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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,
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.
This day a solemn 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 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 alone,
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
O wherefore was my birth from heaven foretold.
Twice by an Angel, who at last, in sight
Oi both my parents, all in flames ascended
His guulike presence,--
Why was my breeding ordered and prescribed
As of a , erson separate to God,
Destined wr great exploits ; if I must die
Betrayed, captived, and both my eyes put out.
Made of mine enemies the scorn and gaze ;
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this heaven-gifted strength ? O glorious strength
Put to the labour of a beast, debased
Lower than bond-slave! Promise was, that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver:
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.
But chief of all
O loss of sight, of thee I most coinplain !
Blind among enemies, O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age !
Light, the prime work of God, to me extinct,
And all her various objects of delight
Annulled, which might in part my grief have eased ;
Inferior to the vilest now become
Of man or worm : the vilest here excel me;
They creep, yet see ; I, dark in light, exposed
'To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong:
Within doors or without, still, as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
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 she deserts the night,
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Since light so necessary is to life,
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the soul,
She all in every part; why was the light
To such a tender ball as th' eye confined,
So obvious and so easy to be quenched ?
And not as feeling through all parts diffused,
That she might look at will through every pore?
Then had I not been thus exiled from light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried : but, O yet more miserable!
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave;
Buried, yet not exeinpt
By privilege of death and burial,
From worst of other evils, pains, and wrongs ;
But made hereby obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity
Among inhuman fnes.
Many are the sayings of the wise,
In ancient and in modern books enrolled,
Extolling patience is the truest fortitude ;
And to the bearing well of all calamities,
Al chances incident to man's frail life,
With studied argument, and much persuasion sought
Lenient of grief and anxious thought;
But with the afflicted in his pangs their sound
Little prevails, or rather seems a tune
Harsh, and of dissonant mood from his complaint;
Unless he feel within
Some source of consolation from above,
Secret refreshings that repair his strength,
And fainting spirits uphold.
FROM “PARADISE LOST.” BOOK III.
Hail, holy light, offspring of heaven first born,
May I express thee unblamed ? Since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence uncreate :
Or hearest thou, rather, pure etherial stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell ? Before the Sun,
Before the Heavens thou wert; and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, did invest
The rising world of waters, dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinitè.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detained
In that obscure sojourn, while in my fight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to the Orphean lyre,
. sung of Chaos and eternal Night,
The dark descent, and up to reascend,
Though hard and rare : Thee I revisit safe, .
And feel thy sovereign, vital lamp; but thou
Revisitst not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief,
Thee, Zion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two, equalled with me in fate.
So were I equalled with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris and blind Moonides,
And Tiresias and Phineas, prophets old ;
There feed on thoughts that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and, in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me return
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,