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"America is the greatest, freest and most decent society in existence. It is an oasis of goodness in a desert of cynicism and barbarism. This country, once an experiment unique in the world, is now the last best hope for the world."
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John Milton (1608-1674) was an English poet, prose polemicist and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England. Most famed for his epic poem Paradise Lost, Milton is celebrated as well for his treatise condemning censorship, Areopagitica. John Milton matriculated at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1625 and, in preparation for becoming an Anglican priest, stayed on to obtain his Master of Arts degree in 1632. While at Cambridge he wrote a number of his well-known shorter English poems, among them Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity, his Epitaph on the Admirable Dramatick Poet, W. Shakespeare, his first poem to appear in print, L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. Upon receiving his MA in 1632, Milton retired to his father's country homes at Hammersmith and Horton and undertook six years of self-directed private study by reading both ancient and modern works of theology, philosophy, history, politics, literature and science, in preparation for his prospective poetical career. Milton continued to write poetry during this period of study: his masques Arcades and Comus were composed for noble patrons, and he contributed his pastoral elegy Lycidas to a memorial collection for one of his Cambridge classmates in 1638.
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