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SAMSON AGONISTES. If I'm designed yon lordling's slave,

By Nature's law designed, Why was an independent wish

A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand E'er planted in my mind ?

To these dark steps, a little farther on; If not, why am I subject to

For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade : His cruelty or scorn ?

There I am wont to sit, when any chance Or why has man the will and power

Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
To make his fellow mourn ?

Daily in the common prison else enjoined me,
Where I a prisoner, chained, scarce freely draw

The air imprisoned also, close and damp,
Yet let not this too much, my son,


Unwholesome draught; but here I feel amends, Disturb thy youthful breast :

The breath of heaven fresh blowing, pure and This partial view of human-kind

sweet, Is surely not the last !

With day-spring born : here leave me to respire. The poor, oppresséd, honest man

This day a solemn feast the people hold
Had never, sure, been born,

To Dagon, their sea-idol, and forbid
Had there not been some recompense

Laborious works : unwillingly this rest
To comfort those that mourn !

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

This unfrequented place to find some ease,
O Death ! the poor man's dearest friend, Ease to the body some, none to the mind
The kindest and the best !

From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm Welcome the hour my aged limbs

Of hornets armed, no sooner found alone,
Are laid with thee at rest.

But rush upon me thronging, and present
The great, the wealthy, fear thy blow, Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
From pomp and pleasure torn ;

O, wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold But 0, a blest relief to those.

Twice by an angel, who at last in sight
That ry-laden mourn !

Of both my parents all in flames ascended
From off the altar, where an offering burned,
As in a fiery column, charioting

His godlike presence, and from some great act

Or benefit revealed to Abraham's race?

Why was my breeding ordered and prescribed Love not, love not ! ye hapless sons of clay! As of a person separate to God, Hope's gayest wreaths are made of earthly flow- Designed for great exploits, if I must die ers, —

Betrayed, captived, and both my eyes put out, Things that are made to fade and fall away Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze; Ere they have blossomed for a few short hours. To grind in brazen fetters under task Love not!

With this Heaven-gifted strength ? O glorious

strength, Love not! the thing ye love may change ; Put to the labor of a beast, debased The rosy lip may cease to smile on you,

Lower than bondslave! Promise was that I The kindly-beaming eye grow cold and strange, Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver ; The heart still warmly beat, yet not be true. Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him Love not!

Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves,

Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke !
Love not ! the thing you love may die,
May perish from the gay and gladsome earth ;

O loss of sight, of thee I most complain !
The silent stars, the blue and smiling sky,

Blind among enemies, 0, worse than chains, Beam o'er its grave, as once upon its birth.

Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age !
Love not!

Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, Love not ! 0 warning vainly said

And all her various objects of delight In present hours as in years gone by!

Annulled, which might in part my grief have eased. Love flings a halo round the dear ones' head,

Inferior to the vilest now become Faultless, immortal, till they change or die.

Of man or worm ; the vilest here excel me :
Love not !

They creep, yet see ; I dark in light exposed
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,




Within doors or without, still as a fool,

And must I never see thee more, In power of others, never in my own;

My pretty, pretty, pretty lad ?
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. I will be free ! unbar the door !
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,

I am not mad;. I am not mad!
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse,
Without all hope of day!

0, hark ! what mean those yells and cries?

His chain some furious madman breaks ; He comes, — I see his glaring eyes ;

Now, now, my dungeon-grate he shakes.

Help! Help!-He's gone !--0, fearful woe, THE MANIAC.

Such screams to hear, such sights to see ! STAY, jailer, stay, and hear my woe !

My brain, my brain, — I know, I know She is not mad who kneels to thee;

I am not mad, but soon shall be. For what I'm now too well I know,

And what I was, and what should be. Yes, soon ;- for, lo yon ! — while I speak, I'll rave no more in proud despair ;

Mark how yon demon's eyeballs glare ! My language shall be mild, though sad ; He sees me ; now, with dreadful shriek, But yet I firmly, truly swear,

He whirls a serpent high in air. I am not mad, I am not mad!

Horror !- the reptile strikes his tooth

Deep in my heart, so crushed and sad; My tyrant husband forged the tale

Ay, laugh, ye fiends ; - I feel the truth ; Which chains me in this dismal cell ;

Your task is done, – I’M MAD! I'M YAD! My fate unknown my friends bewail,

O jailer, haste that fate to tell !
O, haste my father's heart to cheer !
His heart at once 't will grieve and glad

To know, though kept a captive here,
I am not mad, I am not mad!

[Written in the spring of 1819, when suffering from physical de

pression, the precursor of his death, which happened soon after.] He smiles in scorn, and turns the key ;

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains". He quits the grate; I knelt in vain ; His glimmering lamp still, still I sce,

My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk ; ”T is gone! and all is gloom again.

Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains Cold, bitter cold ! – No warmth ! no light!

One minute past, and Lethe-ward had sunk, Life, all thy comforts once I had ;

'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, Yet here I'm chained, this freezing night,

But being too happy in thy happiness, Although not mad; no, no,

That thou, light-wingéd Dryad of the trees, not mad!

In some melodious plot 'T is sure some dream, some vision vain ; Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, What! I, the child of rank and wealth,

Singest of Summer in full-throated ease.
Am I the wretch who clanks this chain,

O for a draught of vintage
Bereft of freedom, friends, and health ?
Ah ! while I dwell on blessings fled,

Cooled a long age in the deep-delvéd earth, Which nevermore my heart must glad,

Tasting of Flora and the country green, How aches my heart, how burns my head ;

Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburned

mirth! But 't is not mad; no, it is not mad!

O for a beaker full of the warm South, Hast thou, my child, forgot, ere this,

Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, A mother's face, a mother's tongue ?

With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
She'll ne'er forget your parting kiss,

And purple-stainéd mouth,
Nor round her neck how fast you clung ;

That I might drink, and leave the world unNor how with her you sued to stay ;

seen, Nor how that suit your sire forbade ;

And with thee fade away into the forest dim. Nor how - I'll drive such thoughts away ; They'll make me mad, they 'll make me mad !

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget

What thou among the leaves hast never His rosy lips, how sweet they smiled!

known, His mild blue eyes, how bright they shone! The weariness, the fever, and the fret : None ever bore a lovelier child,

Here, where men sit and hear each other And art thou now forever gone ?


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Where palsy shakes a few sad, last gray hairs, Adieu ! adieu ! thy plaintive anthem fades Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and Past the near meadows, over the still stream, dies,

Up the hillside ; and now 't is buried deep Where but to think is to be full of sorrow

In the next valley-glades :
And leaden-eyed despairs,

Was it a vision or a waking dream ? Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, Fled is that music, — do I wake or sleep? Or new love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away ! away! for I will fly to thee !
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,

But on the viewless wings of poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards ;

Already with thee tender is the night,


His eye

WHENAS the Palmer came in hall, And haply the queen-moon is on her throne,

No lord, nor knight, was there more tall, Clustered around by all her starry fays ;

Or had a statelier step withal,
But here there is no light,

Or looked more high and keen ;
Save what from heaven is with the breezes

For no saluting did he wait, blow

But strode across the hall of state, Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy

And fronted Marmion where he sate, ways,

As he his peer had been. I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,

But his gaunt frame was worn with toil ; Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs ;

His cheek was sunk, alas the while ! But, in embalméd darkness guess each sweet

And when he struggled at a smile, Wherewith the seasonable month endows

looked haggard wild : The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild,

Poor wretch ! the mother that him bare, White hawthorn and the pastoral eglantine ;

If she had been in presence there,
Fast-fading violets, covered up in leaves ;

In his wan face and sunburned hair
And mid-May's oldest child,

She had not known her child.
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,

Danger, long travel, want, or woe, The murmurous haunt of bees on summer eves.

