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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,
Became enamoured, 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 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 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,

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Thine own begotten, breaking violent way,
Tore through my entrails, that, with fear and pain
Distorted, all my neither shape thus grew
Transformed. 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
Far from 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 dismayed,
And in embraces forcible and foul
Ingendering with me, of that rape begot

These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry
Surround me, as thou sawest; 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

Afresh, with conscious terrors vex me round,

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 shall be; so fate pronounced.
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.

She finished; and the subtle fiend his lore
Soon learned, now milder, and thus answered 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
Befallen us, unforeseen, unthought of; know,

I come no enemy, but to set free

From out this dark and dismal house of pain
Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host
Of spirits, that, in our just pretenses 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, 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
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, embalmed

With odors; there ye shall be fed and filled
Immeasurably, all things shall be your prey.

He ceased, for both seemed highly pleased; and Death

Grinned horribly 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,

With terrors and with clamors compassed 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 updrew,
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,
Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through,
With horse and chariots ranked in loose array;
So wide they stood, and like a furnace-mouth
Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.

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