When I Consider How My Light is Spent (On His Blindness)
by John Milton
"Patience" is an important virtue in Christianity. It allows people to work toward other "theological" virtues like hope and faith. When the speaker begins to question whether God might be kind of a cruel figure for demanding work from people who can't perform it, patience steps in to correct him. The twist, of course, is that the speaker must already have patience in order for the personified figure called "patience" to come on the scene.
- Line 7: The speaker is about to ask a rhetorical question about God's justice before patience interrupts him.
- Line 8: The virtue of patience is personified as "patience," the amazing advice giver. In the second half of the poem, patience replies to the speaker's question.
- Line 11: The metaphor in the first half of this line compares God's rule over men to the wooden yoke that guides farm animals.
- Lines 12-13: These lines present an image of servants rushing all over the world, by land and by sea, to serve God. These "servants" are Christian soldiers, merchants, politicians, clergy, etc. Lines 11-14 form an extended metaphor comparing service to God with service to the most powerful king in the world.
- Line 14: The word "wait" is a pun. It means "wait" in the sense that the speaker will wait until the end of his life to meet his ultimate fate, and also in the sense that a person "waits" on a more powerful person simply by standing there until he is needed.