Page images
PDF
EPUB

Unweetingly importuned
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them.
So fond are mortal men,
Fallen into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves to invite,
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.

SEMICHORUS.
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 perchéd 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,
Depressed, and overthrown, as seemed,
Like that self-begotten bird,
In the Arabian woods imbost,
That no second knows nor third,
And lay erewhile a holocaust,
From out her ashy womb now teemed,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deemed,
And though her body die, her fame survives,
A secular bird, ages of lives.

MANOAH.

Come, come! no time for lamentation now;
Nor much more cause ; Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroically hath finished
A life heroic, on his enemies
Fully revenged, hath left them years of mourning
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor 3
Through all Philistian bounds; to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them

1 Bern-door, farm-house fowls. 2 Concealed, covered. Johnson is very sharp upon our author for the incongruity of this allusion to the Phænix. See Rambler, No. 140.

• The Philistines.

а

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 feared,
But favouring and assisting to the end.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt,

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
Soaked in his enemies blood; and 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 nav)
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 enrolled
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.

CHORUS

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 mourris,
And all that band them to resist
His uncontrollable intent;
His servants he, with new acquista

" See Judges xvi. 31.
2 Acquisition.

Of true experience from this great event,
With peace and consolation hath dismissed,
And calm of mind all passion spent.'

i On the conclusion of this tragedy, Dr. Johnson has the following remarks :-"While Samson is conducted off by the messenger, his father returns with hopes of success in his solicitation; upon which he confers with the chorus till their dialogue is interrupted, first by a shout, and afterwards by screams of horror and agony. As they stand deliberating where they shall be secure, a man who had been present at the show enters, and relates how Samson, having prevailed on his guide to suffer him to lean against the main pillars of the theatrical edifice, tore down the roof upon the spectators and himself. This is undoubtedly a just and regular catastrophe, and the poem therefore has a beginning and an end which Aristotle himself could not have disapproved; but it must be allowed to want a middle, since nothing passes between the first act and the last, that either hastens or delays the death of Samson. The whole drama, if its superfluities were cut off, would scarcely fill a single act; yet this is the tragedy, which ignorance has admired, and bigotry applauded.”—Pambler, No. 139.

END OF SAD:SUN AGONISTI,

Poems on Several Occasions.

“Baccare frontem Cingite, ne vati noceat mala lingua futuro.

VIRGIL, Eclog. 7.

1.
ANNO ÆTATIS XVII.

ON THE DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT1 DYING OF A Cough.

I.

O fairest flower! no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly,
Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst out-lasted
Bleak Winter's force that made thy blossom dry;
For he being amorous on that lovely dye

That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss,
But killed, alas! and then bewailed his fatal bliss.

II.

For since grim Aquilo, his charioteer,
By boisterous rape the Athenian damsela got,
He thought it touched his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away the infámous blot

Of long-uncoupled bed, and childless eld,
Which ʼmongst the wanton gods a foul reproach was held.

III. So mounting up in icy-pearléd car, Through middle empire of the freezing air He wandered long, till thee he spied from far; 1 The daughter, and probably the first child, of the poet's sister.

2 Orithyia, daughter of Erectheus, king of Athens, was drowned while crossing the Ilissus in a high wind : hence the fable that she was carried off by Boreas or Aquilo.

8 Old age.

There ended was his quest, there ceased his care.
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair,

But all unwares with his cold-kind embrace Unhoused thy virgin soul from her fair biding place.'

IV.

2

V.

VI.

Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilome did slay? his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas' strand,
Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land;

But then transformed him to a purple flower :
Alack! that so to change thee Winter had no power.
Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Hid from the world in a low-delvéd tomb;
Could Heaven for pity thee so strictly doom?

Oh, no! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that showed thou wast divine.
Resolve me then, O soul most surely blest !
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear);
Tell me, bright spirit, where'er thou hoverest,
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields (if such there were) ;

Oh, say me true, if thou wert mortal wight,
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy flight?
Wert thou some star which from the ruined roof
Of shaked Olympus by mischance didsta fall;
Which careful Jove in nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstal ?
Or did of late earth's sons besiege the wall

Of sheeny Heaven, and thou some goddess fled Amongst us here below to hide thy nectared 4 head? Or wert thou that just maids who once before Forsook the hated earth, oh, tell me sooth!

VII.

VIII.

1 The legend of the Erl King will probably suggest itself to many readers as a parallel to this graceful fiction of Milton's. 2 While playing at quoits.

Rather, "did fall.” 4“ Nectared” here seems equivalent to ".divine.” 5 Astræa, the goddess of justice.

3

« PreviousContinue »