Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Blake and Milton II

John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicistman of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), written in blank verse.
Milton's poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day. 
Here are a few things Blake wrote about Milton:

In a Letter to Flaxman in 1800 Blake wrote:
Now my lot in the Heavens is this; 
Milton lovd me in childhood & shewd me his face
Ezra came with Isaiah the Prophet, but Shakespeare in riper years gave me his hand
Paracelsus & Behmen appeard to me. terrors appeard in the Heavens above
(Erdman 707)

In Plate 5  of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell he wrote: 
But in the Book of Job Miltons Messiah is call'd Satan. 
For this history has been adopted by both parties 
It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was cast out. but the Devils account is, that the Messi[PL 6]ah fell. & formed a heaven of what he stole from the Abyss 
This is shewn in the Gospel, where he prays to the Father to send the comforter or Desire that Reason may have Ideas to build on, the Jehovah of the Bible being no other than he, who dwells in flaming fire.  
Know that after Christs death, he became Jehovah. 
But in Milton; the Father is Destiny, the Son, a Ratio of the five senses. & the Holy-ghost, Vacuum! 

 Note. The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it (Erdman 34)

[Prospectus] TO THE PUBLIC October 10, 1793.
The Labours of the Artist, the Poet, the Musician, have been
proverbially attended by poverty and obscurity; this was never
the fault of the Public, but was owing to a neglect of means to
propagate such works as have wholly absorbed the Man of Genius.
Even Milton and Shakespeare could not publish their own works.
(Erdman 692)

In a letter to Dr. Trusler in 1799 Aug16: 
I hope that none of my Designs will be destitute of Infinite Particulars which will present themselves to the Contemplator.
And tho I call them Mine I know that they are not Mine being of
the same opinion with Milton when he says That 
the Muse visits his Slumbers & awakes & governs his Song when Morn 
purples The East. 
& being also in the predicament of that prophet who says I
cannot go beyond the command of the Lord to speak good or bad
(Erdman 701)

In a letter to Dr. Trusler in 1799 Aug 23:
To Me This World is all One continued
Vision of Fancy or Imagination & I feel Flatterd when I am told
So.  What is it sets Homer Virgil & Milton in so high a rank of
Art.  Why is the Bible more
Entertaining & Instructive than any other book.  Is it not
because they are addressed to the Imagination which is Spiritual
Sensation & but mediately to the Understanding or Reason 
(Erdman 702)

The Book of Milton
Frontspiece of Milton
Rosenwald LC
An earlier post with this title is found here and includes this portrait of Milton:

Wikipedia Commons
for William Hayley

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