‘Fresh woods and pastures new’

In 1645/6, at the age of 37, Milton published his first collection of poetry, Poems... Both English and Latin. It gathers the most significant works of his youth, including Lycidas, Comus, the sonnets, and his early poems in Latin and Greek.

Many of the poems are printed with their date of composition or a headnote explaining the circumstances of their writing. Such details imply the care Milton (or his publisher Humphrey Moseley) took over his presentation in this volume. Even the notoriously incompetent frontispiece emphasizes Milton’s early development as a writer, professing to portray him aged 21—significantly, the age at which he wrote the Nativity Ode, the first poem in the book.

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