John Milton only did one thing in his life. But that one thing was enough to ensure him everlasting immortality. That thing was – Paradise Lost.
The greatest of poetical works, I dare say it even trumps Virgil for it’s relevance and narrative tightness. I am as besotted as anyone with Homer’s Odyssey, but that work only works at the storyline level; it lacks depth and mortal profundity. And as for the Faerie Queen, it’s technical mastery still astonishes, yet it will ever be the fairie tale of elizabethan england. No, it is Milton who bears the poetical crown for uniting text and meaning, and I will explain his deep significance to us living so many centuries on.
Who are We?
However much we have thrown off the shackles of a Christian past, it’s legacy is everpresent in our most cherished institutions. Whether is be schooling, law, the two houses of parliament, our speech, our workday week, our musical scales, our universities; all bear their birth from the Church.
I am not religious, and not many are in the traditional sense, but to rightly comprehend who we are, where we come from, what our culture is reacting to, you need to know a little about the Christian faith.
And I know no better way than starting with Milton.