What is Milton's impact on current English?

Posted by Anders on April 02, 2003

Shakespeare is often celebrated as a conspicuous influence on present-day English, but how does Milton compare? His best rhetoric in Paradise Lost eclipses even Shakespeare's, I find. It has more power - it is the heavy metal of English literature. I am so in love with the Miltonic: 'We know no time when we were not as now, know none before us, self-begot, self-raised, by our own quick'ning power, etc.' Surely, he must have left an impact lasting to this day? How about 'Our own right hand shall teach us highest deeds'? Or, 'Awake, arise, or be forever fallen!'? Why are these sublime lines not idiomatic; or are they? I ask this question as a non-native speaker of English.