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When I Consider How My Light is Spent by John Milton


"When I Consider How My Light is Spent" is a poem by Milton that also known as Sonnet IXX (even though it is sometimes called Sonnet XVI due to Poems (1673)). It has been somewhat of a mystery as far as when it was written. However, most scholars today believe it was written in 1652. This poem talks about how he spends his time.

This sonnet was written in the rhyme scheme ABBAABBACDCDCE. This is considered as an Italian sonnet written in iambic-pentameter. However, the unrhymed last line is a bit odd. Obvoiusly, Milton does this to catch the reader off guard and bring attention to the final words.


When I Consider How My Light is Spent

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask; But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

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Literary Movement
17th Century


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