Passing Time, The Thief Of Life In John Milton’s “How Soon Hath Time”

1120 words - 4 pages

John Milton’s “How Soon Hath Time” is a poem that distinguishes between different meanings of time, both literally and in relation to God. Milton explores the significance of time from the perspective of himself, as a poet. He alludes to Calvinism, a doctrine shared with many others during the time period, in his acceptance of time as a way to step closer spiritually to God as he ages. Additionally, the text suggests that patience is a virtue that will heal Milton’s poetic powers through God. Outside of the direct text, the rhyme scheme and capitalization, as part of the structure of the poem also highlights time’s benefits. In “How Soon Hath Time”, John Milton makes use of double meaning in symbolism and the structure of the Petrarchan sonnet to illustrate that the passage of time is something to be accepted.
Milton uses multiple objects or ideas to symbolize time in the hopes of illuminating that time passing is something one should accept, especially for the advancement of careers. For example, Milton uses a bird to represent time in the following lines, “Stol’n on his wing my three and twentieth year! / My hasting days fly on with full career” (Milton, 2-3). Milton portrays the bird as robbing, just like time is robbing the speaker’s life. However, the word “career” has a double meaning. It could be defined as a profession or speed. Time is taking away the speaker’s life quickly, but is also taking his career as a poet, into motion. Although the speaker seems to express pessimism, through words like “thief” or “Stol’n”, in the first few lines, he later admits that progressing through a period of time is necessary for the “Taskmaster”, or God, to allow him to become a better poet. Thus, Milton’s comparison of time to a bird suggests a foreshadowing of the speaker’s acceptance of a passage of time, rather than immediacy, because it facilitates the growth of his career as a poet. The poet also uses natural symbols to describe the state of the speaker, such as spring, “But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th / Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth” (Milton, 4-5). This symbolism also presents a double meaning. For one, this line could be a physical description of the speaker. While he may be twenty-three years of age, he may still appear younger as his facial hair, or “bud” has not initialized its growth, or “blossomed”. However, the four seasons could also be used symbols for stages of one’s career. In the spring, trees would have developed leaves and flowers would have blossomed. Likewise, it is hoped that a person of an occupation would have achieved maturity and respect in his field by a certain time. The text suggests that the speaker has not yet displayed prestige in his poetry. Yet, the speaker addresses, later in the poem, that no matter how fast or to what extent his growth as a poet occurs, God will give him the grace to become a better poet. As a consequence, a double meaning in “my late spring” and “career” complements a...

Find Another Essay On Passing Time, the Thief of Life in John Milton’s “How Soon Hath Time”

The Problem of Understanding and Its Possible Solutions in "Our Time" by John Edgar Wideman and "Indians" by Jane Tompkins.

895 words - 4 pages Both Jane Tompkins and John Edgar Wideman devote some of their paper to pointing out the difficulties they face when writing their essays, "Indians" and "Our Time" respectively. The two authors are trying to reach and give an account of the actual situation and circumstances of the subject of their writing, but in the process of creating their essays realize that this is something they would hardly achieve."Our time" was created to tell the

Comparison between Thornton Wilder's 'Our Town' and John Osborne's 'Look Back in Anger.' Discuss how the characters 'spend and waste time as though they had a million years.'

1025 words - 4 pages fashion which typifies the townspeople's reaction to the social ills of the town. Wilder has represented these ills in the character of Simon Stimson. When Mrs. Gibbs tells Dr Gibbs about Stimson's drunkenness, he replies with "I don't know how that'll end; but there's nothing we can do now but just leave it alone." (Wilder: pp45-46) This attitude is common to the rest of the characters - they spend a great deal of time gossiping about Stimson's

President John F. Kennedy and the sickness and pain he endured during his time in office.

2815 words - 11 pages life threatening. At the time, there were three other children in the family, Joseph Jr., Rosemary, and Kathleen. Rose and Joseph Kennedy were extremely concerned about the children being infected as well as not knowing if young John would survive. John, who was also known as Jack, survived what turned out to be three month ordeal. By 1925, three more children had been born. The addition of Eunice, Patricia, and Robert made it hard for one

A Critical Evaluation Of The Representation Of Crime And The Agencies That Deal With It In John Grisham’s “A Time To Kill”

4313 words - 17 pages obvious offences and permeates all levels of society and ethnic groups. Even the agencies that deal with law and order are represented as being fallible and susceptible to unethical and illegal behaviour. But, it must be remembered that Grisham's work is fictional. Nowhere does he claim to represent accurately real life, although some pale reflection of reality will always exist in his books.References John Grisham, A Time To Kill (1989), Arrow Books

"Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck, one of the greatest American books of our time, explained and dissected.

