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Literary Devices in On His Blindness

Literary Devices Examples in On His Blindness:

Text of the Poem

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"That..."   (Text of the Poem)

Notice that Patience begins speaking at the volta, or thematic turn. This turn marks a change in the speaker’s mentality. He stops despairing about his lost sight and begins to believe that there is divine purpose in what seems like an unfortunate event.

" replies:..."   (Text of the Poem)

Notice that the rest of the poem is spoken by “Patience.” Patience is a personified entity that embodies “patience,” the capacity to calmly endure pain, affliction, and inconvenience. The personification of human characteristics is a form of allegory that marks this character as the person who will reveal the moral of the poem.

""Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"..."   (Text of the Poem)

The first six lines of the poem lead up to this question: “Does God demand that you work if you have lost your sight?” The first six lines of the poem can be seen as the speaker’s extreme uncertainty over whether or not to ask this question. Questioning God’s will was a form of blasphemy that demonstrated one’s lack of faith. Though this speaker does not directly question God’s decision to take away his sight, he does reveal his frustration when he questions what he can do now that he has lost it.

"bent..."   (Text of the Poem)

Notice that enjambment, the continuation of a sentence beyond the end of a line, disrupts the meaning of this sentence as a whole. In this part of the sentence, the speaker means that he is bent in service of God, like a servant who is bowing. However, because this line ends with “bent” it seems at first that his soul is “bent” or crooked, meaning it is in some way immoral or wicked. The division of this sentence, and the divergent meanings implicit within this division, demonstrates the underlying uncertainty throughout this poem. The speaker wonders if he will be able to serve God if he cannot exercise his talents and what will become of his soul if he cannot serve God.

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