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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

pangs

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

All on

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."

To whom, thus the portress of Hell-gate replied.
• Hast 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,

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!

Into my

I fled; but he pursued, though more, it seems,
Inflamed with lust than rage, and swifter far,
Me overtook, his mother, all dismay'd,
An 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 gnaw
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 forewarn 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 claim’st me forthy sire,
And my fairson 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 him 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, 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 ;
Jest 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, imbalm’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 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,
That with extended wings, a banner'd host,
Under spread ensigns marching, might passthrough,
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, & highth,
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 fag
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 poize
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,
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,
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,
Pondering his voyage; för no narrow frith
He had to cross. Nor was his ear less peal'd
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
In mutiny, had from her axle torn
The stedfast 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

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