Looking through an old book of religious/inspirational poetry, I
came across this beautiful, uplifting poem Milton’s Prayer of Patience
by Elizabeth Lloyd Howell, an American poet and friend of John
Greenleaf Whittier. I haven’t been able to find anything else written
John Milton, best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost published in
1667, was born December 9, 1608 in London. Due to the onset of
blindness, in 1654 he began to dictate his verse and prose to his
daughter Deborah. He died November 8, 1674.
I am old and blind!
Men point at me as smitten by God's frown:
Afflicted and deserted of my kind,
Yet am I not cast down.
I am weak, yet strong;
I murmur not that I no longer see;
Poor, old, and helpless, I the more belong,
Father Supreme, to Thee!
When men are furthest, then art Thou most near;
When friends pass by, my weaknesses to shun,
Thy chariot I hear.
Thy glorious face
Is leaning toward me; and its holy light
Shines in upon my lonely dwelling-place, —
And there is no more night.
On my bended knee
I recognize Thy purpose clearly shown:
My vision Thou hast dimmed, that I may see
Thyself, Thyself alone.
I have naught to fear;
This darkness is the shadow of Thy wing;
Beneath it I am almost sacred; here
Can come no evil thing.
Oh, I seem to stand
Trembling, where foot of mortal ne'er hath been,
Wrapped in that radiance from the sinless land,
Which eye hath never seen!
Visions come and go:
Shapes of resplendent beauty around me throng;
From angel lips I seem to hear the flow
Of soft and holy song.
It is nothing now,
When heaven is opening on my sightless eyes,
When airs from Paradise refresh my brow,
That earth in darkness lies.
In a purer clime
My being fills with rapture,—waves of thought
Roll in upon my spirit,—strains sublime
Break over me unsought.
Give me now my lyre!
I feel the stirrings of a gift divine:
Within my bosom glows unearthly fire
Lit by no skill of mine.
In 1928 Helen Keller founded The John Milton Society for the Blind,
an interdenominational ministry to bring spiritual guidance and
religious literature to deaf and blind persons.
See our Poetry Section: