Paradise Found, or “To-Morrow To Fresh Woods And Pastures New”

milton

John Milton died on this day in 1674 …

Milton was a poet, man of letters and sometime statesman of the slightly later Caroline, Civil War, Commonwealth and Restoration areas.  He is best known now as the author of the epic poem “Paradise Lost”, published in 1667, which Samuel Johnson argued “with respect to design may claim the first place … among the productions of the human mind”.  During the Civil War and Commonwealth, though, he was known as the author of a number of – non-fiction – prose works  opposing  the monarchy and episcopacy, and supporting Republican and Parliamentarian causes.  These included the polemical “Tenure of Kings and Magistrates” and “Eikonoklastes” (a counter-blast to “Eikon Basilike”, popularly attributed to Charles I himself), both published in 1649; and “Defensio pro Populo Anglico”, published in 1652 (“First Defence”) and 1654 (“Second Defence”).  His Republicanism led to his arrest and temporary imprisonment after the Restoration, his release being secured by, among others, Andrew Marvell (then a Member of Parliament).  He is buried in the church of St Giles Cripplegate,  where there are both a statue and a bust of him.  He had been born  in Bread Street, and is also commemorated by a plaque there, and by another on the church of St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside.

Here is a selection of quotations from “Paradise Lost“:

“What though the field be lost?

All is not lost; the unconquerable will,

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

the courage never to submit or yield”

* * *

“How oft, in nations gone corrupt

And by their own devices brought down to servitude

That man chooses bondage before liberty?

Bondage with ease before strenuous liberty”

* * *

“But first whom shall we send

In search of this new world, whom shall we find sufficient?

Who shall tempt, with wand’ring feet

The dark unbottomed infinite abyss

And through the palpable obscure find out

His uncouth way, or spread his aery flight

Upborne with indefatigable wings

Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive

The happy isle?”

* * *

“Freely we serve,

Because we freely love, as in our will,

To love or not; in this we stand or fall”

* * *

“For so I created them free and free they must remain”

* * *

“What is strength without a double share of wisdom?”

* * *

“Who overcomes by force hath overcome but half his foe”

* * *

“Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n”

* * *

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell … ”

* * *

And one from “The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates”:

“No man … can be so stupid to deny that all men naturally were born free, being the image and resemblance of God himself”.

 

 

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