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SAMSON AGONISTES.

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SAMSON.
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 fit, when any

chance Relieves me

from
my
task of servile toil,

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Daily' in the common prison else injoin'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. Il
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 15
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the body fome, none to the mind
From restless thoughts, that like a deadly fwarm
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

25 From off the altar, where an offering burn'd, As in a fiery column charioting His god-like presence, and from some great act

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Or

Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race ?
Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib’d 30
As of a person separate to God,
Design’d for great exploits; if I must die
Betray'd, captív'd, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze ;
To grind in brazen fetters under task

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With thisHeav'n-gifted strength ?O glorious strength
Put to the labor of a beast, debas d
Lower than bondsave! Promise was that I
Should Israel froin Philiftian yoke deliver ;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him 40
Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with flaves,
Himself in bonds under Philiftian yoke :
Yet stay, let me not rafhly call in doubt
Divine prediction ; what if all foretold
Had been fulfill d but through mine own default, 45
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 filence could not keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it, 50
O’ercome with importunity and tears.

impotence of mind, in body strong!
But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom, vaft, unwieldy, burdensome,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall

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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 .60
Of highest dispensation, which herein
Haply had ends above my reach to know :
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,

And

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And proves the fource of all

my miferies
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, 70
And all her various objects of delight
Annull’d, which might in part my grief have easid,
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 75
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In pow'r of others, never in my own ;
Scarce half I feem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, 80
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 ?

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The sun to me is dark
And filent as the moon,
When the 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 fight
To such a tender ball as th' eye confin'd,
So obvious and so easy to be quenchid?

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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,

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As in the land of darkness yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And bury'd; but yet more miserable!
Myself, my sepulchre, a moving grave,
Buryd, yet not exempt
By privilege of death and burial
From worit of other evils, pains and wrongs, 105
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 110
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.

Chor. This, this is he; softly a while, 115
Let us not break in upon him;
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelelly diffus’d,
With languish'd head unpropt,
As one past hope, abandon'd,
And by himself given over ;
In Navish habit, ill-fitted weeds
O’er-worn and soil'd ;
Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be he,
That heroic, that renown'd,

125 Irresistible Samson ? whom unarm'd No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast could withWho tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid, [stand; Ran on imbattel'd armies clad in iron, And weaponless himself,

13° Made arms ridiculous, useless the forgery Of brazen shield and spear, the hammer'd cuirass, Chaly'bean temper'd steel, and frock of inail

Adamanteaza

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Adamantean proof;
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 Ascalo-
Fled from his lion ramp, old warriors turn d [nite
Their plated backs tinder his heel ;

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Or grav'ling foild 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.
Then by main force pull'd up, and on his shoulders
The gates of Azza, past, and massy bar, [bore
Up to the hill by Hebron, feat of giants old,
No journey of a fabbath-day, and loaded fo;
Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up Heaven.
Which shall I first bewail,

151
Thy bondage or loft sight,
Prison within prison
Infeparably dark
Thou art become ( worst imprisonment!) 155
The durgeon of thyself; thy foul
(Which men enjoying light oft without cause com-
Imprison'd now indeed,

[plain)
In real darkness of the body dwells,
Shit up from outward light
T'incorporate with gloomy night ;
For inward light alas
Puts forth no visual beam.
O mirror of our fickle state,
Since man on earth unparallel'd!

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The rarer thy example stands,
By how much from the top of wondrous glory,
Strougelt of mortal men,

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