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For each seemed either black it stood as night, 670
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 naught valued he, nor shunned);
And with disdainful look thus first began: ---
"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 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,
Conjured against the Highest; for which both thou
And they, outcast from God, are here condemned
To waste eternal days in woe and pain?
And reckonest thou thyself with spirits of heaven,
Hell-doomed, and breathest 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 horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before!"
So spake the grisly terror; and in shape,
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 burned,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In the arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head
Leveled 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; 720
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 knowest for whom ! 730
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 callest
Me father, and that phantasm callest 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,
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 Empyrean. 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 forever shut, which none can pass
Without my opening. Pensive here I sat
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 sighed
From all her caves, and back resounded Death !
I fled, but he pursued; . . . and, swifter far,
Me overtook, his mother, all dismayed. . . .
These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry
Surround me, as thou sawest, hourly conceived
And hourly born with sorrow infinite
To me, . . . with conscious terrors vex me round, 801 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,
Whenever that should be; so Fate pronounced.