Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
By John Milton
(From “Samson Agonistes”)

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        5
His godlike presence, and from some great act
Or benefit revealed to Abraham’s race?
Why was my breeding ordered and prescribed
As of a person separate to God,
Destined for great exploits, if I must die        10
Betrayed, captive, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this Heaven-gifted strength? O glorious strength,
Put to the labor of a beast, debased        15
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 Philistine yoke.        20

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