Obituary and Rapture in Milton's Memorial Latin Poems

Noam Reisner

in Young Milton

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698707
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191740756 | DOI:
Obituary and Rapture in Milton's Memorial Latin Poems

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An examination of the young Milton's Latin obituary poems with special emphasis on the elegy on the death of Lancelot Andrewes (Elegia tertia. In Obitum Praesulis Wintoniensis) reveals that the death of dignitaries was not merely an occasional opportunity for the young poet to display his urbanity and poetic promise, but also an intellectual stimulant to interrogate ideas of rapture, renewal, loss, and poetic self‐determination. Such ideas become central concerns for the more mature Milton. In particular the idea and fear of death itself—of loss of voice and identity—set Milton's young classical imagination in motion and account for the seemingly inappropriate eroticism and ecstatic visions of ineffable, transcendental rapture found in these formal and much neglected elegies.

Keywords: rape; funeral elegies; university officials; Latin literature; death; transcendence; rapture; obituaries

Chapter.  9089 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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