In many ways this line is a foreshadowing of events to come as within a year on May, 1652 Milton lost his wife Mary in childbirth and also lost his son, John a few months later in June (Jokinen). The darkness that Milton alludes to in the second line refers to not only the loss of his sight but also of world events which occurred around. At this point in history England was in the midst of a bloody civil war, Milton speaks of how death’s greatest talent is knowing how to hide or to sneak up on a person unsuspectingly (Milton).
The death of those around him and the loss of his sight were both such unexpected events that left him feeling like he had no life left. Given his puritanical beliefs, Milton’s loss of purpose in life actually drives him to seek out God so that he may find solace in his service (Milton).
Milton asks many of the same questions which he will explore more thoroughly in his groundbreaking paradise lost. He speaks of judgment from God for his actions and the need to be found worthy. He asks how he can serve God without the tools necessary to do his daily tasks referring again to his sight. These tools in when taken in light of world events may also be alluded to. Given Milton feels powerless to help those around him it can be understood that he turns to God to ask how he can truly serve him (Milton).
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