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I also; at which time, this powerful key
Into my hand was given, with charge to keep 775
These gates forever 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 fed; but he pursued (though more, it seems, 790 Inflamed with lust than rage,) and, swifter 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 795 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 gnaw My bowels, their repast; then bursting forth 800 Afresh with conscience 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 involved; and knows that I Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane, Whenever that shall be; so Fate pronounced.

us,

But thou, O Father! I forwarn thee, shun

810
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 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 heaven, and joys
Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change
Befallen unforeseen, unthought of) know, 821
I come no enemy, but to set free
From out this dark and dismal house of pain
Both him and thee, and all the heavenly 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
The unfounded deep, and through the void immense
To search with wandering 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 Heaven, and therein placed
A race of upstart creatures, to supply
Perhaps our vacant room; though more removed, 835
Lest Heaven, surcharged with potent multitude,
Might hap to move new broils. Be this or aught
Than this more secret now designd, 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, embalm'd
With odours; 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

1

Grinn'd horrible a ghastly smile, to hear

846 His famine should be fill’d; 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,

850 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. 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 confined, Inhabitant of Heaven, and heavenly 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 My being gav’st me; whom should I obey 865 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. 870 Thus saying, from her side the fatal key, Sad instrument of all our woe, she took; And, toward the gate rolling her bestial train, Forthwith the huge portcullis high updrew, Which but herself, not all the Stygian Powers 875 Could once have moved; then in the keyhole turns 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 jaring sound

880 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, 885
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

890
The secrets of the hoary deep; a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension; where length, breadth, and height,
And time, and place are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold

895
Eternal monarchy, 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 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
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight
Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain

915
His dark materials to create more worlds;
Into this wild abyss the wary Fiend

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Stood on the brink of Hell, and look'd awhile,
Pondering 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 Heaven were falling, and these elements 925
In mutiny had from her axle torn
The steadfast earth. At last his sail-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 fathoms 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; behooves 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 strait, 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 confused Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear

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