What is the tone of the poem "How Soon Hath Time" By Milton ?Also what type of words does Milton use-- e.g. unusual, striking etc ?  and are the sounds of the words soft, brilliant, harsh etc...

What is the tone of the poem "How Soon Hath Time" By Milton ?

Also what type of words does Milton use-- e.g. unusual, striking etc ?  and are the sounds of the words soft, brilliant, harsh etc ?

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on wtih 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 endu'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 Taskmaster's eye.

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dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In addition to the excellent answer above, in defining tone as the speaker's attitude toward the subject, I suggest the tone of Milton's "How Soon Hath Time," is one of reverence. 

In the octave, the speaker is reverent toward Time, toward what he wants to be or could be, and toward those who are showing more promise than he is.  The reverence here is tinted with impatience toward himself.

In the sestet, the speaker is reverent toward Time and Heaven, who have his fate in their hands.  Here the reverence is tinted with patience. 

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In John Milton's "How Soon Hath Time," the tone of the speaker in the octave seems somewhat chagrined.  The speaker regrets that he has lost his twenty-third year to the "thief" of Time.  In addition, he bemoans that he is not yet "blossomed" and has a "semblance" that belies his age; that is, he wishes that he were more manly in appearance. His youthfulness is spoken of with a regretfulness.

However, in the sestet, the speaker's tone changes as he becomes resigned to the will of the heavens and places his trust in the "great Taskmaster." In this sestet, the speakers word choice differs from the octave, as well.  For, more poetic words are used in the octave--e.g. the "Time, the subtle thief of youth,"--while words with religious overtones are employed in the sestet--"will of heaven," "the great Taskmaster."

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