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by Matthew Arnold |

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! Only, from the long line of spray Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land, Listen! you hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago Heard it on the {AE}gean, and it brought Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow Of human misery; we Find also in the sound a thought, Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.


by Edna St Vincent Millay |

Invocation To The Muses

 Read by the poet at The Public Ceremonial of The Naional Institute 
of Arts and Letters at Carnegie Hall, New York, January 18th, 1941.
Great Muse, that from this hall absent for long Hast never been, Great Muse of Song, Colossal Muse of mighty Melody, Vocal Calliope, With thine august and contrapuntal brow And thy vast throat builded for Harmony, For the strict monumental pure design, And the melodic line: Be thou tonight with all beneath these rafters—be with me.
If I address thee in archaic style— Words obsolete, words obsolescent, It is that for a little while The heart must, oh indeed must from this angry and out-rageous present Itself withdraw Into some past in which most crooked Evil, Although quite certainly conceived and born, was not as yet the Law.
Archaic, or obsolescent at the least, Be thy grave speaking and the careful words of thy clear song, For the time wrongs us, and the words most common to our speech today Salute and welcome to the feast Conspicuous Evil— or against him all day long Cry out, telling of ugly deeds and most uncommon wrong.
Be thou tonight with all beneath these rafters—be with me But oh, be more with those who are not free.
Who, herded into prison camps all shame must suffer and all outrage see.
Where music is not played nor sung, Though the great voice be there, no sound from the dry throat across the thickened tongue Comes forth; nor has he heart for it.
Beauty in all things—no, we cannot hope for that; but some place set apart for it.
Here it may dwell; And with your aid, Melpomene And all thy sister-muses (for ye are, I think, daughters of Memory) Within the tortured mind as well.
Reaped are those fields with dragon's-teeth so lately sown; Many the heaped men dying there - so close, hip touches thigh; yet each man dies alone.
Music, what overtone For the soft ultimate sigh or the unheeded groan Hast thou—to make death decent, where men slip Down blood to death, no service of grieved heart or ritual lip Transferring what was recently a man and still is warm— Transferring his obedient limbs into the shallow grave where not again a friend shall greet him, Nor hatred do him harm .
.
.
Nor true love run to meet him? In the last hours of him who lies untended On a cold field at night, and sees the hard bright stars Above his upturned face, and says aloud "How strange .
.
.
my life is ended.
"— If in the past he loved great music much, and knew it well, Let not his lapsing mind be teased by well-beloved but ill- remembered bars — Let the full symphony across the blood-soaked field By him be heard, most pure in every part, The lonely horror of whose painful death is thus repealed, Who dies with quiet tears upon his upturned face, making to glow with softness the hard stars.
And bring to those who knew great poetry well Page after page that they have loved but have not learned by heart! We who in comfort to well-lighted shelves Can turn for all the poets ever wrote, Beseech you: Bear to those Who love high art no less than we ourselves, Those who lie wounded, those who in prison cast Strive to recall, to ease them, some great ode, and every stanza save the last.
Recall—oh, in the dark, restore them The unremembered lines; make bright the page before them! Page after page present to these, In prison concentrated, watched by barbs of bayonet and wire, Give ye to them their hearts' intense desire— The words of Shelley, Virgil, Sophocles.
And thou, O lovely and not sad, Euterpe, be thou in this hall tonight! Bid us remember all we ever had Of sweet and gay delight— We who are free, But cannot quite be glad, Thinking of huge, abrupt disaster brought Upon so many of our kind Who treasure as do we the vivid look on the unfrightened face, The careless happy stride from place to place, And the unbounded regions of untrammelled thought Open as interstellar space To the exploring and excited mind.
O Muses, O immortal Nine!— Or do ye languish? Can ye die? Must all go under?— How shall we heal without your help a world By these wild horses torn asunder? How shall we build anew? — How start again? How cure, how even moderate this pain Without you, and you strong? And if ye sleep, then waken! And if ye sicken and do plan to die, Do not that now! Hear us, in what sharp need we cry! For we have help nowhere If not in you! Pity can much, and so a mighty mind, but cannot all things do!— By you forsaken, We shall be scattered, we shall be overtaken! Oh, come! Renew in us the ancient wonder, The grace of life, its courage, and its joy! Weave us those garlands nothing can destroy! Come! with your radiant eyes! — with your throats of thunder!


by John Milton |

Samson Agonistes

 Of that sort of Dramatic Poem which is call'd Tragedy.
TRAGEDY, as it was antiently compos'd, hath been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other Poems: therefore said by Aristotle to be of power by raising pity and fear, or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like passions, that is to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirr'd up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated.
Nor is Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion: for so in Physic things of melancholic hue and quality are us'd against melancholy, sowr against sowr, salt to remove salt humours.
Hence Philosophers and other gravest Writers, as Cicero, Plutarch and others, frequently cite out of Tragic Poets, both to adorn and illustrate thir discourse.
The Apostle Paul himself thought it not unworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the Text of Holy Scripture, I Cor.
15.
33.
and Paraeus commenting on the Revelation, divides the whole Book as a Tragedy, into Acts distinguisht each by a Chorus of Heavenly Harpings and Song between.
Heretofore Men in highest dignity have labour'd not a little to be thought able to compose a Tragedy.
Of that honour Dionysius the elder was no less ambitious, then before of his attaining to the Tyranny.
Augustus Caesar also had begun his Ajax, but unable to please his own judgment with what he had begun.
left it unfinisht.
Seneca the Philosopher is by some thought the Author of those Tragedies (at lest the best of them) that go under that name.
Gregory Nazianzen a Father of the Church, thought it not unbeseeming the sanctity of his person to write a Tragedy which he entitl'd, Christ suffering.
This is mention'd to vindicate Tragedy from the small esteem, or rather infamy, which in the account of many it undergoes at this day with other common Interludes; hap'ning through the Poets error of intermixing Comic stuff with Tragic sadness and gravity; or introducing trivial and vulgar persons, which by all judicious hath bin counted absurd; and brought in without discretion, corruptly to gratifie the people.
And though antient Tragedy use no Prologue, yet using sometimes, in case of self defence, or explanation, that which Martial calls an Epistle; in behalf of this Tragedy coming forth after the antient manner, much different from what among us passes for best, thus much before-hand may be Epistl'd; that Chorus is here introduc'd after the Greek manner, not antient only but modern, and still in use among the Italians.
In the modelling therefore of this Poem with good reason, the Antients and Italians are rather follow'd, as of much more authority and fame.
The measure of Verse us'd in the Chorus is of all sorts, call'd by the Greeks Monostrophic, or rather Apolelymenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe or Epod, which were a kind of Stanza's fram'd only for the Music, then us'd with the Chorus that sung; not essential to the Poem, and therefore not material; or being divided into Stanza's or Pauses they may be call'd Allaeostropha.
Division into Act and Scene referring chiefly to the Stage (to which this work never was intended) is here omitted.
It suffices if the whole Drama be found not produc't beyond the fift Act, of the style and uniformitie, and that commonly call'd the Plot, whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such oeconomy, or disposition of the fable as may stand best with verisimilitude and decorum; they only will best judge who are not unacquainted with Aeschulus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the three Tragic Poets unequall'd yet by any, and the best rule to all who endeavour to write Tragedy.
The circumscription of time wherein the whole Drama begins and ends, is according to antient rule, and best example, within the space of 24 hours.
The ARGUMENT.
Samson made Captive, Blind, and now in the Prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a common work-house, on a Festival day, in the general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open Air, to a place nigh, somewhat retir'd there to sit a while and bemoan his condition.
Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can ; then by his old Father Manoa, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; lastly, that this Feast was proclaim'd by the Philistins as a day of Thanksgiving for thir deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him.
Manoa then departs to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistian Lords for Samson's redemption; who in the mean while is visited by other persons; and lastly by a publick Officer to require coming to the Feast before the Lords and People, to play or shew his strength in thir presence; he at first refuses, dismissing the publick officer with absolute denyal to come; at length perswaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatnings to fetch him; the Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoa returns full of joyful hope, to procure e're long his Sons deliverance: in the midst of which discourse an Ebrew comes in haste confusedly at first; and afterward more distinctly relating the Catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistins, and by accident to himself; wherewith the Tragedy ends.
