Poem No 1

One of my goals this year is to memorize one poem per months, so that I’ll know twelve off by heart at the end of the year.

The only poem I currently know by heart is “On His Blindness” by John Milton. So, this is my January poem (I didn’t have time to learn a new one). I can otherwise only quote a few bits and pieces of a few other poems. I don’t know why this one stuck in my mind – maybe I learnt it because of the famous last line. I probably first read it in high school and I definitively remember analyzing it in college in a course on Milton.

The reason I want to learn a few more poems off by heart is that when I repeat poems to myself a lot, I get deeper insights. Just reading a poem is usually too fleeting an experience to get a deeper understanding. I’ve memorized other poems in the past but forgot them again. When I was a student, I used to have a somewhat boring factory job during some of my semester holidays and at that job I secretly used to learn poems off by heart. But, alas, I forgot them again. I’d really like a repertoire of memorized poetry just for fun, no special reason.

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
Lodg’d 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.”

Just a couple of notes: the title of the poem “On His Blindness” was only added after Milton’s death. “Fondly” in this context means “foolishly”.

2 thoughts on “Poem No 1

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