28 February 2013
Lost in a Dark World: John Milton’s “When I Consider How my Light is Spent”
Being blind would be an incredibly hard thing to endure, and an even harder situation to describe to other people. In John Milton’s 1652 poem When I Consider How my Light is Spent the author uses imagery, symbols, and extended metaphors to express his feelings of going blind and how it relates to the serving of his god.
In exploring the use of his imagery you must first know that John Milton was blind when he wrote this poem. All of the imagery used in his poem is functioning to help the reader get a better sense of what it might be like to be blind themselves. The “dark world” he describes in line two is an example of imagery. He uses these words to describe how his new life or world is; completely absent of light. He’s almost trying to say that he’s not blind, but that the world is just dark. You can see this in line one where he states “my light is spent.” As you can see Milton uses complicated word play throughout the poem, this brings me to his metaphors.
Most of his metaphors are used to describe how being blind has affected his life as well as his ability to serve his god. He uses the word “light” many times in the poem but this word can be substituted out for the word vision. His vision is what he is referring to but he chooses to use the word light to express to the reader that he isn’t going blind, but that the light is running out which I pointed out earlier. The word "talent" used in line three has a double meaning. The Biblical parable about hiding the talent and not turning the master's currency into a profit (described in the foot note) is used as an extended metaphor in which God is compared to the lord, while the speaker is the third servant who has buried the money. He feels that because he is blind he can no longer serve his god properly and is wondering if he should just end his life now.