History, Homosexuality, and Milton’s Legacy
Blake continued his exploration of homosexuality in episodes of his long poem Milton and in some of the many designs illustrating Milton’s poetry that he produced after 1800. As in The Four Zoas, these episodes and individual designs, though intermittent, are crucial to Blake’s meaning, particularly in their reference to Milton’s historical, doctrinal, and poetic legacy. With his shift in and after The Four Zoas from elemental resistance toward historical awareness and conscious mutuality as the bases for social upheaval and reform, Blake turns once more to the figure of Milton as an emblem of the revolutionary, prophetic responsibilities of poetry and of the poet as public tribune transforming the consciousness of the nation. A criticism and revision of the historical Milton’s shortcomings is integral to this revival.
KeywordsParadise Lost Sexual Guilt English State Divine Image Homosexual Attraction
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