網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

The measure of verfe used in the chorus is of all sorts, called by the Greeks Monostrophic, for rather Apolclymenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe, or Epod, which were a kind of stanzas framed only for the mufic, then used with the chorus that fung; not clential to be foem, and therefore not material ; or being

divided into stanzas ! pauses, they may be called Allæostropha. Division into aet and cene, referring chiefly to the stage ( to wbich this work never was intended ) is here omitted. It juffices if the whole drama be found not produced beyond the

fifth oct. Of the style and uniformity, and that commonly called the plot, avhether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such economy er disposition of the fable as may stand best with verfimilitude and decorum; they only will best judge, who are nop unacquainted with Elblus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the three tragic poets unequalled vet by any, and the best rule to all who endeavour to write tragedy. The circumscription of time, wherein the wbole drama begins and end's, i according to ancient rule and best example, within the space of 'wenty-four hours.

The persons.
SAMSON.
MANOAH, the Father of Samfon.
Dalila, his Wife.
HARAPHA of Gath.
Public Officer,
Messenger.
Chorus of Danites.

The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.

SAMSON AGONISTES.

The argument. SAMSON made captive, blind, and now in the prison at Gaza, there to lahour as in a common work hours, on a festival day, in the general ceffation from labour, ccines forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat re. tir'd, there to fit a while and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his "Tribe, which make tie Chorus, who feek to comfort him what they can, then by his old father Manoan, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpote to procure his liberty by ransom: luftly, that this feast was proclaim'd by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Sainton, which yet more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his enderrous with the Piulitine lords of Simion's redemption; who in the mean while is vifired by other persons ; and 12ftly by a public officer, to require his coming to the feast before the lords and people, to play, or show his strength in their presence: he at first refuses, difmifing the public oficer with abfolute denial to come; at length perluded inwardly that this was froin God, he yields to go along with hiin, who came now the second time with great threatnings to fetch him: the Chorus yet remaing on the place, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his fon's deliverance, in the midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in haite, conturedly at first, and afterwards more diftinctly, relating the catastrophe, wha: 'Samfun had done to the Philitines, and by accident to himseif wherewith the tragedy ends.

SAMSON. A

To these dark steps, a little further on; For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade; There I ain wont to fit, when any chance Relieves me from my task of servile toil,

5. Daily in the common prison elle enjoin'd me, Where I a prisoner chain'd, fcarce 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 folemn feast the people hold To dagon their sea-idol, and forbid Laborious works; unwillingly this rest Their superstition yields me; hence with leave Retiring from the popular noise, I feek This unfrequented place to find some ease, Eale to the body fome, none to the mind From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm Of hornets arm’d, no fogner found alone, But rush upon me thronging, and present Times past, what once I was, and what am now.

wherefore was my birth from heav'n foretold

Twice by an angel, who at last in fight
Of both my parents all in fames ascended

25
From off the altar, where an offering 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 talk

?5
With this heav'n-gifted strength ?: O glorious strength,
Put to the labour of a beast, debas'd
Lower than bond. Nave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philiftian yoke deliver:
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with flaves,
Himself in bonds under Philiftian yoke.
Yet stay, let me not rafhly call in doubt
Divine predi&tion ; what if all foretold
Had been fulfillid but through mine own default, 45
Whom have I to complain of but myself?
Who this high' gift of strength committed to ine,
In what part lodg’l, how ealily bereft me,
Under the seal of silence could not keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it,

50
O'ercome with importunity and tears.
O impotence of mind, in body strong!
But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom? valt, unwieldy, burdensome,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall

55
By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command !
God, when he gave me strength, to show withal
How flight the gift was, hung it in
But peace, I must not quarrel with the will 60
Of highest dispensation, which herein
Haply had ends above my reach to know :
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,

[ocr errors]

my hair.

65

70

[ocr errors]

And proves the source of all my miseries;
So many and lo huge, that each a part
Would ask a life to wail : but chief of all,
O loss of light, of thee I molt complain!
Blind among enemies : 0 worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decripit 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,
Inferior to the vileft now become
Ofman or worm

the vileit here excell me;
They creep, yet see; I dark, in light expos'd 75
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Within doors, or without, ftill 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, 80 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 the deserts the night, Hid in her vacant interlunar cave. Since light so necessary is to life,

90 And almost life itself, if it be true That light is in the soul, She all in every part; why was the right To such a tender ball as th' eye confin'd, So obvious and so easy to be quench'd ?

95 And not as feeling, through all parts diffus'd, 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 bury'd: but yet more miserable! Myself niy fepulchre, a moving grave, Bury'd, yet not exempt,

85

ICO

[ocr errors]

IIO

By privilege of death and burial,
Froin worst of other evils, pains and wrongs, 105
But made hereby obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity
Among inhuman foes.
But who are these? for with joint

peace

I lear
The tread of many feet steering this way;
Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare
A my affliction, and perhaps to insult,
Their daily practice, io afflict me more.

Chor. This, this is he: softly a while ; I15
Let us not break in

upon

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 abandond,
And by himself given over ;
In slavish habit, ill fitted weeds ;
O'er-worn and foil'd :
Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be he,
That heroic, that renown'd,

125
Irresistible Samson ? whom unarm'd
No strength of man or fiercest wild beasts could with-

120

Itand ;

[ocr errors]

Who tore the lion, as the lion tear's the kid;
Ran on embattled armies clad in iron;
And, weaponless himself,

130
Made arms ridiculous,ifeless the forgery
Of brazen thield and Ipear, the hammer'd cuirass,
Chalybean temper'd feel, and frock of mail
Adamantean proof;
But fafest he who stood aloof,
When insupportably bis foot advanc’d,
In fcorn of their proud arms and warlıke too's,
Spurn’d them to death by troops. The bold Alcalonite
Fled liom his lion samp; old warriors turn'd
Their plated backs under his heel,
De grov'ling foiled their crested helmets in the dust.
Then with what trivial weapon Caine to hand,

135

140

« 上一頁繼續 »