For a short, 14-line sonnet, this poem is pretty hard. That's Milton for you. Few poets display so much religious and literary knowledge as Mr. Milton, and this poem is no exception. Most people today don't memorize the Gospels like they did back in 17th-century England, but if you don't know the "Parable of the Talents" from Matthew 25, you miss a lot of the context for the poem's symbolism. It would be like reading a poem about "The Rumble in the Jungle" if you had never heard of the legendary boxers Mohammed Ali and George Foreman. Also, there are a lot of double-entendres in this sonnet, and some words like "fondly" have unexpected meanings. In short, this is a poem where Shmoop makes an excellent Sherpa to take you to the top of the mountain. The view is unquestionably worth it.