Close Reading of “How Soon Hath Time”
Milton’s sonnet “How Soon Hath Time” is a Petrarchian style poem written in iambic pentameter. It has a rhyme scheme of a, b, b, a, a, b, b, a, c, d, e, d, c, e. Each four line stanza makes up one complete sentence. This structure is ideally suitable to the iambic pentameter style of the sonnet. Structuring the four line stanzas this way also constructs a cohesive thought. After the first and second four line stanzas there is major punctuation in the form of a period. This successful divides the poem up and the octave into two sections. The meter is consistent and regular giving the sonnet a smooth rhythm and a nice easy flow when spoken aloud. Each line contains five beats although Milton does deceive the reader by fiddling with the words shortening come of them, such as “stol’n” and “shew’th”. There is one point in the sonnet, however, where he does not shorten the word. This is located in line ten with the word “even”. By not shortening “even”, Milton complicates the rhythm.
Typically sonnets are thought poems where problems are explored. In John Milton’s “How Soon Hath Time”, Milton explores problems such as life, aging, and expected achievements. There is an obvious autobiographical component to this sonnet; as such Milton is the ultimate speaker in the poem. In the first octet, Milton condemns aging and mourns over the passage of 23 years of his life. He portrays an atmosphere of frustration that aging is inevitable and that time is passing too quickly. In the same section the atmosphere or mood created by the speaker is fearful and disappointed. He is disappointed by his lack of achievements and that he hasn’t done as well as he had hoped by the age of 23. Milton is worried that time is passing too quickly. He believes that he has not been productive enough and has wasted a lot of time.
Milton has an extremely youthful appearance and distressed that the world does not accept his as an adult...
Cited: Abrams, M.H., Harpham, Geoffery. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 10th edition. Boston, Mass.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning., 2012. Print.
Milton, John. The Major Works. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.
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