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On His Late Wife by John Milton


"On His Late Wife" is a poem written by John Milton. This poem is also known as "Sonnet XXIII". It was written upon the death of Milton's second wife, Katherine. She was the daughter of Captain Woodcock of Hackney. She died less than four months after giving birth to a daughter, who also died.

"On His Late Wife" is written as a single stanza, but the indentions make it more like four. The stanza's rhyme scheme is ABBAABBACDCDCD which is a typical Italian sonnet style. It's also written in iambic-pentameter.


On His Late Wife

Methought I saw my late espous├Ęd saint
  Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
  Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
  Rescued from death by force though pale and faint.
Mine as whom washed from spot of childbed taint,
  Purification in the old law did save,
  And such, as yet once more I trust to have
  Full sight of her in heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
  Her face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight,
  Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shined
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
  But O as to embrace me she inclined
  I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night.

Written in 1656.

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Literary Movement
17th Century

Sonnet, Death

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