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With this Heaven-gifted strength? O glorious strength,
Put to the labour of a beast, debas'd
Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke:
Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine prediction; what if all foretold
Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default,
Whom have I to complain of but myself?
Who this high gift of strength committed to me,
In what part lodg'd, how easily bereft me, Under the seal of silence could not keep, But weakly to a woman must reveal it,
O'ercome with importunity and tears. O impotence of mind, in body strong!But what is strength without a double share Of wisdom? vast, unwieldy, burdensome, Proudly secure, yet liable to fall By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command!God, when he gave me strength, to show withal How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair. But peace, I must not quarrel with the will
Of highest dispensation, which herein Haply had ends above my reach to know:Suffices that to me strength is my bane, And proves the source of all my miseries; So many, and so huge, that each apart Would ask a life to wail; but chief of all,
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!Blind among enemies, O worse than chains, Dungeon, or beggery, or decrepit age!
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 Of 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 1
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 exil'd 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.
Cho. This, this is he; softly awhile,
Or do my eyes misrepresent 1 Can this be he,
1 ' 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 Ascalonite1
Fled from his lion ramp;2 old warriours turn'd
Theirplated backs under his heel:
Or, grovelling, soil'd 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,3 post, and massy bar,
Up to the hill by Hebron,4 seat of giants old,
No journey of a sabbath-day, and loaded so;
Like whom5 the Gentiles feign to bear up Heaven.
Which shall I first bewail,
Thy bondage or lost sight;
Prison within prison
Thou art become (O 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, unparallel'd!
1'Ascalon:' one of the five principal cities of the Philistines.—2' Ramp:' from rampant.—*' Azza:' another name for Gaza.—* 'Hebron:' city of the ancient Anakims.—* '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 iu miglit, 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 adverse 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