A brief analysis of John Milton’s “On His Blindness”
In John Milton’s sonnet “When I Consider How My Light is Spent,” Milton uses many long lines that wash over, each onto the next. The length of his lines and the amount of enjambment he used was unusual for poets in the seventeenth century It takes seven and a half lines to contain the first sentence of his sonnet and several of the lines contain no end punctuation or separator. The speaker is the poet himself, who has recently become blind, asking God how he can serve Him when his talents for writing and public service are rendered so difficult by his blindness.
In the sonnet, God answers that there are many ways of serving, and patience and forbearance are the most valued. Milton’s line “…Thousands at his bidding speed/And post o’er land and ocean without rest” is a fast line because of the enjambment, fitting because the words are meant to convey speed. By contrast, Milton ends the second-to-last line with a semi-colon to give power and emphasis to the last line of the sonnet, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”