Page images


SAMS. 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 toil,
Daily in the common prison else enjoin'd me,
Where I, a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw
The air imprison'd also, close and damp,
Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends,
The breath of heav'n fresh blowing, pure and sweet,
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.
This day a solemn feast the people hold
To Dagon, their sea-idol, and forbid
Laborious works, unwillingly this rest

Their superstition yields me; hence with leave 15
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek

This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the body some, none to the mind
From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm

2 dark steps] Euripidis Phoenissæ, 841.
Ἤγοῦ πάροιθε, θύγατερ, ὥς τυφλῶ πόδι.


19 swarm] Sydney's Arcadia, p. 164, ed. 13th.
'A new swarm of thoughts stinging her mind.'



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.
Oh! wherefore was my birth from heav'n foretold
Twice by an angel, who at last in sight

Of both my parents all in flames ascended
From off the altar, where an off'ring burn'd,
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
As of a person separate to God,

Design'd for great exploits, if I must die
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'd





Lower than 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 Philistian yoke.
Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine prediction: what if all foretold

Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default,
Whom have I to complain of but myself?
Who this high gift of strength committed to me,

33 captiv'd] And captiv'd kings.' Ross's Mel Heliconium, Israel captiv'd.' Cowley's Davideis, lib. ii. p. 84.

p. 55.

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? vast, unwieldy, burthensome,
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 slight the gift was, hung it in my hair.
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,
And proves the source 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 than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!




[ocr errors]


Light, the prime work of God, to me's extinct, 70 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 exposed

53 strength] Ovidii Met. xiii. 363.

'Tu vires sine mente geris.'



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 than 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 easy to be quench'd?
And not as feeling, through all parts diffus'd,

87 silent] 'Mediæque silentia lunæ.'





Stat. Theb. ii. 58.

'tacito sub lumine Phoeben.' Sil. Ital. xv. 566. Mr. Todd quotes Dante Inferno, c. 1. Mi ripingeva là dove 'l sol tace.' Mr. Dyce cites Shirley's Bird in a Cage, act iii. sc. 2. 'As silent as the moon.'


89 cave] Claudiani Cons. Stilickonis, iii. 268. luna cavernis.' Iliados Epitome, ed. Korten, ver. 875.

Luna Cava

quantum vel in orbe mearet

Lucret. iv. 392. 'Etheriis adfixa cavernis.'

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!

Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave,
Buried, 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 110
The tread of many feet steering this way?

Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare
At my affliction, and perhaps t' insult,
Their daily practice to afflict me more.

CHOR. This, this is he; softly a while,
Let us not break in upon him;

O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus'd,


100 a living death] Consult the note, in Mr. Todd's edition, for the frequent use of this expression, from Petrarch, and Shakespeare, and the old English Poets.

102 a moving grave] 'A living grave.' Sidney's Arcadia, p. 352. A walking grave.' Sir R. Howard's Vestal Virgin, 1665.

118 diffus'd] 'Sits diffus'd.' Heywood's Troy, p. 314. Mr. Thyer quotes Ovid ex Ponto, iii. 3. 7.

'Fusaque erant toto languida membra toro.'

« PreviousContinue »