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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 Jncens'd with indignation Satan stood Unterrify'd, 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. Fach at the head Leveld 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 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
721 To meet so great a foc : ard 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 cry'd, 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 731 At thee ordain'd his drudge, to execute
Whate'er his wrath, which he calls justice, bids;
She spake, and at her words the hellish pest 735 Forbore: then these to her, Satan return'd.
So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange
745 T' whom thus the portress of Hell gate reply'd. Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem Now in thine eyes so foul ? Once deem'd so fair In Heav'n when at th' assembly, and in sight Of all the Seraphim with thce 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 head I sprung : amazement 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 aversc, thee chiefly, who full oft
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.
And in embraces forcible and foul
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 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 Befall’n us unforeseen, unthought of; know 821 I come no enemy, but to set free
From out this dark and dismal house of pain
He ceas'd, for both seem'd highly pleas'd, and Death Grinn'd horrible a ghastly smile, to hear
846 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-powerful king I keep, by him forbidden to unlock