John Milton

Poet

Born: 9 December 1608
Died: 8 November 1674
Birthplace: London, England
Best known as: The author of the epic poem Paradise Lost
John Milton wrote essays, sonnets and, most importantly, Paradise Lost, considered by many scholars the greatest epic poem of the English language. Milton was a Londoner and received his education at Cambridge (1625-32), where he wrote his famous poem "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity." During his career Milton was an active voice on contemporary issues of politics and religion, and during the English Civil War he sided with the anti-royalists under Oliver Cromwell. His rousing tracts supporting the Commonwealth -- which included an argument defending the execution of Charles I -- led to a position as a foreign secretary (1649). Milton somehow managed to escape serious punishment after the restoration of the monarchy (1660) and lived the remainder of his life quietly. Blind after 1652, he dictated the entirety of Paradise Lost (1667), the story of Satan's rebellion (and defeat) and the fall of Adam and Eve. Four years later he published the story of Christ's triumph over Satan's temptations in Paradise Regained and the drama Samson Agonistes. His other famous writings include the masque Comus (1637), a defense of free speech titled Areopagiticaz (1644) and several sonnets, including "On His Blindness" ("When I consider how my light is spent") and "On His Deceased Wife" ("Methought I saw my late espoused saint").

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