An Explication of John Milton's Poem: How Soon Hath Time

Categories: John Milton

The sonnet “How Soon Hath Time” was written by a world renounce English poet named John Milton. John Milton was born in England, he started writing poems and sonnets at Cambridge were he went to college. John Milton is a religious individual. He is famous for the poetry “Paradise Lost”. John Milton also wrote “How Soon Hath time” in which has an autobiography touch on the sonnet.

Having to learn to write like Petrarch, The poem “How Soon Hath Time” is by John Milton is written in the Petrarchan form with an iambic pentameter.

It means that the poem has 14 lines and the poem has an octave and a sestet. The first part being an octave and the second part is the sestet. The octave part of the poem has a rhyming scheme of “a,b,b,a,a,b,b,a” while the sestet portion of the poem has a rhyming scheme of “c,d,e,d,c,e”. The octave states the problem of the author and the sestet gives the answer for the dilemma.

Get quality help now
Doctor Jennifer
Verified writer

Proficient in: John Milton

5 (893)

“ Thank you so much for accepting my assignment the night before it was due. I look forward to working with you moving forward ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The sestet is the turning point of a two part Petrarch poem. Every four lines makes up for a stanza and it makes up for one sentence. Every four line stanza is ended with a period for the punctuation mark. The punctuation mark in the form of a period is used to divide the poem and to divide the octave in two sections. The sonnet has a clear and basic rhythm meaning that the meter of the poem is basic.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Check writers' offers

You won’t be charged yet!

Each line ends with a rhyming word that associate with the rhyming pattern. Line 2 “year (pg.440)” is rhymed with “career (pg.440)” in line 3. In some lines, Milton shortens the word for it to rhyme but all lines contain five beats. Words like “show’th” and “indu’th” is shortening in order for it to rhyme with “youth” and “truth”.

Most of the time, sonnets are type of poems that explore problems. For John Milton’s sonnet, the dilemmas are aging, goals and life itself. In the first octet, John Milton talks about aging and the author is sadden about the past twenty three years of his life, “stolen on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!”(Line 2 pg.440) the exclamation point express excitement meaning that he just celebrate an event. This poem clear has autobiographical features about the author. The mood John Milton is showing are frustration and disappointment. “how soon hath time, the subtle thief of youth”(line 1 pg.440). Milton is frustrated because time and aging is fixed and can’t be stop. Milton is also disappointed because throughout his life, John Milton hasn’t achieved his goals and hasn’t done a lot. “But my late spring no bud or blossom show’th” (line 4 pg.440). Line four means that he hasn’t been successful throughout is twenty three years. John Milton is worried about time is passing way too fast. John Milton thinks that he hasn’t been achieving goals that he set in his life and he thinks that he wasted time.

John Milton in the age of twenty four has a deceiving physical appearance. John Milton considers himself as mature as a man but the world does not approve him to being a man because of his child like appearance. The line “And inward ripeness doth much less appear”(Line 7 pg.440), states that he is mature in the inside but the outside feature is still fresh and young as a child. In the following line, the line “that some more timely-happy spirits indu’th.”(Line 8 pg.440), portrays John Milton’s jealousy. John Milton is jealous about the physical maturity of other individual has. The word “indu’th” stands for endowed, is shorten of poem structure purposes. The word “indu’th” refers to God.

After the first eight lines, the mood of grief, disappointment and sadness are overturned. The author’s mood suddenly changes from frustration to acceptance. John Milton realizes that it takes time to get what he is asking for and also God, who through time will give him either in a small or big amount of blessings sooner or later, “it shall be still in strictest measure even to same lot, however mean or high”. It states that he will be blessed by God in a large or small amount of blessings. “Yet, be it less or more, or soon or slow” (Line 9pg.440) reveals that he is willing to wait for his destiny. He realizes that he needs to do his duty given by God and wait with great patience. He realizes that humans have to play their role and do their duties to perform God’s will. If he waits with patience, God will empower him with greatness. “Toward which Time leads me, and the will of heaven” (Line 12 pg.440). Line twelve means that he will wait with great patience for God will bless him with great power. In the last line, “As ever in my great task-master’s eye” (line 14 pg. 440) refers to God. John Milton talks about God as a task-master. A task master’s job is to assign task to individuals. John Milton feels like God will give him a task and God will guide him and push him to strive hard for him to become the best person he could be. John Milton has accepted that he has to wait for the blessings with patience. He also accepted that time cannot be controlled and time is inevitable. The poem ends with an atmosphere of hope and relief.

The author used different kinds of image to portray to the readers the importance of time, age and religion. John Milton used the ripeness of a fruit to portray how an individual can be mature but considered as a child and not accepted in society because of physical appearance. The use of capital “T” everytime “Time” is typed is a point of emphasis. The poet John Milton wrote the poem to point an emphasis on life and time. The author sends a very strong message to the readers, making the readers think about their life and the achievements they achieved and did not achieved. The poem also reveals that John Milton believes in God. At the last few lines of the poem, John Milton let God to decide his future. John Milton also asked for blessings as it stated in the poem “How Soon Hath Time”. At first John Milton was excited but it suddenly reminded him that time is passing by quickly. He looked back on his life and reflect how he wasted time and wasn’t successful enough. Being a late bloomer also impacted on John Milton’s journey to success. He later then realize that God is the source of everything in this world. The author shows his faith with God. John Milton shows hope that the task master would give him the blessings. “How Soon Hath time” shows the importance of things what we believe in like religion. The poem also shows the importance of time because time is uncontrollable.

Works cited

  1. “John Milton Essay – Milton, John –” eNotes, 2013. Web. 3 Oct 2013. <>.
  2. “Sonnet VII: How soon hath Time, the Subtle Thief of Youth Representative Poetry Online.”, 2013. Web. 3 Oct 2013. <>.
  3. Time”, Close. “Close Reading of “How Soon Hath Time” – Essay – Caitih.”, 2013. Web. 3 Oct 2013. <>. 

Cite this page

An Explication of John Milton's Poem: How Soon Hath Time. (2021, Sep 23). Retrieved from

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment