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Minor Poems by Milton   By: (1608-1674)

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The Academy Series of English Classics


L'Allegro Il Penseroso Comus Arcades On the Nativity Lycidas On Shakespeare At a Solemn Music Sonnets


ALLYN AND BACON Boston and Chicago


Norwood Press J. S. Cushing & Co. Berwick & Smith Norwood Mass. U.S.A.


Preface Outlines of the Life of Milton TEXT: On the Morning of Christ's Nativity On Shakespeare L'Allegro Il Penseroso Arcades At a Solemn Music Comus Lycidas Sonnets: I. To the Nightingale II. On his having arrived at the Age of Twenty three 68 VIII. When the Assault was intended to the City 69 IX. To a Virtuous Young Lady 70 X. To the Lady Margaret Ley 70 XIII. To Mr. H. Lawes on his Airs 71 XV. On the Lord General Fairfax, at the Siege of Colchester 72 XVI. To the Lord General Cromwell, May, 1652 72 XVII. To Sir Henry Vane the Younger 73 XVIII. On the Late Massacre in Piedmont 74 XIX. On his Blindness 74 XX. To Mr. Lawrence 75 XXI. To Cyriack Skinner 76 XXII. To the Same 76 XXIII. On his Deceased Wife 77 Notes 79


The purpose held in view by those who place the study of Milton in high school English courses is twofold: first, that youth may seasonably become acquainted with a portion of our great classic poetry; and, secondly, that they may in this poetry encounter and learn to conquer difficulties more serious than those they have met in the literature they have hitherto read. It is for the teacher to see to it that both these aims are attained. The pupil must read with interest, and he must expect at the same time to have to do some strenuous thinking and not to object to turning over many books.

The average pupil will not at first read anything of Milton with perfect enjoyment. He will, with his wonted docility, commit passages to memory, and he will do his best to speak these passages with the elocution on which you insist. But the taste for this poetry is an acquired one, and in the acquisition usually costs efforts quite alien to the prevailing conceptions of reading as a pleasurable recreation.

The task of pedagogy at this point becomes delicate. First of all, the teacher must recognize the fact that his class will not, however good their intentions, leap to a liking for Comus or Lycidas or even for the Nativity Ode. It is of no use to assign stanzas or lines as lessons and to expect these to be studied to a conclusion like a task of French translation. The only way not to be disappointed in the performance of the class is to expect nothing. It will be well at first, except where the test is quite simple, for the teacher to read it himself, making comment, in the way of explanation, as he goes on. Now and then he will stop and have a little quiz to hold attention. When classical allusions come up requiring research, the teacher will tell in what books the matter may be looked up, and will show how other poets, or Milton elsewhere, have played with the same piece of history or mythology... Continue reading book >>

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