John Milton wrote poetry of such sublime beauty that he managed, through its universal influence, to transform the character of the English language.
From his astonishing epic Paradise Lost, with its magnificent blank verse and mesmerizing characters, to the tragic brilliance of Samson Agonistes, Milton engaged the political and religious issues of his troubled times with subtlety and sophistication. His moving elegy “Lycidas,” written after the untimely drowning death of a friend, has been hailed as the greatest lyric poem in English. The classic shorter works, from the pastoral poems “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso” to the enchanting masque Comus, to the intensely personal sonnets, share the grandeur and vitality of his epics; all serve as continual reminders of the heights the human imagination can achieve. With an introduction by Gordon Campbell.
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“The theme that unites Milton’s greatest poems is temptation. In Comus and the epics temptation is central to the plot . . . His fondness for this theme is related to the moral and intellectual integrity that is such a prominent feature of Milton’s own character, and that shapes the character of his poems.” —from the Introduction by Gordon Campbell