Soon change the form that best we know,

For deadly fear can time outgo, Darkling I listen ; and for many a time

And blanch at once the hair ; I have been half in love with easeful Death,

Hard toil can roughen form and face, Called him soft names in many a muséd rhyme, And want can quench the eye's bright grace, To take into the air my quiet breath ;

Nor does old age a wrinkle trace, Now, more than ever, seems it rich to die,

More deeply than despair. To cease upon the midnight, with no pain,

Happy whom none of these befall,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad,

But this poor Palmer knew them all.
In such an ecstasy !
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in

To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird !

No hungry generations tread thee down ;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard

FAREWELL, a long farewell, to all my greatness ! In ancient days by emperor and clown :

This is the state of man : to-day he puts forth Perhaps the self-same song that found a path

The tender leaves of hope ; to-morrow blossoms, Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for And bears his blushing honors thick upon him : home,

The third day comes a frost, a killing frost ; She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

And—when he thinks, good easy man, full surely The same that ofttimes hath

His greatness is a ripening – nips his root, Charmed magic casements opening on the foam And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured, Of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn.

Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,

This many summers in a sea of glory ; Forlorn! the very word is like a bell,

But far beyond my depth : my high-blown pride - To toll me back from thee to my sole self ! At length broke under me; and now has left me, Adieu ! the Fancy cannot cheat so well Weary and old with service, to the mercy As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.

Of a rude stream, that must forever hide me.


Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye : I feel my heart new opened. O, how wretched Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favors | There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to, - That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin, More pangs and fears than wars or women have : And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer, Never to hope again.





HENRY VIII." CROMWELL, I did not think to shed a tear In all my miseries ; but thou hast forced me, Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman. Let's dry our eyes : and thus far hear me, Crom

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well ;

And — when I am forgotten, as I shall be,
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
Of me more must be heard of — say, I taught thee,
Say, Wolsey — that once trod the ways of glory,
And sounded all the depths and shoals of honor-
Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in ;
A sure and safe one, though thy master missed it.
Mark but my fall, and that that ruined me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition :
By that sin fell the angels ; how can man, then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by’t ?
Love thyself last : cherish those hearts that hate

thee :
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not:
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then if thou fall’st, O

Cromwell !
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr.
Serve the king; and -- pr’ythee, lead me in :
There take an inventory of all I have,
To the last penny ; 't is the king's : my robe,
And my integrity to heaven, is all
I dare now call mineown. O Cromwell, Cromwell !
Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies !

Nor do I for all this, nor will ;
But if my simple prayers may yet
Prevail with Heaven to forget
Thy murder, I will join my tears,
Rather than fail. But, O my fears !
It cannot die so. Heaven's king
Keeps register of everything ;
And nothing may we use in vain ;
Even beasts must be with justice slain,
Else men are made their deodands.
Though they should wash their guilty hands
In this warm life-blood, which doth part
From thine and wound me to the heart,
Yet could they not be clean, — their stain
Is dyed in such a purple grain ;
There is not such another in
The world to offer for their sin.

Inconstant Sylvio ! when yet
I had not found him counterfeit,
One morning (I remember well),
Tied in this silver chain and bell,
Gave it to me ; nay, and I know
What he said then, — I'm sure I do:
Said he, “Look how your huntsman here
Hath taught a fawn to hunt his dear !”
But Sylvio soon had me beguiled,
This waxed tame, while he grew wild ;
And, quite regardless of my smart,
Left me his fawn, but took his heart.

Thenceforth I set myself to play
My solitary time away
With this; and, very well content,
Could so mine idle life have spent.
For it was full of sport, and light
Of foot and heart, and did invite
Me to its game. It seemed to bless
Itself in me; how could I less
Than love it? O, I cannot be
Unkind t'a beast that loveth me!

