Blind Old Milton

By WILLIAM EDMONSTOUNE AYTOUN (1813-1865)

PLACE me once more, my daughter, where the sun
May shine upon my old and time-worn head,
For the last time, perchance. My race is run;
And soon amidst the ever-silent dead
I must repose, it may be, half forgot.
Yes! I have broke the hard and bitter bread
For many a year, and with those who trembled not
To buckle on their armor for the fight,
And set themselves against the tyrant’s lot;
And I have never bowed me to his might,
Nor knelt before him — for I bear within
My heart the sternest consciousness of right,
And that perpetual hate of gilded sin
Which made me what I am; and though the stain
Of poverty be on me, yet I win
More honor by it, than the blinded train
Who hug their willing servitude, and bow
Unto the weakest and the most profane.
Therefore, with unencumbered soul I go
Before the footstool of my Maker, where
I hope to stand as undebased as now!

Child! is the sun abroad? I feel my hair
Borne up and wafted by the gentle wind,
I feel the odors that perfume the air,
And hear the rustling of the leaves behind.
Within my heart I picture them, and then
I almost can forget that I am blind,
And old, and hated by my fellow-men.
Yet would I fain once more behold the grace
Of nature ere I die, and gaze again
Upon her living and rejoicing face —
Fain would I see thy countenance, my child,
My comforter! I feel thy dear embrace —
I hear thy voice, so musical and mild,
The patient sole interpreter, by whom
So many years of sadness are beguiled;
For it hath made my small and scanty room
Peopled with glowing visions of the past.
But I will calmly bend me to my doom,
And wait the hour which is approaching fast,
When triple light shall stream upon mine eyes,
And heaven itself be opened up at last
To him who dared foretell its mysteries.
I have had visions in this drear eclipse
Of outward consciousness, and clomb the skies,
Striving to utter with my earthly lips
What the diviner soul had half divined,
Even as the Saint in his Apocalypse
Who saw the inmost glory, where enshrined
Sat He who fashioned glory. This hath driven
All outward strife and tumult from my mind,
And humbled me, until I have forgiven
My bitter enemies, and only seek
To find the straight and narrow path to heaven.

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