The Persons Samson.
Manoa the father of Samson.
Dalila his wife.
Harapha of Gath.
Publick Officer.
Messenger.
Chorus of Danites The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.
Sam: 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 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, 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 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, 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 sight 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 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 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 strength Put to the labour of a Beast, debas't Lower then bondslave! 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 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 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 slight the gift was, hung it in my Hair.
But peace, I must not quarrel with the will 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, 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, 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 sight To such a tender 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, 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 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, 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't head unpropt, As one past hope, abandon'd And by himself given over; In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds O're worn and soild; Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be hee, 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 embattelld 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 Adamantean Proof; But safest he who stood aloof, When insupportably his foot advanc't, In scorn of thir proud arms and warlike tools, Spurn'd them to death by Troops.
The bold Ascalonite Fled from his Lion ramp, old Warriors turn'd Thir plated backs under his heel; Or grovling soild thir 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 flower of Palestin In Ramath-lechi famous to this day: Then by main force pull'd up, and on his shoulders bore The Gates of Azza, Post, and massie Bar Up to the Hill by Hebron, seat of Giants old, No journey of a Sabbath day, and loaded so; Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up Heav'n.
Which shall I first bewail, Thy Bondage or lost Sight, Prison within Prison Inseparably dark? Thou art become (O worst imprisonment!) The Dungeon of thy self; 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 To 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! 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 Whom long descent of birth Or the sphear of fortune raises; But thee whose strength, while vertue was her mate Might have subdu'd the Earth, Universally crown'd with highest praises.
Sam: I hear the sound of words, thir sense the air Dissolves unjointed e're it reach my ear.
Chor: Hee speaks, let us draw nigh.
Matchless in might, The glory late of Israel, now the grief; We come thy friends and neighbours not unknown From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful Vale To visit or bewail thee, or if better, Counsel or Consolation we may bring, Salve to thy Sores, apt words have power to swage The tumors of a troubl'd mind, And are as Balm to fester'd wounds.
Sam: Your coming, Friends, revives me, for I learn Now of my own experience, not by talk, How counterfeit a coin they are who friends Bear in their Superscription (of the most I would be understood) in prosperous days They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their head Not to be found, though sought.
Wee see, O friends.
How many evils have enclos'd me round; Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me, Blindness, for had I sight, confus'd with shame, How could I once look up, or heave the head, Who like a foolish Pilot have shipwrack't, My Vessel trusted to me from above, Gloriously rigg'd; and for a word, a tear, Fool, have divulg'd the secret gift of God To a deceitful Woman : tell me Friends, Am I not sung and proverbd for a Fool In every street, do they not say, how well Are come upon him his deserts? yet why? Immeasurable strength they might behold In me, of wisdom nothing more then mean; This with the other should, at least, have paird, These two proportiond ill drove me transverse.
Chor: Tax not divine disposal, wisest Men Have err'd, and by bad Women been deceiv'd; And shall again, pretend they ne're so wise.
Deject not then so overmuch thy self, Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides; Yet truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather Then of thine own Tribe fairer, or as fair, At least of thy own Nation, and as noble.
Sam: The first I saw at Timna, and she pleas'd Mee, not my Parents, that I sought to wed, The daughter of an Infidel: they knew not That what I motion'd was of God; I knew From intimate impulse, and therefore urg'd The Marriage on; that by occasion hence I might begin Israel's Deliverance, The work to which I was divinely call'd; She proving false, the next I took to Wife (O that I never had! fond wish too late) Was in the Vale of Sorec, Dalila, That specious Monster, my accomplisht snare.
I thought it lawful from my former act, And the same end; still watching to oppress Israel's oppressours: of what now I suffer She was not the prime cause, but I my self, Who vanquisht with a peal of words (O weakness!) Gave up my fort of silence to a Woman.
Chor: In seeking just occasion to provoke The Philistine, thy Countries Enemy, Thou never wast remiss, I hear thee witness: Yet Israel still serves with all his Sons.
Sam: That fault I take not on me, but transfer On Israel's Governours, and Heads of Tribes, Who seeing those great acts which God had done Singly by me against their Conquerours Acknowledg'd not, or not at all consider'd Deliverance offerd : I on th' other side Us'd no ambition to commend my deeds, The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud the dooer; But they persisted deaf, and would not seem To count them things worth notice, till at length Thir Lords the Philistines with gather'd powers Enterd Judea seeking mee, who then Safe to the rock of Etham was retir'd, Not flying, but fore-casting in what place To set upon them, what advantag'd best; Mean while the men of Judah to prevent The harrass of thir Land, beset me round; I willingly on some conditions came Into thir hands, and they as gladly yield me To the uncircumcis'd a welcom prey, Bound with two cords; but cords to me were threds Toucht with the flame: on thir whole Host I flew Unarm'd, and with a trivial weapon fell'd Thir choicest youth; they only liv'd who fled.
Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole Tribe, They had by this possess'd the Towers of Gath, And lorded over them whom now they serve; But what more oft in Nations grown corrupt, And by thir vices brought to servitude, Then to love Bondage more then Liberty, Bondage with ease then strenuous liberty; And to despise, or envy, or suspect Whom God hath of his special favour rais'd As thir Deliverer; if he aught begin, How frequent to desert him, and at last To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds? Chor: Thy words to my remembrance bring How Succoth and the Fort of Penuel Thir great Deliverer contemn'd, The matchless Gideon in pursuit Of Madian and her vanquisht Kings; And how ingrateful Ephraim Not worse then by his shield and spear Had dealt with Jephtha, who by argument, Defended Israel from the Ammonite, Had not his prowess quell'd thir pride In that sore battel when so many dy'd Without Reprieve adjudg'd to death, For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.
Sam: Of such examples adde mee to the roul, Mee easily indeed mine may neglect, But Gods propos'd deliverance not so.
Chor: Just are the ways of God, And justifiable to Men; Unless there be who think not God at all, If any be, they walk obscure; For of such Doctrine never was there School, But the heart of the Fool, And no man therein Doctor but himself.
Yet more there be who doubt his ways not just, As to his own edicts, found contradicting, Then give the rains to wandring thought, Regardless of his glories diminution; Till by thir own perplexities involv'd They ravel more, still less resolv'd, But never find self-satisfying solution.
As if they would confine th' interminable, And tie him to his own prescript, Who made our Laws to bind us, not himself, And hath full right to exempt Whom so it pleases him by choice From National obstriction, without taint Of sin, or legal debt; For with his own Laws he can best dispence.
He would not else who never wanted means, Nor in respect of the enemy just cause To set his people free, Have prompted this Heroic Nazarite, Against his vow of strictest purity, To seek in marriage that fallacious Bride, Unclean, unchaste.
Down Reason then, at least vain reasonings down, Though Reason here aver That moral verdit quits her of unclean : Unchaste was subsequent, her stain not his.
But see here comes thy reverend Sire With careful step, Locks white as doune, Old Manoah: advise Forthwith how thou oughtst to receive him.
Sam: Ay me, another inward grief awak't, With mention of that name renews th' assault.
Man: Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye seem, Though in this uncouth place; if old respect, As I suppose, towards your once gloried friend, My Son now Captive, hither hath inform'd Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age Came lagging after; say if he be here.
Chor: As signal now in low dejected state, As earst in highest; behold him where be lies.
Man: O miserable change! is this the man, That invincible Samson, far renown'd, The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength Equivalent to Angels walk'd thir streets, None offering fight; who single combatant Duell'd thir Armies rank't in proud array, Himself an Army, now unequal match To save himself against a coward arm'd At one spears length.
O ever failing trust In mortal strength! and oh what not in man Deceivable and vain! Nay what thing good Pray'd for, but often proves our woe, our bane? I pray'd for Children, and thought barrenness In wedlock a reproach; I gain'd a Son, And such a Son as all Men hail'd me happy; Who would be now a Father in my stead? O wherefore did God grant me my request, And as a blessing with such pomp adorn'd? Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt Our earnest Prayers, then giv'n with solemn hand As Graces, draw a Scorpions tail behind? For this did the Angel twice descend? for this Ordain'd thy nurture holy, as of a Plant; Select, and Sacred, Glorious for a while, The miracle of men: then in an hour Ensnar'd, assaulted, overcome, led bound, Thy Foes derision, Captive, Poor, and Blind Into a Dungeon thrust, to work with Slaves? Alas methinks whom God hath chosen once To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err, He should not so o'rewhelm, and as a thrall Subject him to so foul indignities, Be it but for honours sake of former deeds.
