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And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heaven, Hell-doom'd, and breathest defiance here and scorr Where I reign king, and, to enrage
thee more, Thy king and lord ? Back to thy punishment, False fugitive; and to thy speed add wings, Lest, with a whip of scorpions, I pursue Thy lingering; or, with one stroke of this dart Strange horror seize thee, and
unfelt before.” So spake the grisly Terror, and in shape, So speaking, and so threatening, grew ten-fold More dreadful and deform. On the other side, Incensed with indignation, Satan stood Unterrified ; and like a comet burned, That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge, In the arctic sky, and from his horrid hair 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 the other, as when two black clouds, With heaven's artillery fraught, come rattling on Over the Caspian; 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: For never but once more was either like To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds Had been achieved, whereof all Hell had rung, Had not the snaky sorceress, that sat Fast by hell-gate, and kept the fatal key, Risen, 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? 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 Forbore; then these to her Satan returned : “ 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 phantasm call'st my son.
To whom, thus the portress of Hell-gate replied.
a sudden miserable pain Surprised thee; dim thine eyes, and dizzy swam In darkness, while thy head Aames 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 call'd 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, Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing, Becamest enamour'd; and such joy thou took'st With me in secret, that my womb conceived A growing burden. Mean while 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
hand was given, with charge to keep 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. 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 fled; but he pursued, though more, it seems,
She finish’d; and the subtle fiend his lore
Might hap to move new broils. Be this, or aught
He ceased; for both seem'd highly pleased, and Grinn'd horrible a ghastly smile, to hear [Death 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, 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. 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, 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 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, 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 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 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,