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Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that heaven doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew,
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.
These pleasures, Melancholy, give;
And I with thee will choose to live.
John Milton, Il Penseroso
Although 19th century British artist John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893) is mainly associated today with his atmospheric landscapes of northern England, his subjects were also drawn from the rich literary tradition of the UK. The strikingly detailed Il Penseroso above, for instance, is titled after John Milton’s epic poem about melancholy written over two centuries before. Do you see the connection?
John Milton (1608-1674) ranks among his country’s greatest poets, writing Paradise Lost when he was completely blind. The excerpt from Il Penseroso (1631) is from the end of the poem.
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John Atkinson Grimshaw, Il Penseroso, c. 1875, oil on canvas, Private Collection.
The above image is used solely for educational purposes.