27 August 2017
Joe Moshenska travels in John Milton's footsteps
350 years after the publication of Paradise Lost, to understand how the real people and places he encountered helped to shape his poetic imagination and inspired the divine universe of his poem.
Writing Paradise Lost, the epic poem that tells the story of the fall of humankind, was an out-of-body experience for Milton. Although he was a blind, beleaguered old man by the time he composed the poem, he didn’t see this as an obstacle – every night his muse would visit him while he slept and deposit the next parcel of verse in his mind.
Milton’s imagination took him out into the farthest reaches of the universe, but also back into his own past, returning compulsively to his youthful travels through France and on to Italy, where he had met the great astronomer, Galileo Galilei.
Joe’s journey reflects how Milton’s poem thrums with an extraordinary cacophony of different traditions – biblical, historical and mythic, drawn from his wide imagination and travels.