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Shakes pestilence and war.
Level'd 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 heaven's artillery fraught, come rattling on 715
Over the Caspian; then stand front to front
Hov'ring a space, till winds the signal 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
To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds
Had been atchiev'd, whereof all hell had rung,
Had not the snaky sorceress that sat
Fast 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 son? What fury, O son,
metas horrentes crine sanguineo.' See Nonni Dionys. xvii. 6. Sylvester's Du Bartas, p. 14.
'Then with long bloody hair, a blazing star
Threatens the world with famine, plague, and war,
To princes death, to kingdoms many crosses.'
711 Shakes] Mr. Dyce refers to Lucan. Phars. vi. 468.
'Humentes late nebulas, nimbosque solutis
714 two black clouds] Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, b. i. c. 16. st. 10. Thyer.
715 artillery] See Gayton's Chartæ Scriptæ, p. 20; (1645). 'The magazine of heaven here. Artillerie
Which oft in dreadful thunderings rend the skie.'
Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart
Against thy father's head? and know'st for whom ;
For him who sits 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 destroy ye both.
She spake, and at her words the hellish pest 735 Forbore; then these to her Satan return'd:
So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange 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-form'd, and why, In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st Me father, and that fantasm call'st 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 heaven? when at th' assembly, and in sight
Of all the seraphim with thee combin'd
In bold conspiracy against heaven's King,
All on a sudden miserable pain
Surpriz'd thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzy swum In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast Threw forth, till on the left side op'ning wide, 755
746 the portress] P. Fletcher's Locusts, ed. 1627, p. 34. 'The Porter to th' infernall gate is Sin.' Todd.
Likest to thee in shape and count'nance bright,
Then shining heav'nly fair, a goddess arm'd,
Out of thy head I sprung: amazement seiz'd
All th' 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 pleas'd, and with attractive graces won
The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft
Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing
Becam❜st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st 765
With me in secret, that my womb conceiv'd
A growing burthen. Mean while 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
Through all the empyrean: down they fell
Driv'n 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 giv'n, with charge to keep 775
These gates for ever shut, which none can pass
Without my op'ning. 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 my inbred enemy
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.
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,
787 Made to destroy] See James i. 13. Bentl. MS. 794 rape begot] See Amadis de Gaul, vol. iii. lib. iii. c. 10. p. 183, ed. Southey.
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
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 heav'nly host
Of spirits that, in our just pretenses 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,
Lest heaven 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
Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen