Poetry in the Age of Milton: Milton’s Poetry

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Milton’s poetry consists of the moral & religious influences of Puritanism that are blended with the generous culture of the Renaissance. It falls into four periods: 1) the college period; 2) the Horton period; 3) period of his prose writings; & 4) period of his greatest poetic achievemen.... ID: 207466 Download Presentation

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Poetry in the Age of Milton: Milton’s Poetry




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Poetry in the Age of Milton: Milton’s Poetry

Milton’s poetry consists of the moral & religious influences of Puritanism that are blended with the generous culture of the Renaissance. It falls into four periods: 1) the college period; 2) the Horton period; 3) period of his prose writings; & 4) period of his greatest poetic achievement. ‘Ode On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity’ belongs to the first period. Though it is somewhat imperfect & marred by conceits, it is still a remarkable work for a poet of twenty-one.‘L’Allegro and Il Penseroso’(1633), ‘Comus’(1634), & ‘Lycidas’(1637) belong to the Horton Period. ‘L’Allegro’ and ‘Il Penseroso’ contrast with charming pictures of man, nature, and art as seen through the medium of the glad mood in the first and melancholy in the second. There is little that is characteristically Puritan in these two poems.

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Milton’s Poetry Conti…

In the last period, he produced the greatest English epic, ‘Paradise

Lost’

in 12

books

.

It’s a stupendous masterpiece of intellectual energy and creative power in its exposition of his Puritanism which is to ‘assert Eternal Providence and justify the ways of God to men’. In this work, he set forth the revolt of Satan against God, the war in heaven, the fall of the rebel angels, the creation of the world and man, the temptation of Eve and Adam, and their expulsion from Eden.

It was followed by ‘Paradise Regained’ in 4 books in which the temptation of Christ in the wilderness is marked by passages of sublimity and of tenderness.

The dramatic poem ‘Samson Agonistes’ is based on the principles of Greek tragedy that deals with the fate of Samson among the Philistines.

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Caroline Poets

Robert Herrick wrote both secular and religious poetry with equal facility. His religious poetry was published under the title of “Noble Numbers’.

Though they are miscellaneous in character, they are known for naturalness and spontaneity, exquisite fancy, lyrical charm and grace.

Thomas Carew’s ‘He that loves a rosy cheek’, Sir John Sucking’s ‘Why so pale and wan, fond lover?’, Richard Lovelace’s ‘To Althea from Prison’ are fine examples of lyrical quality for their amatory verses.

George Herbert’s ‘The Temple’ breathes the spirit of the purest piety. Richard Crashaw & Henry Vaughan had greater fire & passion, & at times more mystical.

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Metaphysical Poets

The readers are taken aback by the apparently unconnected images & forced to focus on the argument of the poem.

They use plenty of ‘conceit’ or wit to startle the readers. In Samuel Johnson’s words, they are “men of learning… They neither copied nature nor life…” Their work is packed with affectations and conceits, far-fetched similes, most extravagant hyperbole; they aim for ingenuity at any cost; use philosophical subtleties and logical hair-splitting instead of natural expression of feeling.

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Metaphysical Poets

The famous poets of this school are:

John Donne, Richard Crashaw, Henry Vaughan, Andrew Marvell, Abraham Cowley, John Cleveland, & George Herbert. Richard Crashaw, for example, refers to earth and heavens for emblems of the eyes of the sorrowing Mary Magdalene:

Two walking baths, two weeping motions

Portable and compendious oceans

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John Donne

His poetry marked the beginning of The Metaphysical School of poetry. His early work, collected in ‘Satires’ and in ‘Songs and Sonnets’, was released in an era of religious oppression. His Holy Sonnets, which contains many of Donne’s most enduring poems, was released shortly after his wife died in childbirth. The intensity with which Donne grapples with concepts of divinity and mortality in the Holy Sonnets is exemplified in “Sonnet X [Death, be not proud]," “Sonnet XIV [Batter my heart, three person’d God]," and “Sonnet XVII [Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debt].”

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