Sam: Appoint not heavenly disposition, Father, Nothing of all these evils hath befall'n me But justly; I my self have brought them on, Sole Author I, sole cause: if aught seem vile, As vile hath been my folly, who have profan'd The mystery of God giv'n me under pledge Of vow, and have betray'd it to a woman, A Canaanite, my faithless enemy.
This well I knew, nor was at all surpris'd, But warn'd by oft experience: did not she Of Timna first betray me, and reveal The secret wrested from me in her highth Of Nuptial Love profest, carrying it strait To them who had corrupted her, my Spies, And Rivals? In this other was there found More Faith? who also in her prime of love, Spousal embraces, vitiated with Gold, Though offer'd only, by the sent conceiv'd Her spurious first-born; Treason against me? Thrice she assay'd with flattering prayers and sighs, And amorous reproaches to win from me My capital secret, in what part my strength Lay stor'd in what part summ'd, that she might know: Thrice I deluded her, and turn'd to sport Her importunity, each time perceiving How openly, and with what impudence She purpos'd to betray me, and (which was worse Then undissembl'd hate) with what contempt She sought to make me Traytor to my self; Yet the fourth time, when mustring all her wiles, With blandisht parlies, feminine assaults, Tongue-batteries, she surceas'd not day nor night To storm me over-watch't, and wearied out.
At times when men seek most repose and rest, I yielded, and unlock'd her all my heart, Who with a grain of manhood well resolv'd Might easily have shook off all her snares : But foul effeminacy held me yok't Her Bond-slave; O indignity, O blot To Honour and Religion! servil mind Rewarded well with servil punishment! The base degree to which I now am fall'n, These rags, this grinding, is not yet so base As was my former servitude, ignoble, Unmanly, ignominious, infamous, True slavery, and that blindness worse then this, That saw not how degeneratly I serv'd.
Man: I cannot praise thy Marriage choises, Son, Rather approv'd them not; but thou didst plead Divine impulsion prompting how thou might'st Find some occasion to infest our Foes.
I state not that; this I am sure; our Foes Found soon occasion thereby to make thee Thir Captive, and thir triumph; thou the sooner Temptation found'st, or over-potent charms To violate the sacred trust of silence Deposited within thee; which to have kept Tacit, was in thy power; true; and thou hear'st Enough, and more the burden of that fault; Bitterly hast thou paid, and still art paying That rigid score.
A worse thing yet remains, This day the Philistines a popular Feast Here celebrate in Gaza, and proclaim Great Pomp, and Sacrifice, and Praises loud To Dagon, as their God who hath deliver'd Thee Samson bound and blind into thir hands, Them out of thine, who slew'st them many a slain.
So Dagon shall be magnifi'd, and God, Besides whom is no God, compar'd with Idols, Disglorifi'd, blasphem'd, and had in scorn By th' Idolatrous rout amidst thir wine; Which to have come to pass by means of thee, Samson, of all thy sufferings think the heaviest, Of all reproach the most with shame that ever Could have befall'n thee and thy Fathers house.
Sam: Father, I do acknowledge and confess That I this honour, I this pomp have brought To Dagon, and advanc'd his praises high Among the Heathen round; to God have brought Dishonour, obloquie, and op't the mouths Of Idolists, and Atheists; have brought scandal To Israel diffidence of God, and doubt In feeble hearts, propense anough before To waver, or fall off and joyn with Idols: Which is my chief affliction, shame and sorrow, The anguish of my Soul, that suffers not Mine eie to harbour sleep, or thoughts to rest.
This only hope relieves me, that the strife With me hath end; all the contest is now 'Twixt God and Dagon; Dagon hath presum'd, Me overthrown, to enter lists with God, His Deity comparing and preferring Before the God of Abraham.
He, he sure, Will not connive, or linger, thus provok'd, But will arise and his great name assert: Dagon must stoop, and shall e're long receive Such a discomfit, as shall quite despoil him Of all these boasted Trophies won on me, And with confusion blank his Worshippers.
Man: With cause this hope relieves thee, and these words I as a Prophecy receive: for God, Nothing more certain, will not long defer To vindicate the glory of his name Against all competition, nor will long Endure it, doubtful whether God be Lord, Or Dagon.
But for thee what shall be done? Thou must not in the mean while here forgot Lie in this miserable loathsom plight Neglected.
I already have made way To some Philistian Lords, with whom to treat About thy ransom: well they may by this Have satisfi'd thir utmost of revenge By pains and slaveries, worse then death inflicted On thee, who now no more canst do them harm.
Sam: Spare that proposal, Father, spare the trouble Of that sollicitation; let me here, As I deserve, pay on my punishment; And expiate, if possible, my crime, Shameful garrulity.
To have reveal'd Secrets of men, the secrets of a friend, How hainous had the fact been, how deserving Contempt, and scorn of all, to be excluded All friendship, and avoided as a blab, The mark of fool set on his front? But I Gods counsel have not kept, his holy secret Presumptuously have publish'd, impiously, Weakly at least, and shamefully: A sin That Gentiles in thir Parables condemn To thir abyss and horrid pains confin'd.
Man: Be penitent and for thy fault contrite, But act not in thy own affliction, Son, Repent the sin, but if the punishment Thou canst avoid, selfpreservation bids; Or th' execution leave to high disposal, And let another hand, not thine, exact Thy penal forfeit from thy self; perhaps God will relent, and quit thee all his debt; Who evermore approves and more accepts (Best pleas'd with humble and filial submission) Him who imploring mercy sues for life, Then who selfrigorous chooses death as due; Which argues overjust, and self-displeas'd For self-offence, more then for God offended.
Reject not then what offerd means, who knows But God hath set before us, to return thee Home to thy countrey and his sacred house, Where thou mayst bring thy off'rings, to avert His further ire, with praiers and vows renew'd.
Sam: His pardon I implore; but as for life, To what end should I seek it? when in strength All mortals I excell'd, and great in hopes With youthful courage and magnanimous thoughts Of birth from Heav'n foretold and high exploits, Full of divine instinct, after some proof Of acts indeed heroic, far beyond The Sons of Anac, famous now and blaz'd, Fearless of danger, like a petty God I walk'd about admir'd of all and dreaded On hostile ground, none daring my affront.
Then swoll'n with pride into the snare I fell Of fair fallacious looks, venereal trains, Softn'd with pleasure and voluptuous life; At length to lay my head and hallow'd pledge Of all my strength in the lascivious lap Of a deceitful Concubine who shore me Like a tame Weather, all my precious fleece, Then turn'd me out ridiculous, despoil'd, Shav'n, and disarm'd among my enemies.
Chor.
Desire of wine and all delicious drinks, Which many a famous Warriour overturns, Thou couldst repress, nor did the dancing Rubie Sparkling; out-pow'rd, the flavor, or the smell, Or taste that cheers the heart of Gods and men, Allure thee from the cool Crystalline stream.
Sam.
Where ever fountain or fresh current flow'd Against the Eastern ray, translucent, pure, With touch aetherial of Heav'ns fiery rod I drank, from the clear milkie juice allaying Thirst, and refresht; nor envy'd them the grape Whose heads that turbulent liquor fills with fumes.
Chor.
O madness, to think use of strongest wines And strongest drinks our chief support of health, When God with these forbid'n made choice to rear His mighty Champion, strong above compare, Whose drink was only from the liquid brook.
Sam.
But what avail'd this temperance, not compleat Against another object more enticing? What boots it at one gate to make defence, And at another to let in the foe Effeminatly vanquish't? by which means, Now blind, disheartn'd, sham'd, dishonour'd, quell'd, To what can I be useful, wherein serve My Nation, and the work from Heav'n impos'd, But to sit idle on the houshold hearth, A burdenous drone; to visitants a gaze, Or pitied object, these redundant locks Robustious to no purpose clustring down, Vain monument of strength; till length of years And sedentary numness craze my limbs To a contemptible old age obscure.
