Traditionally read as a poem about laboring subjects who gain power through abstract and abstracting forms of bodily discipline, John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667, 1674) more compellingly foregrounds the erotics of the Garden as a space where humans and nonhumans intra-act materially and sexually. Following Christopher Hill, who long ago pointed to not one but two revolutions in the history of seventeenth-century English radicalism—the first, ‘the one which succeeded[,] . . . the protestant ethic’; and the second, ‘the revolution which never happened,’ which sought ‘communal property, a far wider democracy[,] and rejected the protestant ethic’—I show how Milton’s Paradise Lost gives substance to ‘the revolution which never happened’ by imagining a commons, indeed a communism, in which human beings are not at the center of things, but rather constitute one part of the greater ecology of mind within Milton’s poem. In the space created by this ecological reimagining, plants assume a new agency. I call this reimagining ‘ecology to come.’
Swarbrick, Steven, "Unworking Milton: Steps to a Georgics of the Mind" (2016). CUNY Academic Works.