1447 words - 6 pages the farmers that the only way to survive the sudden changes is to understand the difference between the causes and results of their hopeless situation (Fontenrose 3). By comparing and using allusions to past events Steinbeck is enriching the story and giving the story a foundation to show the struggles of the Okies during the time of the depression.Motifs set the tone for Grapes of Wrath, that help show how the migrants were treated in and on

"The Migrant Workers of the Dirty Thirties", compares "Of Mice and Men" and "The Grapes of Wrath" both by John Steinbeck, with true migrant workers of that time.

1396 words - 6 pages The "Dirty Thirties" brought much struggle to the people of North America. With the stock market crash of 1929 and the droughts and dust storms that dominated the next ten years, life in the Great Plains region of the United States was miserable. Many families packed up as many belongings as they could manage and began their journey to find work. Some families went towards California and the West and others went towards the East. John Steinbeck

Comparison of James Baldwin's essay "Notes of a Native Son" and John Wideman's collection of Homewood stories "Our Time."

959 words - 4 pages In James Baldwin's essay "Notes of a Native Son", Baldwin's father contracted a disease and passed away. Similarly in John Wideman's collection of Homewood stories "Our Time." Wideman's brother Robby had a friend die of a terminal disease. The death of this close relation led both James Baldwin and Roby Wideman into a spiral of remorse and frustration. "The moment I saw him I knew why I had put off the visit so long....I hated him....and

LIfe In Medival Time

672 words - 3 pages Life In The Medieval Time During the medieval times, there were many different classifications of people.Many of the people who were peasants also called serfs usually belonged to the lower class. The middle class were usually composed of tradesmans or craftsmans. They had a little more freedom than the lower class but they still followed strict laws and regulations set by the king. High class consisted of kings and queens, and rich villagers

Essay on Myth of the Fortunate Fall in John Milton’s Paradise Lost

3787 words - 15 pages ). But on the other hand, how much sooner would all this good have come, if God had not had to deal with the constant struggle against sin, which ever fights the works of goodness? God, outside of time, "shall be all in all" sooner or later, and cannot be hurt by man's folly, but mankind after the Fall must suffer until the very end of history.   In this sense the Fall and its consequences are, for the righteous, primarily a temporal blip

Treatise for the Christian Soldier in John Milton’s Paradise Lost

3875 words - 16 pages Milton's Treatise for the Christian Soldier in Paradise Lost            While the War in Heaven, presented in Book VI of John Milton's Paradise Lost, operates as a refutation of the concept of glory associated with the epic tradition, the episode also serves a major theological purpose. It provides nothing less than a perfect example of how the Christian soldier should act obediently in combating evil, guarding against temptation, and

The American Dream Depicted in the Play "The Time of Your Life"

1178 words - 5 pages I attended a production of the play entitled The Time of Your life. The play takes place in a San Francisco bar during the year 1939. It studies the personal struggles that are faced by many Americans during this particular time period, and even now. In this critique, I will be focusing on four of the main characters. I will examine the type of character being portrayed, what that character most wants in the play, their most important scene in

Similar Essays

The Electoral College: Passing The Test Of Time

1456 words - 6 pages . The United States of America defines itself as a Republic. An elected leader and elected officials govern the country, whereas in a democracy, the power resides entirely in the people. Aindru Collgan from the Huffington Post reports, “it is time that we put an end to this misconception about democracy. America is a republic”. The U.S. is often portrayed as a democracy, where the people have the power, when it is in fact, a republic. The foundation

Losing Time In Life: The Swimmer By John Cheever

1579 words - 6 pages Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, once declared “Lost time is never found again.” This quote ties to the meaning of how people frequently let time seep through their hands. John Cheever’s "The Swimmer" portrays this through the eyes of suburban man Neddy. Neddy is the average ‘Joe’ of most suburban households. Life in suburbia is repetitive in most scenarios, and humans can easily get lost in the monotonous adventure known aslife. Time leaks

Time, Life, And God In John Milton's Poetry

1525 words - 6 pages Time, Life, and God in John Milton's Poetry John Milton's poems, "How Soon Hath Time" and "When I Consider How My Light Is Spent" both focus on life and how the time we are given is or should be spent. Milton uses the word "How" in both the titles and I cant help but wonder "Is there something to examine there?" How by itself is a question of is it possible, and if so then what needs to be done to make it possible. It, in this case is time

Choose Two Poems That Reflect The Passing Of Time. How Do The Poets Convey Their Impressions? ("Rising Five" And "The Great Lover")

1104 words - 4 pages something else. For example: the boy thinks he is five yet he is only four.The sense of mankind needing to 'seize the day' is also shown in 'The Great Lover'. Brooke emphasises how everything is lost once you die so you must appreciate all aspects of life while you still have the opportunity. Brooke uses ellipsis three times throughout the poem to convey a sense of time passing. All three times it is used at the end of the stanza. Another impact