Had it lived long, I do not know
Whether it, too, might have done so
As Sylvio did, — his gifts might be
Perhaps as false, or more, than he.
For I am sure, for aught that I
Could in so short a time espy,
Thy love was far more better than
The love of false and cruel man.
With sweetest milk,

I it at mine own fingers nursed ;
And as it grew,,so every day
It waxed more white and sweet than they
It had so sweet a breath! and oft
I blushed to see its foot more soft
And white — shall I say than my hand ?
Nay, any lady's of the land.

It is a wondrous thing how fleet
'Twas on those little silver feet !
With what a pretty, skipping grace


and sugar,

THE wanton troopers, riding by,
Have shot my fawn, and it will die.
Ungentle men ! they cannot thrive
Who killed thee. Thou ne'er didst, alive,
Them any harm ; alas ! nor could
Thy death yet do them any good.
I'm sure I never wished them ill, -



FAREWELL, life! my senses swim,
And the world is growing dim ;
Thronging shadows cloud the light,
Like the advent of the night, -
Colder, colder, colder still,
Upward steals a vapor chill ;
Strong the earthy odor grows,
I smell the mould above the rose !

Welcome, life! the spirit strives !
Strength returns and hope revives;
Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn
Fly like shadows at the morn,
O'er the earth there comes a bloom ;
Sunny light for sullen gloom,
Warm perfume for vapor cold,
I smell the rose above the mould !




It oft would challenge me the race !
And when 't had left me far away,
'T would stay, and run again, and stay ;
For it was nimbler much than hinds,
And trod as if on the four winds.

I have a garden of my own,
But so with roses overgrown,
And lilies, that you would it guess
To be a little wilderness ;
And all the springtime of the year
It only loved to be there.
Among the beds of lilies I
Have sought it oft, where it should lie;
Yet could not, till itself would rise,
Find it, although before mine eyes ;
For in the flaxen lilies' shade
It like a bank of lilies laid.
Upon the roses it would feed,
Until its lips even seemed to bleed ;
And then to me 't would boldly trip,
And print those roses on my lip.
But all its chief delight was still
On roses thus itself to fill ;
And its pure virgin limbs to fold
In whitest sheets of lilies cold.
Had it lived long, it would have been
Lilies without, roses within.

O, help ! O, help! I see it faint,
And die as calmly as a saint !
See how it weeps ! the tears do come,
Sad, slowly, dropping like a gum.
So weeps the wounded balsam ; so
The holy frankincense doth flow;
The brotherless Heliades
Melt in such amber tears as these,

I in a golden phial will
Keep these two crystal tears, and fill
It, till it do o'erflow with mine;
Then place it in Diana's shrine.

Now my sweet fawn is vanished to
Whither the swans and turtles go,
In fair Elysium to endure,
With milk-white lambs, and ermines pure.
0, do not run too fast! for I
Will but bespeak thy grave — and die.

First, my unhappy statue shall
Be cut in marble ; and withal,
Let it be weeping too. But there
The engraver sure his art may spare ;
For I so truly thee bemoan
That I shall weep, though I be stone,
Until my tears, still dropping, wear
My breast, themselves engraving there.
There at my feet shalt thou be laid,
Of purest alabaster made ;
For I would have thine image be
White as I can, though not as thee.


You must wake and call me early, call me early,

mother dear; To-morrow 'll be the happiest time of all the glad

new-year, Of all the glad new-year, mother, the maddest,

merriest day; For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to

be Queen o' the May.


There's many a black, black eye, they say, but

none so bright as mine; There 's Margaret and Mary, there 's Kate and

Caroline; But none so fair as little Alice in all the land,

they say: So I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to

be Queen o' the May.


I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall

never wake, If you do not call me loud when the day begins

to break; But I must gather knots of flowers and buds, and

garlands gay ; For I 'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to

be Queen o' the May.


As I came up the valley, whom think ye should

I see

But Robin leaning on the bridge beneath the


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