I’ll be honest: I’m not the biggest poetry fan in the world, but every once in a while, I find a poem that reaches out and grabs me by the heart. That happened this week. I had actually read the poem long before, but some English lessons on the sonnets of John Milton reminded me of it again.
Before you go any further, you need to know a few things about John Milton:
1: He was completely blind by the time he was 44.
2: In one year, he lost his wife, his son, and his sight.
3: Six years later, he lost another wife and child.
It’s pretty safe to say that John Milton did not have an easy life, and out of that strife came some of the best poetry in the world. This poem, Sonnet 23, was written shortly after his second wife died in childbirth and long after Milton had gone blind. It’s so incredibly sad, but at the same time, incredibly beautiful: that Milton loved his late wife so much that he would dream of her as an angel! Go ahead and read it for yourself:
by John Milton
Methought I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me like Alcestis, from the grave,
Whom Jove’s great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom wash’d from spot of child-bed taint
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was veil’d; yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin’d
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O, as to embrace me she inclin’d,
I wak’d; she fled; and day brought back my night.