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John Milton Poems

John Milton (1608-1674) was an English poet best known for his blank verse epic Paradise Lost. However, Milton wrote poetry throughout his life, most of which did not appear in print during his lifetime. Milton was born in London, the son of the composer John Milton, and later served as Secretary for Foreign Tongues during the reign of Oliver Cromwell.

John Milton PoemsEarly in his career, Milton attended Cambridge, where he began writing and publishing poetry, including his Epitaph on Shakespeare, On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, L’Allegro, and Il Penseroso. He also wrote the pastoral elegy Lycidas while at Cambridge, dedicated to the memory of a classmate, Edward King.

With the Tudor Restoration of 1660, Milton was forced into hiding for a time, before a general pardon spared his life. Paradise Lost first appeared in 1667, only the second work of his poetry to appear in his lifetime.

Milton wrote Paradise Lost between 1658 and 1664. At the time, Milton had gone blind and dictated the magnum opus to several aids. Eventually, he sold the work for £5 (£7400 today), with a promise of another £5 if it sold more than 1500 copies. The first printing sold out in eighteen months.

Milton composed a sequel, Paradise Regained in 1671, and revised Paradise Lost for a second edition in 1674, explaining why the work did not rhyme. Milton died from kidney failure later in 1674. Many celebrate him as the greatest of English poets.

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