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On His Blindness

2 Pages 542 Words

Unlike Shakespeare's poem, but still refusing to acknowledge the sonnet's traditional form, the story of Milton's "On His Blindness" is autobiographical and describes a man who has suffered enormously through the loss of his sight and his talents. These are equal to the author and he refers to them as punishments. The whole of the poem consists of questions ("Doth God exact day labour light-denied?") revealing Milton's pain and although humility is sensed, there still remains the inevitable and haunting "Why me?". However, he is answered by Patience that it is not the one who has talents who earns God's love but the one who is able to "bear his mild yoke". The idea by itself resembles the theme of stoical endurance.

The main message of Milton's sonnet is emphasised by the use of symbolism. The imagery consists of references to time, light/darkness, which resemble life and talents and the loss of them, time and God, all aiming at clarifying the picture of the author's suffering. First, there is "half my days", then come the "light", spent in this "dark world and wide". The uneasy and agoraphobic atmosphere is hastened by the appearing of God's figure: "He", "my Maker" and the pain sharpened by the mentioning of "gifts" once more. The sonnet, however, finishes with Patience - a symbol of faith, strength and maturity - pleading for the hero's stoical endurance.

There is a similar development of attitude in "On His Blindness". The extreme resignation from the beginning of Milton's sonnet are eventually replaced by a more objective, less personal and wiser viewpoint. The statement "His state/ is kingly" proves the hero's obedience and the fact he has accepted to "bear his mild yoke", be patient and wait for God's sign.

The English poet John Milton pondered these two distinct meanings of “talent” when, in 1651, he composed the well-known sonnet on his blindness, which begins, “When I consider how my light is spent [i.e., has fa...

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