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Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart
Against thy Father's head, and know'st for whom:
For him who sits above, and laughs the while
At thee ordain'd his drudge; to execute
What'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
Forbore; then these to her Satan 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 What thing thou art, thus double-form'd;

and why, In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st Me father, and that phantasın call'st my son ; I know thee not, nor ever saw till now Sight more detestable than him and thee."

To whom thus the portress of Hell-gate replied: “Has thou forgot me then, and do I seem Now in thine eye so foul ? once deem'd so fair In Heaven, when at the assembly, and in sight Of all the Seraphim with thee combined In bold conspiracy against Heaven's King, All on a sudden miserable pain Surprised 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, Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright Then shining Heavenly fair, a Goddess arm’d, Out of thy head I sprang; Amazement seized All the host of Heaven; back they recoil'd afraid At first, and called me Sin, and for a sign Portentous held me: but familiar grown, I pleased and with attractive graces won The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft Thyselfin me thy perfect image viewing Beçamest enamour'd; and such joy thou took'st

With me in secret that my womb conceived
A growing burden. Meanwhile war arose,
And fields were fought in Heaven ; wherein remain'd
(For what could else?) to our Almighty Foe
Clear victory; to our part loss and rout,
Through all the empyrean; down they fell
Driven headlong from the pitch of Heaven, down
Into this deep; and in the general fall
I also : at which time, this powerful key
Into

my hand was given, with charge to keep
These gates for ever shut, which none can pass
Without my opening. Pensive here 1 sat
Alone, but long I sat not, till my womb
Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown,
Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes.
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
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 fed ; but he pursued (though more, it seems,
Inflamed with lust than rage,) and, switter far,
Me overtook, his mother, all dismay'd;
And, in embraces forcible and foul
Ingendering with me, of that rape begot
These yelling monsters that with ceaseless cry
Surround me, as thou saw'st: hourly conceived
And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
To me; for, when they list, into the womb
That bred them they return, and howl and knaw
My bowels, their repast; then bursting forth
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
For want of other prey, but that he knows
His end with mine involved; and knows that I
Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,
Whenever that shall be; so Fate pronounced.
But thou, O Father! I forwarn thee, shun
His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope
To be invulnerable in those bright arms,
Though temper’d Heavenly; for that mortal dint,
Save He who reigns above, none can resist.”

She finish'd and the subtle Fiend his lore
Soon learn’d, now milder, and thus answer'd smooth :
“ Dear daughter! since thou claimst me for thy sire
And my fair son here show'st me (the dear pledge
Of dalliance had with thee in Heaven, and joys
Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change
Befallen us, unforeseen, unthought of) know,
I come no enemy, but to set free
From out this dark and dismal house of pain
Both hiin and thee, and all the Heavenly host
Of Spirits, that, in our just pretences arm’d,
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
The unfounded deep, and through the void immense
To search with wandering quest a place foretold
Should be, and, hy concurring signs, ere now
Created vast and round, a place of bliss
In the purlieus of Heaven, and therein placed
A race of upstart creatures, to supply
Perhaps our vacant room; though more removed,
Lest Heaven, surcharged 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
Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen
Wing silently the buxom air, embalm’d
With odors; there ye shall be fed and fill'd
Immeasurably, all things shall be your prey."

He ceased, for both seem'd highly pleased; and Death
Grinn'd horrible a gastly smile, to hear
His famine should be fillid; and bless'd his maw
Destined to that good hour: No less rejoiced
His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire:

“ The key of this infernal pit by due,
And by command of Heaven's all-powerful 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.
Bu* 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 confined,
Inhabitant of Heaven, and Heavenly born,
Were in perpetual agony and pain,
With terrors and with clamours compassd round
Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed?
Thou art my father, thou my author, thou
My being gavest me; whom should I obey
But thee? Whom follow? 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.”

Thus saying, f om her side the fatal key,
Sad instrument of all our wo, she took ;
And, toward the gate rolling her bestial train,
Forthwith the huge portcullis high updrew,
Which but herself, not all the Stygian powers
Could once have moved; then in the keyhole turus

The 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
The 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 power; the gates wide open stood,
That with extended wings a banner'd host,
Under spread ensigns, marching, might pass through
With horse and chariots rank'd in loose array:
So wide they stood, and like a furnace mouth
Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.
Before their eyes in sudden view appear
The secrets of the hoary deep; a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension; where length, breadth, and heighth
And time, and place are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of nature, hold
Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise
Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.
For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four champions fierce,
Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring
Their embryon atoms; they around the flag
Of each his faction, in their several clans,
Light arm’d or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow
Swarm populous, unnumbered as the sands
Ot Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring winds, and poise
Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,
He rules à 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,
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

F

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