Yesterday was the anniversary of poet John Milton's birth. You can probably tell from the style of his clothing that he lived in the 1600s. He lived through the English Civil War and used his pen to support republicanism, and social and ecclesiastical reform.
Milton is best known for the epic poem, "Paradise Lost," written in blank verse after he was blind in the later years of his life. This poem was Frances Rolleston's first acquaintance of Milton's works:
I liked it at ten years old as a wild story; it then grew dull to me, but I thought I ought to like it, and did not confess to myself that I did not, but persevered in reading it frequently; for the last five or seven years it has been gradually rising in my opinion; every book I read, every years I live, gives me more insight into, and greater admiration of, Milton.
Frances was about twenty-four at the time she wrote this. Her admiration of Milton never diminished. In her late seventies and early eighties, while putting the Psalms of the Bible into meter, she calls upon Milton's work as a model:
I also wish to preserve Hebraisms as often as I can. Milton is my only justification, he thinks and writes Hebraically, and his is the only metre justifiying mine, especially his "Samson Agonistes." . . . I find the eleven syllabled line, so often used by Milton in "Samson," is the natural tendency of all long Hebrew lines; ten seldom will hold them, twelve should only end a verse or subject.
Milton's life makes interesting reading—in hiding during the Restoration because of his pro Parliament writing, three wives, unorthodox views, and support of freedom of the press, among other things.