When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

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-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."
 
About "Sonnet XIX"

Composed sometime between 1652 and 1655, John Milton's "Sonnet 19 [When I consider how my light is spent]" grapples with the subject of the poet's blindness later in life, as well as his changing relationship with God. Many of Milton's best-known poems, including the epic work Paradise Lost, were composed through dictation, transcribed by others, including the poet's daughters and the English metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell.

Poems by This Author

Paradise Lost, Book I, Lines 221-270 by John Milton
Is this the Region, this the Soil, the Clime
Paradise Lost, Book IV, Lines 639–652 by John Milton
With thee conversing I forget all time
Paradise Lost, Book IV, [The Argument] by John Milton
O for that warning voice, which he who saw
Paradise Lost, Book VI, Lines 801-866 by John Milton
Stand still in bright array, ye Saints; here stand
Lycidas by John Milton
Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more
On His Deceased Wife by John Milton
Me thought I saw my late espousèd Saint
On Shakespeare by John Milton
What needs my Shakespeare for his honour'd Bones
On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity by John Milton
This is the month, and this the happy morn
On Time by John Milton
Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race
Song On May Morning by John Milton
Now the bright morning Star, Dayes harbinger
To the Same by John Milton
Cyriack, this three years’ day these eyes, though clear


Further Reading

Poems About Illness
Kaddish, Part I
by Allen Ginsberg
A Litany in Time of Plague
by Thomas Nashe
Afternoon at MacDowell
by Jane Kenyon
Against Elegies
by Marilyn Hacker
Anxieties
by Donna Masini
Auld Lang Syne
by Jennifer L. Knox
Beasts
by Carmen Giménez Smith
Bedside
by William Olsen
Breathing
by Josephine Dickinson
Christmas Away from Home
by Jane Kenyon
Cognitive Deficit Market
by Joshua Corey
Evening
by Gail Mazur
Everyone Gasps with Anxiety
by Jeni Olin
Having it Out with Melancholy
by Jane Kenyon
Her Body Like a Lantern Next to Me
by John Rybicki
Hospital Writing Workshop
by Rafael Campo
In Memory of W. B. Yeats
by W. H. Auden
Losing It
by Margaret Gibson
Mastectomy
by Wanda Coleman
Phases
by Michael Redhill
Prayer for Sleep
by Cheryl Dumesnil
R.I.P., My Love
by Tory Dent
Sick
by Shel Silverstein
The Embrace
by Mark Doty
The Land of Counterpane
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Nurse
by Michael Blumenthal
The Sick Child
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Sick Rose
by William Blake
The Subalterns
by Thomas Hardy
The Transparent Man
by Anthony Hecht
The Visit
by Jason Shinder
To Amy Lowell
by Eunice Tietjens
Tubes
by Donald Hall
Units
by Albert Goldbarth
Visits to St. Elizabeths
by Elizabeth Bishop
Waking in the Blue
by Robert Lowell