at Trinity College, Cambridge. During his period of private study, Milton composed a number of poems, including "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity," "On Shakespeare," "L'Allegro," "Il Penseroso," and the...
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