John Milton

(9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674 / London, England)

From 'Samson Agonistes' i


OH how comely it is and how reviving
To the Spirits of just men long opprest!
When God into the hands of thir deliverer
Puts invincible might
To quell the mighty of the Earth, th' oppressour,
The brute and boist'rous force of violent men
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue
The righteous and all such as honour Truth;
He all thir Ammunition
And feats of War defeats
With plain Heroic magnitude of mind
And celestial vigour arm'd,
Thir Armories and Magazins contemns,
Renders them useless, while
With winged expedition
Swift as the lightning glance he executes
His errand on the wicked, who surpris'd
Lose thir defence distracted and amaz'd.

ALL is best, though we oft doubt,
What th' unsearchable dispose
Of highest wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.
Oft he seems to hide his face,
But unexpectedly returns
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.

O FOR some honest lover's ghost,
   Some kind unbodied post
   Sent from the shades below!
   I strangely long to know
Whether the noble chaplets wear
Those that their mistress' scorn did bear
   Or those that were used kindly.

For whatsoe'er they tell us here
   To make those sufferings dear,
   'Twill there, I fear, be found
   That to the being crown'd
T' have loved alone will not suffice,
Unless we also have been wise
   And have our loves enjoy'd.

What posture can we think him in
   That, here unloved, again
   Departs, and 's thither gone
   Where each sits by his own?
Or how can that Elysium be
Where I my mistress still must see
   Circled in other's arms?

For there the judges all are just,
   And Sophonisba must
   Be his whom she held dear,
   Not his who loved her here.
The sweet Philoclea, since she died,
Lies by her Pirocles his side,
   Not by Amphialus.

Some bays, perchance, or myrtle bough
   For difference crowns the brow
   Of those kind souls that were
   The noble martyrs here:
And if that be the only odds
(As who can tell?), ye kinder gods,
   Give me the woman here!

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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