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, 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 will be appearing each week, leading up to the book release party in Chicago at the end of October! See for yourself whether the clues make sense to you, clues which suggest Milton's true subject and actual occasion for the poem! The clues come directly from my book, which will be available on Amazon by the first of November.

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