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John Milton's Symbolism and Imagery - Book Report/Review Example

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John Milton's Symbolism and Imagery

In the poem that focuses on the birth of Christ, Milton effects a slight deviation of emphasis when he writes of the morning, rather than the night of Christ’s birth. The action has its desired effect, as morning is necessarily brings accompanied by the images of newness and life. The idea of Christ’s bringing redemption “from above” (1.4) dovetails with the image of the morning, as this new day or new life might be considered a gift from the rising sun, which issues its light from above. However, the comparison of the sun to Christ exists only in incipience here; later it becomes more obvious in the depiction of the sun recoiling in deference to the greater light of One who gives a greater life (VII.79-84).
The idea of the Incarnation is present not just in the mention of Christ’s birth but in the treatment of the things surrounding it. Christ is named “that Light unsufferable” and is depicted as shedding the cover of his glorious environs; but being light, He penetrates and animates “a darksome house of mortal Clay” (II.14). This is a direct reference to the Incarnation, but it also calls forth the idea of the beginning of time and of all life, where God came down and animated not just the earth’s verdant cover, but the earth itself by blowing his breath into the clay and giving life to man. The image of death vanquished is also utilised as a method of infusing the lines with the idea of renewed life. This image is already implied in Milton’s use of the morning, as the light drives away the blanket night. ...
e and of all life, where God came down and animated not just the earth's verdant cover, but the earth itself by blowing his breath into the clay and giving life to man. The image of death vanquished is also utilised as a method of infusing the lines with the idea of renewed life. This image is already implied in Milton's use of the morning, as the light drives away the blanket night. However, just before the sunrise, Milton mentions the "spangled host [that] keep watch in squadrons bright" (II.21), and this demonstrates an inherent opposition in nature to the idea of an irrevocable death. It never fully gives itself over to the dark and is ready at every moment to be reborn and to once again belong completely to the light.
The "Eastern road" (IV.22) again points toward the birth of the day, and the description of the wise men as being "Star-led" (IV.23), though a direct reference to the Magi being led by the Star of Bethlehem, shows itself a dual image in its ability to refer again to the sun (the star of the morning) which leads the men to the source of the truest life, clothed also in newness as a babe in a manger (IV.22-23). The stanza culminates in another image of life rising from the ashes of death, as the Altar is mentioned as having been "touched with hallow'd fire" (IV.28). The altar is one of sacrifice, a place where life is given over to death. But the fire that touches the altar calls to mind several ideas of renewed life. It is reminiscent of the biblical account in Isaiah, whose tongue is enlivened by the touch of fire, and it also calls to mind the phoenix, that mythical bird which perpetuates its defiance of death by arising again and again from ashes.
The significance of the winter appears problematic, but Milton himself offers a solution in the ...Show more


This essay deals with John Milton's poetry. It is mentioned here that John Milton’s skill as a poet is demonstrated in the language of imagery and symbolism here depicted in his poems “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity” and “Lycidas”…
Author : leilani86
John Miltons Symbolism and Imagery essay example
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