Imatges de pÓgina

Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,
That darest, 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,
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,
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before.
spake the grizzly Terror, and in shape,

or with one stroke of this dart


Each at the head

So speaking and so threatening, grew tenfold
More dreadful and deform. On the other side,
Incensed 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.
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,
To join their dark encounter in mid air:
Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow
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 hell 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.
Against thy only son? What fury, O son,
O father, what intends thy hand, she cried,
Against thy father's head? and know'st for whom;
For him who sits above, and laughs the while
Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart

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 eye 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
Became enamour'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
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 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
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

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


prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,

arrow; neither vainly hope

Whenever that shall be; so Fate pronounced.
But thou, O father, I forewarn thee, shun
His deadly
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



unforeseen, unthought of, know

I come no enemy, but to set free,
From out this dark and dismal house of pain,
Of spirits that, in our just pretences arm'd,
Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host

Fell with


from on high from them I go

This uncouth errand sole, and one for all
The unfounded deep, and through the void immense
Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread
To search with wandering quest a place foretold
Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now


vast and round, a place of bliss

In the purlieus of heaven, and therein placed
A race of upstart creatures, to supply


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 unseen
Wing silently the buxom air, embalm'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 fill'd, and bless'd 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
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 clamours 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
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 key-hole turns
The 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
The 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

Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.
Before their eyes in sudden view appear

The secrets of the hoary deep, a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,

Without dimension, where length, breadth, and height,
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 mastery, 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 embroils the fray
By which he reigns: next him high arbiter
Chance governs ail. 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
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless the 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 awhile,
Pondering his voyage; 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 raze
Some capital city; or less than if this frame
Of heaven were falling, and these elements

In mutiny had from her axle torn

The steadfast earth. At last his sail-broad vans
He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke
Uplifted spurns the ground; thence many a league,
As in a clouded chair ascending, rides
Audacious; but, that seat soon failing, meets
A vast vacuity: all unawares,

Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb down he drops
Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour
Down had been falling, had not by ill chance
The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud.
Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him
As many miles aloft: that fury stay'd,
Quench'd in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea,
Nor good dry land; nigh founder'd on he fares,

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