It was on this date, December 9, 1608, that the second greatest English poet, John Milton, was born in London. Best known for his 1667 epic poem Paradise Lost, Milton had turned away from study for the ministry and toward letters. He is known widely as a “great Christian poet,” but his Paradise Lost is a brilliant failure: it attempts to rationalize the childish and melodramatic Christian story of devils, who refused blind worship of God, fighting for the souls of men. Catholic writer Hippolyte Taine remarked, as many have since, “The finest thing about this Paradise is its hell.”
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Originally published December 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.