“On His Blindness” by John Milton (1608-1674)
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
Lodg’d 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-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.”
The poem by John Milton addresses the shortcomings and limitations one experiences in life. Everybody experiences them and the author has the perfect example, he is blind. Before he was blind, Milton rose to the top position as an English writer then became blind and descended all the way into a state where he was unable to read and write.
The poem is made by the way that Milton transcribes the misery he feels onto the page with imagery. First of all, he frames himself not as a miserable individual but a failed servant to God. Milton expresses his views of God entwined with his feelings of misery. As people, we all suffer from losses and setbacks but it is how we react that shows the person we really are. Setbacks can influence very important things, for example, an injury which causes you to miss out of your sports season or a bad result in an exam meaning you miss out on a class. Although it has the immediate cause of a missed opportunity, you can just as easily turn it around and use it to your advantage. Learning from mistakes and bad situations can help prepare you for future situations and give you valuable initiative. The lesson readers should take away from this is that everybody has setbacks but it can be turned around and used to my our advantage. This is seen in the novel “All the light we cannot see” where Marie Laure suffers the same problem of being blind but she uses this to her own advantage.
Although it is all well and good to get over your struggles and rise up from the occasion, in the poem, Milton does not speak as if he has risen up from his experience on the contrary, he has been left in a pit of misery, beaten by his situation which suggests he lacks the mental stamina to beat his own mind.