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Manoa the Father of Samson.
Dalila his Wife.
Harapha of Gath.
Chorus of Danites.
The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.
S LITTLE onward lend thy guiding
To these dark steps, a little further on; O Y. 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 toyl, Daily in the common Prison else enjoyn'd me, Where I a Prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw The air imprison'd also, close and damp, Unwholsom draught: but here I feel amends, 9 The breath of Heav'n fresh-blowing, pureand sweet, With day-spring born; here leave me to respire. This day a solemn Feast the people hold To Dagon thir Sea-Idol, and forbid Laborious works, unwillingly this rest Thir 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, 20
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
O wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold
Twice by an Angel, who at last in fight
Of both my Parents all in flames ascended
From off the Altar, where an Off’ring burn'd,
As in a fiery column charioting
His Godlike presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveald 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 dye
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
Put to the labour of a Beast, debas't [strength
Lower then bondslave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver ;
Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him 40
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philiftian yoke ;
Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine Prediction; what if all foretold
Had been fulfilld but through mine own default,
Whom have I to complain of but my self?
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,
50 O’recome with importunity and tears.
O impotence of mind, in body strong!
But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom, vast, unwieldy, burdensom,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall
By weakest suttleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command.
God, when he gave me strength, to shew withal
How flight the gift was, hung it in my Hair.
But peace, I must not quarrel with the will 60
Of highest dispensation, which herein
Happ’ly had ends above my reach to know :
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
And proves the sourse 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 then 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 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 then 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 it self, if it be true
That light is in the Soul,
She all in every part; why was the fight
ender ball as th' eye confin'd ?
So obvious and so easie to be quench’t,
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, 100
And buried; but O yet more miserable !
My self, my Sepulcher, a moving Grave,
Buried, yet not exempt
By priviledge 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 110
The tread of many feet stearing this way;
Perhaps my enemies who come to stare
At my affliction, and perhaps to insult,
Thir daily practice to afflict me more.
Chor. This, this is he; softly a while,