Sonnet Vii, On His Having Arrived At The Age Of Twenty-three Quotes

John Milton

"My Great Taskmaster's Eye"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Milton, having attained the age of twenty-three, takes stock of himself. His physical appearance might indicate that the poet is younger than Time would admit, nor does he have any accomplishments of which to be proud at this stage in his life, his late youth. In the closing sestet of the sonnet, Milton resolves the problem by stating that the pattern of his life is in the hand of God; hence, his development and his accomplishments rest with the will of God, and he but asks the grace to fulfill the behests of his "Taskmaster." The entire sonnet appears:

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom show'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.