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Milton: On His Blindness

November 27, 2016

On His Blindness
John Milton

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.”

Questions:

  1. Milton did not title this poem; the title was supplied later by Newton. Does the title fit the content?
  2. What poetic form does Milton choose? He is best known for his epic poems; why choose this form for this topic? (Hint: identify the meter, count the poetic feet per line, count the number of lines, and identify the rhyme scheme.)
  3. To what is Milton alluding in the third line? Do you think that this allusion is meant as a pun?
  4. Milton’s chief complaint is not with his circumstances. What is it? (Hint: look in the exact middle of the poem?
  5. What is the answer to Milton’s complaint?
  6. What should we learn from this poem?
  7. Extra Credit: How much of Milton’s theology can you identify from these 140 syllables?
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