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Her wat'ry labyrinth ; whereof who drinks,
Forthwith his former state and being forgets, 585
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Beyond this food a frozen continent
Lies dark and wild; beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail; which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile ; all else, deep snow and ice :
A gulf profound! as that SERBONIAN bog
'Twixt DAMIATA, and moun Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk : the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs th'effect of fire. 595
Thither by harpy-footed Furies hald,
At certain revolutions, all the damn'd
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce!
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice
Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immoveable, ipfix'd, and frozen round,
Periods of time; thence hurried back to fire.
They ferry over this LeTheAn Sound
Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment,
And wish, and struggle as they pass, to reach
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 th' attempt 610
MEDUSA with GORGONIAN terror guards
The ford, and of itself the water flies
All talte of living wight ; as once it fled
The lip of TANTALUS. Thus roving on,
In confus'd march forlorn th’advent'rous bands, 615
With shudd'ring horror pale, and eyes agaft,
View'd first their lamentable lot, and found
No reft : through many a dark and dreary vale
They pafsd, 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 breeds
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, inutterable ; and worse
Than Fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv’d,
GORGONs, and Hydras, and CHIMÆRAS dire.
Mean while the adversary of God and man,
629 SATAN, with thoughts inflam'd of highest delign, Puts on swift wings, and tow'rds the gates of hell Explores his folitary flight: fometimes He scours the right-hand coast, sometimes the left: Now shaves with level wing the Deep; then foars Up to the fiery concave tow’ring high. As when far off at sea a fleet descry'd, Hangs in the clouds, by Aquinoctial winds Close failing from BENGALA, or the isles Of TERNATE, and Tidore, whence merchants bring Their fpicy drugs: they on the trading flood 640 Through the wide ÆTHIOPIAN, to the Cape Ply, ftemming nightly tow'rd the Pole: so feem'd Far off the flying Fiend. At last appear Hell bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof;
644 And thrice threefold the gates, three folds were brass, Three iron, three of adamantine rock ; Impenetrable, impal'd with circling fire, Yet unconsum'd. Before the gates there fat On either side a formidable shape ; The one feem'd woman to the waist, and fair ;. 650 But ended foul in many a scaly fold, Voluminous and vast! a ferpent arm'd With mortal sting: about her middle round A cry of hell-hounds never ceafing bark'd With wide CerBERIAN mouths full loud, and rung A hideous peal: yet, when they list, would creep, If ought difturb'd their noise, into her womb, And kennel there ; yet there still bark'd and howl'd Within, unseen. Tar less abhor'd than these Vex'd SCYLLA, bathing in the sea that parts
660 CALABRIA from the hoarse TRINACRIAN shore ; Nor uglier follow the Night-hag, when call'd
In secret, riding through the air she comes
Lur'd with the smell of infant-blood, to dance
With LAPLAND witches, while the lab'ring Moon
Eclipses at their charms. -The other shape
(If shape it might be call'd, that fhape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint or limb;
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either : black it flood as night,
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as hell,
And shook a dreadful dart : what seem'd his head,
The likeness of a Kingly crown had on,
SATAN was now at hand, and from his feat
The monster moving, onward came as fast
With horrid strides : hell trembled as he strode.
Th’undaunted fiend what this might be admir'd ;
Admir'd, not fear’d; God and his Son except,
Created thing not valu'd be, nor shun'd;
And with disdainful look thus first began.
Whence and what art thou ! execrable ihape !
That dar'it, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy mif-created front athwart my way
To yonder gates? through them I mean to pass,
That be assur'd, without leave ask'd of thee.
Retire, or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
Hell-born! not to contend with spirits of heav'n.
To whom the Goblin fulf of wrath reply'd ;
Art thou thạt Traitor-Angel, art thou He,
Who first broke peace in heav'n, and faith, till then
Unbroken ; and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of heav’n’s fons,
Conjur'd against the Highest ; for which both thou
And they, out-cast from God, are here condemn'd
To waste eternal days in woe and pain ?
695 And reckon'lt thou thy self with spirits of heav'n, Hell-doom'd! and breath'ft 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 ; 700
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Tny lingring; or with one itroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before.
So spake the griefly Terror, and in shape, (So speaking, and so threatning) grew tenfold 705 More dreadful and deform. On th' other side Incens'd with indignation Satan stood Unterrify’d; and like a Comet burn'd, That fires the length of OPHIUCHUS huge In th'artic sky, and from his horrid hair
710 Shakes pestilence and war.
Each at the head Leveld his deadly aim ; their fatal hands No second stroke intend : and such a frown Each cast at th'other, as when two black clouds With heav'ns artillery fraught, come rattling on 715 Over the Caspran; then stand front to front, Hoy'ring a space, till winds the fignal blow To join their dark encounter in mid air : So frown'd the mighty combatants, that hell Grew darker at their frown ; so match'd they stood : For never but once more was either like
721 To meet so great a foe. And now great deeds Had been atchiev'd, whereof all hell had rung, Had not the snaky forceress that fat Faft by hell-gate, and kept the fatal key, Ris'n, and with hideous outcry rush'd between.
O father! what intends thy hand, she cry'd,
Against thy only fon? What fury, O son,
Poffefses thee, to bend that mortal dart
Against thy father's head ? and know'ft for whom
For him who fits above, and laughs the while
At thee, ordain'd his drudge, to execute
Whate'er his wrath, which He calls justice,bids ;
His wrath, which one day will deftroy ye both!
She fpake, and at her words the hellifh pest
Forbore; then these to her Satan return'd.
So firange thy outcry, and thy words so strange
Thou interposeft, 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-form'd; and why,
In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st
Me father, and that phantom call’ft my son:
I know thee not, nor ever saw till now
Sight more detestable than him, and thee.
T' whom thus the portress of hell-gate reply'd ;
Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem
Now in thine eye so foul? once deem'd so fair
In heav'n! when at th” assembly, and in sight
Of all the Seraphim, with thee combin'd
In bold conspiracy against heav'n's King,
All on a sudden miserable pain
Surpriz!d thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzy swum
In darkness; while thy head Aames thick and fast
Threw forth ; till on the left side op’ning wide 755
Likeft to thee in shape, and count'nance bright,
Then shining heav'nly fair, a Goddess armd,
Out of thy head I sprung : amazement seiz'd
All th' host of heav'n; back they recoil'd, afraid
At first, and calld me Sin; and for a 'sign
Portentous held me: but familiar grown,
I pleas'd, and with attractive graces won
The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft
(Thy self in me thy perfect image viewing)
Becam'st inamord, and such joy thou took'it 765
With me in secret, that my womb conceiv'd
A growing burthen. Mean while war arose,
And fields were fought in heav'n ; 'wherein remain'd.
(For what could elle) to our Almighty foe
Clear victory ; to our part loss and rout,
Through all the empyrean: down they fell
headlong from the pitch of heaven, down
Into this Deep, and in the gen’ral fall
I also : at which time this pow'rful key
Into my hand was giv'n, with charge to keep 775
These gates for ever shut, which none can pass