Abbildungen der Seite



Manoah, the Father of Samson.

Dalila, his Wife.

Harapha of Gath.

Public Officer.


Chorus of Danites.

The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.


Samson, [Attendant leading him.]

A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on;
For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade:
There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
Daily' in the common prison else enjoin'd me,
Where I, a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw
The air imprison'd also, close and damp,
Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends,
The breath of Heav'n fresh blowing, pure and sweet,
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.-
This day a solemn feast the people hold

To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid
Laborious works; unwillingly this rest


Their superstition yields me; hence with leave


Retiring from the popular noise, I seek

This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the body some, none to the mind

From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm
Of hornets arm'd, no sooner found alone,
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
O wherefore was my birth from Heav'n foretold
Twice by an Angel, who at last in sight
Of both my parents all in flames ascended
From off the altar, where an offering burn'd,
As in a fiery column charioting

His God-like presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd




As of a person separate to God,

Design'd for great exploits; if I must die
Betray'd, captiv'd, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in brazen fetters under task


With this heav'n-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 á 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 beggary, 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,
Inferior 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 pow'r of others, never in my own;
Searce 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!

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 th' 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 bury'd; but, O yet more miserable!
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave;
Bury'd, 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

[blocks in formation]

The tread of many feet steering this way;
Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare
At my affliction, and perhaps t' insult,
Their daily practice to afflict me more.

[Enter] Chorus.

Chor. This, this is he; softly a while,

Let us not break in upon him:

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,

[blocks in formation]



O'er-worn and soil'd;

Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be he,
That heroic, that renown'd,

Irresistible Samson? whom unarm'd


No strength of man or fiercest wild beast could with


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,
Chalybean temper'd steel, and frock of mail
Adamantéan proof?

But safest he who stood aloof,

When insupportably his foot advane'd,



In scorn of their proud arms and warlike tools, Spurn'd them to death by troops. The bold Ascalo


Fled from his lion ramp; old warriors turn'd

Their plated backs under his heel;


Or, grov'ling, 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 fore-skins fell, the flow'r of Palestine,
In Ramath-lechi, famous to this day.


« ZurückWeiter »