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Erlich, V. (1975). Milton's Early Poetry: Its Christian Humanism. Am. Imago, 32(1):77-112.

(1975). American Imago, 32(1):77-112

Milton's Early Poetry: Its Christian Humanism

Victor Erlich, Ph.D.

That Milton wrote “On the Death of a Fair Infant Dying of a Cough” before he was twenty allows us to dismiss this overwrought and lurid poem as a youthful blunder. This, however, would be a mistake. I hope to show that the poem reveals a powerful psychological consistency, and, more importantly, that it is integrally related to much else in the developing poet's early work. With an understanding of “On the Death” I hope to go on and show how this poem provides a keynote for Milton's more triumphant early poetry.

“On the Death” seems to be about Milton's niece Anne who died at the age of three in 1628. It represents Milton's attempt to mourn the child's death and to comfort her mother, his sister, also named Anne. But from the very beginning we ask ourselves if Milton could simply be talking about a child.

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