Living his life in the 1600’s, John Milton is best known as the poet of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained.
The great religious tracts of the Reformation are his best known works.
Yet John Milton was also a Cambridge student, a traveller and thrice married propagandist for the Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell who lost his sight at the age of 44.
A dry corn-husk of a religious fanatic with an ouvre of religious poetry and elegy’s to friends who left too early.
It seems that, despite being a Cambridge man, academics at Oxford University have discovered what appears to be a bawdy poem by John Milton while sifting through their archives. The work, a coarse innuendo-laden ditty titled “An Extempore Upon A Faggot”, was found in the university’s Harding Collection, the world’s largest collection of popular poetic anthologies and songbooks.
Milton was known for his abandonment of rhyme, irregular rhythms and a dignity and stateliness in his diction. His poems tended to centre on religious allusions, the political nature of the times – he served as a civil servant under Oliver Cromwell’s government – and the biblical downfall of man, most notably in his epic poem Paradise Lost.
But the new work, which was discovered by Dr Jennifer Batt, a lecturer in English literature at the university, employs a childishly simple and earthy rhythm of rhyming couplets.
“To see the name of John Milton, the great religious and political polemicist, attached to such a bawdy epigram, is extremely surprising to say the least,” Dr Batt said.
The newly-discovered work seems to be an early version of “Paradise Found.”
Have you not in a Chimney seen
A Faggot which is moist and green
How coyly it receives the Heat
And at both ends do’s weep and sweat?
So fares it with a tender Maid
When first upon her Back she’s laid
But like dry Wood th’ experienced Dame
Cracks and rejoices in the Flame.
John Milton (1608-1674)