Milton returned to England about 1641 when the political and religious affairs were very disturbing to many. He started to apply his work in practice for that one great work like Paradise Lost when penning the Sonnets. Not every sonnet is identical but they can be difficult in interpretation, styles, word use, and so forth. The purpose of this paper is to analyze Milton’s Sonnet 8 (ca 1642), “Captain or Colonel.” This will be done by explaining the type of theme and then separating the sonnet into three sections: lines 1-4, 5-8, and 9-14 for a better understanding of how Milton used the development of ongoing events to present problems with a mystical resolution.
John Milton studied and traveled abroad, mainly in Italy, prior to returning home. In his earlier sonnets, with the exception of a few, he used a Petrarchan Theme which is primarily dominate in many Italian sonnets. It is very prevalent in Sonnet 8 where as it may not be in other poetic verses like Sonnet 7. Sonnet 8 seems to be somewhat melodic as if it were a musical type chant. It sticks strictly to the pattern of 14 lines where a problem exists on the first eight lines and the resolution is on the last 6 lines. It is not an iambic pentameter where there are at least five iambs per metrical line but iambs do exist in the poem like “Muses” or “requite.”
He did, though, follow a standard pattern in verses 1 through 8. This was done by rhyming the first and last word of verse 1 and 4; he rhymed the words arms and harms. Verse 5 and 8 rhymed the words charms and warms. Verse 2 and 3 rhymed the words sease and please whereas these and seas rhymed in verses 6 and 7. This follows the pattern abba and abba. In verses 9 through 14 a different pattern was used a as resolution. This follows the pattern of ababab. This particular style sets up the poem to a melodic beat that could be sung in a type of marching chant.
At first in reading the verses 1 through 4, any person might think that a group of soldiers are on a foreign shore. They are very much out of sorts and on the defensive. It seems as if the writer is praying for their protection. This sounds plausible but that is just not the case.
The first English Civil war was 1642-45. [Sonnet VIII] “…may be assigned to the end of 1642, for Charles threatened London only on October 12 and November 12 of that year.” This was where Charles I decided to raise his standard and declare war on Parliament: the “Roundheads” are the parliamentarians and the “Cavaliers” are the royalist-monarch. The traditional military in England during this time were draftees. They were men who spent most of their lives in other professions but were regionalized as a local militia. Oliver Cromwell (a Puritan) was in the service of the parliamentarian forces. What Milton is doing in the beginning with this Sonnet is giving reference to current crisis in England. He is “…making the poem a record of the fears of a Parliamentarian poet in the face of Royalist...