St peter’s

Paradise and paradox: an inner pilgrimage into John Milton

When E. Nesbit published Wet Magic in 1913 (a charming novel in which the children encounter a mermaid), she took it for granted that her young readers would immediately pick up the references to ‘Sabrina Fair’ from Milton’s Comus. Phrases from Milton were part of the language — ‘Tomorrow to fresh woods’; ‘Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven’. Milton was central to the shared experience of life itself for those who spoke English. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries Milton was inside every literate anglophone head. If Harold Bloom is to be believed, which I think he is in this respect, the English romantic movement grew out