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.”
Summary of On His Blindness (Sonnet 19) by John Milton
On His Blindness is a beautiful sonnet by John Milton. It is one of the finest sonnets in English poetry. It has an autobiographical touch. It deals with the poet’s blindness and his doubt and faith about God.
The first part of the poem deals with the doubt of the poet about God. Milton’s eyesight began to fail from 1652. He became totally blind in 1663. The loss of eyesight was very painful to him. The whole world became dark and gloomy for him due to the blindness. God had given him the talent of writing poetry. Due to the blindness that gift of God became useless for the poet. Though the gift would remain with him till death but he will not be able to use it. The poet wishes to serve God with his poetic power. He wants to present a true account of his life to God. He wants to do this so that God may not snub him after his death. He wants to ask God how he can be able to do work equal to any normal person in spite of his complete blindness.
The second part of this sonnet deals with the poet’s faith in God. The poet’s conscience comes to help him. The poet’s problem is solved very soon. Patience tells him that God does not want anything from man. His state is kingly. Numerous angels are always ready to serve Him. The mortals on the earth cannot serve Him at this speed. So man should wait with patience for God’s mercy. At last the poet says that those also serve God who only stand and wait.