Here rather let me drudge and earn my bread, Till vermin or the draff of servil food Consume me, and oft-invocated death Hast'n the welcom end of all my pains.
Man.
Wilt thou then serve the Philistines with that gift Which was expresly giv'n thee to annoy them? Better at home lie bed-rid, not only idle, Inglorious, unimploy'd, with age out-worn.
But God who caus'd a fountain at thy prayer From the dry ground to spring, thy thirst to allay After the brunt of battel, can as easie Cause light again within thy eies to spring, Wherewith to serve him better then thou hast; And I perswade me so; why else this strength Miraculous yet remaining in those locks? His might continues in thee not for naught, Nor shall his wondrous gifts be frustrate thus.
Sam: All otherwise to me my thoughts portend, That these dark orbs no more shall treat with light, Nor th' other light of life continue long, But yield to double darkness nigh at hand: So much I feel my genial spirits droop, My hopes all flat, nature within me seems In all her functions weary of herself; My race of glory run, and race of shame, And I shall shortly be with them that rest.
Man.
Believe not these suggestions which proceed From anguish of the mind and humours black, That mingle with thy fancy.
I however Must not omit a Fathers timely care To prosecute the means of thy deliverance By ransom or how else: mean while be calm, And healing words from these thy friends admit.
Sam.
O that torment should not be confin'd To the bodies wounds and sores With maladies innumerable In heart, head, brest, and reins; But must secret passage find To th' inmost mind, There exercise all his fierce accidents, And on her purest spirits prey, As on entrails, joints, and limbs, With answerable pains, but more intense, 'Though void of corporal sense.
My griefs not only pain me As a lingring disease, But finding no redress, ferment and rage, Nor less then wounds immedicable Ranckle, and fester, and gangrene, To black mortification.
Thoughts my Tormenters arm'd with deadly stings Mangle my apprehensive tenderest parts, Exasperate, exulcerate, and raise Dire inflammation which no cooling herb Or rnedcinal liquor can asswage, Nor breath of Vernal Air from snowy Alp.
Sleep hath forsook and giv'n me o're To deaths benumming Opium as my only cure.
Thence faintings, swounings of despair, And sense of Heav'ns desertion.
I was his nursling once and choice delight, His destin'd from the womb, Promisd by Heavenly message twice descending.
Under his special eie Abstemious I grew up and thriv'd amain; He led me on to mightiest deeds Above the nerve of mortal arm Against the uncircumcis'd, our enemies.
But now hath cast me off as never known, And to those cruel enemies, Whom I by his appointment had provok't, Left me all helpless with th' irreparable loss Of sight, reserv'd alive to be repeated The subject of thir cruelty, or scorn.
Nor am I in the list of them that hope; Hopeless are all my evils, all remediless; This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard, No long petition, speedy death, The close of all my miseries, and the balm.
Chor: Many are the sayings of the wise In antient and in modern books enroll'd; Extolling Patience as the truest fortitude; And to the bearing well of all calamities, All chances incident to mans frail life Consolatories writ With studied argument, and much perswasion sought Lenient of grief and anxious thought, But with th' afflicted in his pangs thir sound Little prevails, or rather seems a tune, Harsh, and of dissonant mood from his complaint, Unless he feel within Some sourse of consolation from above; Secret refreshings, that repair his strength, And fainting spirits uphold.
God of our Fathers, what is man! That thou towards him with hand so various, Or might I say contrarious, Temperst thy providence through his short course, Not evenly, as thou rul'st The Angelic orders and inferiour creatures mute, Irrational and brute.
Nor do I name of men the common rout, That wandring loose about Grow up and perish, as the summer flie, Heads without name no more rememberd, But such as thou hast solemnly elected, With gifts and graces eminently adorn'd To some great work, thy glory, And peoples safety, which in part they effect: Yet toward these thus dignifi'd, thou oft Amidst thir highth of noon, Changest thy countenance, and thy hand with no regard Of highest favours past From thee on them, or them to thee of service.
Nor only dost degrade them, or remit To life obscur'd, which were a fair dismission, But throw'st them lower then thou didst exalt them high, Unseemly falls in human eie, Too grievous for the trespass or omission, Oft leav'st them to the hostile sword Of Heathen and prophane, thir carkasses To dogs and fowls a prey, or else captiv'd: Or to the unjust tribunals, under change of times, And condemnation of the ingrateful multitude.
If these they scape, perhaps in poverty With sickness and disease thou bow'st them down, Painful diseases and deform'd, In crude old age; Though not disordinate, yet causless suffring The punishment of dissolute days, in fine, Just or unjust, alike seem miserable, For oft alike, both come to evil end.
So deal not with this once thy glorious Champion, The Image of thy strength, and mighty minister.
What do I beg? how hast thou dealt already? Behold him in this state calamitous, and turn His labours, for thou canst, to peaceful end.
But who is this, what thing of Sea or Land? Femal of sex it seems, That so bedeckt, ornate, and gay, Comes this way sailing Like a stately Ship Of Tarsus, bound for th' Isles Of Javan or Gadier With all her bravery on, and tackle trim, Sails fill'd, and streamers waving, Courted by all the winds that hold them play, An Amber sent of odorous perfume Her harbinger, a damsel train behind; Some rich Philistian Matron she may seem, And now at nearer view, no other certain Than Dalila thy wife.
Sam: My Wife, my Traytress, let her not come near me.
Cho: Yet on she moves, now stands & eies thee fixt, About t'have spoke, but now, with head declin'd Like a fair flower surcharg'd with dew, she weeps And words addrest seem into tears dissolv'd, Wetting the borders of her silk'n veil: But now again she makes address to speak.
Dal: With doubtful feet and wavering resolution I came, still dreading thy displeasure, Samson, Which to have merited, without excuse, I cannot but acknowledge; yet if tears May expiate (though the fact more evil drew In the perverse event then I foresaw) My penance hath not slack'n'd, though my pardon No way assur'd.
But conjugal affection Prevailing over fear, and timerous doubt Hath led me on desirous to behold Once more thy face, and know of thy estate.
If aught in my ability may serve To light'n what thou suffer'st, and appease Thy mind with what amends is in my power, Though late, yet in some part to recompense My rash but more unfortunate misdeed.
Sam: Out, out Hyaena; these are thy wonted arts, And arts of every woman false like thee, To break all faith, all vows, deceive, betray, Then as repentant to submit, beseech, And reconcilement move with feign'd remorse, Confess, and promise wonders in her change, Not truly penitent, but chief to try Her husband, how far urg'd his patience bears, His vertue or weakness which way to assail: Then with more cautious and instructed skill Again transgresses, and again submits; That wisest and best men full oft beguil'd With goodness principl'd not to reject The penitent, but ever to forgive, Are drawn to wear out miserable days, Entangl'd with a poysnous bosom snake, If not by quick destruction soon cut off As I by thee, to Ages an example.
Dal: Yet hear me Samson; not that I endeavour To lessen or extenuate my offence, But that on th' other side if it be weigh'd By it self, with aggravations not surcharg'd, Or else with just allowance counterpois'd I may, if possible, thy pardon find The easier towards me, or thy hatred less.
First granting, as I do, it was a weakness In me, but incident to all our sex, Curiosity, inquisitive, importune Of secrets, then with like infirmity To publish them, both common female faults: Was it not weakness also to make known For importunity, that is for naught, Wherein consisted all thy strength and safety? To what I did thou shewdst me first the way.
But I to enemies reveal'd, and should not.
Nor shouldst thou have trusted that to womans frailty E're I to thee, thou to thy self wast cruel.
Let weakness then with weakness come to parl So near related, or the same of kind, Thine forgive mine; that men may censure thine The gentler, if severely thou exact not More strength from me, then in thy self was found.
