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Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs: they on the trading flood 640
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape
Piy steniming nightly toward the poie. So seem'd
Far of the flying Fiend: at last appear
Hell bounds high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass,
Three iron, three of adamantine rock,
Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,
Yet unconsum'd. Before the gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape ;
The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair, 650
But ended foul in many a scaly fold
Voluminous and vast, a serpent arm'd
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A

cry of Hell hounds never ceasing hark'd
With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If ought disturb’d their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howl'd,
Within unseen.

Far less abhorr'd than these Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts

660 Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore : Nor uglier follow the night. hag, when callid In secret, riding through the air she comes, Lur'd with the smell of infant blood, to dance With Lapland witches, while the lab’ring moon Eclipses at their charms. The other slape, If shape it might be call’d that shape had none

Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,
Or substance might be callid that shadow seem'd,
For each seem d either; black it stood as Night, 670
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.
Th’undaunted Fiend what this might be admir'd,
Admir'd, not fear'd; God and his Son except,
Created thing nought valued he nor shunnid;
And with disdainful look thus first began. 680

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 Spi'rits of Heaven.

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 Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms 691 Drew after him the third part of Heav'n's sons Conjur'd against the High'est, 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 Spi'rits of Heav'n, Hell-doom'd, and breath'st defiance here and scorn

Where I reign king, ard to enrage thee more,
Thy king and lord ? Back to thy punishment,
Faise 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
More dreadful and deform: on th' other side
Incens d with indignation Satan stood
Unterrifi'd, and like a comet burn'd,
That fires the length of Opiiiucnus huge
In th' arctic sky, and from his horrid hair 710
Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head
Level'd 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
Over the Caspian, then stand front to front I
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 foe: and now great deeds Had been atchiev’d, whereof all Hell had rung, Had not the snaky sorceress that sat Fast by Hell gate, and kept the fatal key, Ris'n, and with hideous outcry rush'd between.

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

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 Surpriz'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, 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
Becan’st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st
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 foe
Clear victory, to our part loss and rout 770
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
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
Transform’d: but he

my
inbred

enemy Forth issued, brandishing his fatal dart

780

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