The Poem

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Samson, eyeless in Gaza, is given a holiday from his labors during the season of a Philistine religious festival. He sits alone before the prison, lamenting his fallen state. His hair grows long again and his physical strength returns, but to him life seems hopeless. He wonders why God chose him, who seems destined to live out his days as a miserable, blinded wretch, but he nevertheless blames his misfortunes on himself. He should not have trusted in his strength without also seeing to it that he gained the wisdom to protect him from the wiles of Philistine women. He mourns also the blindness that makes him live a life only half alive.

A chorus of Hebrew elders joins him. It recalls his past great deeds and speak of the present state of Israel, subject to Philistine rule. Samson accuses his people of loving bondage more than liberty because they refused to take advantage of the victories he won for them in the days of his strength. Manoa, Samson’s aged father, also comes to see his son, whose fate gives him great distress. He brings news that plunges Samson still deeper into his depression: The Philistine feast is being given to thank the idol Dagon for delivering the mighty Hebrew into the hands of his enemies. Samson realizes then the dishonor he brought to God, yet he is able to find hope in the thought that the contest now is between Jehovah and Dagon. He foresees no good for himself, cast off by God, and he prays only for speedy death.


(The entire section is 583 words.)