How Soon Hath Time Summary Notes

How Soon Hath Time About the Author

John Milton (1608 -1674) was an English poet, polemicist, pamphleteer and a civil servant during the Commonwealth era of England. A scholarly man of letters, Milton’s prose and poetry deal with contemporary issues and reflect the religious flux and political upheaval of England of his time.

He is best known for his epic poems ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Paradise Regained’. Writing in English, Latin, Greek and Italian, he achieved international feme and his celebrated ‘Areopagitica’ (1644) written in condemnation ofpre – publication censorship is among History’s most influential and impassioned defences of freedom of speech and the press. He is regarded as one ofthe greatest English writers of all time.

How Soon Hath Time Summary

“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.”

John Milton beings the poem wondering and lamenting how quickly time passes. He compares time to a ‘Subtle thief’- a very precise thief who unknowing to anyone steals people of their youth. This subtle thief- ‘time’- has stolen twenty – three years of his life. The wings of time have stolen his youth.

He rues that his days are passing away swiftly. He feels betrayed, by the speed at which youth and time have left him with only bygone years, and yet he has not achieved anything in all these years – ‘But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th’. ‘Spring’, can be said to be the ‘youth’ of seasons, during which colourful flowers bloom. Accordingly ‘youth’ is the ‘spring’ of a man’s life. Man is most productive during his youth and can achieve much in life during his youth.

The Poet is concerned with his looks and physical stature, because his looks (semblance) might deceive the truth that he has attained manhood. He doesn’t physically look like the man who is on the verge of attaining adulthood. He still appears to be boyish even in his manhood and does not look masculine and age is not visible on his appearance.

Milton laments that he is also unhappy in life because he hasn’t gained any wisdom or experience or done any thing worthwhile in his life. Because of this he still lacks respect in society. He does not appear to be mature man, a wise man because of his feminine looks.

The ‘inward ripeness doth much less appear’. He does not look like a wise person that ‘some more timely – happy spirits endu’th’ – some people are fortunate to have inherited or imbibed and wise looks and physical stature.

“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.”

In these lines Milton realizes and accepts that nothing happens in this world without the blessings of God Almighty. He comes to terms to reality and the sooner or later, whether it is less or more fate deals with ‘strict measures’ even those who are less fortunate or fortunate. Time will lead him towards the gates of Heaven and ultimately the ‘will’ of Heaven. His destiny will eventually take him to heaven at its own priority (time).

Only time and the Almighty can decide his fate. If he has the Grace (will) to use the opportunity with patience, everything will be exactly as God has destined it for him. Milton is determined to wait and seek the grace of the Al-mighty (Task – Master) and through his blessings his fortune may change for the better someday in his future life. He surrenders himself to God’s will. God will guide him to the right path and right task. He reaffirms his faith in the Almighty.

“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.”

How Soon Hath Time Glossary

  • Subtle : Hidden
  • Hasting days : Fast moving days
  • Shew’th : Shows
  • Semblance : Resemblance (an illusion to his juvenile face and figure) He was called ‘the lady of the College’.
  • Deceive : Cheat; Hoodwink
  • Inward ripeness : Maturity
  • Endu’th : Inherit
  • Taskmaster : God Almighty

How Soon Hath Time Questions and Answers

I. Short Answer Questions

Question 1.
How old is the speaker in the sonnet?
Answer:
Twenty – four years

Question 2.
What does the phrase ‘late spring’ mean?
Answer:
Man – hood or late youth.

Question 3.
What is time seen’as?
Answer:
Time is seen as a subtle thief.

Question 4.
What has time stolen?
Answer:
Youth

Question 5.
Mention the poetic devices used in the poem.
Answer:

  • Personification – How soon hath time, the subtle thief of youth.
  • Alliteration – How, hath, bud, blossom
  • Metaphor – But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th

Question 6.
Time is personfied as ________.
Answer:
subtle theif

Question 7.
Youth is compared to ________.
a) Happy spirits
b) Spring
c) Winged creature
Answer:
b) Spring

II. Paragraph Answer Questions

Question 1.
Comment on the theme of ‘How Soon Hath Time’
Answer:
The theme of the poem ‘How soon hath time’ by John Milton is the passing of youth and time. The theme centers on Milton’s fear that time is quickly passing by and he hasn’t accomplished all that he had hoped to achieve. He laments that even twenty three of his life he has not accomplished anything worthwhile. The theme suggets that youth is fleeting, and we must make it worthwhile and put it into good use to achieve our desired goals.

