The World's Greatest Riddle:

John Milton's

Lycidas



You're probably expecting a long list of degrees and prior publications. Nothing could be further from the case! I was an English Lit major at Stanford University when I had the good fortune to take a class on Milton from the then world expert on Lycidas, Professor J. Martin Evans. He gave us an excellent education about the poet and works, but more than that, conveyed to those of us who were receptive his love for Milton. I have been a fan and admirer ever since.

So many questions remained about Lycidas, even to Professor Evans, that when I asked whether a completely satisfactory reading had been published, he said "no."

As one example of its mysteries, the poem contains at its dramatic highpoint an image which some call "the greatest enigma in English Literature":

But that two-handed engine at the door,
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.

What Milton lover has not tried to decipher this image? For every year or two for most of the past thirty years, I have returned to puzzle over this intriguing work.

As you might guess if you're reading this, I do believe I have the correct interpretation for every image and reference in the poem. But don't take my word for it! Check out the clues, which should, just in the answers they provide mysteries which have been bedeviling scholars literally for centuries, provide substantial evidence there is something to my story. And check out my book when it appears in January of 2019! And you who know Lycidas, imagine for a moment a reading of the poem which resolves every mystery, every anomaly, every inconsistency! That is what I believe my reading provides. See y'all in January!

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