What was Milton's crisis in "On His Blindness"?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"On His Blindness" by John Milton is written in the form of an Italian sonnet. It is an autobiographical poem written in the first person. It was written after Milton, a deeply religious writer, goes blind. 

The sonnet consists of two parts: an octave in which Milton laments his blindness, and a sestet in which he becomes reconciled to the blindness because he realizes God has willed it for a purpose.

The main crisis Milton experiences in the poem is not so much the blindness itself but the way the blindness interferes with his ability to write. He feels that his writing is doing God's work and his crisis derives from feeling that his blindness is a manifestation of God's rejection of him. He resolves this crisis by realizing God does not need or value us according to human standards, but rather according to our faith and obedience, as is conveyed in the lines:

God doth not need

Either man's work or his own gifts, who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.