At the end of the poem Milton reaffirms his faith in God saying that God has his own plans for every human – being. He is optimisitc that sooner or later God will grace him and bless him and his fortune may change for the better.

Question 2.
Narrate the change in the tone and mood of the poem.
Answer:
In the poem ‘How soon hath time’, by the poet John Milton, there is a tonal change as well as a change in the mood of the poet. Milton begins the poem with a tone of frustration and desperation. He pictures time as a ‘subtle thief of youth which has wing and it has carried away the twenty – four years of his life. Milton felt that his days and years are passing hastily and fears he has achieved nothing in life, despite being on the verge of man – hood. He felt that he has wasted his youth.

Milton believed that despite growing out of youth and into man – hood, his maturity does not show because of his looks. His physical stature and feminine looks made him look young. He lamented that he had failed to achieve anything in life, though he was a renowned poet and member of the clergy. He rued that he does not have physical maturity and so his inward ripeness (experience and wisdom) did not show. He felt sad that some people were fortunate to be so well endowed with masculine stature and inward ripeness.

Towards the end of the poem, Milton becomes optimistic and the mood of the poem changes. He realizes and accepts and comes to terms with reality. He felt that he should wait patiently for his fortune to change for the better. For this he needed God to Grace him and bestow his blessings on him. Sooner or later, more or less, he would be blessed by God in His own strictest measure. He realizes that all living beings are destined to play the role that God Almighty desires they do. So if he waits in patience, God will grace him and bless him. All he needs is time, patience and the will of heaven.

Question 3.
How does the sonnet ‘How Soon Hath Time’ depict the frustrations and despair of the poet?
Answer:
John Milton beings the poem wondering and lamenting how quickly time passes. He compares time to a ‘Subtle thief’- a very precise thief who unknowing to anyone steals people of their youth. This subtle thief- ‘time’- has stolen twenty – three years of his life. The wings of time have stolen his youth.

He rues that his days are passing away swiftly. He feels betrayed, by the speed at which youth and time have left him with only bygone years, and yet he has not achieved anything in all these years – ‘But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th’. ‘Spring’, can be said to be the ‘youth’ of seasons, during which colourful flowers bloom. Accordingly ‘youth’ is the ‘spring’ of a man’s life. Man is most productive during his youth and can achieve much in life during his youth.

The Poet is concerned with his looks and physical stature, because his looks (semblance) might deceive the truth that he has attained manhood. He doesn’t physically look like the man who is on the verge of attaining adulthood. He still appears to be boyish even in his manhood and does not look masculine and age is not visible on his appearance.

Milton laments that he is also unhappy in life because he hasn’t gained any wisdom or experience or done any thing worthwhile in his life. Because of this he still lacks respect in society. He does not appear to be mature man, a wise man because of his feminine looks. The ‘inward ripeness doth much less appear’. He does not look like a wise person that ‘some more timely – happy spirits endu’th’ – some people are fortunate to have inherited or imbibed and wise looks and physical stature.

III. Essay Answer Questions

Question 1.
Write a critical appreciation of the sonnet.
Answer:
John Milton’s ‘How Soon Hath Time’ has to be appreciated from various aspects, reflecting on his mood, conflicts with beliefs, and personal shortcomings and most of all, expediency of time. “How Soon Hath Time’ is one of the most intriguing and poignant classic poems. The basic premises are time and its cavalier indifference to individualistic attitude irrespective altogether.

The poem starts on a sad note with Milton taking stock of the years gone-by and his accomplishments during those years. The sonnet/ poem, ‘How Soon Hath Time’ is composed in traditional Petrarchian prose, keeping in conjunction with iambic pentameter, analogous to William Shakespeare’s couplets. However, his selection of themes for poems differs largely from his contemporaries.

Popular contemporaries themes included love and God; John Milton opted for rather pedantic themes such as, personal issues, politics and even friendship. Adhering strictly to form and meter, his poetic emotions remain tightly bottled up.

Every verse consists of five beats in itself. John Milton has slightly bended the rules by shortening lengths of the words so as to save the poem’s form. The structure of the poem, How Soon Hath Time is unique in itself. Each stanza of the poem consists of four verses, fitting the iambic pentameter aptly. It succeeds in garnishing cohesive thoughts in its entirety.

