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John Milton (English Poet)
Date of Birth:
December 9, 1608
Date of Death:
November 8, 1674
John Milton was an English poet, prose polemicist and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England. Most famed for his epic poem Paradise Lost, Milton is celebrated as well for his treatise condemning censorship, Areopagitica. Long considered the supreme English poet, Milton experienced a dip in popularity after attacks by T. S. Eliot and F. R. Leavis in the mid 20th century; but with multiple societies and scholarly journals devoted to his study, Milton's reputation remains as strong as ever in the 21st century.
Very soon after his death Milton became the subject of partisan biographies, confirming T. S. Eliot's belief that "of no other poet is it so difficult to consider the poetry simply as poetry, without our theological and political dispositions... making unlawful entry". Milton's radical, republican politics and heretical religious views, coupled with the perceived artificiality of his complicated Latinate verse, alienated Eliot and other readers; yet by dint of the overriding influence of his poetry and personality on subsequent generations the man whom Samuel Johnson disparaged as "an acrimonious and surly republican" must be counted one of the most significant writers and thinkers of all time.