Poem of the Week: “On His Blindness”

Detail from "St. Jerome" by Michelangelo Caravaggio. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Detail from “St. Jerome” by Michelangelo Caravaggio, via Wikimedia Commons.

You may recall I’ve shared some of John Milton’s poetry before on BGA. And while I still cannot fathom Paradise Lost (nor do I especially wish to), I can’t help but be impressed with Milton’s ability to combine raw emotion with beautiful form in his poetry. Here is a another sonnet he wrote after going blind (as you could probably guess from the title), written in about 1655.

Sonnet XIX: “On His Blindness”

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 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.’



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