Milton said that poetry should be "simple, sensuous, and passionate," but for a description of the poetry of Paradise Lost, "simple" is not the word that jumps to mind. Wordsworth provides the corrective: in his view, Milton had "a voice whose sound was like the sea." To hear both the crash and the lull of that sea takes work, and the rewards are great.
In this course, we will try to hear what Wordsworth heard, not only the sound of roaring waves but also the richness, wit, profundity in Milton's intellectual and moral struggle between human dignity, on the one hand and, on the other, the necessity for human beings to submit to God's word. The course will address Milton's use of the Bible, not only the story of Genesis but the music of both the prophet Isaiah and the book of Job. It will also address how the questions Milton struggled with are still with us in the modern age.
Course requirements: Midterm. Paper with first draft (6-8 pages). Final. Class participation.
Texts: Bible, Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Kastan, 3rd edition; Areopagitica and Other Writings (Penguin, 2016).