Sonnet VII: How soon hath Time, the Subtle Thief of Youth
by John Milton
How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stol’n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
That I to manhood am arriv’d so near;
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits endu’th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure ev’n
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n:
All is, if I have grace to use it so
As ever in my great Task-Master’s eye.
“It turns out that unless you make a concerted effort in the direction of reading poetry, poetry doesn’t just traipse into your mind by chance. You have to seek poetry out and, at least at first, you have force yourself to swallow it. Like a scratchy vitamin. Those poems jammed into the middle of a page of text in a magazine: no one reads them, or if they do, they read them in the wrong mindset. A poem is not like a cartoon that provides an instantaneously assimilable commercial break, a respite from long-form narrative. A poem requires full attention in a way that prose does not, and worse, a poem is much harder to like because every word matters.”
Some parts of it reminded me of my own foray into poetry. (Sensitive readers beware: “bad” words used in the essay.)