The Poetic Promise of ‘On the Morning of Christ's Nativity'

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By positioning ‘On the Morning of Christ's Nativity’ at the opening of his inaugural 1645 multilingual volume of collected poems, John Milton was rethinking a poem he had written many years earlier. The Nativity Ode should be read twice in any sitting: first, it should be read for its internal power and baroque complexity when viewed in its own right, as a devotional poem competing with many other similar poems in the same genre. Then, it should be read a second time as the opening lyric of Poems, where its intertextual dialogue with key poems positioned later in the sequence. This chapter follows the suggested process by reading the ode in the immediate aesthetic and cultural context of its inception in Milton's younger imagination. It concludes by reviewing the ode, and in particular the closing sequence on the flight of the pagan oracles, through the prism of the 1645 publication.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA new companion to Milton
EditorsThomas N. Corns
Place of PublicationWest Sussex, England
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781118827833, 111882783X
ISBN (Print)9781118827826, 1118827821
StatePublished - Mar 2016

Publication series

NameBlackwell Companions to Literature and Culture


  • John Milton


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