And what if Love, which thou interpret'st hate, The jealousie of Love, powerful of sway In human hearts, nor less in mine towards thee, Caus'd what I did? I saw thee mutable Of fancy, feard lest one day thou wouldst leave me As her at Timna, sought by all means therefore How to endear, and hold thee to me firmest: No better way I saw then by importuning To learn thy secrets, get into my power Thy key of strength and safety: thou wilt say, Why then reveal'd? I was assur'd by those Who tempted me, that nothing was design'd Against thee but safe custody, and hold: That made for me, I knew that liberty Would draw thee forth to perilous enterprises, While I at home sate full of cares and fears Wailing thy absence in my widow'd bed; Here I should still enjoy thee day and night Mine and Loves prisoner, not the Philistines, Whole to my self, unhazarded abroad, Fearless at home of partners in my love.
These reasons in Loves law have past for good, Though fond and reasonless to some perhaps: And Love hath oft, well meaning, wrought much wo, Yet always pity or pardon hath obtain'd.
Be not unlike all others, not austere As thou art strong, inflexible as steel.
If thou in strength all mortals dost exceed, In uncompassionate anger do not so.
Sam: How cunningly the sorceress displays Her own transgressions, to upbraid me mine! That malice not repentance brought thee hither, By this appears : I gave, thou say'st, th' example, I led the way; bitter reproach, but true, I to my self was false e're thou to me, Such pardon therefore as I give my folly, Take to thy wicked deed: which when thou seest Impartial, self-severe, inexorable, Thou wilt renounce thy seeking, and much rather Confess it feign'd, weakness is thy excuse, And I believe it, weakness to resist Philistian gold: if weakness may excuse, What Murtherer, what Traytor, Parricide, Incestuous, Sacrilegious, but may plead it? All wickedness is weakness : that plea therefore With God or Man will gain thee no remission.
But Love constrain'd thee; call it furious rage To satisfie thy lust: Love seeks to have Love; My love how couldst thou hope, who tookst the way To raise in me inexpiable hate, Knowing, as needs I must, by thee betray'd ? In vain thou striv'st to cover shame with shame, Or by evasions thy crime uncoverst more.
Dal: Since thou determinst weakness for no plea In man or woman, though to thy own condemning, Hear what assaults I had, what snares besides, What sieges girt me round, e're I consented; Which might have aw'd the best resolv'd of men, The constantest to have yielded without blame.
It was not gold, as to my charge thou lay'st, That wrought with me: thou know'st the Magistrates And Princes of my countrey came in person, Sollicited, commanded, threatn'd, urg'd, Adjur'd by all the bonds of civil Duty And of Religion, press'd how just it was, How honourable, how glorious to entrap A common enemy, who had destroy'd Such numbers of our Nation : and the Priest Was not behind, but ever at my ear, Preaching how meritorious with the gods It would be to ensnare an irreligious Dishonourer of Dagon : what had I To oppose against such powerful arguments? Only my love of thee held long debate; And combated in silence all these reasons With hard contest: at length that grounded maxim So rife and celebrated in the mouths Of wisest men; that to the public good Private respects must yield; with grave authority' Took full possession of me and prevail'd; Vertue, as I thought, truth, duty so enjoyning.
Sam: I thought where all thy circling wiles would end; In feign'd Religion, smooth hypocrisie.
But had thy love, still odiously pretended, Bin, as it ought, sincere, it would have taught thee Far other reasonings, brought forth other deeds.
I before all the daughters of my Tribe And of my Nation chose thee from among My enemies, lov'd thee, as too well thou knew'st, Too well, unbosom'd all my secrets to thee, Not out of levity, but over-powr'd By thy request, who could deny thee nothing; Yet now am judg'd an enemy.
Why then Didst thou at first receive me for thy husband? Then, as since then, thy countries foe profest: Being once a wife, for me thou wast to leave Parents and countrey; nor was I their subject, Nor under their protection but my own, Thou mine, not theirs: if aught against my life Thy countrey sought of thee, it sought unjustly, Against the law of nature, law of nations, No more thy countrey, but an impious crew Of men conspiring to uphold thir state By worse than hostile deeds, violating the ends For which our countrey is a name so dear; Not therefore to be obey'd.
But zeal mov'd thee; To please thy gods thou didst it; gods unable To acquit themselves and prosecute their foes But by ungodly deeds, the contradiction Of their own deity, Gods cannot be: Less therefore to be pleas'd, obey'd, or fear'd, These false pretexts and varnish'd colours failing, Bare in thy guilt how foul must thou appear? Dal: In argument with men a woman ever Goes by the worse, whatever be her cause.
Sam: For want of words no doubt, or lack of breath, Witness when I was worried with thy peals.
Dal: I was a fool, too rash, and quite mistaken In what I thought would have succeeded best.
Let me obtain forgiveness of thee, Samson, Afford me place to shew what recompence Towards thee I intend for what I have misdone, Misguided: only what remains past cure Bear not too sensibly, nor still insist To afflict thy self in vain: though sight be lost, Life yet hath many solaces, enjoy'd Where other senses want not their delights At home in leisure and domestic ease, Exempt from many a care and chance to which Eye-sight exposes daily men abroad.
I to the Lords will intercede, not doubting Thir favourable ear, that I may fetch thee From forth this loathsom prison-house, to abide With me, where my redoubl'd love and care With nursing diligence, to me glad office, May ever tend about thee to old age With all things grateful chear'd, and so suppli'd, That what by me thou hast lost thou least shalt miss.
Sam: No, no, of my condition take no care; It fits not; thou and I long since are twain; Nor think me so unwary or accurst To bring my feet again into the snare Where once I have been caught; I know thy trains Though dearly to my cost, thy ginns, and toyls; Thy fair enchanted cup, and warbling charms No more on me have power, their force is null'd, So much of Adders wisdom I have learn't To fence my ear against thy sorceries.
If in my flower of youth and strength, when all men Lov'd, honour'd, fear'd me, thou alone could hate me Thy Husband, slight me, sell me, and forgo me; How wouldst thou use me now, blind, and thereby Deceiveable, in most things as a child Helpless, thence easily contemn'd, and scorn'd, And last neglected? How wouldst thou insult When I must live uxorious to thy will In perfet thraldom, how again betray me, Bearing my words and doings to the Lords To gloss upon, and censuring, frown or smile? This Gaol I count the house of Liberty To thine whose doors my feet shall never enter.
Dal: Let me approach at least, and touch thy hand.
Sam: Not for thy life, lest fierce remembrance wake My sudden rage to tear thee joint by joint.
At distance I forgive thee, go with that; Bewail thy falshood, and the pious works It hath brought forth to make thee memorable Among illustrious women, faithful wives: Cherish thy hast'n'd widowhood with the gold Of Matrimonial treason: so farewel.
Dal: I see thou art implacable, more deaf To prayers, then winds and seas, yet winds to seas Are reconcil'd at length, and Sea to Shore: Thy anger, unappeasable, still rages, Eternal tempest never to be calm'd.
Why do I humble thus my self, and suing For peace, reap nothing but repulse and hate? Bid go with evil omen and the brand Of infamy upon my name denounc't? To mix with thy concernments I desist Henceforth, nor too much disapprove my own.
Fame if not double-fac't is double-mouth'd, And with contrary blast proclaims most deeds, On both his wings, one black, th' other white, Bears greatest names in his wild aerie flight.
My name perhaps among the Circumcis'd In Dan, in Judah, and the bordering Tribes, To all posterity may stand defam'd, With malediction mention'd, and the blot Of falshood most unconjugal traduc't.
But in my countrey where I most desire, In Ecron, Gaza, Asdod, and in Gath I shall be nam'd among the famousest Of Women, sung at solemn festivals, Living and dead recorded, who to save Her countrey from a fierce destroyer, chose Above the faith of wedlock-bands, my tomb With odours visited and annual flowers.
Not less renown'd then in Mount Ephraim, Jael who with inhospitable guile Smote Sisera sleeping through the Temples nail'd.
Nor shall I count it hainous to enjoy The public marks of honour and reward Conferr'd upon me, for the piety Which to my countrey I was judg'd to have shewn.
At this who ever envies or repines I leave him to his lot, and like my own.
Chor: She's gone, a manifest Serpent by her sting Discover'd in the end, till now conceal'd.
Sam: So let her go, God sent her to debase me, And aggravate my folly who committed To such a viper his most sacred trust Of secresie, my safety, and my life.
Chor: Yet beauty, though injurious, hath strange power, After offence returning, to regain Love once possest, nor can be easily Repuls't, without much inward passion felt And secret sting of amorous remorse.
