A Prose Analysis on Milton's "Sonnet XIX"
John Milton, a poet who was completely blind in 1651 wrote "Sonnet XIX" in 1652; this sonnet is his response to his loss of sight. The theme of the sonnet is the loss and regain of primacy of experience. Milton offers his philosophical view on animism and God. Furthermore, "Sonnet XIX" explores Milton's faith and relationship with God. "Sonnet XIX" suggests that man was created to work and not rest. The supportive details, structure, form, and richness of context embodies the theme. The sonnet goes through two phases: the first phase is Milton's question addressed to God, "Why me?" he asked. Then, the second phase offers a resolution to Milton's dilemma. Moreover, the sonnet acts as a self-poem to Milton, himself.
In the beginning of the sonnet, Milton suggests that his primacy of experience have been deferred when he became blind. The words, "dark", "death", and "useless" (lines 2-4) describe the emotional state of Milton. His blindness created a shrouded clarity within his mind. Line three, "And that one talent which is death to hide" is an allusion to the biblical context of the bible. Line three refers to the story of Matthew XXV, 14-30 where a servant of the lord buried his single talent instead of investing it. At the lord's return, he cast the servant into the "outer darkness" and deprived all he had. Hence, Milton devoted his life in writing; however, his blindness raped his God's gift away. A tremendous cloud casted over him and darkened his reality of life and the world. Like the servant, Milton was flung into the darkness.
Line seven, "Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?" describes the limitations and burdens of a person who has lost his sense of place in life. Obviously, Milton is making a reference to his blindness in relation to line seven. Line seven implies that once the usefulness of a man has diminished, then is man doomed to wasting the rest of his remaining days. In...
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