Critical Appreciation of "On his Blindness"

Critical Appreciation

On His Blindness is one of the best of the few sonnets that Milton wrote. The theme of the sonnet is Milton's concern over his blindness. He is worried that he has become blind before half of his lifetime is passed. His poetic talent has become useless, though his soul is more bent to serve his Maker (God) with that talent. He fears that if he does not serve Him, He may chide him. But whenever he ponders on such question his spirit of patience asks  if God demands service from a blind man. and it answers its own question immediately. It says that God does not need either His Own gifts, or man's service. God's state is kingly. Thousands of angels speed over land and ocean without rest at His bidding. As regards mankind, his spirit of patience says, they also serve who stand and wait.
     This sonnet is an expression of a personal problem, and its solution. For such an expression this medium he found most appropriate as a form. In his writing of sonnet he chose the Italian or Petrarchan form, though some of the English poets before him wrote in the Shakespearean or English type. But yet he did not blindly follow the Italian model. In the Italian form of sonnet there is a clear division between the octave and the sestet, with a fixed rhyme scheme for the octave, and another for the sestet. But in Milton, we find that the division between the octave and the sestet is not clear-cut. The syntax tends to overflow the division between the octave and the sester. For example, in the following lines:
       .. Doth God exact day-labour, light denied,
        I fondly ask; but patience to prevent
         That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need''
    The octave ends with the word  “prevent”, but the syntax of the sentence is not completed. The sentence flows on into the sestet. In an ltalian sonnet the octave would stop with the end of its eighth line.
         As regards the meter, he has followed the traditional iambic pentameter of the Italian sonnet form. Of course. There are a good many variations. For example,
                   And that/one tal/ ent which/ is death/ to hide
                   Lodg'd with/me use/less though/ my soul/more bent.
         I lere in the first line, we observe regular iambic pentameter, but in the second line the first foot is a trochee. In this way, there are some other variations in the meter used.
      The rhetorical devices used in this sonnet are remarkable. He has personified the moral quality_  patience, which asks him question, and answers the question immediately. The metaphor of God's state being like a king's state is very effective;   it brings before the reader's eyes a picture of how God's state is run. The poet has used some words with strong emphasis, and so they are very effective in the context of the poem. Words and phrases like “ dark world and wide”, “death to hide”, ”chide”, ”post over”, ”stand and wait” make his expression stronger than otherwise it could have been.
        The sonnet is a successful one indeed. Milton has exhibited his poetic power within a short space of this sonnet.

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