On His Being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-three !!

I know it is a little late but how often do you find somebody like John Milton writing a sonnet about turning 23.

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stolen 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 arrived so near,
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits indu'th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven.
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Task-master's eye.

-- John Milton

Now at first look his poetry seems to be rather terse and lacking in warmth but I have found that it does has a way of growing on you over the time . "On His Blindness" makes much more sense now then it used to back in school. Following is an excerpt I found on the net while searching for Milton. I guess I am not too off the popular opinion here.

"Milton both in his life and work was cold and lonely. He was a master without scholars, a leader without followers. Him we can admire, but cannot love with an understanding love. Yet although we love Shakespeare we can find throughout all his works hardly a line upon which we can place a finger and say here Shakespeare speaks of himself, here he shows what he himself thought and felt. Shakespeare understood human nature so well that he could see through another's eyes and so forget himself. But over and over again in Milton's work we see himself. Over and over again we can say here Milton speaks of himself, here he shows us his own heart, his own pain. He is one of the most self-ful of all poets. He has none of the dramatic power of Shakespeare, he cannot look through another's eyes, so he sees things only from one standpoint and that his own. He stands far apart from us, and is almost inhumanly cold. That is the reason why so many of us find him hard to love."

-- H. E. Marshall

Is there some similarity to Bachchan here who is also called a Aatmvaadi kavi ? Unfortunately for most of the part, Milton is still pretty hard for me to read and comprehend on my own. So this comparision will have to wait.


Jaya said…
Know nothing of Milton, but this sounds interesting... According to what you quote here, Milton appears cold because he talks of himself. Whereas Bachchan has touched the heart of masses precisely because of the same reason!! He also looks at the world through his own glasses (and hence has ended up producing poetries, at different points of time, contradicting each other in thoughts).

Then was there something inherent in the personalities of these two. While people can identify with Bachchan's heart, they can't do so with Milton? Or was there something about the lives they lived? Probably the ups and downs of Bachchan's life was something many people can identify with, but not so with Milton.This, of course, is only a hypothesis :-) I do not know anything about Milton's life.
Braveheart said…
Dude! Bangalore, UP, India sounds cool :p
Braveheart said…
In each of us, there is a part of that eternal soul of this universe. Bachchan identified with it and hence, his poetry is full of love inspite of his being 'atmvadi'. Milton, as you rightfully mentioned, is too badly engrossed in himself. Yes, I dont understand him much. But I like none of what I do understand.

His problem is that his poetry is not a part of his journey. Its just a presentaion of his stagnant life, or at least his stagnant viewpoint. So, there is no beauty in it. If you celebrate yourself, you dont get anywhere. You have to identify with the soul of the universe to locate yourself and then express it.

Prem Piyush said…
Abhaya: Yes, there is no comparison between their poems except the spiritual commonness.

Jaya: The hypothesis is not correct. The reality is reverse. He too had tidal waves in his life. John Milton born in 1609, blind at 44 and died at 66 was excessively concerned about propriety and decorum and opposed the sensual pleasures, which is obvious from his poems.
But the medium of communication was different from Bachchan who used magical Madhushala too.

Akhsaya: I don't agree with the stagnation viewpoint. Does not most of the poem arise out of stagnation, to vent out the one’s feeling? Yes Milton's introvert poems are difficult to grasp but once his spectacles are on eyes they will look beautiful. His poems were absolutely part of his journey (e.g. “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise regained” ) .
And Bachchan not a puritan like him wore the common Indian spectacles to write his poems.

Any way both attained the common height of deep human spirituality in their ways.
Anonymous said…
Prem: I dont agree with a single word that you said. I think the quote by H. E. Marshall is very relevant and poignant. But anyway, to each his own!

Prem Piyush said…
Akhsaya:Friend : So when Milton failed, who am I to succeed?
Jaya said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jaya said…
May not be exactly relevant, but since you talked of puritanism and all :-)

सृिष्ट के प्ारम्भ में मैने उषा के गाल चूमे,
बाल रवि के भाग्य वाले दीप्त भाल विशाल चूमे,
प्रथम संध्या के अरुण दृग चूम कर मैने सुलाए,
तारिका-कलि से सुसज्जित नव निशा के बाल चूमे,
वायु के रसमय अधर पहले सके छू हॉठ मेरे
मृत्तिका की पुतलियॉ से आज क्या अभिसार मेरा?
कह रहा जग वासनामय हो रहा उद्गार मेरा!

and also in the same poem

कल छिड़ी, होगी ख़तम कल प्रेम की मेरी कहानी,
कौन हूँ मै,ं जो रहेगी विश्व में मेरी निशानी?
क्या किया मैंने नही जो कर चुका संसार अबतक?
वृद्ध जग को क्यों अखरती है क्षणिक मेरी जवानी?
मैं छिपाना जानता तो जग मुझे साधु समझता,
शत्रु मेरा बन गया है छल-रहित व्यवहार मेरा!
कह रहा जग वासनामय हो रहा उद्गार मेरा!

This is Bachchan in Madhukalash (Poem: Kavi Kee Vaasna).

No endorsements here :-) It just came to my mind seeing the mention of puritanism...
Braveheart said…
Prem: That was a great reply! I loved it!
Jaya: Lovely lines. Just too beautiful. Just one suggestion - Try Herman Hesse sometime. His literature would certainly bring a new dimension to your thoughts.
Abhaga: Great yaar! Things are moving really well with this post :D
Prem Piyush said…
Summary: When Milton fails, Bachchan succeed.
Thanks to debatable Milton, such उद्गार we enjoyed.
Can we conclude that “On Being Arrived to the
Age of Twenties” Bachchan is preferred?
Jaya said…
Nope I would conclude nothing of that kind since I haven't read Milton at all :-) and hence saying anything like this would certainly be a biased, prejudiced conclusion on my part. My previous post was trying to prove nothing, as I had mentioned.

And I had left this point earlier, but I think it needs to be clarified. When I gave the hypothesis - I didn't mean that Milton did not have ups and downs in his life (I believe there can not be any one who hasn't seen ups and downs in his/her life), but that people didn't identify with whatever ups and downs he had.
Prem Piyush said…
Jaya:Now I read both the comments,your view is obviously correct,and milton's writings can be directly associated with his life.

By the time to prove my point, I suggest a reading room for Milton , which you may enjoy :-) and find the summary true.

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