Here is the answer and explanation to the question Why is the poet bitter in opening lines of the poem “On His Blindness”?
Why is the poet bitter in opening lines of the poem “On His Blindness”?
The speaker, presumably Milton speaking as himself, desperately wants to use his talents to serve God. It is worth noting that Talents is capitalized, drawing visual attention to its significance. This is an allusion to the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25. In this parable, a man entrusts 3 of his servants with his money (called talents in Matthew) before leaving town for a while. Two of the three servants hide their talents/money, and the master is angry with them when he returns because they had the ability to use this money and make even more.
Thus, the speaker of this poem feels that he has also been granted gifts by God, and he desires to use those for God’s purposes. He is angry that he now faces blindness (though never directly stated, this is represented by how his “light is spent” and that he lives in a “dark world”) and is therefore unable to use the talents that God gave him. He says his soul is “bent” to serve his “Maker,” and he wonders if God insists that he “exact[s] day-labour, light denied.” Ultimately, he questions whether he is serving God as God most desires the speaker to do so and whether he is fulfilling God’s purpose in his life. These are weighty questions for anyone, let alone a writer struggling to face his own blindness. He is therefore left feeling a bit bitter until “patience” reveals a greater truth to him in the middle of the poem.
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