Milton a Poem

Milton a Poem
Frontispiece to Milton: a Poem. Milton's intention to "justify the ways of God to men" (from Paradise Lost) appears beneath his depiction by Blake.

Milton a Poem is an epic poem by William Blake, written and illustrated between 1804 and 1810. Its hero is John Milton, who returns from Heaven and unites with Blake to explore the relationship between living writers and their predecessors, and to undergo a mystical journey to correct his own spiritual errors.

Milton was Blake's longest published poem to date, and was printed in Blake's characteristic combination of etched text and illustration supplemented by watercolour.

Preface

The preface to Milton includes the poem "And did those feet in ancient time", which became the lyrics for the hymn "Jerusalem". The poem appears after a long prose attack on the influence of Greek and Roman culture, which is unfavourably contrasted with "the sublime of the Bible".

The preface to Milton, as it appeared in Blake's own illuminated version

Text

The poem is divided into two "books".

Book I opens with an epic invocation to the muses, drawing on the classical models of Homer and Virgil, and also used by John Milton in Paradise Lost. However, Blake describes inspiration in bodily terms, vitalising the nerves of his arm. Blake goes on to describe the activities of Los, one of his mythological characters, who creates a complex universe from within which other Blakean characters debate the actions of Satan.

Referring to the doctrines of Calvinism, Blake asserts that humanity is divided into the "Elect", the "Reprobate" and the "Redeemed". Inverting Calvinist values, Blake insists that the "Reprobate" are the true believers, while the "Elect" are locked in narcissistic moralism. At this point Milton appears and agrees to return to earth to purge the errors of his own Puritanism and go to "Eternal death".

Milton travels to Lambeth, taking in the form of a falling comet, and enters Blake's foot. This allows Blake to treat the ordinary world as perceived by the five senses as a sandal formed of "precious stones and gold" that he can now wear. Blake ties the sandal and, guided by Los, walks with it into the City of Art, inspired by the spirit of poetic creativity.

Book II finds Blake in the garden of his cottage in Felpham. Ololon, a female figure linked to Milton, descends to meet him. Blake sees a skylark, which mutates into a twelve year old girl, who he thinks is one of his own muses. He invites her into his cottage to meet his wife. The girl states that she is actually looking for Milton. Milton then descends to meet with her, and in an apocalyptic scene he is eventually unified with the girl, who is identified as Ololon and becomes his own feminine aspect.

The poem concludes with a vision of a final union of living and dead; internal and external reality; male and female and a transformation of all of human perception.

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Milton — may refer to: Contents 1 People 2 Places 2.1 Australia 2.2 …   Wikipedia

  • Milton, John — born Dec. 9, 1608, London, Eng. died Nov. 8, 1674, Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire English poet. A brilliant youth, Milton attended Cambridge University (1625–32), where he wrote poems in Latin, Italian, and English; these included L Allegro… …   Universalium

  • “Milton by Firelight” — by Gary Snyder (1958)    First published in the inaugural issue of the small literary magazine The Fifties, most readers did not see this remarkable poem until the publication of gary snyder’s first book length collection, riprap. The title sets… …   Encyclopedia of Beat Literature

  • Milton Babbitt — Milton Byron Babbitt (May 10, 1916 – January 29, 2011) was an American composer, music theorist, and teacher. He is particularly noted for his serial and electronic music. Contents 1 Biography 2 Honors and awards 3 Articles …   Wikipedia

  • Milton's Prosody (book) — Milton s Prosody, or in full, Milton s Prosody, with a chapter on Accentual Verse and Notes is a book by Robert Bridges. It was first published by Oxford University Press in 1889, and a final revised edition was published in 1921. Bridges begins… …   Wikipedia

  • MILTON, JOHN° — (1608–1674), English Puritan poet, whose works contain an unusual concentration of biblical and Judaic sentiments. Milton may have learned Hebrew while he was at Cambridge from the Semitic scholar, Joseph Mede (1586–1638). His knowledge of Hebrew …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Milton and the Devils Party — Origin Philadelphia, PA, United States Genres Indie pop Years active 2002–present Labels Transit of Venus Webs …   Wikipedia

  • Poem — Po em, n. [L. po[ e]ma, Gr. ?, fr. ? to make, to compose, to write, especially in verse: cf. F. po[ e]me.] 1. A metrical composition; a composition in verse written in certain measures, whether in blank verse or in rhyme, and characterized by… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Milton's 1645 Poems — Titlepage to 1645 Poems, with frontispice depicting Milton surrounded by four muses, designed by William Marshall Milton s 1645 Poems is a collection, divided into separate English and Latin sections, of the poet s youthful poetry in a variety of …   Wikipedia

  • Milton, John — (1608 1674)    English poet, political figure, and au thor of tracts on political and religious issues. Though his life is to tally contained in the 17th century and so falls chronologically into a post Renaissance age, his prodigious mastery of… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”