Sam: Love-quarrels oft in pleasing concord end, Not wedlock-trechery endangering life.
Chor: It is not vertue, wisdom, valour, wit, Strength, comliness of shape, or amplest merit That womans love can win or long inherit; But what it is, hard is to say, Harder to hit, (Which way soever men refer it) Much like thy riddle, Samson, in one day Or seven, though one should musing sit; If any of these or all, the Timnian bride Had not so soon preferr'd Thy Paranymph, worthless to thee compar'd, Successour in thy bed, Nor both so loosly disally'd Thir nuptials, nor this last so trecherously Had shorn the fatal harvest of thy head.
Is it for that such outward ornament Was lavish't on thir Sex, that inward gifts Were left for hast unfinish't, judgment scant, Capacity not rais'd to apprehend Or value what is best In choice, but oftest to affect the wrong? Or was too much of self-love mixt, Of constancy no root infixt, That either they love nothing, or not long? What e're it be, to wisest men and best Seeming at first all heavenly under virgin veil, Soft, modest, meek, demure, Once join'd, the contrary she proves, a thorn Intestin, far within defensive arms A cleaving mischief, in his way to vertue Adverse and turbulent, or by her charms Draws him awry enslav'd With dotage, and his sense deprav'd To folly and shameful deeds which ruin ends.
What Pilot so expert but needs must wreck Embarqu'd with such a Stears-mate at the Helm? Favour'd of Heav'n who finds One vertuous rarely found, That in domestic good combines: Happy that house! his way to peace is smooth: But vertue which breaks through all opposition, And all temptation can remove, Most shines and most is acceptable above.
Therefore Gods universal Law Gave to the man despotic power Over his female in due awe, Nor from that right to part an hour, Smile she or lowre: So shall he least confusion draw On his whole life, not sway'd By female usurpation, nor dismay'd.
But had we best retire, I see a storm? Sam: Fair days have oft contracted wind and rain.
Chor: But this another kind of tempest brings.
Sam: Be less abstruse, my riddling days are past.
Chor: Look now for no inchanting voice, nor fear The bait of honied words; a rougher tongue Draws hitherward, I know him by his stride, The Giant Harapha of Gath, his look Haughty as is his pile high-built and proud.
Comes he in peace? what wind hath blown him hither I less conjecture then when first I saw The sumptuous Dalila floating this way: His habit carries peace, his brow defiance.
Sam: Or peace or not, alike to me he comes.
Chor: His fraught we soon shall know, he now arrives.
Har: I come not Samson, to condole thy chance, As these perhaps, yet wish it had not been, Though for no friendly intent.
I am of Gath, Men call me Harapha, of stock renown'd As Og or Anak and the Emims old That Kiriathaim held, thou knowst me now If thou at all art known.
Much I have heard Of thy prodigious might and feats perform'd Incredible to me, in this displeas'd, That I was never present on the place Of those encounters, where we might have tri'd Each others force in camp or listed field: And now am come to see of whom such noise Hath walk'd about, and each limb to survey, If thy appearance answer loud report.
Sam: The way to know were not to see but taste.
Har: Dost thou already single me; I thought Gives and the Mill had tam'd thee? O that fortune Had brought me to the field where thou art fam'd To have wrought such wonders with an Asses Jaw; I should have forc'd thee soon with other arms, Or left thy carkass where the Ass lay thrown: So had the glory of Prowess been recover'd To Palestine, won by a Philistine From the unforeskinn'd race, of whom thou hear'st The highest name for valiant Acts, that honour Certain to have won by mortal duel from thee, I lose, prevented by thy eyes put out.
Sam: Boast not of what thou wouldst have done, but do What then thou would'st, thou seest it in thy hand.
Har: To combat with a blind man I disdain And thou hast need much washing to be toucht.
Sam: Such usage as your honourable Lords Afford me assassinated and betray'd, Who durst not with thir whole united powers In fight withstand me single and unarm'd, Nor in the house with chamber Ambushes Close-banded durst attaque me, no not sleeping, Till they had hir'd a woman with their gold Breaking her Marriage Faith to circumvent me.
Therefore without feign'd shifts let be assign'd Some narrow place enclos'd, where sight may give thee.
Or rather flight, no great advantage on me; Then put on all thy gorgeous arms, thy Helmet And Brigandine of brass, thy broad Habergeon.
Vant-brass and Greves, and Gauntlet, add thy Spear A Weavers beam, and seven-times-folded shield.
I only with an Oak'n staff will meet thee, And raise such out-cries on thy clatter'd Iron, Which long shall not with-hold mee from thy head, That in a little time while breath remains thee, Thou oft shalt wish thy self at Gath to boast Again in safety what thou wouldst have done To Samson, but shalt never see Gath more.
Har: Thou durst not thus disparage glorious arms Which greatest Heroes have in battel worn, Thir ornament and safety, had not spells And black enchantments, some Magicians Art Arm'd thee or charm'd thee strong, which thou from Heaven Feigndst at thy birth was giv'n thee in thy hair, Where strength can least abide, though all thy hairs Were bristles rang'd like those that ridge the back Of chaf't wild Boars, or ruffl'd Porcupines.
Sam: I know no Spells, use no forbidden Arts; My trust is in the living God who gave me At my Nativity this strength, diffus'd No less through all my sinews, joints and bones, Then thine, while I preserv'd these locks unshorn, The pledge of my unviolated vow.
For proof hereof, if Dagon be thy god, Go to his Temple, invocate his aid With solemnest devotion, spread before him How highly it concerns his glory now To frustrate and dissolve these Magic spells, Which I to be the power of Israel's God Avow, and challenge Dagon to the test, Offering to combat thee his Champion bold, With th' utmost of his Godhead seconded: Then thou shalt see, or rather to thy sorrow Soon feel, whose God is strongest, thine or mine.
Har: Presume not on thy God, what e're he be, Thee he regards not, owns not, hath cut off Quite from his people, and delivered up Into thy Enemies hand, permitted them To put out both thine eyes, and fetter'd send thee Into the common Prison, there to grind Among the Slaves and Asses thy comrades, As good for nothing else, no better service With those, thy boyst'rous locks, no worthy match For valour to assail, nor by the sword Of noble Warriour, so to stain his honour, But by the Barbers razor best subdu'd.
Sam: All these indignities, for such they are From thine, these evils I deserve and more, Acknowledge them from God inflicted on me Justly, yet despair not of his final pardon Whose ear is ever open; and his eye Gracious to re-admit the suppliant; In confidence whereof I once again Defie thee to the trial of mortal fight, By combat to decide whose god is God, Thine or whom I with Israel's Sons adore.
Har: Fair honour that thou dost thy God, in trusting He will accept thee to defend his cause, A Murtherer, a Revolter, and a Robber.
Sam: Tongue-doubtie Giant, how dost thou prove me these? Har: Is not thy Nation subject to our Lords? Thir Magistrates confest it, when they took thee As a League-breaker and deliver'd bound Into our hands: for hadst thou not committed Notorious murder on those thirty men At Askalon, who never did thee harm, Then like a Robber stripdst them of thir robes? The Philistines, when thou hadst broke the league, Went up with armed powers thee only seeking, To others did no violence nor spoil.
Sam: Among the Daughters of the Philistines I chose a Wife, which argu'd me no foe; And in your City held my Nuptial Feast: But your ill-meaning Politician Lords, Under pretence of Bridal friends and guests, Appointed to await me thirty spies, Who threatning cruel death constrain'd the bride To wring from me and tell to them my secret, That solv'd the riddle which I had propos'd.
When I perceiv'd all set on enmity, As on my enemies, where ever chanc'd, I us'd hostility, and took thir spoil To pay my underminers in thir coin.
My Nation was subjected to your Lords.
It was the force of Conquest; force with force Is well ejected when the Conquer'd can.
But I a private person, whom my Countrey As a league-breaker gave up bound, presum'd Single Rebellion and did Hostile Acts.
I was no private but a person rais'd With strength sufficient and command from Heav'n To free my Countrey; if their servile minds Me their Deliverer sent would not receive, But to thir Masters gave me up for nought, Th' unworthier they; whence to this day they serve.
