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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 afcended
From off the altar, where an offering burnd,
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 30
As of a person feparate 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
With this Heav'n-gifted strength ? O glorious strength
Put to the labor of a beast, debas'd
Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I
Should Ifrael from Philiftian yoke deliver ;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
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 fulfillid 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 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, vaft, 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 Night the gift was, hung it in my
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,
the source of all
So many, and so huge, that each apart
Would ask a life to wail, but chief of all,
O loss of fight, 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 extinet,
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 75
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and
Within doors, or without, ftill as a fool,
In pow'r 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, 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 ?
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 fight
To such a tender ball as th' eye
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 yet more miserable !
Myself, my fepulchre, 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
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, IIS
Let us not break in upon him;
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelesly 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 heroic, 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 imbattel'd 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
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 Ascalonite
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-fkins fell, the flower of Palestine,
In Ramath-lechi famous to this day.
Then by main force pulld up, and on his shoulders bore
The gates of Azza, port, and massy bar,
Up to the hill by Hebron, seat of giants old,
No journey of a fabbath-day, and loaded so ;
Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up Heaven. 150
Which shall I first bewail,
Thy bondage or lost sight,
Prison within prison
Thou art become (О worst imprisonment!) 155
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
160 T'incorporate with gloomy night; For inward light alas Puts forth no visual beam. O mirror of our fickle states Since man on earth unparallel'd !
165 The rarer thy example stands, By how much from the top of wondrous glory, Strongest of mortal men, To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fall’n. For him I reckon not in high estate
170 Whom long descent of birth Or the fphere of fortune raises;