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9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674
John Milton was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under its Council of State and later under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667).
John Milton was born in Bread Street, London. The phases of Milton's life parallel the major historical and political divisions in Stuart Britain. Milton studied, travelled, wrote poetry mostly for private circulation, and launched a career as pamphleteer and publicist under the increasingly personal rule of Charles I. The shift in accepted attitudes in government placed him in public office under the Commonwealth of England, from being thought dangerously radical and heretical, and he even acted as an official spokesman in certain of his publications. The Restoration of 1660 deprived Milton, now completely blind, of his public platform, but this period saw him complete most of his major works of poetry.
Milton's epic Paradise Lost, classical tragedy Samson Agonistes, and pastoral elegy Lycidas are widely regarded as the greatest poems of their kind in English. He is also known for such prose works as Areopagitica — a fierce defense of freedom of speech.
Paradise Lost (1667, 1674), considered the greatest epic poem in English, uses blank verse and reworks Classical epic conventions to recount the Fall of Man; Milton’s characterization of Satan has been widely admired.
Milton intended to write in "a grand style." That style took the form of numerous references and allusions, complex vocabulary, complicated grammatical constructions, and extended similes and images. His poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the main issues and political problems of his day.
The exact date and location of Milton’s death remain unknown; he likely died in London on November 8, 1674. He is considered the most significant English author after William Shakespeare. By situating Milton’s work within the social, political, and religious currents of his era, scholars, nevertheless, demonstrated the enduring value and modern-day relevance of his works.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”
“Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”
“Solitude sometimes is best society.”
“Innocence, once lost, can never be regained. Darkness, once gazed upon, can never be lost.”