Page images

He realized the havoc he had wrought; He knew that through his death was triumph bought.

When the great ruin came amid the shock

He lay crushed, bleeding 'neath a pillar block;

Yet raised his voice in one triumphant


"Lo, Jacob's God doth Dagon weak defy!

Hallelujah! What joy, what bliss to die!"

And thus, in Samson's last triumphant day,

With eyes burned out by those vile heathen beasts,

He wrecked their temple and did thousands slay,

And gave to Israel fifty years of peace;

With warriors, kings and nobles 'mong the dead,

Philistia was left without a head.

My tale is told, the hero passed from earth;

Regretting weakness, let us own his worth;

A slave to evil thoughts can ne'er be wise;

Yet one great deed, like Samson's, never dies;

And while time's billows endlessly shall roll

May peace and joy, O Samson, fill thy soul!

And through all time 'mong worthies stand thy name;

Thy life was weak, thy death a deathless fame!



(From "Samson Agonistes.)

THE building was a spacious theater, Half round, on two main pillars vaulted high,

With seats where all the lords, and each degree

Of sort, might sit in order to behold; The other side was open, where the


On banks and scaffolds under sky might stand:

I among these aloof obscurely stood. The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice

Had filled their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and wine,

When to their sports they turned. Immediately

Was Samson as a public servant brought,

In their state livery clad: before him pipes

And timbrels; on each side went armèd guards;

Both horse and foot; before him and behind,

Archers and slingers, cataphracts and


At sight of him the people with a shout Rifted the air, clamoring their god with praise,

Who had made their dreadful enemy their thrall.

He, patient but undaunted, where they led him,

Came to the place; and what was set before him,

Which without help of eye might be assayed,

To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still performed

All with incredible, stupendous force,
None daring to appear antagonist.
At length, for intermission sake, they
led him

Between the pillars; he his guide requested

(For so from such as nearer stood we heard),

As over-tired, to let him lean awhile With both his arms on those two massy pillars,

That to the arched roof gave main support.

He, unsuspicious, led him; which when Samson

Felt in his arms, with head awhile inclined,

And eyes fast fixed, he stood, as one who prayed,

Or some great matter in his mind revolved:

At last, with head erect, thus cried aloud:

[blocks in formation]


When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars

With horrible convulsion to and fro He tugged, he shook, till down they came, and drew

The whole roof after them with burst of thunder

Upon the heads of all who sat beneath, Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,

Their choice nobility and flower, not only

Of this, but each Philistian city round, Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.

Samson, with these inmixed, inevitably Pulled down the same destruction on himself;

The vulgar only 'scaped who stood without.

JOHN MILTON (1608-1674).

[blocks in formation]

Enthroned in the clouds rolling up from the altar,

The giant-like god of the proud nation stood;

There the flesh did not fail, nor the scorching flames falter,

And the still air was faint with the incense of blood.

And short prayers were muttered, and censers went swinging,

In gorgeous piles matted, lay offerings of flowers;

Wild harps were complaining, gay minstrels were singing,

While agony noted the captive's lone hours.

But now comes a mock-mournful sound of condoling,

And forth, in his darkness all haggard and wild,

His shaggy brow lowering, his glazed eye-balls rolling,

The strong man was guided, as lead they a child.

Now higher the laugh and the rude jest are ringing,

As throng the gay revellers round the sad spot,

Where the captive's shrunk arms to the pillars are clinging,

And altar, and wine-cup, and dance are forgot.

His right arm is lifted: they laugh to behold it,

So wasted, and yellow, and bony, and


His forehead is bowed, and the black locks which fold it

Seem stirring with agony, wordless and strong.

His right arm is lifted, but feebly it quivers,

That arm which has singly with multitudes striven;

Beneath the cold sweat-drops his mighty frame shivers,

And now his pale lips move in pleadings to heaven.

"God of my sires, my foes are Thine; Oh, bend unto my last, faint cry!

[blocks in formation]

"Oh, give me back my strength again! For one brief moment let me feel That lava-flood in every vein,

Those nerves of steel.

"My strength! my strength! Great God of Heaven!

In agony I raise my cry;
One triumph o'er my foes be given!
Then let me die!"

A light from the darkened orbs stole in quick flashes,

The crisp, matted locks to long sable wreaths sprung,

The hot blood came purpling in fountain-like dashes,

And to the carved pillars his long fingers clung.

