Poems of Milton: To a Virtuous Young Lady

Milton’s Sonnet IX, commonly known as ‘To a Virtuous Young Lady,’ is a problematic poem when read in the context of modern society. Although it is possible to praise the poet’s ability with word choice, scansion and general technical skill and, moreover, to think about secondary meanings and allusions, it is all but impossible to overlook the main part of the poem’s message.

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Poems of Milton: Sonnet VIII: When Assault Was Intended to the City

Milton’s eighth sonnet, originally untitled but subsequently more commonly known as ‘When Assault Was Intended to the City,’ was written by the poet in 1642 as a form of joke – a ‘serious joke’ as it has been described. Milton imagines himself at his home in London at a period when it might have been attacked by King Charles I and his army. The poem’s fancy is that it should be written out on a piece of paper which is then pinned to the outside of the door and acts as a means of an appeal to spare the life of the poet who cowers inside.

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Poems of Milton: Sonnet VII: On His Being Arrived at the Age of 23

The seventh of Milton’s sonnets (numbers II-VI are in Latin and not often read these days) finds the poet concerned at how quickly time is flowing away from him. In particular, he frets about having arrived at the age of 23 (which is an age to many of his readers would love to return) and at a moment of his life in which he was entering uncharted territory.

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Poems of Milton: Lycidas

Lycidas is regarded as one of Milton’s most compelling works and, indeed, one of the very greatest short poems in the English language. It was written in November of 1637 and, in biographical terms, it was part of his personal development as he struggled to determine the course of his future career and the nature of his calling.

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Poems of Milton: Comus

Comus was the most substantial work of poetry that Milton had yet written – it might also be considered a work of drama but it is conventional to categorise it among his verse. In form, it follows the convention of the ‘masque,’ which was a courtly entertainment generally written in verse and with jolly tales of mythological beings as well as dancing and song mixed with an occasionally more serious message.

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Poems of Milton: On Time

The poem On Time, together with its companion At a Solemn Music, marks the transition from Milton’s early career with his more mature phase. In 1632, Milton received his Master of Arts degree and he then spent the next three years determining the course of his future life: it had been anticipated that he would enter the clergy but he preferred to write, think and lead society from a lay perspective.

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