The Poetical Works of John Milton: With Translations of the Italian, Latin and Greek Poems from the Columbia University Edition

By David Masson; John Milton | Go to book overview

SAMSON AGONISTES.
SAMS. A little onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on;
For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade.
There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
Daily in the common prison else enjoined me,
Where I, a prisoner chained, scarce freely draw

The air, imprisoned also, close and damp,

Unwholesome draught. But here I feel amends --
The breath of heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet,10
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.
This day a solemn feast the people hold
To Dagon, their sea-idol, and forbid
borious works. Unwillingly this rest
Their superstition yields me; hence, with leave
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease --
Ease to the body some, none to the mind
From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm
Of hornets armed, no sooner found alone20
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
Oh, wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold
Twice by an Angel, who at last, in sight
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 prescribed30
As of a person separate to God,
Designed for great exploits, if I must die
Betrayed, captived, and both my eyes put out.

-357-

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