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And with disdainful look thus first began: 680
“Whence, and what art thou, execrable shape,
That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? through them I mean to pass,
That be assur'd, without leave ask'd of thee: 685
Retire, or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
Hell-born, not to contend with Spirits of heaven.”
To whom the goblin full of wrath replied:
*Art thou that traitor angel, art thou he,
Who first broke peace in heav'n, and faith, till then 69
Unbroken; and in proud rebellious arms, -
Drew after him the third part of heav'n's sons
Conjur'd against the Highest; for which both thou
And they, outcast from God, are here condemn’d
To waste eternal days in woe and pain? 695
And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of heaven,
Hell-doom’d, and breath'st defiance here and scorn,
Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more,
Thy king and lord P Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings, 700
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Thy ling’ring, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before.”
So spake the grisly terror, and in shape,
So speaking and so threat'ning, grew tenfold 705
More dreadful and deform. On th' other side,
Incens'd with indignation, Satan stood
Unterrified, and like a comet burn'd,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In th’ arctic sky, and from his horrid hair 710
Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head
Levell’d his deadly aim; their fatal hands
No second stroke intend, and such a frown
Each cast at th' other, as when two black clouds,
With heav'n's artillery fraught, come rattling on 715
Over the Caspiau, then stand front to front,
Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow
To join their dark encounter in mid air:
So frown'd the mighty combatants, that hell
Grew darker at their frown; so match'd they stood; 720
For never but once more was either like
To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds
Had been achiev'd, whereof all hell had rung,
Had not the snaky sorceress, that sat
Fast by hell-gate, and kept the fatal key, 725
Ris'n, and with hideous outcry rush'd between.
“O father, what intends thy hand’, she cried,
‘Against thy only son? What fury, O son,
Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart
Against thy father's head? and know'st for whom; 730
For him who sits above and laughs the while
At thee ordain’d his drudge, to execute
Whate'er his wrath, which he calls justice, bids;
His wrath, which one day will destroy ye both.’

She spake, and at her words the hellish pest 735 Forbore; then these to her Satán return'd:

“So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange Thou interposest, that my sudden hand, Prevented, spares to tell thee yet by deeds What it intends; till first I know of thee, 740 What thing thou art, thus double-form'd, and why, In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st Me father, and that phantasm call'st my son: I know thee not, nor ever saw till now Sight more detestable than him and thee." 745

T' whom thus the portress of hell-gate replied: ‘Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem Now in thine eye so foul P once deem'd so fair In heav'n, when at th' assembly, and in sight Of all the Seraphim with thee combin’d 750 In bold conspiracy against heav'n's King, All on a sudden miserable pain Surpris'd thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzy swum In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast Threw forth; till, on the left side opening wide, 755 Likest to thee in shape and count'nance bright, Then shining heav'nly fair, a goddess arm’d, Out of thy i. I sprung; almazement seiz'd All th' host of heav'n; back they recoil'd afraid At first, and call'd me Sin, and for a sign 760 Portentous held me; but, familiar grown, I pleas'd, and with attractive graces won The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing, Becam'st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st 765 With me in secret, that my womb conceiv'd A †of burden. Meanwhile war arose, And fields were fought in heav'n; wherein remain'd (For what could else?) to our Almighty Foe Clear victory; to our part loss and rout, 770 Through all the empyréan: down they fell Driv'n headlong from the pitch of heaven, down Into this deep; and in the general fall I also; at which time this pow'rful key Into my hand was giv'n, with charge to keep 775 These gates for ever shut, which none can pass Without my opening. Pensive here I sat Alone; but long I sat not, till my womb, Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown, Prodigious motion felt, and rueful throes. 780 At last this odious offspring whom thou seest, Thine own begotten, breaking violent way, Tore through my entrails, that, with fear and pain Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew Transform'd : but he my inbred enemy 785 Forth issued, brandishing his fatal dart Made to destroy. I fled, and cried out Death! Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sigh'd From all her caves, and back resounded, Death! * * *


