(born Dec. 9, 1608, London, Eng.died Nov. 8?, 1674, London?) English poet and pamphleteer. Milton attended the University of Cambridge (162532), where he wrote poems in Latin, Italian, and English; these include the companion poems L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, both written 1631. In 163239 he engaged in private studywriting the masque Comus (first performed 1634) and the elegy Lycidas (1638)and toured Europe, spending most of his time in Italy. Concerned with the republican cause in England, he spent much of 164160 pamphleteering for civil and religious liberty and serving in Oliver Cromwell's government. His best-known prose is in the pamphlets Areopagitica, on freedom of the press, and Of Education (both 1644). He also wrote tracts on divorce and against the monarchy and the Church of England. He lost his sight 1651 and thereafter dictated his works. After the Restoration he was arrested as a prominent defender of the Commonwealth but was soon released. Paradise Lost (1667, 1674), considered the greatest epic poem in English, uses blank verse and reworks Classical epic conventions to recount the Fall of Man; Milton's characterization of Satan has been widely admired. Paradise Regained (1671) is a shorter epic in which Christ overcomes Satan the tempter, and Samson Agonistes (1671) is a dramatic poem in which the Old Testament figure conquers self-pity and despair to become God's champion. History of Britain was incomplete when published in 1670, and an unfinished work on theology was discovered in 1823. Milton is generally considered the greatest English poet after William Shakespeare.
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse. A second edition followed in 1674, changed into twelve books (in the manner of the division of Virgil's Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification.
The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose, stated in Book I, is to "justify the ways of God to men". Paradise Lost is widely considered one of the greatest literary works in the English language.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_LostText of "Paradise Lost"