Block 5s to grapple with Milton’s muscular and uncompromising verse

Vote for Paradise Lost! How reassuring to find that Milton, considered by some almost as unpalatable as the antibacterial fabric solution that bears his name, won a vote amongst a group of BAC English Literature students: asked which author – from a distinguished short-list, for sure – the Block 5s wanted to study in the concluding phase of their BAC, they chose the literary colossus of this misogynistic regicide whose blindness might be seen as one of the few characteristics likely to elicit sympathy – so, it was Books I and II of John Milton’s epic (yes, literally) poem Paradise Lost.  Teaching PL for me was one of the unmissable experiences as an English teacher – what an inimitable piece it is! Milton is sidestepped by many Eng Lit people and if you do tussle with him it is usually at A Level, so how cheering to think of our Block 5s grappling with his muscular and uncompromising verse. Fun you can have with Milton? Well, always read him out loud. Even better, try reading the astonishing opening sentence (“Him the Almighty hurled headlong..”) of PL in one breath. This is even more fun than seeing if you can hold your breath in the Hindhead Tunnel. A pair of healthy human lungs can usually manage this sentence by the time you are aged 13; if not, then you may benefit from our Butt Out! day on Wednesday when we are having a big no smoking drive – do feel free to join in at home.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.