I was to do my part from Heav'n assign'd, And had perform'd it if my known offence Had not disabl'd me, not all your force: These shifts refuted, answer thy appellant Though by his blindness maim'd for high attempts, Who now defies thee thrice to single fight, As a petty enterprise of small enforce.
Har: With thee a Man condemn'd, a Slave enrol'd, Due by the Law to capital punishment? To fight with thee no man of arms will deign.
Sam: Cam'st thou for this, vain boaster, to survey me, To descant on my strength, and give thy verdit? Come nearer, part not hence so slight inform'd; But take good heed my hand survey not thee.
Har: O Baal-zebub! can my ears unus'd Hear these dishonours, and not render death? Sam: No man with-holds thee, nothing from thy hand Fear I incurable; bring up thy van, My heels are fetter'd, but my fist is free.
Har: This insolence other kind of answer fits.
Sam: Go baffl'd coward, lest I run upon thee, Though in these chains, bulk without spirit vast, And with one buffet lay thy structure low, Or swing thee in the Air, then dash thee down To the hazard of thy brains and shatter'd sides.
Har: By Astaroth e're long thou shalt lament These braveries in Irons loaden on thee.
Chor: His Giantship is gone somewhat crestfall'n, Stalking with less unconsci'nable strides, And lower looks, but in a sultrie chafe.
Sam: I dread him not, nor all his Giant-brood, Though Fame divulge him Father of five Sons All of Gigantic size, Goliah chief.
Chor: He will directly to the Lords, I fear, And with malitious counsel stir them up Some way or other yet further to afflict thee.
Sam: He must allege some cause, and offer'd fight Will not dare mention, lest a question rise Whether he durst accept the offer or not, And that he durst not plain enough appear'd.
Much more affliction then already felt They cannot well impose, nor I sustain; If they intend advantage of my labours The work of many hands, which earns my keeping With no small profit daily to my owners.
But come what will, my deadliest foe will prove My speediest friend, by death to rid me hence, The worst that he can give, to me the best.
Yet so it may fall out, because thir end Is hate, not help to me, it may with mine Draw thir own ruin who attempt the deed.
Chor: Oh how comely it is and how reviving To the Spirits of just men long opprest! When God into the hands of thir deliverer Puts invincible might To quell the mighty of the Earth, th' oppressour, The brute and boist'rous force of violent men Hardy and industrious to support Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue The righteous and all such as honour Truth; He all thir Ammunition And feats of War defeats With plain Heroic magnitude of mind And celestial vigour arm'd, Thir Armories and Magazins contemns, Renders them useless, while With winged expedition Swift as the lightning glance he executes His errand on the wicked, who surpris'd Lose thir defence distracted and amaz'd.
But patience is more oft the exercise Of Saints, the trial of thir fortitude, Making them each his own Deliverer, And Victor over all That tyrannie or fortune can inflict, Either of these is in thy lot, Samson, with might endu'd Above the Sons of men; but sight bereav'd May chance to number thee with those Whom Patience finally must crown.
This Idols day hath bin to thee no day of rest, Labouring thy mind More then the working day thy hands, And yet perhaps more trouble is behind.
For I descry this way Some other tending, in his hand A Scepter or quaint staff he bears, Comes on amain, speed in his look.
By his habit I discern him now A Public Officer, and now at hand.
His message will be short and voluble.
Off: Ebrews, the Pris'ner Samson here I seek.
Chor: His manacles remark him, there he sits.
Off: Samson, to thee our Lords thus bid me say; This day to Dagon is a solemn Feast, With Sacrifices, Triumph, Pomp, and Games; Thy strength they know surpassing human rate, And now some public proof thereof require To honour this great Feast, and great Assembly; Rise therefore with all speed and come along, Where I will see thee heartn'd and fresh clad To appear as fits before th' illustrious Lords.
Sam: Thou knowst I am an Ebrew, therefore tell them, Our Law forbids at thir Religious Rites My presence; for that cause I cannot come.
Off: This answer, be assur'd, wi


by Thomas Hardy |

An Ancient To Ancients

 Where once we danced, where once we sang, 
Gentlemen, 
The floors are sunken, cobwebs hang, 
And cracks creep; worms have fed upon 
The doors.
Yea, sprightlier times were then Than now, with harps and tabrets gone, Gentlemen! Where once we rowed, where once we sailed, Gentlemen, And damsels took the tiller, veiled Against too strong a stare (God wot Their fancy, then or anywhen!) Upon that shore we are clean forgot, Gentlemen! We have lost somewhat of that, afar and near, Gentlemen, The thinning of our ranks each year Affords a hint we are nigh undone, That shall not be ever again The marked of many, loved of one, Gentlemen.
In dance the polka hit our wish, Gentlemen, The paced quadrille, the spry schottische, "Sir Roger.
"--And in opera spheres The "Girl" (the famed "Bohemian"), And "Trovatore" held the ears, Gentlemen.
This season's paintings do not please, Gentlemen Like Etty, Mulready, Maclise; Throbbing romance had waned and wanned; No wizard wields the witching pen Of Bulwer, Scott, Dumas, and Sand, Gentlemen.
The bower we shrined to Tennyson, Gentlemen, Is roof-wrecked; damps there drip upon Sagged seats, the creeper-nails are rust, The spider is sole denizen; Even she who voiced those rhymes is dust, Gentlemen! We who met sunrise sanguine-souled, Gentlemen, Are wearing weary.
We are old; These younger press; we feel our rout Is imminent to A?des' den,-- That evening shades are stretching out, Gentlemen! And yet, though ours be failing frames, Gentlemen, So were some others' history names, Who trode their track light-limbed and fast As these youth, and not alien From enterprise, to their long last, Gentlemen.
Sophocles, Plato, Socrates, Gentlemen, Pythagoras, Thucydides, Herodotus, and Homer,--yea, Clement, Augustin, Origen, Burnt brightlier towards their setting-day, Gentlemen.
And ye, red-lipped and smooth-browed; list, Gentlemen; Much is there waits you we have missed; Much lore we leave you worth the knowing, Much, much has lain outside our ken; Nay, rush not: time serves: we are going, Gentlemen.


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

Morituri Salutamus: Poem for the Fiftieth Anniversary

 Tempora labuntur, tacitisque senescimus annis, 
Et fugiunt freno non remorante dies.
Ovid, Fastorum, Lib.
vi.
"O C?sar, we who are about to die Salute you!" was the gladiators' cry In the arena, standing face to face With death and with the Roman populace.
O ye familiar scenes,--ye groves of pine, That once were mine and are no longer mine,-- Thou river, widening through the meadows green To the vast sea, so near and yet unseen,-- Ye halls, in whose seclusion and repose Phantoms of fame, like exhalations, rose And vanished,--we who are about to die, Salute you; earth and air and sea and sky, And the Imperial Sun that scatters down His sovereign splendors upon grove and town.
Ye do not answer us! ye do not hear! We are forgotten; and in your austere And calm indifference, ye little care Whether we come or go, or whence or where.
What passing generations fill these halls, What passing voices echo from these walls, Ye heed not; we are only as the blast, A moment heard, and then forever past.
Not so the teachers who in earlier days Led our bewildered feet through learning's maze; They answer us--alas! what have I said? What greetings come there from the voiceless dead? What salutation, welcome, or reply? What pressure from the hands that lifeless lie? They are no longer here; they all are gone Into the land of shadows,--all save one.
Honor and reverence, and the good repute That follows faithful service as its fruit, Be unto him, whom living we salute.
The great Italian poet, when he made His dreadful journey to the realms of shade, Met there the old instructor of his youth, And cried in tones of pity and of ruth: "Oh, never from the memory of my heart Your dear, paternal image shall depart, Who while on earth, ere yet by death surprised, Taught me how mortals are immortalized; How grateful am I for that patient care All my life long my language shall declare.
" To-day we make the poet's words our own, And utter them in plaintive undertone; Nor to the living only be they said, But to the other living called the dead, Whose dear, paternal images appear Not wrapped in gloom, but robed in sunshine here; Whose simple lives, complete and without flaw, Were part and parcel of great Nature's law; Who said not to their Lord, as if afraid, "Here is thy talent in a napkin laid," But labored in their sphere, as men who live In the delight that work alone can give.
