John Milton (1608-1674)
John Milton is the most important figure of the 17th century. He was born in London in 1608 and studied seven years at Christ’s College, but then he abandoned the idea of taking orders and entering the Anglican Church. So he went to live at Horton in his family’s country house, devoting himself entirely to his vocation: the poetry, reading both classical and modern writers. Later he spent some time in Italy and when the first political trouble broke out he went back to England, taking an active part on the side of puritans. In this period he put poetry aside to write numerous pamphlets defending parliament, the freedom of the press and the divorce. He was appointed Latin secretary of Cromwell but, after the restoration and after becoming blind and loosing his two wives he was imprisoned and run the risk of being sentenced to death; he was saved only thanks to his friends. He spent the rest of his life in poverty dictating his verses to his daughters.
Among his works we must remember his sonnets and one of the most notable is “on his blindness”. It was on the last period of his life that he wrote his best work “Paradise Lost” “Paradise Regained" and the poetic drama “Samson Agonistes". This last work presents many autobiographical elements. Samson is chosen by God to free the Israelites from philistines and loses his extraordinary strength which derived from his long hair. Many circumstances of Samson’s life we find in Milton’s life: they were poor, ill, alone among enemies but, above all they were both blind.