John Milton

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Sonnet 16 (On His Blindness )

Milton, John

Last Updated: Sep-08-2006
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Sonnet


In this sonnet, the speaker meditates on the fact that he has become blind (Milton himself was blind when he wrote this). He expresses his frustration at being prevented by his disability from serving God as well as he desires to. He is answered by "Patience," who tells him that God has many who hurry to do his bidding, and does not really need man’s work. Rather, what is valued is the ability to bear God’s "mild yoke," to tolerate whatever God asks faithfully and without complaint. As the famous last line sums it up, "They also serve who only stand and wait."

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