Context: John Milton is one of the best English poets that history has ever seen. He writes this sonnet on his 23rd birthday, and speaks about his disappointment with himself, his stature, ad failure in life. This sonnet was introspection about his age and how meaningless his life has become. He says that his age is just a number that is being added, but his inner maturity is not visible to anyone. His age is meaningless, and is just a process of ageing, where his youth is fading slowly. Milton is a very religious person, as he says that though he is not able to find the meaning of his life, he believes in God, and he believes that He have planned his life. God would Show His grace, and with time would lead him to the gates of heaven.
Rhyme Scheme and Structure: The rhyme scheme of the poem, “How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth” is “a, b, b, a, b, b, a, c, d, e, d, c, e”. This kind of order is seen only in Petrarchan sonnets, where four lines follow a set of rhyme scheme, and the next four would follow another one. In the poem, you would observe some punctuation marks after the fourth and the eight lines. For example:
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
That I to manhood am arriv’d so near;
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits endu’th.
This helps to divide the poem into quatrains. In the last section of the poem, however there is a colon, which helps to conclude the entire poem and its theme, and the sestet. If we look upon the meter of the poem, it is quite regular throughout the poem, and a smooth rhythm is followed in the entire poem. The entire poem has a beautiful flow to it, and has beautifully chosen words in it.
Theme: The theme of this poem is how time adds to your age, and makes you old, which is an inevitable thing in life. This also means how death is something we are slowly moving towards with each spending moment. Hence, the poet sees no use of doing anything regarding his career that he is doing right now. He knows that one day, this life would end, and there would be no more of him. He has written this poem in his 23rd birthday, and calls time a “thief” for stealing his youth away.
He is although not happy with his age and his appearance, and says that his inner maturity has not yet visible, and he does not look like his age at all. His physical development is quite lagging, and he is unhappy about it.
Being a religious person, Milton counts on the grace of God in his life, and speaks that let it be less or more, he would for receive the blessings of Good in his life. He believes that God has already planned everything in his life, and hence, everything that happens in his life is decision of the “Task-Master”. He says that His grace would eventually lead him to the doors of heaven.
Deeper Meaning: John Milton ponders about the meaning of life, and the inevitable end to it, which is death. He calls time a thief, as it takes his youth away, and though he has turned 23, he does not know the meaning of his life. He is disappointed with his appearance, which lags behind his age, and does not show his inner maturity. He says that he has faith on God, and that God has everything planned for him already, and he counts on His blessings, which would one day take him to the doors of Heaven. Hope you have enjoyed reading How Soon Hath Time Analysis by John Milton. Read more:- How Soon Hath Time Summary and Meaning by John Milton
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