Poetry and the Life Well Lived

Early in the 1630s, the greatest of English poets wrote two companion poems with Italian titles, L’Allegro and Il Penseroso. The first celebrates the active life, while the second contemplates the pensive life of the reflective person. In the course of that second poem, the poet becomes particularly personal and reflects warmly upon his university years, then coming to a close:  But let my due feet never fail, To walk the studious cloisters pale.  The personal touch has led some readers to conclude that he is commending the reflective life over the active life, particularly as he was about to…

Subscribe to get access to all online articles