Did Milton have a naughty side?

An innuendo-laden poem attributed to Paradise Lost scribe John Milton stirs up a minor controversy.

If proven to be genuine, the discovery of a ‘bawdy’ bit of a verse by Oxford University may redefine the way we look at John Milton, the austere poet responsible for Paradise Lost, one of the most important works in the Western literary canon.

The poem An Extempore Upon A Faggot - 'faggot' being an archaic word for a twig bound with other twigs for burning -  was uncovered by Dr Jennifer Batt at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, who said that “to see the name of John Milton, the great religious and political polemicist, attached to such a bawdy epigram, is extremely surprising to say the least.” While the poem’s content – allegorising the sexual act through the image of a twig in snow – is definitely mild by today’s standards, the departure from Milton’s otherwise stately work is striking.

In fact, as the poem is still awaiting to be verified, experts are saying that it could possibly have been signed under Milton’s name by a jealous rival in order to stir up scandal.