ENGL 220 - Lecture 12 - The Blind Prophet

Lecture 12 - The Blind Prophet


This lecture focuses on the invocation to light at the beginning of Book Three of Paradise Lost. Milton's factual and figurative understanding of his blindness is traced through his letters, Sonnet XXII, and the later epic Samson Agonistes. Particular emphasis is placed on the transformation of blindness in the corpus from a spiritual punishment to a poetic gift. The implications of biographical interpretations of literature are also touched upon.


John Milton. Complete Poems and Major Prose. (Hughes):
Paradise Lost, Book III (esp. lines 1-55)
Re-read Sonnet XIX: "When I consider" (1652), p. 168
Psalm vi (Milton's trans. of 1653), p. 165
The Second Defense of the English People (1654), pp. 817-28&
Sonnet XXII: "To Mr Cyriack Skinner upon his Blindness" (1655), p. 170
Sonnet XXIII: "Methought I saw" (1658), p. 170
Samson Agonistes (1673), lines 68-101, pp. 553-54

Additional reading:
Milton, John. "To Leonard Philaras, Athenian." In John Milton: a Critical Edition of the Major Works, edited by S. Orgel and J. Goldberg, 721-23. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991

For Section Discussion:
John Milton. Complete Poems and Major Prose. (Hughes):
Paradise Lost, Books I-III

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