Joost van den Vondel

March 10, 2008


Samson, or Holy Revenge

Like Milton, catastrophe takes place off stage and is related through a messenger
VDV’s messenger enjoys the suffering of the Philistines more than Milton’s
Compared to VDV, Milton skims over the suffering of the Philistines: VDV details the violent past between the Jews and Philstines through the Prince character

VDV’s Samson is important for his foreshadowing of Christ; he is read primarily as a divine figure
Milton’s Samson is notable as a great character, no limited heroism as in VDV

Sibyl seems to speak the language of the Chrsitian Bible, directly quotes Phil 2.2.

VDV stays close to the book of Judges: Delilah as a prostitue, Manoa is already dead, no Herapha

Play within a play is the context in which Samson brings the temple down: reversing the original seduction by Delilah


“Samson: Would I had shunned Philistia’s womankind,/ Deceitful bests! Well may I rue the day/ When I , near Sorek, loved the fair Delilah,/ Fickle and sly and loveless. For to drift/ At the mercy of a mistress is to sail/ In reckless danger on a silent sea./ Seduced by my foes’ money, night and day/ She clung to me, demanding that I tell her/ The secret of my strength, and even pled/ Amid the hottest fires of our love,/ A soul storm seldom weathered by a man.”

“My heart was blind with love; and all hr sobbing/ Grieved me to death. Continual lamentation/ Softened my heart like wax. The water-drop/ Thus conquers the hard granite.”
“Nevertheless, their rained into her lap/ A shower of silver coin, Where with my foes/ As with a dagger, pierced my mistress’ bosom/ And readily seduced her fickle heart.”

“My guard is coming back without delay./ But my hair grows again. I lie in wait/ To avenge myself upon the heathen race,/ Yea, earlier than men dream.”

“Prince: When your chief tribe, whose standard bears the lion,/ Crossed over our cold Jordan, and in rout/ Drove King Abonibezek from the field,/ They seized him in his flight and hacked the thumbs/ From off his hands and feet. Then he was forced/ Like some vile dog to gather up from earth/ With his own mouth the crumbs that daily fell/ Out of the dish, to crawl on hands and feet,/ To wallow and to rummage in the dust,/ Until, led to Jerusalem with joy,/ He died in fetters, yielding up his life.”

“Samson cannot reasonably complain./ He who plagues others, should himself be plagued.”

“If there be any stronger gpd by whom/ A prince may swear, I call on him to shatter/ Tjhe vaulted roof of Dagon’s house this day/ Upon the head of all the Philistines,/ And bury the o’erwhelm the revellers!”

“Men drag/ Crowned and anointed monarchs from their thrones./ Passions that burn and move are blended there/ Like colours which a needle on a loom/ Quanitly portrays; a master dramatist/ Can in imaginative tapestry/ So well portray that he who contemplates it/ Vows ’tis divine eye-music.”

“Men are a race of half-beasts and of whole./ The gods have made this difference innate.”

“For secular authority controls/ The body, but can never plumb the heart./ Hence came the fear of gods 9a high Power/ That knows the thoughts of each, and, like a sword,/ Pierces the human bosom mightily,/ Troubles the guilty conscience, yet assigns/ Peace to the pious, and can estimate,/ Within a man, each human soul’s deserts)/ For the support of states and governments/ Through introducing worship, to our good./ The prayerbook and the swrod, with like constraint,/ Both serve to rule mankind harmoniously./ There is a need for this two-handed Power/ Beneath which common men live happily.”

“Sibyl: We know these Hebrews, circumcized in body/ But not in spirit, care not for religion/ Beyond the laws that Pharao’s foundling founded;/ And thus they injure all old laws, and drive/ True princes from their lands with fire and sword.”

“Messenger: the hair on Samson’s head/ Suddenly seemed to grow.”

“Amid the ruins, red with oozing blood,/ Were mena nd women, crushed or partly crushed,/ Broken in neck, splintered in every bone,/ Dead, or just gasping forth a chocking ghost.”

“Fadael: That the example of his death and life/ Foretells a Saviour, of God’s spirit born,/ Who shall be persecuted, as was he,/ And dying, deal a fatal blow to death;/ But through a softer law He shall unburden / Each heart of its revenge- a law of love/ That puts the highest crown on human life.”


2 Responses to “Joost van den Vondel”

  1. Donnie Leiby Says:

    Nice one! If I could write like this I would be well chuffed. The more I see articles of such quality as this (which is rare), the more I think there could be a future for the Web. Keep it up, as it were.

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