I fled : but he pursued (though more, it seems, 790
Inflam'd with lust than rage), and, swifter far,
Me overtook his mother all dismay’d,
And in embraces forcible and foul
Ingend'ring with me, of that rape begot
These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry 795
Surround me, as thou saw'st, hourly conceiv'd
And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
To me; for, when they list, into the womb
That bred them they return, and howl and gnaw
My bowels, their repast; then bursting forth 800
Afresh with conscious terrors vex me round,
That rest or intermission none I find.
Before mine eyes in opposition sits
Grim Death, my son and foe; who sets them on,
And me his parent would full soon devour 805
For want of other prey, but that he knows
His end with mine involv’d; and knows that I
Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,
Whenever that shall be; so fate pronounc'd.
But thou, O father, I forewarn thee, shun 810
His deadly arrow: neither vainly hope
To be invulnerable in those bright arms,
Though temper'd heav'nly; for that mortal dint,
Save he who reigns above, none can resist.’
She finish'd; and the subtle fiend his lore 815
Soon learn'd, now milder, and thus answer'd smooth:
‘Dear daughter, since thou claim'st me for thy sire,
And my fair son here show'st me, the dear pledge
Of dalliance had with thee in heav'n, and joys
Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change 820
Befall'n us, unforeseen, unthought of; know,
I come no enemy, but to set free
From out this dark and dismal house of pain
Both him and thee, and all the heav'nly host
Of spirits, that, in our just pretences arm’d, 825
Fell with us from on high : from them I go
This uncouth errand sole; and one for all
Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread
Th’ unfounded deep, and through the void immense
To search with wand'ring quest a place foretold 830
Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now
Created vast and round, a place of bliss
In the purlieus of heav'n, and therein plac'd
A race of upstart creatures, to supply
Perhaps our vacant room: though more remov’d 835
Lest heav'n, surcharg’d with potent multitude,
Might hap to move new broils. Be this or aught
Than this more secret now design'd, I haste
To know; and, this once known, shall soon return,
And bring ye to the place where thou and Death 840
Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen
Wing silently the buxom air, imbalm'd
With odours; there ye shall be fed and fill'd
Immeasurably; all things shall be your prey.’

He ceas'd, for both seem'd highly pleas'd, and Death Grinn'd horrible a ghastly smile, to hear His famine should be fill'd; and blest his maw Destin'd to that good hour: no less rejoic'd His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire:

“The key of this infernal pit by due, 850 And by command of heav'n's all-pow'rful King, I keep, by him forbidden to unlock These adamantine gates; against all force Death ready stands to interpose his dart, Fearless to be o'ermatch'd by living might. 855 But what owe I to his commands above Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down Into this gloom of Tartarus profound, To sit in hateful office here confin'd, Inhabitant of heav'n, and heav'nly-born, 860 Here in perpetual agony and pain, With terrors and with clamours compass'd round Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed? Thou art my father, thou my author, thou a My being gav'st me; whom should I obey 865 But thee? whom follow P thou wilt bring me soon To that new world of light and bliss, among The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems Thy daughter and thy darling, without end.” 870

Thus saying, from her side the fatal key, Sad instrument of all our woe, she took; And, towards the gate rolling her bestial train, Forthwith the huge portcullis high up-drew, Which, but herself, not all the Stygian powers 875 Could once have mov’d; then in the key-hole turns Th’ intricate wards, and every bolt and bar Of massy iron or solid rock with ease Unfastens. On a sudden open fly With impetuous recoil and jarring sound 880 Th’ infernal doors, and on their hinges grate Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook Of Erebus. She open'd, but to shut Excell'd her pow'r; the gates wide open stood, That with extended wings a banner'd host, 885 Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through With horse and chariots rank'd in loose array; So wide they stood, and like a furnacc-mouth Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame. Before their eyes in sudden view appear - 890 The secrets of the hoary deep; a dark Islimitable ocean, without bound, • Without dimension, where length, breadth, aud highth, And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold 895 Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise Of endless wars, and by confusion stand. For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four champions fierce, Strive here for mast'ry, and to battle bring


Their embryon atoms; they around the flag 900
Of each his faction, in their several clans,
Light-arm'd or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow,
Swarm populous, unnumber'd as the sands
Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring winds, and poise 905
Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,
He rules a moment: Chaos umpire sits,
And by decision more embroils the fray
By which he reigns: next him high arbiter
Chance governs all. Into this wild abyss, 910
The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mix’d
Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain 915
His dark materials to create more worlds;
Into this wild abyss the wary fiend
Stood on the brink of hell, and look’d a while,
Pond'ring his voyage; for no narrow frith
He had to cross. Nor was his ear less peal’d 920
With noises loud and ruinous (to compare
Great things with small), than when Bellona storms,
With all her battering engines bent to rase
Some capital city; or less than if this frame
Of heav'n were falling, and these elements 925
In mutiny had from her axle torn
The stedfast earth. At last his finil-broad vans
He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke
Uplifted spurns the ground; thence many a league,
As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides 930
Audacious; but, that seat soon failing, meets
A vast vacuity: all unawares -
Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb down he drops
Ten thousand fathom deep; and to this hour
Down had been falling, had not by ill chance 935
The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud,
Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him
As many miles aloft: that fury staid,
Quench'd in a boggy syrtis, neither sea,
Nor good dry land: nigh founder'd on he fares, 940
Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail.
As when a gryphon through the wilderness
With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth 945
Had from his wakeful custody purloin'd
The guarded gold: so eagerly the fiend
O'er bog, or steep, through straight, rough, dense, or rare,
With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies: 950
At length, a universal hubbub wild -
Of stunning sounds, and voices all confus'd,
Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his car
With loudest vehemence; thither he plies,

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