Grade 11, I think, we had to memorize Sonnet 19 – When I Consider How My Light is Spent which is Milton’s poem about going blind. I was 17 and impatient when I asked what the purpose of memorizing poetry was. It’s an interesting party trick and I have made much of being able to recite “the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace“. You should try it sometime. If you say it with exactly the right archness in your voice, you sound much more intelligent than you are.
Beyond that? Well, I suppose Wordsworth gave me an appreciation of daffodils, spring days, blue skies and Shakespeare and his Mistress taught me to roll around in the ironic delight that is a snarky sonnet. Browning gave me the currency of social outrage and justice and Thomas gave me word and sentiment to throw in the face in death.
More than half a lifetime later, Milton is teaching me about waiting, about what happens when you have to look long into an uncertain future.
When I consider how my light is spent,
ere half my days in this dark world and wide
I recited the whole damn poem in the shower the morning I told the kids. I thought of it as I argued with the minion. He thought I didn’t want to tell them because I didn’t want the younglings to see me cry. It wasn’t the crying. It was never the crying.
It was the pride.
It’s always been the pride.
Travis has decided to put together a team for the MS Walk here in Edmonton. It was a concrete and tangible way for him to say that he loves me, I think. It was a way to do something when there is really nothing to do. It was kindness and grace and compassion and I am, as always, filled with pride and and love and delight at these younglings. I saw the email that was sent to me, and I saw the rest of the younglings and the minion in the to line of the email, and I realized that I am blessed beyond measure.
Milton goes through a long process in only 14 lines. Perhaps when you are a poet you see further when you are blind. Perhaps he was wiser. Oh, hell, perhaps they were just smarter in 1600.
Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Miltons gets to the end of pride.
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best.
I have spent my life being the sort of person who goes further and does more and is always the one that helps others. Always.
And right now, others are helping me. That’s the pride, right there. That’s the whole of it. I feel like I should be doing things, just as I always have. I’m supposed to be organizing the walk as a way to help someone else.
Except – this time I need the help. So, this time I try on the other part of being a lady, being an adult. Graciously accepting the help of those who care for me. Learning what Milton learned.
They also serve who only stand and wait
If you are interested – the donation link is here. We are team spitter. Send me a message if you want to walk up and we’ll arrange to meet.