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When I Consider How My Light Is Spent
Transcript of When I Consider How My Light Is Spent
by 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.
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve there with my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, 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.”
Appeared in Milton's 1673 collection of Poems (Sonnet XIX)
Name was given by Bishop Newton (Writer and Clergyman)
Also known as "On His Blindness"
"Light is Spent" = Loss of sight
The truth: Ambiguity to what the poem is really about
Christine Bui & Diana Sandil
What do you think this poem will be about by just knowing the title and background information?
Do you think the poet lost some faith in God when he lost his vision?
ABBA ABBA CDE CDE
Ere (line 2)- before
Lodged (line 4)- represented as lying down
Chide (line 6)- express disapproval of
Yoke (line 11)- to bring into subjection or servitude
What if this poem wasn't about blindness at all? In that case, what do you think the "light" represents?
Figurative Language/ Tone
Line 1: "When I consider how my light is spent,"
Line 2: "Ere half my days,"
-Frustration -> Hopeful
Form & Rhythm
Form: Divided up into two sections, one with eight lines and one with six
"Doth God ex-act day-la-bor, light de-nied?"
Enjambment: One lines runs over into the next without a pause
Went to religious schools but mostly studied to be better at poetry
Outspoken defender of religious and civil rights
Appointed Secretary for Foreign Tongues
February, 1652 - Went completely blind
Best works came after he was blind ("Paradise Lost")
Written around the time of English Civil War
(i.e. Lines 9 and 10)
Literary Criticism/ Commentary
Was it written about his blindness?
Critics think that Milton's blindness gave him an uncanny ability to depict light, darkness and shadow.
Great poet for writing good works even though he is blind