Samson agonistes poem. Samson Agonistes by John Milton 2022-11-01
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Samson Agonistes is a poem written by John Milton in 1671, based on the Biblical story of Samson from the book of Judges in the Old Testament. The poem is a tragic drama that explores the themes of identity, faith, and retribution.
The main character of the poem is Samson, a Hebrew judge and warrior known for his great strength. In the story, he is betrayed by his lover Delilah, who reveals the secret of his strength to the Philistines. As a result, Samson is captured and blinded by the Philistines, and spends the rest of the poem grappling with his newfound weaknesses and the loss of his identity as a powerful warrior.
Throughout the poem, Samson struggles with his faith in God and his role in the grand scheme of things. He wonders why God has allowed him to suffer such a terrible fate, and whether his strength and faith were ever truly his own. He also grapples with feelings of guilt and responsibility for the suffering of his people, and wonders if he could have done more to prevent it.
Despite his doubts and struggles, however, Samson ultimately finds redemption through his acceptance of his suffering and his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. In the final scene of the poem, he brings down the temple of the Philistines, killing himself and many of his enemies in the process. Through this act of self-sacrifice, Samson is able to redeem himself and his people, and is remembered as a hero and a symbol of faith and strength.
In conclusion, Samson Agonistes is a powerful and poignant poem that explores the themes of identity, faith, and retribution through the story of a tragic hero. Through his struggles and eventual redemption, Milton asks us to consider the nature of faith and the role of suffering in our own lives.
This Idols day hath bin to thee no day of rest, Labouring thy mind More then the working day thy hands, And yet perhaps more trouble is behind. Horribly loud, unlike the former shout. The Chorus, shortly after, complains about the nature of women and how deceptive they are: Whate'er it be, to wisest men and best Seeming at first all heavenly under virgin veil, Soft, modest, meek, demure, Once joined, the contrary she proves, a thorn Intestine, far within defensive arms A cleaving mischief, in his way to virtue Adverse and turbulent, or by her charms Draws him awry enslaved With dotage, and his sense depraved To folly and shameful deeds which ruin ends. Dal: Since thou determinst weakness for no plea In man or woman, though to thy own condemning, Hear what assaults I had, what snares besides, What sieges girt me round, e're I consented; Which might have aw'd the best resolv'd of men, The constantest to have yielded without blame. Nor shouldst thou have trusted that to womans frailty E're I to thee, thou to thy self wast cruel. Man: I cannot praise thy Marriage choises, Son, Rather approv'd them not; but thou didst plead Divine impulsion prompting how thou might'st Find some occasion to infest our Foes. Why then Didst thou at first receive me for thy husband? Sam: So let her go, God sent her to debase me, And aggravate my folly who committed 1000 To such a viper his most sacred trust Of secresie, my safety, and my life.
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So mutable are all the ways of men Yet this be sure, in nothing to comply Scandalous or forbidden in our Law. Thoughts my Tormenters arm'd with deadly stings Mangle my apprehensive tenderest parts, Exasperate, exulcerate, and raise Dire inflammation which no cooling herb Or medcinal liquor can asswage, Nor breath of Vernal Air from snowy Alp. Then with what trivial weapon came to Hand, The Jaw of a dead Ass, his sword of bone, A thousand fore-skins fell, the flower of Palestin In Ramath-lechi famous to this day: Then by main force pull'd up, and on his shoulders bore The Gates of Azza, Post, and massie Bar Up to the Hill by Hebron, seat of Giants old, No journey of a Sabbath day, and loaded so; Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up Heav'n. To mix with thy concernments I desist 970 Henceforth, nor too much disapprove my own. Bid go with evil omen and the brand Of infamy upon my name denounc't? What e're it be, to wisest men and best Seeming at first all heavenly under virgin veil, Soft, modest, meek, demure, Once join'd, the contrary she proves, a thorn Intestin, far within defensive arms A cleaving mischief, in his way to vertue Adverse and turbulent, or by her charms Draws him awry enslav'd With dotage, and his sense deprav'd To folly and shameful deeds which ruin ends. But had thy love, still odiously pretended, Bin, as it ought, sincere, it would have taught thee Far other reasonings, brought forth other deeds. If aught in my ability may serve To light'n what thou suffer'st, and appease Thy mind with what amends is in my power, Though late, yet in some part to recompense My rash but more unfortunate misdeed.