The biblical connotations towards the concluding verses strengthen the airy symbolism in initially lighter verses. The rhyming pattern is slightly off the charts with initial eight lines adhering to A- B-B-A pattern, while the remainder verses are adherent to C-D-E- D-C-E pattern. The rhyming patterns are coherent with diverging belief systems. Youth rhymes with ‘show’th’ while truth rhymes with ‘endueth’. Similarly, ‘appear’, ‘near’, ‘career’ and ‘year’ also rhyme together. Initial eight verses reflect doubt and melancholia, while last six verses reflect resolve and immediacy.

John Milton was a staunchly religious person, considering himself a missionary to God’s noble cause. Awaiting divine intervention is evident in his first lines of How Soon Hath Time where he laments, ‘How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth’, as well as in another sonnet released after his subsequent blindness, ‘When I consider how my light is spent’. He awaits divine inspiration in his poetic publications.

As the poem starts in a lamentable tone, he begins with ‘How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth’. He feels betrayed by the speed at which youth and time have left him with years past, not recording an achievement of substantial value. Career- wise and artistically, he has yet to produce his masterpiece and make a stamp on history.

Briefly touching that aspect of his immaturity, ‘before the mellowing year’, he deems himself in- competent and lacking in poetic prowess even at a ripe age of 29 years. With his self-established high aesthetic standards, he ardently aspires to attain them within his lifetime.

This is a direct linkage to his collegiate years where his feeble physical structure was deemed as girlish and feminine, resulting him earning the title of, ‘The Lady of Christ’s’. With a feminine overall outlook, he continues to underestimate himself in comparison to contemporaries having accomplished much more in his prime age.

In conclusion, he ends his tragically-toned lament with having faith in God for assisting him in his quest for greatness. As he indicates, ‘my great taskmaster’ has sealed his fate. John Milton’s monotonous tragic sonnet has tones of ambition, religiosity and mastery.

This is a direct indication to Jesus’s parable for God’s reward for all those reporting for duty on time and slightly late on time. God, being all the knowing and kind, views his pupils as equals. It’s also an indirect attack on God’s double standards ever so delicately.

John Milton mentions this discrepancy in his concluding lines, albeit with certain delicacy, ‘If I have grace to use it so’. He creates some ambiguity regarding his poetic grace. The grace could be within him or God-gifted. Using the word ‘have’, he’s conflicted on whether his poetic talents are at his own command or God’s will. This shows slightly negativistic attribution in his poem is later found in Paradise Lost poem, where Eve’s epithet for God is ‘Our Great Forbidder’.

It shows veiled criticism to God’s so-called willpower and judgment traits. Milton was an ardent advocate of this ideology in his lifetime. Young Milton was conflicted of God’s role in life and its consequent play with freedom and freewill, obedience and justice, flowing freely in Milton’s published works.

Question 2.
Discuss ‘How Soon Hath Time’ as a progression from doubt to faith and his surrender to the Divine.
Answer:
At the beginning of the poem ‘How Soon Hath Time’ the poet John Milton wonders and laments how quickly time passes. He compares time to a ‘ Subtle thief’ – a very precise thief who unknowing to anyone steals people of their youth. This subtle thief – ‘time’- has stolen twenty – three years of his life. The wings of time have stolen his youth.

He rues that his days are passing away swiftly. He feels betrayed, by the speed at which youth and time have left him with only bygone years, and yet he has not achieved anything in all these years.

Milton laments that he is also’unhappy in life because he hasn’t gained any wisdom or experience or done any thing worthwhile in his life. Because of this he still lacks respect in society. He does not appear to be mature man, a wise man because of his feminine looks.

Milton realizes and accepts that nothing happens in this world without the blessings of God Almighty. He comes to terms to reality and the sooner or later, whether it is less or more fate deals with ‘strict measures’ even those who are less fortunate or fortunate. Time will lead him towards the gates of Heaven and ultimately the ‘will’ of Heaven. His destiny will eventually take him to heaven at its own priority (time). Only time and-the Almighty can decide his fate.

If he has the Grace (will) to use the opportunity with patience, everything will be exactly as God has destined it for him. Milton is determined to wait and seek the grace of the Al-mighty (Task – Master) and through his blessings his fortune may change for the better someday in his future life. He surrenders himself to God’s will. God will guide him to the*right path and right task. He reaffirms his faith in the Almighty.

