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Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,
And all her various objects of delight,
Annull’d, which might in part my grief have eas'd,
Inferiour to the vilest now become
man or worm; the vilest here excel me;
They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, expos’d
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
Without all hope of day!
O first created Beam, and thou great Word,
“Let there be light, and light was over all;"
Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree?
The sun to me is dark
And silent as the moon,
When she deserts the night,
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Since light so necessary is to life,
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the soul,
She all in every part; why was the sight
To such a tender ball as the eye confin'd,
So obvious and so easy to be quench'd ?
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffus'd
That she might look at will through every pore?
Then had I not been thus exild from light,
As in the land of darkness, yet in light,
To live a life half-dead, a living death,
And buried; but, O yet more miserable !
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave;
Buried, yet not exempt,
By privilege of death and burial,
From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs ;
But made hereby obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity
Among inhuman foes.
But who are these ? for with joint pace I hear
The tread of many feet steering this way;
Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare
At my affliction, and perhaps to insult,
Their daily practice to afflict me more.
Enter CHORUS. Cho. This, this is he; softly awhile, Let us not break in
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus’d,
With languish'd head unpropt,
As one past hope, abandon'd,
And by himself given over;
In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds
O’er-worn and soil'd;
Or do my eyes misrepresent ? Can this be he,
That heroick, that renown'd
Irresistible Samson? whom unarm'd
No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast, could withstand;
Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid;
Ran on embattled armies clad in iron;
And, weaponless himself,
Made arms ridiculous, useless the forgery
Of brazen shield and spear, the hammer'd cuirass,
Chalýbeantemper'd steel, and frock of mail
• Chalybean :' as if made by the Chalybes, famous ancient workers in iron.
But safest he who stood aloof,
When insupportably his foot advanc'd,
In scorn of their proud arms and warlike tools,
Spurn’d them to death by troops. The bold Ascalonitel
Fled from his lion ramp;2 old warriours turn'd
Their plated backs under his heel:
Or, grovelling, soild their crested helmets in the dust.
Then with what trivial weapon came to hand,
The jaw of a dead ass, his sword of bone,
A thousand foreskins fell, the flower of Palestine,
In Ramath-lechi, famous to this day.
Then by main force pull’d up, and on his shoulders bore
The gates of Azza,' post, and massy bar,
Up to the bill by Hebron, 4 seat of giants old,
No journey of a sabbath-day, and loaded so;
Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up
Which shall I first bewail,
Thy bondage or lost sight;
Prison within prison
Thou art become (0 worst imprisonment !)
The dungeon of thyself; thy soul,
(Which men enjoying sight oft without cause complain)
Imprison'd now indeed,
In real darkness of the body dwells,
Shut up from outward light
To incorporate with gloomy night;
For inward light, alas !
Puts forth no visual beam.
O mirrour of our fickle state,
Since man on earth, unparalleld!
16 Ascalon:' one of the five principal cities of the Philistines. _ ' Ramp:' from rampant.—3 « Azza:' another name for Gaza. ~ Hebron :' city of the ancient Anakims.-S. Like whom :' Atlas.
The rarer thy example stands,
By how much from the top of wonderous glory
Strongest of mortal men,
To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen.
For him I reckon not in high estate
Whom long descent of birth,
Or the sphere of fortune, raises ;
But thee whose strength, while virtue was her mate,
Might have subdued the earth,
Universally crown'd with highest praises.
Sam. I hear the sound of words; their sense the air
Dissolves unjointed ere it reach my ear.
Cho. He speaks, let us draw nigh. Matchless in might,
The glory late of Israel, now the grief ;
We come, thy friends and neighbours not unknown,
From Eshtaol and Zora's1 fruitful vale,
To visit or bewail thee; or, if better,
Counsel or consolation we may bring,
Salve to thy sores ; apt words have power to swage
The tumours of a troubled mind,
And are as balm to fester'd wounds.
Sam. Your coming, Friends, revives me ; for I learn,
Now of my own experience, not by talk,
How counterfeit a coin they are who friends
Bear in their superscription, (of the most
I would be understood ;) in prosperous days
They swarm, but in advérse withdraw their head,
Not to be found, though sought. Ye see, O Friends,
How many evils have enclos’d me round;
Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me,
Blindness; for had I sight, confus'd with shame,
How could I once look up, or heave the head,
1. Eshtaol and Zora :' two towns in Dan; the latter, Samson's birthplace.
Who, like a foolish pilot, have shipwreck'd
My vessel trusted to me from above,
Gloriously rigg'd; and for a word, a tear,
Fool! have divulged the secret gift of God
To a deceitful woman? tell me, Friends,
Am I not sung and proverb'd for a fool
In every street ? do they not say, how well
Are come upon him his deserts ? yet why?
Immeasurable strength they might behold
In me, of wisdom nothing more than mean ;
This with the other should, at least, have pair’d,
These two, proportion'd ill, drove me transverse.
Cho. Tax not divine disposal ; wisest men
Have err'd, and by bad women been deceiv'd;
And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise.
Deject not then so overmuch thyself,
Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides :
Yet, truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder
Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather
Than of thy own tribe fairer, or as fair,
At least of thy own nation, and as noble.
Sam. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleas'd Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed The daughter of an infidel : They knew not That what I motion'd was of God; I knew From intimate impulse, and therefore urg'd The marriage on; that by occasion hence I might begin Israel's deliverance, The work to which I was divinely call’d. She proving false, the next I took to wife (O that I never had ! fond wish too late), Was in the vale of Sorec, Dalila, That specious monster, my accomplish'd snare. I thought it lawful from my former act,