Methought I Saw my Late Espoused Saint (Sonnet 23)
by John Milton
Methought I Saw my Late Espoused Saint (Sonnet 23) Theme of Versions of Reality
Our speaker thinks he saw his deceased wife, but he isn't exactly sure. Also, he's blind. So we're not exactly on firm ground in "Methought I Saw my Late Espoused Saint" when it comes to figuring out if this woman is a figment of his imagination, a dream, a ghost, or who knows what? At the end of the poem, the speaker tells us that he "wak't," giving us our first indication that what we thought was a vision or a spirit visiting may actually have been a dream. Maybe the "Late Espoused Saint" is no saint after all, but just a passing dream.
Questions About Versions of Reality
- What does the speaker actually describe in "Methought I Saw…"? An imaginative vision? A spiritual visitation? A dream? How can you tell?
- Who or what does the speaker "see"? What does that tell us about this speaker?
- How is the reality to which the speaker wakes at the end different from the one in the rest of the poem?
- How is the speaker's reality different from that of other people?
Chew on This
Using a series of similes to describe his vision tells us that this woman not actually the speaker's deceased wife, but something like her.
"Day brought back my night" draws a contrast between the speaker's dream reality and his current one, and he's not a fan of waking life.