Peace be to them; eternal peace and rest, And the fulfilment of the great behest: "Ye have been faithful over a few things, Over ten cities shall ye reign as kings.
" And ye who fill the places we once filled, And follow in the furrows that we tilled, Young men, whose generous hearts are beating high, We who are old, and are about to die, Salute you; hail you; take your hands in ours, And crown you with our welcome as with flowers! How beautiful is youth! how bright it gleams With its illusions, aspirations, dreams! Book of Beginnings, Story without End, Each maid a heroine, and each man a friend! Aladdin's Lamp, and Fortunatus' Purse, That holds the treasures of the universe! All possibilities are in its hands, No danger daunts it, and no foe withstands; In its sublime audacity of faith, "Be thou removed!" it to the mountain saith, And with ambitious feet, secure and proud, Ascends the ladder leaning on the cloud! As ancient Priam at the Sc?an gate Sat on the walls of Troy in regal state With the old men, too old and weak to fight, Chirping like grasshoppers in their delight To see the embattled hosts, with spear and shield, Of Trojans and Achaians in the field; So from the snowy summits of our years We see you in the plain, as each appears, And question of you; asking, "Who is he That towers above the others? Which may be Atreides, Menelaus, Odysseus, Ajax the great, or bold Idomeneus?" Let him not boast who puts his armor on As he who puts it off, the battle done.
Study yourselves; and most of all note well Wherein kind Nature meant you to excel.
Not every blossom ripens into fruit; Minerva, the inventress of the flute, Flung it aside, when she her face surveyed Distorted in a fountain as she played; The unlucky Marsyas found it, and his fate Was one to make the bravest hesitate.
Write on your doors the saying wise and old, "Be bold! be bold!" and everywhere, "Be bold; Be not too bold!" Yet better the excess Than the defect; better the more than less; Better like Hector in the field to die, Than like a perfumed Paris turn and fly.
And now, my classmates; ye remaining few That number not the half of those we knew, Ye, against whose familiar names not yet The fatal asterisk of death is set, Ye I salute! The horologe of Time Strikes the half-century with a solemn chime, And summons us together once again, The joy of meeting not unmixed with pain.
Where are the others? Voices from the deep Caverns of darkness answer me: "They sleep!" I name no names; instinctively I feel Each at some well-remembered grave will kneel, And from the inscription wipe the weeds and moss, For every heart best knoweth its own loss.
I see their scattered gravestones gleaming white Through the pale dusk of the impending night; O'er all alike the impartial sunset throws Its golden lilies mingled with the rose; We give to each a tender thought, and pass Out of the graveyards with their tangled grass, Unto these scenes frequented by our feet When we were young, and life was fresh and sweet.
What shall I say to you? What can I say Better than silence is? When I survey This throng of faces turned to meet my own, Friendly and fair, and yet to me unknown, Transformed the very landscape seems to be; It is the same, yet not the same to me.
So many memories crowd upon my brain, So many ghosts are in the wooded plain, I fain would steal away, with noiseless tread, As from a house where some one lieth dead.
I cannot go;--I pause;--I hesitate; My feet reluctant linger at the gate; As one who struggles in a troubled dream To speak and cannot, to myself I seem.
Vanish the dream! Vanish the idle fears! Vanish the rolling mists of fifty years! Whatever time or space may intervene, I will not be a stranger in this scene.
Here every doubt, all indecision, ends; Hail, my companions, comrades, classmates, friends! Ah me! the fifty years since last we met Seem to me fifty folios bound and set By Time, the great transcriber, on his shelves, Wherein are written the histories of ourselves.
What tragedies, what comedies, are there; What joy and grief, what rapture and despair! What chronicles of triumph and defeat, Of struggle, and temptation, and retreat! What records of regrets, and doubts, and fears! What pages blotted, blistered by our tears! What lovely landscapes on the margin shine, What sweet, angelic faces, what divine And holy images of love and trust, Undimmed by age, unsoiled by damp or dust! Whose hand shall dare to open and explore These volumes, closed and clasped forevermore? Not mine.
With reverential feet I pass; I hear a voice that cries, "Alas! alas! Whatever hath been written shall remain, Nor be erased nor written o'er again; The unwritten only still belongs to thee: Take heed, and ponder well what that shall be.
" As children frightened by a thunder-cloud Are reassured if some one reads aloud A tale of wonder, with enchantment fraught, Or wild adventure, that diverts their thought, Let me endeavor with a tale to chase The gathering shadows of the time and place, And banish what we all too deeply feel Wholly to say, or wholly to conceal.
In medi?val Rome, I know not where, There stood an image with its arm in air, And on its lifted finger, shining clear, A golden ring with the device, "Strike here!" Greatly the people wondered, though none guessed The meaning that these words but half expressed, Until a learned clerk, who at noonday With downcast eyes was passing on his way, Paused, and observed the spot, and marked it well, Whereon the shadow of the finger fell; And, coming back at midnight, delved, and found A secret stairway leading underground.
Down this he passed into a spacious hall, Lit by a flaming jewel on the wall; And opposite, in threatening attitude, With bow and shaft a brazen statue stood.
Upon its forehead, like a coronet, Were these mysterious words of menace set: "That which I am, I am; my fatal aim None can escape, not even yon luminous flame!" Midway the hall was a fair table placed, With cloth of gold, and golden cups enchased With rubies, and the plates and knives were gold, And gold the bread and viands manifold.
Around it, silent, motionless, and sad, Were seated gallant knights in armor clad, And ladies beautiful with plume and zone, But they were stone, their hearts within were stone; And the vast hall was filled in every part With silent crowds, stony in face and heart.
Long at the scene, bewildered and amazed The trembling clerk in speechless wonder gazed; Then from the table, by his greed made bold, He seized a goblet and a knife of gold, And suddenly from their seats the guests upsprang, The vaulted ceiling with loud clamors rang, The archer sped his arrow, at their call, Shattering the lambent jewel on the wall, And all was dark around and overhead;-- Stark on the floor the luckless clerk lay dead! The writer of this legend then records Its ghostly application in these words: The image is the Adversary old, Whose beckoning finger points to realms of gold; Our lusts and passions are the downward stair That leads the soul from a diviner air; The archer, Death; the flaming jewel, Life; Terrestrial goods, the goblet and the knife; The knights and ladies, all whose flesh and bone By avarice have been hardened into stone; The clerk, the scholar whom the love of pelf Tempts from his books and from his nobler self.
The scholar and the world! The endless strife, The discord in the harmonies of life! The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the sweet serenity of books; The market-place, the eager love of gain, Whose aim is vanity, and whose end is pain! But why, you ask me, should this tale be told To men grown old, or who are growing old? It is too late! Ah, nothing is too late Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles Wrote his grand Oedipus, and Simonides Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers, When each had numbered more than fourscore years, And Theophrastus, at fourscore and ten, Had but begun his "Characters of Men.
" Chaucer, at Woodstock with the nightingales, At sixty wrote the Canterbury Tales; Goethe at Weimar, toiling to the last, Completed Faust when eighty years were past.
These are indeed exceptions; but they show How far the gulf-stream of our youth may flow Into the arctic regions of our lives, Where little else than life itself survives.
As the barometer foretells the storm While still the skies are clear, the weather warm So something in us, as old age draws near, Betrays the pressure of the atmosphere.
The nimble mercury, ere we are aware, Descends the elastic ladder of the air; The telltale blood in artery and vein Sinks from its higher levels in the brain; Whatever poet, orator, or sage May say of it, old age is still old age.
It is the waning, not the crescent moon; The dusk of evening, not the blaze of noon; It is not strength, but weakness; not desire, But its surcease; not the fierce heat of fire, The burning and consuming element, But that of ashes and of embers spent, In which some living sparks we still discern, Enough to warm, but not enough to burn.
What then? Shall we sit idly down and say The night hath come; it is no longer day? The night hath not yet come; we are not quite Cut off from labor by the failing light; Something remains for us to do or dare; Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear; Not Oedipus Coloneus, or Greek Ode, Or tales of pilgrims that one morning rode Out of the gateway of the Tabard Inn, But other something, would we but begin; For age is opportunity no less Than youth itself, though in another dress, And as the evening twilight fades away The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.