Milton’s Phoenix

From Samson Agonistes:

But he, though blind of sight,
Despised, and though extinguished quite,
With inward eyes, illuminated
His fiery virtue roused
From under ashes into sudden flame,
And, as an evening dragon came,
Assailant to the perched roosts
And nests in order ranged
Of tame villatic fowl; but as an eagle
His cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
So Virtue, given for lost,
Depressed and overthrown, as seemed,
Like that self-begotten bird,
in the Arabian woods embost,
That no second knows nor third,
And lay erewhile a holocaust
From out her ashy womb now teemed,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deemed;
And, though her body die, her fame survives,
a secular bird, ages of lives.

John Milton

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