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What Is the Theme of "How Soon Hath Time"?


English author John Milton penned the short poem "How Soon Hath Time" in the 1630s. The theme centers on Milton's fear that time is quickly passing by, and he hasn't accomplished all that he hoped to attain. Even though Milton is only 24 years old at the time of the poem, he struggles with the idea that he's now an educated man with little to show for his life. The theme of the poem suggests that youth is fleeting, so you must make good use of your time and talents.

A Desire to Accomplish More

Milton's educational experiences weren't all positive, likely leading to his dissatisfaction with his accomplishments and the theme of "How Soon Hath Time." He wrote the poem around the same time that he received his master's degree from Christ's College in Cambridge, England. However, Milton didn't get along well with his first tutor and was suspended. When he returned to Christ's College, he struggled to connect with his peers and was unhappy with the curriculum, according to historian and author William Riley Parker in his book "Milton: A Biography." The theme of the poem focuses on Milton's disappointment that he has little to show for his career or education: "My hasting days fly on with full career, but my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th." Nonetheless, Milton trusts God to make a way for him to use his talents in the future.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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