Poem #22: Sonnet on his Blindness by John Milton, 1655

“Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.”~Don Marquis

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.

As far as I’m concerned, this poem is a meditation on physical disability and the grace of God. Do those who are only able, in our estimation, to “stand and wait”, have value and do service to God? Are the mentally handicapped, the physically disabled, the senile, and the incapacitated all a part of God’s plan, grace, and mercy, too? I believe that they are. I believe that the child with Down’s syndrome, the old woman in a coma, and the quadriplegic all can have meaningful, worthy lives within God’s wisdom, that they, too, have a part to play in God’s world, maybe a more important and vital role than those of us who are healthy and capable.

Milton’s fear:
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:14-30

Milton’s peace:
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

1 thought on “Poem #22: Sonnet on his Blindness by John Milton, 1655

  1. Milton is way before the era of my work, but this is the second blog today where I have seen him mentioned.

    Is Milton staging a comeback?

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