202. (William Wordsworth)

Unlike Samson, whose strength returns with his hair and whose blindness, though indignity and infirmity, is not absolute impotence, Wordsworth’s lack of visionary powers seems to the poet in the Intimations Ode to be a total loss. It takes little effort to read Wordsworth’s “Ode” as his response to Milton’s Samson Agonistes, as much in its premises as in its verbal texture: Samson, whose capacity for … Continue reading 202. (William Wordsworth)

154. (William Wordsworth)

For Wordsworth, the ontological unity of which humankind forms a part at times inspires a longing for division, and at times coincides with the helplessness of isolation and alienation; the failure of human society and actions exacerbates both the longing and the helplessness.  It is the hidden strength of the sympathetic imagination to reconcile humankind to the longing or the alienation, and maybe to overcome either. … Continue reading 154. (William Wordsworth)

146. (John Milton)

Reading Paradise Lost with a student, the chance to see more than before, vicariously through fresh eyes, has been most thrillingly felt in the book where seeing with fresh eyes is the poet’s subject: the fourth, where Satan sees Adam and Eve for the first time, where Eve sees her own reflection, where Satan, dissembling the Angels, is exposed and learns that he is not seen in … Continue reading 146. (John Milton)

19. (John Milton)

The wryly and slyly passionate William Empson in Some Versions of Pastoral, at the end of the chapter on Milton and his eighteenth-century editor, the classicist Richard Bentley: Like so many characters in history our first parents may be viewed with admiration so long as they do not impose on us their system of values; it has become safe to admit that in spite of what … Continue reading 19. (John Milton)