On First Looking Into John Milton's Epic Poem, *Paradise Lost*

When I first looked into Paradise Lost,

I was amazed by classical allusions---

scattered about the poem in rank profusion's

largesse right up to the serene conclusion's

poignant last words.  These added deep dimension

(despite that uncouth scoffer's crude contention)

to Milton's style of epic poetry:

Homer, Vergil, Horace, and (I think) Statius

are mentioned in those lines, leisured and spacious,

unbounded by cosmology or time.

Not to display merely Milton's vast knowledge,

these poets form a constellated college

to which Milton has entered with sublime

and stellar verse that never needs to rhyme.

 

Starward

 

 

Author's Notes/Comments: 

This poem was inspired by two precedents:  John Keats' sonnet, "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer," and Andrew Marvell's laudatory poem, "On Mr. Milton's Paradise Lost.' 

 

I first began to read John Milton's great epic in the late Autumn of 1974, in a third period class during which I was often distracted by Lynn M.'s habit of slipping her platform sandals off her always deliciously feminine socks (sometimes with metallic sparkles, too!); but, in the evenings---I mean, those evenings when I could pause my thoughts about Lynn's delightful socks---I was impressed, in the way only a callow, inexperienced high school student could be impressed. by the way Milton shared his vast literate knowledge with even a dweeb like me.

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