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She spake, and at her words the hellish pest
Forbore; then these to her Satan return's :

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 eye so foul, once deem'd so fair
In heav'n ? when at th' assembly, and in sight
Of all the seraphim with thee combined
In bold conspiracy against heav'n's King,
All on a sudden miserable pain
Surprized thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzy swum
In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast
Threw forth, till on the left side op'ning wide,
Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright,
Then shining heav'nly fair, a Goddess arm’d,
Out of thy head I sprung:' amazement seized
All the host of heav'n; back they recoil'd afraid
At first, and callid me Sin, and for a sign
Portentous held me: but familiar grown,
I pleased, and with attractive graces won
The most averse, thee chiefly, whọ full oft
Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing
Becam’st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st
With me in secret, that my womb conceived
A growing burthen. Meanwhile war arose,
And fields were fought in heaven; wherein reinain'd,
(For what could else ?) to our almighty foe
Clear victory, to our part loss and rout

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! The allegory here follows the Greek fable of the birth of Minerva- Wisdom -said to have sprung from the head of

Jupiter ; as Sin is here figured to have sprung from the head of Satan,

Into my

Through all the empyrean : down they fell
Driv'n headlong from the pitch of heav'n, down
Into this deep, and in the general fall
I also; at which time this powerful key

hand was giv'n, with charge to keep
These gates for ever shut, which none can pass
Without my op'ning. 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
Ingend'ring 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,

1 St. James i. 15.

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:

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 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 heav'nly 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
Th’ 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 heav'n surcharged with potent multitude
Might hap to move new broils. Be this, or aught
Than this more secret, now designed, 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 Death Grinn'd horrible a ghastly smile, to hear His famine should be filld, 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 heav'n'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 heav'n and heav'nly-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 gav'st 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 Th'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 Th'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 pass through With horse and chariots rank'd in loose array; So wide they stood, and like a furnace mouth

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Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.
Before their eyes in sudden view appear
The secrets of the hoarý deep, a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension, where length, breadth, and 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 mast'ry, and to battle bring
Their embryon atoms; they around the flag
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 poise
Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,
He rules a moment; Chaos umpire sits,
And by decision more imbroils 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
Confus’dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' 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

for 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

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voyage ;

| All the ancients believed that Night (or darkness) existed from the begin.

ning, and that Chaos (or confusion) was the origin of all things.

2 A city and province of Libya.

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