Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I am a week early and so be it. But to celebrate prematurely is preferable to being late and, when a celebration calls not only for lighting birthday candles but also countering the darkness of poor taste, one should rise to the occasion. Next Tuesday, December 9th, is John Milton's 400th birthday anniversary. I rarely find Milton enthusiasts in my midst; he tends to be dismissed or, worse, unread. The old saw by students at Western universities in the early 20th century went so: "Malt does more than Milton can/To justify the ways of Man." At the overripe, over-priced university I attended, the Milton course was tossed like a hot potato or hell-fire ember around the relevant faculty. No one wanted to teach Milton. Several goodly readers have acknowledged boredom or indifference with Paradise Lost. How can anyone be bored or indifferent with a narrative about Satan? Hail, Milton! The political pamphlets, dealing with topics such as divorce, censorship, and regicide, are supremely sharp and eloquent. All the poems, some commemorative, some polemical, burn with a fiery passion, akin to the burning precincts of Satan's Pandemonium. So happy anniversary, fair poet! If I can get just one Tempest reader to discover you, I just might go to heaven and look down at your creation. J/C