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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
Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
Daily in the common prison else enjoined me;
Where I, a prisoner chained, scarce
The air imprisoned also, close and damp,
Unwholesome draught : but here I feel amends,
The breath of heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet,
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
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,
Why was my breeding ordered and prescribed
As of a person separate to God,
Destined for great exploits; if I must die
Betrayed, captived, and both my eyes put out,
Made of mine enemies the scorn and
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 complain! 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!
0, 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 sight
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 exempt
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 fues.