John Milton's tracts of 1641–42—harsh, satiric attacks on the corruption of the English church—are an extension and development of the major themes and principal imagistic patterns of his academic exercises and early poetry, particularly Prolusion 6, A Mask, Lycidas, and the Epitaphium Damonis. The tracts are overwhelmingly negative in their thrust, but largely overlooked are their significant positive elements. First, biblical apocalyptic imagery describes the national Christian regeneracy of England; this is a transfer of the visionary descriptions of apotheosis in the poetry to the concrete reality of the English historical situation. Second, this apocalyptic imagery describes individual Englishmen whose responses to God's grace in sum will lead to national regeneracy. Third, in a careful articulation of his view of the character and function of the divine Christian poet in his personal statements, Milton humbly offers himself as the type for the response of others, as a model for individual regeneracy which leads to national regeneracy. The tracts refine primary Miltonic concerns and show the intimate relation of his poetry and prose.

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