Imatges de pÓgina
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But thou, O father! I forewarn thee, shun
His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope
To be invulnerable in those bright arms,
Though tempered heavenly; for that mortal dint,
Save he who reigns above, none can resist."

810

815

She finished; and the subtle fiend his lore Soon learned, now milder, and thus answered smooth:"Dear daughter!-since thou claimst me for thy sire, And my fair son here show'st me,

I come no enemy, but to set free

know

From out this dark and dismal house of pain
Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host
Of spirits that, in our just pretences armed,
Fell with us from on high. From them I go
This uncouth errand sole, and one for all
Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread

The unfounded deep, and through the void immense
To search with wandering quest a place foretold
Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now
Created vast and round-

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a place of bliss

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

Perhaps our vacant room, though more removed,
Lest heaven, surcharged with potent multitude,
Might hap to move new broils. Be this, or aught

822

830

Than this more secret, now designed, 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, imbalmed
With odors. There ye shall be fed and filled
Immeasurably: all things shall be your prey.'

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840

He ceased; for both seemed highly pleased, and Death Grinned horrible a ghastly smile, to hear

His famine should be filled, and blessed 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'ermatched 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,

850

860

With terrors and with clamors compassed round? ...

Thou art my father; thou my author; thou
My being gavest me: whom should I obey

870

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 keyhole 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 opened; but to shut

Excelled her power: the gates wide open stood,
That with extended wings a bannered host,

880

Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through
With horse and chariots ranked in loose array:
So wide they stood, and like a furnace-mouth

O

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,

890

Without dimensions; where length, breadth, and highth,

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.

900

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-armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift or slow,
Swarm populous, unnumbered 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,
Chaos umpire sits,

He rules a moment.
And by decision more
By which he reigns.
Chance governs all.
The womb of Nature and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,

embroils the fray
Next him, high arbiter,
Into this wild abyss,

910

But all these in their pregnant causes mixed
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 looked a while,
Pondering his voyageo; for no narrow frith
He had to cross. Nor was his ear less pealed
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 cloudy 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 niter, hurried him
As many miles aloft. That fury stayed,

920

930

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