When I Consider How My Light is Spent (On His Blindness)
by John Milton
Vision, Light, and Darkness
This poem is sometimes called "On His Blindness," but the speaker might respond, "Blindness? What blindness? I'm not the one who's blind. It's the world that has run out of light." This argument is like saying that you aren't really running – it's the world that is rolling beneath you like a treadmill. As you can see, Milton uses complicated wordplay to describe why the speaker has a hard time serving God. His "blindness" is like a lamp that runs out of fuel, like the daylight that turns to night, and like a currency that hasn't been used to maximum effect.
- Line 1: Vision is not same thing as "light," although vision requires light. So, we can't just substitute one word for the other. Milton is using a metaphor to compare his vision to a light source that could run out, like an old-fashioned lamp that burns through its oil.
- Line 2: "Ere half my days" is a way of saying, "Before my life is through." But "days" also introduces the idea of daylight. The speaker's "days" are now more like nights. He uses another metaphor to compare his lack of vision to an imagined world that does not have light. The phrase "this dark world and wide" is also an example of alliteration.
- Line 7: The speaker compares God – again using metaphor – to a master who makes his servants work in darkness. He "denies" them light, which sounds heartless.