The Annual Distinguished Patrides Lecture
The lecture will draw on the final twenty lines of Milton’s ‘Il Penseroso’ to pursue two themes. The first is biographical: the lines depict a poet moved by ecclesiastical architecture, stained glass, and sacred music. Such sentiments do not suit the common image of Milton as a youthful Puritan, but rather support the alternative model of a young Milton with high church sympathies who is later radicalised. The second theme is an unexpected strand in Milton’s posthumous reputation. The description of the hermit and his mossy hermitage proved to be an important influence on the fashion for ornamental garden hermits in the mid-eighteenth century. The cultural void created by the demise of the garden hermit may have been filled by the garden gnome, the unlikely successor to Milton’s Anglican hermit.