On his Blindness John Milton Analysis | When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

John Milton wrote “On his Blindness” or ” When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” when he had to choose one situation between the two after deep analysis. As we all know that John Milton has served God through his writings. “Paradise Lost” is a great example of it. After a long time of struggle of research, when he was nearly blind then he wrote this sonnet. John Milton had to go through great pain when he wrote “Paradise Lost”. He studied and researched so hard that he became blind but he did not leave serving god. “Paradise Lost” is an act of religious devotion. It was written before this sonnet. As mentioned earlier the poet devotedly served god. He feared that he would not continue serving God in the manner he served in past.

On his Blindness / When I Consider How My Light Is Spent is an analysis and expression of fear of John Milton. In this sonnet he fears that he would have no further opportunity of serving God. The sonnet was written in year 1764 when Milton was completely effected by the disease of blindness. The sonnet was written in “Petrarchan” style with rhyming scheme of ABBA ABBA CDE CDE. It is written in iambic parameter.

On his Blindness John Milton Analysis:

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,

On his Blindness John Milton Analysis

Milton/speaker talks about his previous life that he has spent in worshiping the God. Light here is referred to previous life of John Milton. It is metaphorically used by the poet to refer his previous works. The poet is not mourning on his disease instead he laments that he would not be able to serve God like the way when he was able to see.

The above two lines are divided into two parts. First line is about the previous life of Milton. He is talking about previous 42 years of life before he became blind. Both these two lines are opposite to each other. Like these two lines, Milton has divided his life into two parts. First part of his life is represented through light whereas he represents second part of his life through darkness. Words “dark world and wide” have special meanings. After blindness, definitely word became darker for him. Additionally, it also became wider. Perhaps, wider in the sense that he is no more bound to his eyes. He can’t see through his eyes but mind is there for him to watch and see. Through mind he can see what he can’t see through eyes.

Hence, remaining half life of Milton is dark. In literature darkness always remains symbol of pessimism. Words “dark world and wide” has both positive and negative sense. Positive as discussed above in the sense that the poet has wider imagination but the combination of dark world spreads negativity. After blindness his life has become difficult. Short time of calamity is hard to pass and Milton has wide and half life to live. Perhaps, due to that reason he used the word wide because his remaining ere half life is full of calamities.

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,

On his Blindness John Milton Analysis

These lines have much significance in respect of religious deity. Like every poet and writer, John Milton has a talent of writing. He does not only have possession of knowledge but he also knows how to present it in form of words. He has the best and effective method of teaching i.e. fiction. There are a lot of persons in the world who have knowledge but only a few know how to translate it in words so that people could understand it. Milton considered his duty to transmit the knowledge to his fellow men. HE in this way seems a preacher to us.

John Milton wrote Sonnet “On his Blindness / When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” entirely in respect and analysis of religious terms. Hence, there are some biblical references in it. These lines are evident that Milton deeply researched bible and “Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25:14–30. It tells a tale where a master before leaving the house entrusts his property to his servants. Everyone gets his share as per his own abilities. Important thing is that everyone uses his share wisely but one of them buries it instead of investing it in useful purposes.

John Milton here refers death who would bury his talent. However, before his death he wants to invest. He wants to share his knowledge through his writings. In this way, he would complete his duty of serving God. This is the only method through which his purpose of coming in this world would be fulfilled. He is taking advantage of his talents that are bestowed to him by God unlike the person who just buried his share rather than taking advantage from it.

“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask.

On his Blindness John Milton Analysis

This is a question that Milton asks. He is worried that due to his blindness he would not be able to continue his work. Does God wants more work from a person who has become blind. Fondly here refers for respect. He respectively asks the above said question.

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.”

On his Blindness John Milton Analysis

These lines are answer to previous questions. In concise words, God does not require any special effort from anyone nor does he want any gift. What he wants is pure love from everybody. However, in first line the poet has personified patience, who appears and answers the question. Thus, patience in once life has great importance. Milton can do nothing to make his life better but he can keep patience. He has become blind and nowhere in the world he can find cure for his blindness. He has only one option and that is of keeping patience. If he does so, it would be considered a worship.

“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.”

On his Blindness John Milton Analysis

Patience is further elaborated in these lines. There are a lot of people in the world who are spending miserable life like Milton but they do not speak a word against God. Some people has devoted their lives to religions and they are serving since they are born. We can smell Sufism in these lines. It is evident from “They also serve who only stand and wait.” There is a reason behind ending the poem in this way. God is not only of those who have everything in life. People like Milton who are blind or who have some other disabilities also serve God with patience. Hence, “They also serve [God] who only stand and wait.” In start of the poem we mentioned that poet had to choose one situation between the two; either he laments on his blindness or he keeps patience and serves God. The poet has found his answer “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

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On his Blindness John Milton Analysis | When I Consider How My Light Is Spent
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John Milton wrote "On his Blindness" or " When I Consider How My Light Is Spent" when he had to choose one situation between the two after deep analysis.
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