"They Also Serve Who Only Stand And Wait"
Context: In this poem, probably written in 1655, Milton first questions the infirmity which has been visited upon him. His blindness, coming at a time when he was Latin Secretary for the Commonwealth, was both a personal and a political burden, inasmuch as his enemies used it to embarrass both Milton and the government he served. In the poem Milton asks whether God can expect much of him, sight being denied. He answers his "fond," or foolish, question by saying that the Deity does not need a man or his work; that God in His greatness is served by those who bear their burdens with patience. Milton is seeking the answer to a problem strikingly similar to that of Job, the good man beset by afflictions. At the end of the sonnet Milton states one answer to the problem of how to bear his blindness and reconcile it with his ambitions:
Thousands at his bidding speedAnd post o'er land and ocean without rest:They also serve who only stand and wait.