Samson Agonistes "A Grain Of Manhood"
by John Milton

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"A Grain Of Manhood"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The hope of deliverance of Israel from her enemies according to prophecy pronounced before his birth, Samson is betrayed by his beloved Dalila, and captured and blinded by the Philistines. On the feast day of Dagon, when the Philistines honor their god for allowing Samson to fall into their hands, the blind strong man, resting from his toil as he sits on the steps of the Gaza prison, is visited first by Danites, men of his tribe who form a chorus for the drama, and then by Manoa, his father. Retusing to accept the excuses offered him by his friends and father, Samson says he deserves his punishment because of his folly in loving Dalila and in revealing to her the secret of his strength. Samson recounts his shame:

At times when men seek most repose and rest,
I yielded, and unlock'd her all my heart,
Who with a grain of manhood, well resolv'd
Might easily have shook off all her snares:
But foul effeminacy held me yok't
Her Bond-slave; O indignity, O blot
To Honour and Religion! servil mind
Rewarded well with servil punishment!
The base degree to which I now am fall'n,
These rags, this grinding, is not yet so base
As was my former servitude, ignoble,
Unmanly, ignominious, infamous,
True slavery, and that blindness worse then this,
That saw not how degenerately I serv'd.