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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;
His wrath, which one day will destroy ye both.

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
Thou interposest, that my sudden hand
Prevented, spares to tell thee yet by deeds
What it intends; till first I know of thee,

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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;
I know thee not, nor ever saw till now
Sight more detestable than him and thee.

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
Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing
Becam’st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st 765
With me in secret, that my womb conceiv'd
A growing burthen. Mean while war arose,
And fields were fought in Heav'n: wherein remain'd
(For what could else?) to our almighty
Clear victory, to our part loss and rout

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Through all the empyréan : down they fell
Driv’n headlong from the pitch of Heaven, down
Into this deep, and in the general fall
I also; at which time this pow'rful key
Into my hand was giv'n, with charge to keep

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.

780
At last this odious offspring whom thou scest
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 cry'd out Death;
Hell crembled at the hideous name, and sigh'd
From all her caves, and back resounded Death.
I fled, but he pursued, (though more, it seems, 790
Inflam'd 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 conceiv'd
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 conscious terrors vex me round,
That rest or intermission none I find.
Before my 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 involv'd; and knows that I
Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,
Whenever that shall be; so fate pronounc'd.
But thou, O Father, I forewarn thee, shun

810
His deadly arrow, neither vainly hope
To be invulnerable in those bright arms,
Though temper'd heav'nly, 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 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

815 825

830

835

From out this dark and dismal house of pain
Both him and thee, and all the heav'nly host
Of Spi'rits, 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
Th' unfounded deep, and through the void immense
To search with wand'ring quest a place foretold
Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now
Created vast and round, a place of bliss
In the purlieus of Heav'n, and therein plac'd
A race of upstart creatures, to supply
Perhaps our vacant room though more removid,
Lest Heav'n surcharg'd with potent multitude
Might hap to move new broils : Be this or ought
Than this more secret now design'd, 1 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, imbalm'd
With odours; there ye shall be fed and fill'd
Immeasurably, all things shall be your prey.

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

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