A blog about my photos, my artwork, quotations, ideas, collections, passions, England, authors, handwork of all kinds, rusty bits, buffalo, and architectural detail...for starters. And the occasional rant.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Milton’s Cottage

I get a daily email newsletter from “The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keiller” which offers a daily poem as well as literary and historic notes relating to the date.  You may have heard him reading this on NPR radio.  When I read the daily entry I can hear his mellow tones in my head -  “It’s the birthday of…” or “On this date…”

December 9th was the birthday of the poet John Milton, born in London in 1608, and the subject of that day’s email.   I was especially interested because his cottage still exists in Chalfont St Giles – one of those wonderful English villages worth visiting just for the name.  In 1997 we went there to see Milton’s Cottage and hopefully find a restaurant.  Milton’s best known work, “Paradise Lost”, was dictated here (he was blind), but I wanted to see the cottage based on several of my postcards.  We were too late to go into the cottage, although we peeked over the hedge into the garden, but we did have a lovely dinner just across the street.

What I found most interesting about the Milton entry was this:  Milton coined more than 600 words, including the adjectives dreary, flowery, jubilant, satanic, saintly, terrific, ethereal, sublime, impassive, unprincipled, dismissive, and feverish; as well as the nouns fragrance, adventurer, anarchy, and many more.

We all know how many words and phrases we owe to Shakespeare, but I had no idea that Milton was responsible for all this.  I have never been able to read “Paradise Lost”, although I have tried several times, tempted by the illustrations of William Blake or Gustave Dore.  Maybe I should give it another try.

So spake th' Apostate Angel, though in pain,
Vaunting aloud, but rackt with deep despare:
And him thus answer'd soon his bold Compeer.

And then again, maybe not……

No comments:

Post a Comment