John Milton as the child of the Renaissance and the Reformation
John Milton was one of the greatest poets of England and he is placed next to William Shakespeare in the hierarchy of English poets. According to a critic, ‘if England to be presented in a Congress of international poets, she would be represented by Shakespeare first and Milton next.’ the writers of the seventeenth century generally worked under the influence of Renaissance and the Reformation. Milton was also a poet of the the seventeenth century, so he was also influenced by these two literary movements. In all his poetry we can see a nice fusion of elements upheld by the Renaissance and Reformation. It was only Milton who succeeded in producing living and beautiful poems in correct classical forms. In this form he also tried to power the spirit of the Protestant movement.
Renaissance and Greek literature
The Renaissance was distinguished by awakened interest in the old writings of the Greeks and Romans. It may been seen that all the scholars of Renaissance tried to infuse the beauties of Greek and Romania literature into English. The spirit of Renaissance may be identified with humanism i.e a deep respect for human nature in all its fullness.
Reformation and Religious aspects
Reformation was a religious movement which was aimed to purify the religious aspect of life for the welfare of all human beings. It was a movement to cultivate values of life, spiritual discipline, moral austerity and other wordly outlook were the basic ingredients of Reformation. The writers working under the influence of Reformation championed theological dogmas and tried to purify each individual. These poets were not interested in cultivating art, music, beauty and love.
John Milton: Child of Renaissance & Reformation
John Milton was the child of both the Renaissance and Reformation. His childhood witnessed the forces of the Renaissance in the ascending and his youth witnessed the fruition of the Reformation. His old age marked the consumation of the Puritan ideals. In his poetry we find the qualities represented by the Renaissance and Reformation. He is both a belated Elizabethan of the Renaissance and a fervent disciple of the Reformation. In him we can trace both the Elizabethan and Puritan. In the words of Raleigh:
His childhood was spent in the very twilight of the Elizabethan age. It was greatly fortunate for him that he caught the afterglow of the sunset upon his face.
The early poems of Milton show Elizabethan zest but the Puritan elements begin to assest in his later poems like ‘Comus’, ‘Lycidas’ and ‘Paradise Lost’. In paradise Regained and ‘Samson Agonistes’, he ceases to be an Elizabethan and a lover of classicism and Renaissance and ends by being a thorough going Puritan.
Thus, we can say that he was such a poet in whose work we find a nice fusion of the Renaissance and the Reformation. This is why, it is very much appropriate to say him the child of the Renaissance and the Reformation.