What is the attitude of the speaker in Milton's poem "On His Blindness"?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Milton's poem "On His Blindness" is an autobiographical poem written in the first person, responding to Milton's having lost his sight in middle age. It is written in the form of an Italian sonnet. The speaker displays one attitude in the octave and a different attitude in the sestet.

In the octave, Milton expresses frustration with his blindness, because it prevents him from serving God through his writing. He does not understand why God would take away the sight that has enabled Milton to write poems such as Paradise Lost which "justify the ways of God to men." 

The sestet resolves this agonizing sense of loss with a more profound understanding of God. Milton realizes that God can work in multiple ways through innumerable servants, and thus that it is arrogant to assume that God somehow relies on Milton uniquely to do his work. Instead, there are multiple ways of serving God, and if it is God's will that Milton is blind, then God will only demand of Milton such service as can be accomplished by a blind person. This reconciles Milton to his blindness.