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695

To yonder gates ? Through them I mean to pass,
That be assur’d, without leave ask'd of thee:685
Retire or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
Hell-born, not to contend with Sp’rits of Heav'n.

To whom the goblin full of wrath reply'd,
Art thou that traitor Angel, art thou He,
Who first broke peace in Heav'n and faith, till
then

690 Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms Drew after him the third part of Heav'n's sons, Conjur'd against the High’st, 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 Sp’rits of Heav'n, 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, 700 Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue Thy ling’ring, 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 threat’ning, grew tenfold 705 More dreadful and deform. On th' other side, Incens’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.

Each at the head Leveld his deadly aim; their fatal hands

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No second stroke intend, and such a frown
Each cast at th'other, as when two black clouds,
With Heav'n's artill’ry fraught, come rattling on
Over the Caspian ; then stand front to front 716
Hov'ring 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 foe: and now great deeds
Had been atchiey'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;

730 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. 736

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, 740 What thing thou art, thus double-form'd, and why

Son;

In this infernal vale first met thou call'st
Me Father, and that phantasm call'st my
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 thee 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 op'ning wide, 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 averse, thee chiefly, who full oft Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing Becam’st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st With me in secret, that womb conceiv'd

766 A growing burthen. Mean while war arose, And fields were fought in Heav'n; wherein re

main'd (For what could else?) to our Almighty Foe Clear victory; to our part loss and rout 770

Through all the empyrean. Down they fell,
Driv'n headlong from the pitch of Heav'n, down
Into this deep, and in the gen’ral 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 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. 780
At last this odious offspring whom thou seest
Thine own begotten, breaking vi'lent 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 trembled at the hideous name, and sigh'd
From all her caves, and back resounded Death.
I fled, but he pursu'd (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
Ingend'ring with me, of that rape begot 794
These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry
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

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