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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 in prisoned 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 gaze;
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this heaven-gifted strength o 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! 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 cavc. 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 2 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 foes.


Many are the sayings of the wise, In ancient and in modern books enrolled, Extolling patience as the truest fortitude; And to the bearing well of all calamities, All chances incident to man's frail life, Consolatories writ 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.


Hail, holy light, offspring of heaven first born, Or of the eternal, co-eternal beam | 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 l 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 work of waters, dark and deep, Won from the void and formless infinite. Thee I revisit now with bolder wing, Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detained In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight Through utter and through middle darkness borne, With other notes than to the Orphean lyre, - sung of Chaos and eternal Night, Taught by the heavenly muse to venture down 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 Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt, 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 Moeonides, 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 Season3 return; but not to me return Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,

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