His brawny arm straightened, its muscle displaying,

Like bars wrought of iron the tense sinews stood,

Each thick, swollen vein o'er his swarthy limbs straying,

Was knotted, and black with the pressure of blood.

[blocks in formation]

Earth groaned 'neath the crash, and rose circling to heaven,

Fierce, half-smothered cries, as the gurgling life fled;

Day passed, and no sound broke the silence of even,

Save the jackal's long howl, as he crouched o'er the dead.

EMILY JUDSON (1817-1854).


THE plume-like swaying of the auburn corn,

By soft winds to a dreamy motion fann'd,

Still brings me back thine image-Oh! forlorn,

Yet not forsaken, Ruth—I see thee stand

Lone, 'midst the gladness of the harvest band

Lone as a wood-bird on the ocean's foam,

Fall'n in its weariness. Thy father


Smiles far away! yet to the sense of home,

That finest, purest, which can recog


Home in affection's glance, for ever


Beats thy calm heart; and if thy

gentle eyes

Gleam tremulous through tears, 'tis not to rue

Those words, immortal in their deep Love's tone,

"Thy people and thy God shall be mine own!"

FELICIA HEMANS (1793-1835).


SHE stood breast-high amid the corn,
Clasped by the golden light of morn,
Like the sweetheart of the sun,
Who many a glowing kiss had won.

On her cheek an autumn flush
Deeply ripened;-such a blush
In the midst of brown was born,
Like red poppies grown with corn.

[blocks in formation]

Her daughters, weeping at her side,
Sat silent, nor a word replied;
Grief for the dead heaved heavy throes,
And for the living there arose
Deep, deep regret that thus should part
Friends so beloved and knit in heart;
They lifted up their voices loud,
And wept, till tears excessive flowed,
Till sad Naomi rose from where
She sat, and kissed the sister-pair;
Then, with kind look addressed to each,
She chid them home with gentle speech;
"Turn ye, my daughters, turn again
To your sweet homes in Moab's plain!"
Then Ruth arose-then Orpah rose,
And, as their flood of sorrow flows,
They kissed their aged mother's face,
With many a long and fond embrace,
Till passion forth in utterance broke,
And thus the younger sister spoke:

"O mother! ask me not to part
From thee, so lorn and sick of heart;
Entreat me not that I should be
Estrang'd from following after thee!
When I receiv'd from thy glad hand
My husband in my father's land,
His I became; now thou to me
As husband art-and dear as he!
Then do not press me to betray
That love, and turn from thee away.
Two sisters are we, lone and sad;
Two mothers have we to make glad;
My sister shall return to find
And comfort her I left behind!
For me! Wherever thou shalt go,
I too will follow thee not slow;
Where'er thou shalt thy dwelling make,
I too will mine abode uptake;
Attendant ever, I will be
Thy comforter, to cherish thee;
At morn, to rear thy pillow'd head
Gently from slumber on thy bed;
At noon, sweet solace to prepare,
And tend thy tottering steps with care;
At eve, fresh service to employ,
And lead thee to thy couch in joy.
Thy couch, thy cottage, shall be mine,
One joy, one grief, our souls shall join!
Thy God shall be my God; to me
Thy people shall my people be;
And where thou diest I will die,
And there beside thee buried lie;
O mother! ask me not to part
From thee, thus lorn and sick of heart!"

She spoke; her mother then forbore T'entreat her from her purpose more;

The elder sister took her way
To Moab's land, her place of stay;
The younger with her mother weut,
With gentle footsteps westward bent,
Till reach'd they Bethlehem's green


WILLIAM TENNANT (1785-1848).



Now in the Lord my heart doth pleasure take;

My horn is in the Lord advanced high; And to my foes an answer I will make, Because in his salvation joy'd am I. Like him there is not any Holy One; And other Lord beside him there is



Nor like our God another God is there; So proudly vaunt not, then, as heretofore;

But let your tongues from henceforth now forbear

All vain presuming words for evermore. For why? the Lord is God, who all things knows,

And doth each purpose to his end dispose.


Now broken is their bow that once were stout;

And girt with vigour they that stumbled


The full themselves for bread have hired out,

Which now they need not do, that hungry were.

The barren womb doth seven children own,

And she that once had many, weak is grown.


The Lord doth slay; and he revives the slain;

He to the grave doth bring, and back he bears,

The Lord makes poor, and rich he makes again:

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »