Milton On His BlindnessRespond Sheet

Part 1

Use the Read page and Site 2 to record a definition of the following terms in your own words:

End Rhyme
Rhyme Scheme

A rhyme scheme is described by assigning letters of the alphabet to the rhyming words at the ends of lines. To mark a rhyme scheme for a sonnet, assign the first line an "A." Assign each new rhyme a successive letter of the alphabet.

In the following example, randomly chosen words represent the rhyme scheme of an Italian sonnet. Complete the labeling of the rhyme scheme.

  1. sun = A
  2. soar = B
  3. four = B
  4. run = A
  5. fun =
  6. more =
  7. core =
  8. done =
  9. meet = C
  10. play = D
  11. greet =
  12. clay =
  13. feet =
  14. lay =

Part 2

1. Using Milton's sonnet "On His Blindness" and the Read page, record in the blanks the sonnet's rhyme scheme. Then draw a vertical line indicating the break between the octave and the sestet.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

2. Where is the volta? What word marks the volta?

Part 3

On your own paper, answer the questions below in complete sentences.

  1. Examine lines 1-4. What is the "one Talent" the narrator is hiding? From the narrator's perspective, why is the talent useless?
  2. Examine the pairs of rhyming lines throughout the poem. What meanings and paradoxes are suggested by the rhyming pairs? (A paradox is a statement that seems to contradict itself but is actually true.)
  3. How does the parable about the talents relate to the narrator's conflict presented in the rhyming couplet, lines 2-3?
  4. Examine lines 4-5. Describe the mood of the narrator. What has created the narrator's mood?
  5. Based on the parable, explain the uncertainty the narrator expresses in the rhyming couplet, lines 6-7. What is the narrator asking in line 7?
  6. How does Milton use the volta in his sonnet? Who answers the narrator's concerns? How is the tension that is established in the octave relieved in the sestet?
  7. Examine lines 9 and 12. How does the rhyme emphasize the conclusion in the sestet? According to the narrator's resolution, what does God need?
  8. The last line of the sonnet, "They also serve who only stand and wait," is a paradox. What is its paradoxical meaning?
  9. How does the message of Milton's sonnet differ from the parable of the Talents? Why do you think Milton chose to allude to this biblical story?
  10. How do the rhymes in the sonnet emphasize and support the content of the sonnet?

Part 4

For homework, write a short essay that answers the Focus Question: How is Milton's "On His Blindness" affected by its rhyme scheme? Use the information you collected in Part 3 to develop this interpretation. In this essay use the following terms correctly: sonnet, rhyme scheme, octave, sestet, problem, volta, solution.