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Things Periods of time,-thence hurried back to fire. worse They ferry over this Lethean sound

than Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment,


yet have And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach feigned The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,

All in one moment, and so near the brink;
But Fate withstands, and, to oppose the attempt, 610
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards

The ford, and of itself the water flies
All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on

In confused march forlorn, the adventurous bands,
With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast,
Viewed first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale
They passed, and many a region dolorous,
O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,


Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades
of death-

A universe of death, which God by curse
Created evil, for evil only good;

Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature

Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, inutterable, and worse

Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimæras dire.

Meanwhile the Adversary of God and Man,
Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design, 630
Puts on swift wings, and toward the gates of Hell
Explores his solitary flight: sometimes

He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left:

Monster at Hellbounds

Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars The
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, 640
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape,
Ply stemming nightly toward the pole: so seemed
Far off the flying Fiend. At last appear
Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were

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, 650
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

Within unseen.
Far less abhorred than these
Vexed Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts 660
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore ;
Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, called
In secret, riding through the air she comes,
Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon


The other Shape—

Another Eclipses at their charms.

Monster 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


Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,


And shook a dreadful dart: what seemed his


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 ad-

Admired, not feared (God and his Son except,
Created thing naught valued he nor shunned),
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 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


Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms


Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons,
Conjured against the Highest-for which both


And they, outcast from God, are here condemned

To waste eternal days in woe and pain?
And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits


of and the grisly Terror

Hell-doomed, and breath'st defiance here and


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, 700
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue

Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt be-

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 710
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


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

Sin Fast by Hell-gate and kept the fatal key, declares Risen, and with hideous outcry rushed between. her 'O father, what intends thy hand,' she cried, Against thy only son? What fury, O son,

parentage "

Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart
Against thy father's head?


And know'st for


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
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

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

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

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