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Milton's Early English Poems: The Nativity ODE, ‘L'allegro’, ‘IL Penseroso’

Gordon Teskey

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697885
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199697885.013.0004

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Milton's Early English Poems: The Nativity ODE, ‘L'allegro’, ‘IL Penseroso’

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The impressive Latin poems Milton wrote between ‘On the Morning of Christ's Nativity’ and ‘Lycidas’ are concerned with vocation. The success of the Nativity Ode would compel Milton to think about poetry in a new way. It is composed of a four-stanza introduction in modified ‘rime roiall’ and twenty-seven stanzas of ‘The Hymn’. The paired poems ‘L'Allegro’ and ‘Il Penseroso’ are unique in English literature. Milton was a mature man in his twenties when he wrote these poems, but they reflect a younger state of mind. It is an insight that gives imaginative as well as moral force to the central theme of Milton's career: temptation was a word that Milton understood to mean ‘testing’. Milton addresses this theme for the first time in Comus.

Keywords: John Milton; Nativity Ode; L'Allegro; Il Penseroso; Christ's Nativity; Lycidas; Comus

Article.  11389 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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