POETS Day! The John Milton Edition
Congratulations lads and lassies; despite the drudgery of the work week you’ve made it to Friday and the weekend is in sight. But we are not watchers, you and I. We are not mere witnesses to the unfolding of our destinies. We do not wait for the weekend. We seize it. It’s time for a P.O.E.T.S. Day – Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday.
So fake a cough, “twist your ankle,” or just slip out of the office quietly. No one will think the less of you for a lie or minor property destruction in the cause of sidling up to a bar a few hours early.
This week’s get-out-of-work-early gambit requires a smart phone and a roughly eleven megabyte app download. I have a Pixel so I download from Google Play but I’m willing to bet there is an iPhone-compatible app in the iStore.
Download “Fake Call” or the Apple equivalent. This is an app that will cause your phone to ring whenever you schedule it to and display whatever number and I.D. you set it to display. If you are, like me, in the Birmingham area, you should set the I.D. to Ascension St. Vincent’s Hospital. If you aren’t, just type in the largest local medical facility. Now leave your phone face up somewhere in the office that is frequently trafficked or where the phone is sure to be noticed: a break room, by the copier, even on a co-worker’s desk. You want someone to bring you the phone. Now you have a witness. Or better yet, you want someone holding a phone up to the whole office worriedly asking who’s phone he or she is holding because the hospital is calling and it may be an emergency. Now you have a room full of witnesses.
This is the point at which a less experienced scammer might overplay the hand. Do not make this call about anyone close to you. It’s tempting to say it’s your mom or your sister or something, but that’ll invite all manner of follow up questions when you drag yourself in on Monday and there’s always the possibility that someone from your office might actually meet your mom or sister and tell them how nice it is to see them fully recovered.
Keep the person in the hospital a distance from you but in need of a noble gesture. When you get off the “phone call” tell your co-workers that the call was from a friend. Her older son broke his arm playing ball at school and the younger is walking home. The kid’s too young for a cell phone and they don’t have a land line. She wants you to swing by and make sure he gets home okay.
That’s it. Even the most horrible boss isn’t going to keep you from such a simple errand of mercy and you’re only leaving a few hours early anyway. Follow ups on Monday will be limited to “That kid okay?” and you can shrug off a “He’ll be fine.” Done.
Now get ye to a bar and have an ice-cold beer, a nice glass of wine, or some whisky on the rocks, and all at happy hour prices no less.
Today’s P.O.E.T.S. Day poet is John Milton (1608-1674). His most important work is generally said to be Paradise Lost and there is a very good case to be made there, but I disagree. Marital troubles spurred him to write a few pamphlets advocating for the legalization of divorce. Apparently downward pressure from government types was applied with the goal of silencing his views on the subject. He was spurred to write Areopagitica, one of the greatest defenses of the right of expression ever written.
The divorce issue eventually became moot when his first wife died in childbirth.
He was energetic in support of the republican cause in England and a man who was well respected in his time, but I can’t lose the image of him painted by one of my high school teachers as an old blind man bitter at his circumstance and tersely sniping at his daughters when not dictating to them or a handful of clerks hired to be his hands and eyes. I bet the daughters and clerks wished they had Fake Call to get them out of there.
I’ve chosen one of his sonnets for this P.O.E.T.S. Day: “How Soon Hath Time.”
Milton begins in frustration. Time is passing and he is aging. He feels he has nothing to show for his years. Even his face is without evidence of maturing. He’s a man but looks like a boy and so many opportunities have passed.
He shifts to resigned optimism quickly. He realizes that patience will bring him rewards (a very un-P.O.E.T.S. Day sentiment) if he trusts in God.
The poet is written in a standard sonnet form – abba etc. with a gg couplet at the end, ten syllables per line and mostly iambs or completely iambs. Though I’m bad at stress at times I think I spotted a few points where he broke with the rest, but I could be wrong. Either way, poets break with rhythm on occasion, so I don’t see it as a fault.
With no further ado,
How Soon Hath Time
– 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 show’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 endu’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 Taskmaster’s eye.