Milton's early ode, "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" (1629) is presented and discussed. The author's preoccupation with his standing as a novice poet and his early ambitions, as carefully outlined in the letter to Charles Diodati, are examined. The ode's subject matter, other poets' treatment of the Nativity, and Milton's peculiar contributions to the micro-genre are discussed, including his curious temporal choices, the competitive attitude of his narrator, and the mingling of Christian and classical elements. The rejection of the pagan world in the poem's final stanzas is explicated and underscored as an issue that will recur throughout the corpus. Additional reading assignments for this class meeting include "At a Vacation Exercise in the College" (1628), "On the Death of a Fair Infant" (1628), and "Elegia sexta" (1629).
A study of Milton's poetry, with some attention to his literary sources, his contemporaries, his controversial prose, and his decisive influence on the course of English poetry.
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