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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

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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

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Surprised thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzy swam
In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast
Threw forth; till, on the left side opening wide, 755
Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright
Then shining heavenly fair, a goddess arm'd,
Out of thy head I sprang; 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
Becamest enamour'd; and such joy thou took'st 765
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,

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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

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Without my opening. Pensive here I sat

Alone; but long I sat not, till my womb
Pregnant by thes, and now excessive grown,
Prodigious motion felt, and rueful throes.

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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
Ingendering 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

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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

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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

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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 temper'd heavenly; for that mortal dint,
Save he who reigns above, none can resist.

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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 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 pretences arm'd,
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

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The unfounded deep, and through the void immense
To search with wandering quest a place foretold 836
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, 833
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 84
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

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His famine should be fill'd; and bless'd his maw

Destined to that good hour: No less rejoiced

His mother bad, and thus bespoke her sire :
The key of this infernal pit by due,

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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

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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,

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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, toward 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

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Of massy iron or solid rock with ease

Unfastens On a sudden open fly

With impetuous recoil and jaring sound

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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,

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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,

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Without dimension; where length, breadth, and height,
And time, and place are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold

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Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise

Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.

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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 all. 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

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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 rase
Some capital city; or less than if this frame
Of Heaven were falling, and these elements
In mutiny had from her axle torn

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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

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