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Nor am I in the list of them that hope; Hopeless are all my evils, all remediless; This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard, No long petition, speedy death, 650 The close of all my miseries, and the balm. Yet so it may fall out, because thir end Is hate, not help to me, it may with mine Draw thir own ruin who attempt the deed. God, when he gave me strength, to show withal How slight the gift was, hung it in my But Of highest dispensation, which herein Haply had ends above my reach to know: Suffices that to me strength is my bane, And proves the source of all my miseries; So many, and so huge, that each apart Would ask a life to wail, but chief of all, O Blind among enemies, O worse than chains, Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age! The sufferers then will scarce molest us here, From other hands we need not much to fear. Har: By Astaroth e're long thou shalt lament These braveries in Irons loaden on thee. Down Reason then, at least vain reasonings down, Though Reason here aver That moral verdit quits her of unclean : Unchaste was subsequent, her stain not his. Matchless in might, The glory late of Israel, now the grief; We come thy friends and neighbours not unknown From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful Vale To visit or bewail thee, or if better, Counsel or Consolation we may bring, Salve to thy Sores, apt words have power to swage The tumors of a troubl'd mind, And are as Balm to fester'd wounds.
Samson Slays 1,000 Philistines, 1860 woodcut by Then with what trivial weapon came to hand, The jaw of a dead ass, his sword of bone, A thousand foreskins fell lines 129—134, 142—4 Although he is great, the Chorus points out that, through his blindness actual and metaphorically , he is a prisoner: Thou art become O worst imprisonment! Chor: In seeking just occasion to provoke The Philistine, thy Countries Enemy, Thou never wast remiss, I hear thee witness: Yet Israel still serves with all his Sons. I know your friendly minds and — O what noise! Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt Divine prediction; what if all foretold Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default, Whom have I to complain of but myself? Immeasurable strength they might behold In me, of wisdom nothing more then mean; This with the other should, at least, have paird, These two proportiond ill drove me transverse. Nor am I in the list of them that hope; Hopeless are all my evils, all remediless; This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard, 650 No long petition, speedy death, The close of all my miseries, and the balm. But I Gods counsel have not kept, his holy secret Presumptuously have publish'd, impiously, Weakly at least, and shamefully: A sin That Gentiles in thir Parables condemn To thir abyss and horrid pains confin'd. Thither shall all the valiant youth resort, And from his memory inflame thir breasts 1740 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. Man: Wearied with slaughter then or how? Chor: Just are the ways of God, And justifiable to Men; Unless there be who think not God at all, If any be, they walk obscure; For of such Doctrine never was there School, But the heart of the Fool, And no man therein Doctor but himself.
Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole Tribe, They had by this possess'd the Towers of Gath, And lorded over them whom now they serve; But what more oft in Nations grown corrupt, And by thir vices brought to servitude, Then to love Bondage more then Liberty, Bondage with ease then strenuous liberty; And to despise, or envy, or suspect Whom God hath of his special favour rais'd As thir Deliverer; if he aught begin, How frequent to desert him, and at last To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds? The Sun to me is dark And silent as the Moon, When she deserts the night Hid in her vacant interlunar cave. See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus'd, With languish't head unpropt, As one past hope, abandon'd And by himself given over; In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds O're worn and soild; Or do my eyes misrepresent? But now hath cast me off as never known, And to those cruel enemies, Whom I by his appointment had provok't, Left me all helpless with th' irreparable loss Of sight, reserv'd alive to be repeated The subject of thir cruelty, or scorn. Chor: She's gone, a manifest Serpent by her sting Discover'd in the end, till now conceal'd. 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? Gregory Nazianzen a Father of the Church, thought it not unbeseeming the sanctity of his person to write a Tragedy which he entitl'd, Christ suffering. Sam: All these indignities, for such they are From thine, these evils I deserve and more, Acknowledge them from God inflicted on me Justly, yet despair not of his final pardon Whose ear is ever open; and his eye Gracious to re-admit the suppliant; In confidence whereof I once again Defie thee to the trial of mortal fight, By combat to decide whose god is God, Thine or whom I with Israel's Sons adore.
If these they scape, perhaps in poverty With sickness and disease thou bow'st them down, Painful diseases and deform'd, In crude old age; Though not disordinate, yet causless suffring The punishment of dissolute days, in fine, Just or unjust, alike seem miserable, For oft alike, both come to evil end. Chor: Tax not divine disposal, wisest Men Have err'd, and by bad Women been deceiv'd; And shall again, pretend they ne're so wise. Of that honour Dionysius the elder was no less ambitious, then before of his attaining to the Tyranny. Comes he in peace? Reject not then what offerd means, who knows But God hath set before us, to return thee Home to thy countrey and his sacred house, Where thou mayst bring thy off'rings, to avert His further ire, with praiers and vows renew'd. Sam: Tongue-doubtie Giant, how dost thou prove me these? Reject not then what offerd means, who knows But God hath set before us, to return thee Home to thy countrey and his sacred house, Where thou may'st bring thy off'rings, to avert 520 His further ire, with praiers and vows renew'd. Baker, this edition also contains a list of principal dates in the life of Milton and a selected bibliography.
