John Milton … visions of paradise
John Milton (1608 – 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), written in blank verse.
Writing in English, Latin, Greek, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime and remains generally regarded as one of the preeminent writers in the English language.
Milton was totally blind for the last twenty years of his life.
His eyesight had been steadily declining for years, most likely the result of untreated glaucoma. By February 1652, he had gone completely blind. At a time before Braille, recorded books or any of the technologies that assist visually impaired people today, blindness was like an intellectual death sentence. Milton was determined not to let that happen. He continued to produce a steady stream of writing, including his magnum opus, the ten-thousand-line poem Paradise Lost, composed between 1658 and 1664.
In his book Daily Rituals author Mason Currey describes John Milton’s daily routine during these years …
Milton devoted the morning to solitary contemplation in bed, beginning at 4am. He had an aide read to him from the Bible for half an hour. Then he was left alone to compose as many lines as his memory could retain. At 7am, Milton’s aid returned to take dictation. After dictation, his aide would read to him until lunch was served at noon. He would spend a few hours walking in his garden during the afternoon. In the later afternoon and evening he received visitors, ate a light supper, smoked a pipe, and went to bed at about 9pm.