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With Lapland witches, while the laboring moon
Eclipses at their charms. The other shape,
If shape it might be call’d that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be call’d that shadow seem'd;
For each seem'd either; black it stood as Night,
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,
And shook a dreadful dart: what seem'd his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand; and from his seat

The monster, moving onward, came as fast
With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he strode.
The undaunted fiend what this might be admired:
Admired, not fear'd; God and his Son except,
Created thing naught valued he, nor shunn'd;
And with disdainful look thus first began :

" Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,
That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? through them I mean to pass,
That be assured, without leave ask'd of thee:
Retire, or taste thy folly; and learn by proof,
Hell-born, not to contend with spirits of Heaven."

To whom the goblin, full of wrath, replied:
“ Art thou that traitor angel, art thou he,
Who first broke peace in Heaven and faith, till then
Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons,
Conjured against the Highest, for which both thou
And they, outcast from God, are here condemn'd
To waste eternal days in woe and pain?
And reckon'st thou thyself with spirits of Heaven, 696
Hell-doom'd, and breath'st defiance here and scorn
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 tenfold
More dreadful and deform: on the other side,
lucensed with indignation, Satan stood


Unterrified, and like a comet burn'd,
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 Heli 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, 728 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 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
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.”

To whom thus the portress of Hell-gate replied:
“Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem
Now in thine eyes 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,
All on a sudden miserable pain
Surprised 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,
Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright,
Then shining heavenly fair, a goddess arm'd
Out of thy head I sprung: 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,
Becam'st enamor’d, and such joy thou took'st
With me in secret, that my womb conceived
A growing burden. Meanwhile 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 empyréan: down they fell, Wule 771 men
Driven headlong from the pitch of Heaven, down
Into this deep, and in the general fall
I also; at which time this powerful key
Into my hand was given, with charge to keep
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.
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,
Inflamed with lust than rage,) and, swifter far,
Me overtook, his mother, all dismay'd,
And in embraces forcible and foul,

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Engendering 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: 6 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 Befall’n 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,

827 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, Lest 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 uuseen ,
Wing silently the buxom air, embalm'd
With odors; 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 Grinn'd horrible a ghastly smile, to hear

816 His famine should be fill'd, and blest 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 857
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 clamors 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 868
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,
Forth with 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,


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