Handel: "Samson" - "To fleeting pleasures"

Handel - Samson. To fleeting pleasures + It is not virtue. Christophers

Handel's sense of dramatic irony extends memorably to his characterization of Milton's Dalila. Following clues in the text below, Handel creates perhaps the perfect illustration of the seduction poem which has dominated western literature from the time of Catullus and Ovid down to Marvell's "Ode to His Coy Mistress." But Handel's triumph lies in transposing the theme, in Milton's setting, to a woman seducing her reluctant lover. Handel perfectly understands Milton's awareness of the powerful charms of evil, so memorably illustrated in Satan's seduction of Romantics like Shelley into believing Satan to be the hero of Paradise Lost. Dalila communicates all the subtle fascination of Philistine culture to which Samson had already once fallen victim. Some of the visuals here are distracting! The aria derives from the following passage in Samson Agonistes (909-27):

Let me obtain forgiveness of thee, Samson,
Afford me place to shew what recompense [ 910 ]
Towards thee I intend for what I have misdone,
Misguided: only what remains past cure
Bear not too sensibly, nor still insist
To afflict thy self in vain: though sight be lost,
Life yet hath many solaces, enjoy'd [ 915 ]
Where other senses want not their delights
At home in leisure and domestic ease,
Exempt from many a care and chance to which
Eye-sight exposes daily men abroad.
I to the Lords will intercede, not doubting [ 920 ]
Thir favourable ear, that I may fetch thee
From forth this loathsom prison-house, to abide
With me, where my redoubl'd love and care
With nursing diligence, to me glad office,
May ever tend about thee to old age [ 925 ]
With all things grateful chear'd, and so suppli'd,
That what by me thou hast lost thou least shalt miss.



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