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I also ; at which time this powerful key
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,
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
Forth issu’d, brandishing his fatal dart
Made to destroy: I fled, and cry'd out DEATH;
Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sigh'd
From all her caves, and back resounded DEATH!
I fled, but he pursu'd, though more, it seems,
Inflam'd with lust than rage, and swifter far
Me overtook his mother all dismay'd,
And, in embraces forcible and foul
Ingend'ring with me, of that rape begot
These yelling monsters that with ceaseless cry 795
Surround me, as thou saw'st, hourly conceiv’d
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
787 Made to destroy] See James i. 13. Bentl. MS.
rape begot] See Amadis de Gaul, vol. iü. lib. iii. c. 10. p. 183, ed. Southey.
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 involv'd; and knows that I
Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,
Whenever that shall be; so Fate pronounc'd.
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.
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 Befall’n 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 Th’ unfounded deep, and through the void immense
To search with wandering quest a place foretold 830
Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now
Created, vast and round, a place of bliss
In the purlieus of heaven, and therein plac'd
A race of upstart creatures, to supply
Perhaps our vacant room, though more remov'd, 835
Lest heav'n surcharg’d 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 840
Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen
Wing silently the buxom air, imbalm’d
With odours ; there ye shall be fed and fill’d
Immeasurably, all things shall be your prey.
He ceas’d, for both seem'd highly pleas’d, and
Grinn'd horrible a gastly smile, to hear
His famine should be fill’d, and blest his maw
Destin'd to that good hour: no less rejoic'd
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,
842 buxom air] Spenser, F. Q. i. xi. 37.
* And there with scourge the buxom air so sore.' Newton. 846 Grinn'd horrible] Imitated, Mr. Carey thinks, from Dante, Inf. v.;
Stavvi Minos orribilmente e ringhia.'
Fearless to be o'ermatch'd 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 confin'd,
Inhabitant of heaven and heavenly-born,
Here, in perpetual agony and pain,
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 gav'st 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 up drew,
Which but herself not all the Stygian powers
Could once have mov'd; then in the keyhole turns
Th’ 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
868 live at ease] From Homer, Osol geïa (bovtes. Benlley.
open fly] Don Bellianis, part ii. chap. 19. • Open flew the brazen folding doors, grating harsh thunder on their turning hinges.' Swift.
Th’ 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
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,
Without dimension, 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:
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,
Levy'd to side with warring winds, and poise
889 Smoke] See Dante 11. Purg. c. xxiv.
E giammai non si videro in fornace
Vetri, o metalli sì lucenti erossi,
Com' io vidi un, che dicea808 For hot] Ovid. Met. i. 19. Neroton.