1608 – 1674
Who was John Milton?
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost.
Milton's poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day. Writing in English, Latin, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime, and his celebrated Areopagitica is among history's most influential and impassioned defenses of free speech and freedom of the press.
William Hayley's 1796 biography called him the "greatest English author," and he remains generally regarded "as one of the preeminent writers in the English language," though critical reception has oscillated in the centuries since his death. Samuel Johnson praised Paradise Lost as "a poem which...with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind," though he described Milton's politics as those of an "acrimonious and surly republican".
- A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.
- Adam inquires concerning celestial motions, is doubtfully answered, and exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge.
- Sweet bird, that shun the noise of folly, most musical, most melancholy!
- O loss of sight, of thee I most complain! Blind among enemies, O worse than chains, dungeon or beggary, or decrepit age! Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, and all her various objects of delight annulled, which might in part my grief have eased. Inferior to the vilest now become of man or worm; the vilest here excel me, they creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed to daily fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong, within doors, or without, still as a fool, in power of others, never in my own; scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
- Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie.
- And, re-assembling our afflicted powers, consult how we may henceforth most offend.
- Come, pensive nun, devout and pure, sober steadfast, and demure, all in a robe of darkest grain, flowing with majestic train.
- With thee conversing I forget all time.
- Reason also is choice.
- Taste this, and be henceforth among the Gods thyself a Goddess.
Use the citation below to add to a bibliography:
We need you!
Help us build the largest biographies collection on the web!
- Dec 9, 1608
- Also known as
- Johnny Milton
- Milton, John
- Christ's College, Cambridge
- University of Cambridge
- St Paul's School, London
- Lived in
- Chalfont St Giles
(1665 - )
- Nov 8, 1674
Chalfont St Giles
- Resting place
- St Margaret's, Westminster
on July 23, 2013