On His Being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-Three

While time flies on, and I do not know what awaits me each day, hour, and moment, one thing is certain. My Lord will keep on holding me, molding me, and bringing me safely home in due time. What wondrous grace!

Some weeks ago, as I studied for the Humanities CLEP, I came across the following poem by John Milton. I saved it as a blog post draft until the opportune day arrived. 🙂

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 shew’th.
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.

Here is one explanation:

“Milton’s sonnet is a reflection about himself at the age of twenty-three. In it, he assesses himself in terms of his personal maturity, suggesting that he doesn’t appear to be as mature as others of his age, but that he may be more mature than he appears. Maturity here can be interpreted in terms of achievement and accomplishment, as well as in personal growth and understanding.

The sonnet ends by bringing in the idea of divine guidance, “the will of Heaven.” Milton writes in conclusion:

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

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

All that he is and all that he might become, he hopes, will be a fulfillment of God’s will.

Milton is thought to have written the sonnet shortly after graduating from Cambridge University, and the poem is very consistent with the thoughts of a young man who has completed the early phase of his life and is about to move into a wider world.”

And another

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