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1 Semichor. While their hearts were jocund &
Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine (sublime,
And fat, regorged of bulls and goats,
Chaunting their idol, and preferring
Before our living Dread, who dwells
In Silo, his bright sanctuary :
Among them he a spirit of phrenzy sent,
Who hurt their minds,
And urged them on, with mad desire,
To call in haste for their destroyer :
They, only set on sport and play,
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them
So fond are mortal men,
Fall'n into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves to invite ;
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.
2 Semichor. But he, though blind of sight,
Despised and thought extinguished quite,
With inward eyes illuminated,
His fiery virtue roused,
From under ashes, into sudden flame,
And, as an evening dragon, came
Assailant on the perched roosts,
And nests, in order ranged,
Of tame villatic fowl; but, as an eagle,
His cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
So virtue given for lost,
Depress'd, and overthrown, as seem'd,
Like that self-begotten bird,
In the Arabian woods emboss'd,
That no second knows, nor third,
And lay ere while a holocaust,
From out her ashy womb now teem’d,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deem'd ;
And, though her body die, her fame survives,
A secular bird, ages of lives.
Man. Come, come, no time for lamentation now,
Nor much more cause ; Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroically hath finish'd
A life heroic, on his enemies
Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor,
Through all Philistian bounds; to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them
Find courage to lay hold on this occasion ;
To himself and father's house eternal fame;
And, which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was fear’d,
But favouring and assisting to the end.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail,
Or knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, or blame, nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble
Let us go find the body where it lies,
Soak’d in his enemies' blood, &, from the stream,
With lavers pure and cleansing herbs, wash off
The clotted gore. I, with what speed the while,
Gaza is not in plight to say us nay,
Will send for all my kindred, all my friends,
To fetch him hence, and solemnly attend,
With silent obsequy and funeral train,
Home to his father's house : there will I build him
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel, ever green, and branching palm,
With all his trophies hung, and acts enrolld,
In copious legend, or sweet lyric song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And, from his memory, inflame their breasts
To matchless valour, and adventures high :
The virgins also shall, on feastful days,
Visit his tomb with flowers; only bewailing
His lot unfortunate, in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.
Chor. All is best, though we oft doubt,
What the unsearchable dispose
Of highest Wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.
Oft he seems to hide his face,
But unexpectedly returns,
And to his faithful champion, hath in place
Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns,
And all that band them to resist
His uncontrollable intent;
His servants he, with new acquist
Of true experience, from this great event,
peace & consolation hath dismiss'd, And, calm of mind, all passion spent.
THE END OF SAMSON AGONISTUS,
PRESENTED AT IUDLOW CASTLE, 1634.
JOHN, EARL OF BRIDGEWATER,
JOHN, LORD VISCOUNT BRACKLY, Son and Heir Apparent to the Earl of Bridgewater,
&c. MY LORD, This Poem, which received its first occasion of birth from yourself and others of your noble family, and much honour from your own person in the performance, now returns again to make a final Dedication of itself to you. Although not openly acknowledged by the Author,t yet it is a legitimate offspring, so lovely and so much desired, that the often copying of it hath tired my pen to give my several friends satisfaction, and brought me to a necessity of producing it to the public view; and now to offer it up in all rightful devotion to those fair hopes, and rare endowments of your much promising youth, which give a full assurance, to all that know you, of a future excellence. Live, sweet Lord, to be the honour of your name, and receive this as your own, from the hands of him who hath by many favours been long obliged to your most honoured parents, and as in this representation your attendant Thyrsis, so now in all real expression, Your faithful and most humble servant,
* This is the dedication to Lawes's edition of the Mask, 1637.
+ The First Brother in the Mask. Warton.
# It never appeared under Milton's name till the year 1645.