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Sonnet 19 Analysis

Author: Poetry of John Milton Type: Poetry Views: 1031

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The Poetical Works of John MiltonXIXWhen 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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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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| Posted on 2011-09-10 | by a guest

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| Posted on 2010-06-10 | by a guest

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We had to read this poem for English class. I found it quite interesting.

| Posted on 2009-10-26 | by a guest

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1. The title, Sonnet XIX does not have any significant value or connection to the poem, but even though Sonnet XIX is the actual title, it is most commonly referred to as, When I Consider How My Light is Spent. This title, which is also the first line, is the basis of the sonnet as a whole because it tells the reader what he is going to talk about. This title is talking about how his “light” (v. 1), or sight, is spent, knowing that the rest of his life, or the next “half” (v. 2) of his life will be in a “dark world” (v. 2). By using the word “light” (v. 1), Milton is referring to his failing eyesight and how his light is going to be gone soon. The first line clarifies that he is talking about the time just before he has gone blind and also shows that the subject of the sonnet is himself by using the words “I” and “my” (v. 1). He also, with the first line, clarifies the purpose of the poem, which is to be almost a description, represented by reflection and consideration, of his life with sight and the dilemma of the inevitable future without it.
2. In Sonnet XIX, first Milton is the speaker and is questioning God about his blindness. Then the speaker changes to God, who responds to Milton. This prompt allows you to realize that Milton is becoming blind and that he is coming to terms with the fact that his eyesight is quickly fading away by questioning God. Through words such as “Maker” (v. 5) and “God” (v. 7,9) you can tell that Milton was a religious man and realizes that it truly is his “Maker” (v. 5) who determines his fate. In the first stanza, the octet, Milton reflects on how “God” (v. 7) is taking away his sight, and yet still expects “labour” (v. 7) from him without “light” (v. 7). Milton, the speaker, is somewhat questioning his faith because of the circumstances. He then asks his “Maker” (v. 5) how He can expect such work from a man that is blind. In the following stanza, the sestet, God responds and says that He does not need man’s work or man’s gifts (v. 9,10), He just wants Milton to be like Him, to “Bear His mild yoke” (v. 11). This response is God giving the distrustful man some sort of peace and comfort.
At first Milton evokes emotions that show his worry and his bitterness, but there is a quick shift where he comes to terms with his fate and realizes that his dilemma is certain. Through such strong emotions, Milton personalizes his persona and gives the audience an idea of his character.
3. The words that strike the reader in Milon’s sonnet are “light” (v. 1,7), “dark” (v. 2), “death to hide” (v. 3), and “yoke” (v. 11). The reason why these words are essential to the tone of the poem is that they each have a different meaning than the actual word itself. This is called catachresis and it allows Milton to make an unusual comparison between two things and make the reader think about what he is saying. For example, when Milton says, “And that one talent which is death to hide” (v. 3), he is referring to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew in which a mean was dismissed to darkness because he had hidden his talents.

| Posted on 2008-11-20 | by a guest

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In "When I Consider How My Light is Spent", John Milton employs a rhyme pattern, rhythm, meter, Biblical references, and the diction of archaic language to successfully complete this Petrarchan sonnet. The speaker and audience are obvious, and unique from other poems. All of these elements work together as the speaker reflects in the octet how the one who took away his light now expects labor from him; the sestet is the Lord's kind answer to his servant.
The structure of Milton's poem is an octet followed by a sestet. Because of this structure, the number of lines in the poem, and the content of those lines, it is a sonnet and more specifically a Petrarchan sonnet. The one structural difference lies in the division of the octet from the sestet, for the speaker changes here as well.
This poem is unique in its speaker-audience relationship. The first eight lines are spoken by the one who raises the issue of the doubts that cloud his faith. Following these lines, the audience from the octet becomes the speaker of the sestet, who attempts to kindly give the doubting man peace. Because of the contents of the octet, many are led to believe that the speaker was Milton himself, for just as he lost his eyesight shortly before this poem was penned, so too did the speaker wonder about his "spent light". Therefore, the relationship between the speaker and the audience is quite personal because of the role that each has, and eventually trades, and this element makes the poem especially meaningful to the reader.
The elements of meter, rhythm, and rhyme go hand in hand with the element of structure. As a Petrarchan sonnet, the meter is iambic pentameter, which lends itself to the definite rhythm this poem has. The rhyme pattern that Milton employs is in the form of ABBAABBACDECDE, with the octet rhyming separately from the sestet.
Although there is not a great amount of figurative language in this work, the figurative language that it has is very strong. For example, the idea that hiding one's talent (line 3) brings about death is a strong correlation to make, and it displays the speaker's feelings on this parable.
Another aspect prevalent in this work is the many Biblical and religious references. When the speaker tells of his talent in line three, he refers to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew, in which the man of the parable was dismissed to the darkness. It is also apparent that the speaker directs his question to God, for he acknowledges that it was God who gave him his abilities in the first place, and proclaims him his maker. Finally, there is the reference by the respondent, presumably God, for he refers to the mild yoke that Jesus speaks of in Matthew eleven when he says that "my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
The final aspect of this poem is its diction, and this is probably the most important element, for it is what makes up the poem and the study of it helps the reader to unravel the speaker's meaning. For example, the first line of Milton's work sets the stage for the poem to continue, as well as sets the mood for this sonnet. The speaker's reflection at this time shows that his wonderment is the basis for the poem, and his also tells the reader that this poem is to be about his uncertainty.
As the second line begins with the archaic contraction, "Ere," the reader is led to know that the writing of this poem took place long ago and that the denotation of some words was no doubt different then. Knowin

| Posted on 2008-06-01 | by a guest

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