The copyright of the poems published here are belong to their poets. In vain thou striv'st to cover shame with shame, Or by evasions thy crime uncoverst more. The Apostle Paul himself thought it not unworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the Text of Holy Scripture, I Cor. So Dagon shall be magnifi'd, and God, Besides whom is no God, compar'd with Idols, Disglorifi'd, blasphem'd, and had in scorn By th' Idolatrous rout amidst thir wine; Which to have come to pass by means of thee, Samson, of all thy sufferings think the heaviest, Of all reproach the most with shame that ever Could have befall'n thee and thy Fathers house. Har: To combat with a blind man I disdain And thou hast need much washing to be toucht.
Milton believed that the Bible was better in its classical forms than those written by the Greeks and Romans. He would not else who never wanted means, Nor in respect of the enemy just cause To set his people free, Have prompted this Heroic Nazarite, Against his vow of strictest purity, To seek in marriage that fallacious Bride, Unclean, unchaste. A special prosecutor is on his case s. 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 confin'd? Chor: His manacles remark him, there he sits. 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. Promise was that I Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver; Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him 40 Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves, Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke; Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt Divine Prediction; what if all foretold Had been fulfilld but through mine own default, Whom have I to complain of but my self? But Love constrain'd thee; call it furious rage To satisfie thy lust: Love seeks to have Love; My love how couldst thou hope, who tookst the way To raise in me inexpiable hate, Knowing, as needs I must, by thee betray'd? Har: Fair honour that thou dost thy God, in trusting He will accept thee to defend his cause, A Murtherer, a Revolter, and a Robber.
It suffices if the whole Drama be found not produc't beyond the fift Act, of the style and uniformitie, and that commonly call'd the Plot, whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such oeconomy, or disposition of the fable as may stand best with verisimilitude and decorum; they only will best judge who are not unacquainted with Aeschulus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the three Tragic Poets unequall'd yet by any, and the best rule to all who endeavour to write Tragedy. Alas methinks whom God hath chosen once To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err, He should not so o'rewhelm, and as a thrall Subject him to so foul indignities, Be it but for honours sake of former deeds. Thou art become O worst imprisonment! If thou in strength all mortals dost exceed, In uncompassionate anger do not so. Sam: Or peace or not, alike to me he comes. But see here comes thy reverend Sire With careful step, Locks white as doune, Old Manoah: advise Forthwith how thou oughtst to receive him. For this did the Angel twice descend? In this other was there found More Faith? Comes he in peace? As signal now in low dejected state, As erst in highest, behold him where he lies. Dal: Let me approach at least, and touch thy hand.
Har: Presume not on thy God, what e're he be, Thee he regards not, owns not, hath cut off Quite from his people, and delivered up Into thy Enemies hand, permitted them To put out both thine eyes, and fetter'd send thee Into the common Prison, there to grind Among the Slaves and Asses thy comrades, As good for nothing else, no better service With those, thy boyst'rous locks, no worthy match For valour to assail, nor by the sword Of noble Warriour, so to stain his honour, But by the Barbers razor best subdu'd. A worse thing yet remains, This day the Philistines a popular Feast Here celebrate in Gaza, and proclaim Great Pomp, and Sacrifice, and Praises loud To Dagon, as their God who hath deliver'd Thee Samson bound and blind into thir hands, Them out of thine, who slew'st them many a slain. Which shall I first bewail, Thy Bondage or lost Sight, Prison within Prison Inseparably dark? I was assur'd by those Who tempted me, that nothing was design'd Against thee but safe custody, and hold: That made for me, I knew that liberty Would draw thee forth to perilous enterprises, While I at home sate full of cares and fears Wailing thy absence in my widow'd bed; Here I should still enjoy thee day and night Mine and Loves prisoner, not the Philistines, Whole to my self, unhazarded abroad, Fearless at home of partners in my love. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965. Oft he seems to hide his face, But unexpectedly returns 1750 And to his faithful Champion hath in place Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns And all that band them to resist His uncontroulable intent, His servants he with new acquist Of true experience from this great event With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent.