James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

December 9

Milton’s Sonnets

By John Milton (1608–1674)

(Born Dec. 9. 1608)

On His Being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-three

HOW soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,

Stolen on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!

My hasting days fly on with full career,

But my late spring no bud or blossom showeth.

Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,

That I to manhood am arrived so near;

And inward ripeness doth much less appear

That some more timely-happy spirits indu’th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,

It shall be still in strictest measure even

To that same lot, however mean or high,

Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven:

All is, if I have grace to use it so,

As ever in my great Task-master’s eye.

On His Blindness

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-labor, 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.”