Milton's View of the Supremacy of Good

The medium must be clear if the light is to penetrate, so exaltation of thought must precede inspiration. In no other poet do we see so clearly the conscious effort to make his life true and pure, as we see it in Milton. While still a boy, he discerned the spiritual law of Good, and at twenty he said of himself, "I am enamored of moral perfection." So pure was his college life, that his companions called him "The Lady." He felt that he was to be a great poet, and, with this thought there was with him constantly the thought that his life must be a poem in its purity, sincerity, and truth. So clearly was this purpose manifested in his life, that another poet says of him, "Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart." So it is divinely natural that we should find in his work the discernment of the inspiring, encouraging truth of the following passage, which is really the keynote of his masque, "Comus:"—

Against the threatsOf malice or of sorcery, or that powerWhich erring men call Chance, this I hold firm]Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt;Surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled;Yea, even that which Mischief meant most harmShall in the happy trial prove most glory.But evil on itself shall back recoilAnd mix no more with goodness, when at last,Gathered like scum, and settled to itself,It shall be in eternal restless changeSelf-fed and self-consumed.

June 6, 1901

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