Not to be absent at that spectacle.


The building was a spacious theatre
Half-round on two main pillars vaulted high,
With seats where all the lords and each degree
Of sort might sit in order to behold;
The other side was open, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds under sky might stand;
I among these aloof obscurely stood.




The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice [wine,
Had fill'd their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and
When to their sports they turn'd. Immediately
Was Samson as a public servant brought,
In their state livery clad; before him pipes
And timbrels, on each side went armed guards,
Both horse and foot, before him and behind
Archers, and slingers, cataphracts and spears.
At sight of him the people with a shout
Rifted the air, clamoring their god with praise,
Who' had made their dreadful enemy their thrall.
He patient but undaunted where they led him,
Came to the place, and what was set before him,
Which without help of eye might be assay'd 1615
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still perform'd
All with incredible, stupendous force,
None daring to appear antagonist.
At length for intermission sake they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested
(For so from such as nearer stood we heard)
As over-tir'd to let him lean a while


With both his arms on those two massy pillars,
That to the arched roof gave main support,
He unsuspicious led him ; which when Samson
Felt in his arms, with head a while inclin'd,
And eyes fast fix'd he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or some greater matter in his mind revolv'd:
At last with head erect thus cry'd aloud,
Hitherto, Lords, what your commands impos'd
I have perform'd, as reason was obeying,
Not without wonder or delight beheld :
Now of my own accord such other trial



I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater;
As with amaze shall strike all who behold.
This utter'd, straining all his nerves he bow'd,
As with the force of winds and waters pent
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro
He tugg'd, he shook, till down they came and drew
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flower, not only
Of this but each Philistian city round,
Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.
Samson with these immix'd, inevitably
Pull'd down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only scap'd who stood without.


CHOR. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious! Living or dying thou hast fulfill'd


The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now ly'st victorious
Among thy slain self-kill'd

Not willingly, but tangled in the fold


Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin'd
Thee with thy slaughter'd foes in number more
Than all thy life hath slain before.


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So fond are mortal men

Fall'n into wrath divine,

As their own ruin on themselves to' invite,
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,

And with blindness internal struck.

2 SEMICHOR. But he though blind of sight, Despis'd and thought extinguish'd quite, With inward eyes illuminated,

His fiery virtue rous'd



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A secular bird ages of lives.

MAN. Come, come, no time for lamentation now, Nor much more cause; Samson hath quit him


Like Samson, and heroicly hath finish'd

A life heroic, on his enemies


Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor

Through all Philistian bounds, to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them 1715
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 fear'd,


But favouring and assisting to the end.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, 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
Sok'd 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 nay)


Will send for all my kindred, all my friends, 1730 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 inroll'd
In copious legend, or sweet lyric song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And from his memory inflame their breasts
To matchless valor, and adventures high:
The virgins also shall on feastful days
Visit his tomb with flow'rs, only bewailing
His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.


CHOR. All is best, though we oft doubt 1745

What th' unsearchable dispose

Of highest Wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.

Oft he seems to hide his face,

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