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He scours the right-hand coast, sometimes the left;
Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars
Up to the fiery concave towering high.
As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs; they, on the trading flood,
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape,
Ply, stemming nightly towards the pole : so seemed
Far off the flying Fiend. At last appear
Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice three-fold the gates; three folds were brass,
Three iron, three of adamantine rock
Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,
Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;
The one seemed woman to the waist, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fold
Voluminous and vast; a serpent armed
With mortal sting; about her middle round
A cry of Hell-hounds never ceasing barked
With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there; yet there still barked and howled,
Within unseen. Far less abhorred than these
Vexed Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore :
Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, ca led
In secret, riding through the air she comes,

Lured with the smell of infant-blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon
Eclipses at their charms. The other shape,
If shape it might be called that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be called that shadow seemed,
For each seemed either; black it stood as Night,
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,
And shook a dreadful dart; what seemed 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 feared; God and his Son except,
Created thing nought valued he, nor shunned ;
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 asked 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 Conjúred against the Highest; for which both thou

And they, outcast from God, are here condemned
To waste eternal days in woe and pain ?
And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heaven,
Hell-doomed! 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 horrour seize thee, and pangs unfelt before. .'

So spake the grisly Terrour, and in shape,
So speaking and so threatening, grew ten-fold
More dreadful and deform. On the other side,
Incensed with indignation, Satan stood
Unterrified, and like a comet burned,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In the arctick sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head
Levelled 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 frowned the mighty combatants, that Hell
Grew darker at their frown; so matched 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 Hell had rung,

Had not the snaky Sorceress that sat
Fast by Hell-gate, and kept the fatal key,
Risen, and with hideous outcry rushed between.

O Father! what intends thy hand, she cried,
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
At thee ordained 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 returned.

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-formed; 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 deemed 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 armed,
Out of thy head I sprung : amazement seized
All the host of Heaven; back they recoiled, afraid
At first, and called 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 enamoured, 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 remained
(For what could else?) to our Almighty Foe
Clear victory; to our part loss and rout,
Through all the empyréan : down they fell
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 for ever shut, which none can pass
Without my opening. Pensive here 1 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
Transformed : but he my inbred enemy

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