Happy 400th Birthday John Milton

John Milton (b. Dec. 9, 1608) ranks next to Shakespeare as one of the most influential poets of the English language. His literary achievement is remarkable considering Milton lost his eyesight in 1652 and was forced to dictate his work to scribes.

Milton’s best known works include the epic poem “Paradise Lost,” which tells the story of the fall of man, its sequel “Paradise Regained,” and “Areopagitica,” a treatise condemning censorship.

On the 400th anniversary of Milton’s birth, English Professor John Rumrich, makes the obscure aspects of the poet’s writing accessible to modern readers in a new edited collection, “The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton” (Random House, 2007).

The volume includes expert commentary on Milton’s texts, notes identifying the old meanings and roots of English words, and illuminations of historical contexts and biblical allusions.

“The whole enterprise is meant to be reader-friendly, and it succeeds,” wrote John Gross in The Wall Street Journal’s review of the collection last spring, “Cosmic and Sublime.