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Milton in the Long Restoration$
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Blair Hoxby and Ann Baynes Coiro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198769774

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769774.001.0001

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Angel Bodies to Whig Souls

Angel Bodies to Whig Souls

Blank Verse after Blenheim

Chapter:
(p.204) 11 Angel Bodies to Whig Souls
Source:
Milton in the Long Restoration
Author(s):

Dustin D. Stewart

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769774.003.0012

This chapter surveys revisionist appropriations of Paradise Lost developed by Whig poets and theorists in the wake of the Battle of Blenheim (1704). Resisting the scholarly tendency to draw a great gulf between Milton and his immediate poetic successors, it argues that later writers continued to feel, as Milton felt, longing for an angel’s body. Such yearning became a feature of post-Miltonic blank verse. After first examining the Blenheim effect—Whig poets’ tendency to ascribe angelic strength to their military hero the Duke of Marlborough—the chapter considers spiritual verse that offers angelic potential to all devout souls. Here the preoccupation is less with angel warfare than with the ecstatic possibilities of angel sex. Unifying these two movements is Isaac Watts, whose hitherto underappreciated place in the history of blank verse this chapter emphasizes.

Keywords:   John Milton, blank verse, angels, Whig literary culture, Duke of Marlborough, military poetry, devotional poetry, Isaac Watts, Elizabeth Singer Rowe

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