The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

14 Dec 2008


I learn from this note, mentioned in Vanity Fea, about the one hundreth anniversary of John Milton's birth, a good opportunity to include in this blog one of his poems.

On Shakespeare
What needs my Shakespeare for his honored bones
To labor of an age in piled stones,
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,
What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a livelong monument.
For, whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art,
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,
Then thou our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving,
And so sepúlchred in such pomp dost lie
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die

Further resources:
- A reading of 'On Shakespeare'
- A translation of the poem into Spanish.
- Audio recordings of Milton's poems (Real Player required), a section of the Milton Home Page
- 'To Milton' by Oscar Wilde


  1. Milton is rewriting or rethinking or alluding to this poem by Horace, I believe:

    I have built a monument more lasting than bronze,
    Taller than the massive ruins of the kingly Pyramids.
    Rain will not damage my work, and the violent northern wind
    Will not be able to destroy it, nor will the innumerable
    Succession of years and the flight of time.
    I shall not die for good: most of me
    Will escape the death-goddess Libitine.
    I will keep on growing, forever young with the praise of years to come,
    As long as the Pontifex ascends the Capitol,
    The silent virgin by his side.
    It will be said that, after being born in the country where the violent Aufidus roars,
    Where dry Daunus governed a race of rough men,
    I elevated myself out of my humble condition and was the first
    To fit aeolic songs into Italian airs.
    Dress yourself, Melpomene, in pride equal to my merits,
    And willingly wreath my locks with Delphic laurel.

    (Odes, III.30)

  2. Yes, Horace's comparison of a writer's perdurability with that of solid buildings is evident in Milton's poem. Thank you for the contribution, José Ángel.