How Soon Hath Time Language Activity

Exercise:

Question 1.
Explain the types of interviews with their specific objectives.
Answer:
Types of Interview:
a. Job Interview: Conducted for selecting a suitable candidate for a-post / job wherein the candidate’s competence, skill and knowledge are looked into.

b. Promotion Interview : Conducted when more than one person within the company is available for being promoted to a higher post. Then the candidate’s suitability for the higher responsibility, his / her expectations from promotion etc., are examined, in addition, of course, to the impression already created through his / her work.

c. Assessment or Appraisal Interview : This is a part of periodic assessment of the performance of employees besides the data already collected through fixed formats by the superior officers. This interview helps in finding out a employee’s aspiration, motivation, state of morale etc., and sometimes to retain the person if there are thoughts of leaving.

d. Exit Interview : This is of an employee who is leaving for better opportunities or prospects or any other reason. An exiting person is likely to be more frank and uninhibited. So the management can find out the reason for the employee’s decision to leave and may take necessary measures to rectify administrative lapses, if any.

e. Problem Interview : If an employee’s performance has been on the low despite warnings, opportunities for correction etc., and if the management does not want to lose him considering her / his track record, a special interview may be conducted to discover the problem – personal or managerial or environmental – contributing to this and find a solution.

f. Stress Interview : Is a unique type of interview conducted for specific positions of responsibility which are generally stressful and trying. Besides a candidate’s knowledge, skill etc., the position demands that she / he keeps- cool and retains the balance and is able to take quick decisions under stressful situation,. Many questions are shot at the candidate simultaneously, the answers are cross questioned, arguments are made to shake the candidate and to test how the candidate keeps her / his cool to offer correct solutions.

Question 2.
What are the preparations to be made for a face to face interview?
Answer:
A candidate has to perform at his best in a matter of a few minutes and impress the interviewers. A face – to – face interview is likely to be a sequel to tests or any other round. This does nto reduce its significance. A face – to – face interview is also an occasion for a candidate to see whether the job, the emoluments, conditions and the management are suitable to his requirement. All this has to be done through a few questions and answers. So a candidate has to prepare well before facing an interview.

Preparations:
Preparations for an interview may be classified under three heads :

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Physhological

1. Physical : The physical preparation for an interview involves :
(i) Grooming – implies proper dressing to be presentable. A candidate should be dressed to the occasion – formal, decent and tasteful. The dres should not have a look of ethnicity specially when the job is in an MNC. The kind of dress chosen should not be the first trial for the candidate especially ladies who have a wide range of wardrobe available.

For instance, wearing a saree for the first time that may make her self – conscious and wary and thus uncomfortable. For gents trying a suit or tie for the first time may not be advisable. If particular it should be practiced in advance.

(ii) Material – A candidate may be expected to carry a few relevant certificates and documents. They may have to be submitted for verification. Carrying these properly arrange din a file so that they may be presented in an order without confusion (for instance even in an interview for obtaining passport) is a part of discipline. If you happen to show them in the interview, the interviewers get an opportunity to infer how organized you are. Carrying such essentials as papers, staplers, gum, clip etc., is also a requirement. They have to be kept in a briefcase or a proper file.

(iii) Reaching – Reaching the place of interview at a proper time – neither too early nor late – is a part of one’s discipline. Specially in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai etc., it is not easy to locate.the place and reach in proper time. This requires planning, leaving early and reaching in proper time so as to prevent embarrassment.

2. Mental / Intellectual : Preparing for answering the probable questions is a part of planning. One should anticipate such questions and prepare answers to avoid fumbling in the interview, the questions likely to be asked are :
(i) About oneself, one’s familial and educational background, one’s strength and weakness etc.

(ii) About the company one wishes to join, its products, branches, etc., with other details concerned with the candidate’s specialization – like – shares, balance sheet, organization etc., for commerce specialists, product, its details for science specialists, engineers etc.

(iii) About the candidate’s specialization, his knowledge, information.

(iv) About his present job, reasons for leaving it, present salary, salary expected and such other related issues / questions. Though some of these may be answered on one’s own, it needs a little mental preparation to be organized and coherent to present in brief. Then with regard to the company you are planning to join you may visit its website and gather information so that your answers to the questions about the ocmpany are answered factually without bluffing. Regarding your own subject, a little brushing up is helpful.

3. Psychological : This is the emotional preparation before an interview. Good preparation in other matters and reaching in time etc., can give you confidence and help you overcome tension, if any. Deep breaths, pressing the back of the hand, visiting the rest room before the interview are a few methods of reducing tension. Further, a philosophical attitude that some other job is certainly available if not this also helps in relieving yourself of the pressure and answering the normal questions as well as tricky questions confidently.

