Thursday, November 27, 2008

On Our Helplessness

“On His Blindness”, by John Milton is a perennial entry in many poetry anthologies for high school students. It was never a favorite of mine because it seemed so grim and undistinguished. In our teens at the Ateneo, we planned to conquer the world.

30 years later, our ambitions slightly tempered by the passage of time, revisiting the poem written amid the progressive advance of blindness receives much more sympathy. Milton was resigned to dial down his dreams with the loss of a major faculty. Could he have foreseen (pun intended) that his greatest work (Paradise Lost) was yet to be written?

These are very uncertain times and save for a very few, there is an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. The former Speaker detailed how a great many of our lawmakers were bribed and this disclosure hardly caused a ripple. Was this because the additional confirmation of corruption no longer interested a people that considered this as common knowledge?

We are not losing our sight, we are losing our souls.

WHEN I consider how my light is spent
E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, least he returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.

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