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Delilah's arts; bis weakness warn’d in vain,
Thrice warn'd, thrice yielding to the slavish chain
Of venal Beauty's lying blandishment,
And still entangled when the snare was rent;
That fatal couch ; that dark perfidious hour
When he betray'd his citadel of power:
The quenching of those eyes in endless night
No foe had ever dared to meet in fight;
The fetters forged his free-born limbs around;
The fetid prison where with slaves he ground;
And, worst of all, the shouts of high acclaim
Before him raised to Dagon's cursed name. —
Enough: I bless the Hand that smote him now,
And taught him though with bitter tears to bow,
Until he learnt beneath the chastening rod
That he was only strong, while strong in God.
Hark! there are sounds of revelry and mirth.
There is a feast to Dagon; and the earth
Rings with the shout exultingly again
Of that far-echoing sacrificial strain :
See, Gaza's eager population waits
The opening of those massive temple gates.
He comes ! he comes ! on his triumphal car,
Deck'd with the gorgeous pageantries of war,
Is rear'd the hideous idol ; one and all
Before their god in low prostration fall.
And hark again, those wild and dissonant cries
In proud defiance swelling to the skies —
“ Hail, Dagon! thou hast fought for us and won !
Hail, Dagon, hail! Where lies Manoah's son?
Where is the God of Israel ? let Him now
Avenge His cause; and be our champion thou !"
Again the gates are closed, again the din
Rings through the joyous city. But within
Dispersed through courts and crowded galleries,
Whose spacious roof receives the welcome breeze,
Behold, the choicest of Philistia's peers,
The bloom of all her beauty: echoing cheers
Peal through the temple of the idol god,
And wine and jesting fill the vast abode,
Till in their impious merriment they call
For Samson's feats to crown their festival.
Hark yet again, one universal cry,
A ruin'd nation's groan of agony,
With wailing, fills the vast of heaven : again, The dying shrieks of thousands from that fane: Again — and Gaza holds her fearful breath, And all is mute as sleep, the sleep of death.
To Zorah’s vale full soon the tidings sped,
Where lone I watch'd his mother's dying-bed ;
For, ever since he fell Delilah's prey,
She like a flower had wither'd day by day,
Calm, tearless, uncomplaining, yet I knew
Her broken heart had found no healing dew.
But when her ear the hurried message caught
That God deliverance by his death had wrought;
The banquet, and the shouts that rend the air,
His deeds of might, his last victorious prayer,
The pillars grasp'd and shaken to and fro,
The helpless agonizing cries of woe,
Until the temple’s shatter'd roof and dome
Wrapt him and all in one terrific tomb;
Then first a smile of glory on her cheek
Spoke of such bliss as language could not speak:
She raised her overflowing eyes to heaven,
And wept for joy, “ My Samson is forgiven.”
My tale is told — too soon the sepulchre
That closed o'er Samson was unseald for her ;
And I was left my nation's peace to see —
Peace which my child had won, though not for me :
Farewell ! our circle gathers in the sky,
And as they died in faith, so would I die.
“Opinionum commenta dies delet; naturæ judicia confirmat.”
Cic. de Nat. Deor.
WOE for the land of Asshur! she who sate
Queen of the nations, princess of the peers ; How sits she as a widow desolate,
In bitterness of soul and silent tears !
Great Nineveh is fallen! Pale with fears She sits in her sepulchral greatness, hoary
With lapse of unknown centuries of years ; And strangers roam her haunts of sometime glory, Deciphering with pain her once transparent story.