Coming to the interview proper, it involves four phases :
a) Entry
b) Answering
c) Asking
d) Exit

Entry : A candidate is not, obviously, aware of the circumstances of the interview room, the number of interviewers – ladies or gents among them etc. So entering calmly is needed. One has to keep one’s cool and should not hurry to wish even as one is entering s there may be mistakes in a haste (like wishing all as ‘Good morning sirs’ when there are only ladies or a combination). Such a mistake may put you off. After entering wish them according to the time of the day and occupy your seat after being asked to.

Answering : Then they may ask you questions. Pleas enote that the interviewers generally intend to get the best out of you. So they keep you comfortable. So the initial questions are friendly and simple to warm you up. Answer the questions quietly and confidently. Please understand that one cannot be expected to know everything, but one should know the source or, at least, how to get the information. Admit indirectly that you don’t know the answer. (For example, ‘I think I have read about it / come across that but can’t place it just now’ etc.) Don’t bluff and get caught. Odd questions may be answered smartly.

Asking : When there is an indication that the questions are over, you may ask your questions, if any, like, when you may expect their communication, or when you may have to report, if selected or salary etc., transfer, prospects etc.

Exit: Exit is as important as the entry. You have to wish them after getting a clue that the interview is over. You may say, “It’s pleasure meeting you / have a good day’ etc. and take leave.

Question 3.
Mention the different phases of the Interview Proper. Explain them.
Answer:
Coming to the interview proper, it involves four phases :
a) Entry
b) Answering
c) Asking
d) Exit

1. Physical : The physical preparation for an interview involves :
(i) Grooming – implies proper dressing to be presentable. A candidate should be dressed to the occasion – formal, decent and tasteful. The dres should not have a look of ethnicity specially when the job is in an MNC. The kind of dress chosen should not be the first trial for the candidate especially ladies who have a wide range of wardrobe available.

For instance, wearing a saree for the first time that may make her self – conscious and wary and thus uncomfortable. For gents trying a suit or tie for the first time may not be advisable. If particular it should be practiced in advance.

(ii) Material – A candidate may be expected to carry a few relevant certificates and documents. They may have to be submitted for verification. Carrying these properly arrange din a file so that they may be presented in an order without confusion (for instance even in an interview for obtaining passport) is a part of discipline. If you happen to show them in the interview, the interviewers get an opportunity to infer how organized you are. Carrying such essentials as papers, staplers, gum, clip etc., is also a requirement. They have to be kept in a briefcase or a proper file.

(iii) Reaching – Reaching the place of interview at a proper time – neither too early nor late – is a part of one’s discipline. Specially in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai etc., it is not easy to locate.the place and reach in proper time. This requires planning, leaving early and reaching in proper time so as to prevent embarrassment.

2. Mental / Intellectual : Preparing for answering the probable questions is a part of planning. One should anticipate such questions and prepare answers to avoid fumbling in the interview, the questions likely to be asked are :
(i) About oneself, one’s familial and educational background, one’s strength and weakness etc.

(ii) About the company one whishes to join, its products, branches, etc., with other details concerned with the candidate’s specialization – like – shares, balance sheet, organization etc., for commerce specialists, product, its details for science specialists, engineers etc.

(iii) About the candidate’s specialization, his knowledge, information.

(iv) About his present job, reasons for leaving it, present salary, salary expected and such other related issues / questions. Though some of these may be answeed on one’s own, it needs a little mental preparation to be organized and coherent to present in brief. Then with regard to the company you are planning to join you may visit its website and gather information so that your answers to the questions about the ocmpany are answered factually without bluffing. Regarding your own subject, a little brushing up is helpful.

Question 4.
Elaborate the significance of body language in an interview.
Answer:
Body language while facing on Inteview :
Body language plays a significant role in an interview. It is a form of non – verbal communication. One’s body language expresses the personality. It involves the stance, gait, facial expression, eye contact, use of hands while communicating. The stance and standing posture may convey the self confidence or diffidence of a person. Similarly the way one sits on the chair is also significant. Not leaning on the table, or reclining in the chair is to be borne in mind.

Not meddling with the things on the table and dropping them is equally important. While speaking to the interviewers, keeping the eye contact with all of them is necessary. While looking specifically at the person who has asked a specific question, a candidate should look at the others too so that they do not feel overlooked. Note that even your handshake can communicate your eprsonality whether you are a firm person or not. Above all, a smile on the face conveys your confidence, pleasant mood and willingness to interact. It also creates a conducive atmosphere for the discussion to follow.

English Summary

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