Milton's World

In: English and Literature

Submitted By romantic
Words 1486
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Milton's World
Arguably the most prolific and celebrated poet in the English language, John Milton carries in his poetry and prose a complex and highly learned tone. In this tone can be distinguished several patterns and motifs carried through in many of Milton's works. His view of the world focused a great deal on women, religion, and the fate decreed by God, all with a strong backdrop in the antiquity and learning passed on from generations before.

Because this antiquity underlies nearly all of the poems by Milton, examining it first will be perhaps most useful in understanding a large part of his world-view. In nearly all of his poetry, there are numerous intertextual references to Greek and Roman legends, as well as many pieces of then-obsolete astronomy. There are so many of these references in his works that pointing out all or even a great part of them in any given poem would be tedious and virtually unprofitable, except to express the degree to which he makes use of allusion to add depth to his poetry. Instead, minor clips from particular poems will be at first chosen as representative of his larger style.

Examples of this intertextuality can be seen even in early works of his such as "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity." In the poem, when Christ is born, all of the pagan gods trudge from reality to their new home in hell. This provides an opportunity for Milton to exhibit his knowledge, as he lists the Genius; Greek oracles; nymphs; Greek, Canaanite, Phoenician, and Egyptian gods (minor and major) as they each make their exit with a brief visual linked to their background (ll. 173-218). The breadth of this reference to then-unworshipped gods displays both Milton's depth of learning and the difficulty inherent in attempting to fully comprehend his verse.

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