Historical Context in On His Blindness

Historical Context Examples in On His Blindness:

Text of the Poem 2

"God doth not need Either man's work or his own gifts..."   (Text of the Poem)

This line draws from the Calvinist belief in predestination. Unlike Catholic doctrine, which claimed one could repent in order to save their soul, Calvinists believed that works on earth had no bearing on one’s salvation. People were predestined for either damnation or salvation at the time of their birth. God therefore did not need “man’s works” because only belief revealed one’s internal piety.

"one talent..."   (Text of the Poem)

In line 6, the speaker suggests that his “one talent’ is to present “my true account.” This signals to the reader that the speaker’s talent is writing, an activity that would have been nearly impossible to do in Early Modern England without sight. Because Milton himself went blind in 1652, this poem is conventionally read as autobiographical.