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A MAGNIFICENT POEM

On His Blindness
By John Milton (1608-1674)

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Notes

1....light is spent: This clause presents a double meaning: (a) how I spend my days, (b) how it is that my sight is used up.
2....Ere half my days: Before half my life is over. Milton was completely blind by 1652, the year he turned 44.
3....talent: See Line 3: Key to the Meaning.
4....useless: Unused.
5....therewith: By that means, by that talent; with it
6....account: Record of accomplishment; worth
7....exact: Demand, require
8....fondly: Foolishly, unwisely
9....Patience: Milton personifies patience, capitalizing it and having it speak.
10..God . . . gifts: God is sufficient unto Himself. He requires nothing outside of Himself to exist and be happy.
11. yoke: Burden, workload.
12. post: Travel

John Milton's eyesight began to fail in 1644. By 1652, he was totally blind. Oddly, he wrote his greatest works, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, after he became blind. Many scholars rank Milton as second only to Shakespeare in poetic ability.

Style / type: 
Structured: Western
Last few words: 
I often think that this forum should be used to post a noteworthy or particularly famous poem, which resonates for the reader on that day! Perhaps others can draw inspiration from it! I shall start by submitting what has always been a favourite of mine. This idea is a follow on from one suggested by another member - that we should crit A GOOD POEM! - well they DON"T get better than this - so just sit back and bathe yourself in it's beauty! Thanks Boni
Editing stage: 

Comments

Wow! Thanks for the breaking down of this poem into understanding. I'd love to see how you would do the same for one of William Blake's pieces. (or, of course E. A. Poe's!)

love, Cat

When someone reads your work
And responds, please be courteous
And reply in kind, thanks.

n/a

Bonitaj

author comment

;-)

~A

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