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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,
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, 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 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 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 easid,
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 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 the eye confin'd,
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 exíld from light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried; but, 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
The tread of many feet steering this way;
Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare
affliction ! and perhaps to insult, Their daily practice to afflict me more.
Chorus. This, this is he; softly a while, Let us not break in
him : O change beyond report, thought, or belief! See how he lies at random, carelessly 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 heroick, that renown'd,
Irresistible Samson? whom unarm'd
No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast, could
Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid;
Ran on embattled 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
Adamantéan proof ?
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 Asca-
lonite Fled from his lion ramp; old warriours turn’d Their plated backs under his heel ; Or groveling, soild 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-skins fell, the flower of Palestine, In Ramath-le chi, famous to this day. Then by main force pull’d up, and on his shoulders
bore The gates of Azza, post, and massy 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 Heaven.
Which shall I first bewail,
Thy bondage or lost sight,
Prison within prison
Inseparably dark ?
Thou art become (0 worst imprisonment !)
The dungeon of thyself; thy soul,
(Which men enjoying sight oft without cause com-
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 mirrour of our fickle state,
Since man on earth unparallell’d!
The rarer thy example stands,
By how much from the top of wonderous glory,
Strongest of mortal men,
To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen.
For him I reckon not in high estate
Whom long descent of birth,
Or the sphere of fortune, raises;
But thee whose strength, while virtue was her mate,
Might have subdued the earth,