Friday, March 07, 2008
Tomalin, Claire. "The Devil's Advocate [on Milton]." GUARDIAN March 1, 2008.
When I was invited by my publishers to choose any English poet for a "selected poems" I found myself saying, almost without a pause to think, "Milton". I confess I was surprised that they took the idea on board so readily. John Milton is a great name, but today he is not a popular poet. To me the early poems are sumptuous, the sonnets witty, magnificent and moving by turns, and Paradise Lost as thrilling as a novel. Yet I suspect that he does not fit easily into our age of performance poetry, and that he may be read less than he deserves to be. His reputation as a bad-tempered husband and father is held against him. But it seems to me that the man who emerges from the poems is a man possessed by natural and human beauty, by dreams, myths and legends, a man full of ideas that are sometimes in conflict with one another; who was prepared to give up his vocation as a poet for years in order to serve a political cause; and who overcame blindness to write his greatest work, full of exquisitely imagined scenes. However gnarled and crusty a man, he is a poet who commands attention. . . . Read the rest here: http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2261041,00.html.