The Rape of Lucrece

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TO THE RIGHT HONOVRABLE, HENRY Wriothesley, Earle of Southhampton, and Baron of Titchfield.
THE loue I dedicate to your Lordship is without end:
wherof this Pamphlet without beginning is but a
superfluous Moity. The warrant I haue of your
Honourable disposition, not the worth of my vntu-
tord Lines makes it assured of acceptance. What I
haue done is yours, what I haue to doe is yours, being
part in all I haue, deuoted yours. Were my worth
greater, my duety would shew greater, meane time,
as it is, it is bound to your Lordship; To whom I wish
long life still lengthned with all happinesse.
Your Lordships in all duety.
William Shakespeare.
LVcius Tarquinius (for his excessiue pride surnamed Superbus)
after hee had caused his owne father in law Seruius Tullius to be
cruelly murdred, and contrarie to the Romaine lawes and cus-
tomes, not requiring or staying for the peoples suffrages, had
possessed himselfe of the kingdome: went accompanyed with
his sonnes and other Noble men of Rome, to besiege Ardea,
during which siege, the principall men of the Army meeting
one euening at the Tent of Sextus Tarquinius the Kings sonne, in
their discourses after supper euery one commended the vertues
of his owne wife: among whom Colatinus extolled the incom-
parable chastity of his wife Lucretia. In that pleasant humor
they all posted to Rome, and intending by theyr secret and
sodaine arriuall to make triall of that which euery one had before
auouched, onely Colatinus finds his wife (though it were late in
the night) spinning amongest her maides, the other Ladies were all
found dauncing and reuelling, or in seuerall disports: whereup-
on the Noble men yeelded Colatinus the victory, and his wife the
Fame. At that time Sextus Tarquinius being enflamed with
Lucrece beauty, yet smoothering his passions for the present,
departed with the rest backe to the Campe: from whence he
shortly after priuily withdrew himselfe, and was (according to
his estate) royally entertayned and lodged by Lucrece at Col-
atium. The same night he tretcherouslie stealeth into her
Chamber, violently rauisht her, and early in the morning
speedeth away. Lucrece in this lamentable plight, hastily
dispatcheth Messengers, one to Rome for her father, another to
the Campe for Colatine. They came, the one accompanyed with
Iunius Brutus, the other with Publius Valerius: and finding
Lucrece attired in mourning habite, demanded the cause of her
sorrow. Shee first taking an oath of them for her reuenge,
reuealed the Actor, and whole maner of his dealing, and withall
sodainely stabbed her selfe. Which done, with one consent they
all vowed to roote out the whole hated family of the Tarquins:
and bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the
people with the doer and manner of the vile deede: with a bitter
inuectiue against the tyranny of the King, wherewith the
people were so moued, that with one consent and a general
acclamation, the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state gouern-
ment changed from Kings to Consuls.
FROM the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustlesse wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed TARQVIN, leaues the Roman host,
And to Colatium beares the lightlesse fire,
Which in pale embers hid, lurkes to aspire,
And girdle with embracing flames, the wast
Of COLATINES fair loue, LVCRECE the chast.
Hap'ly that name of chast, vnhap'ly set
This batelesse edge on his keene appetite:
When COLATINE vnwisely did not let,
To praise the cleare vnmatched red and white,
Which triumpht in that skie of his delight:
Where mortal stars as bright as heauẽs Beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar dueties.
For he the night before in Tarquins Tent,
Vnlockt the treasure of his happie state:
What priselesse wealth the heauens had him lent,
In the possession of his beauteous mate.
Reckning his fortune at such high proud rate,
That Kings might be espowsed to more fame,
But King nor Peere to such a peerelesse dame.
O happinesse enioy'd but of a few,
And if possest as soone decayed and done:
As is the mornings siluer melting dew,
Against the golden splendour of the Sunne.
An expir'd date canceld ere well begunne.
Honour and Beautie in the owners armes,
Are weakelie fortrest from a world of harmes.
Beautie it selfe doth of it selfe perswade,
The eies of men without an Orator,
What needeth then Apologies be made
To set forth that which is so singuler?
Or why is Colatine the publisher
Of that rich iewell he should keepe vnknown,
From theeuish eares because it is his owne?
Perchance his bost of Lucrece Sou'raigntie,
Suggested this proud issue of a King:
For by our eares our hearts oft taynted be:
Perchance that enuie of so rich a thing
Brauing compare, disdainefully did sting
His high picht thoughts that meaner men should vant,
That golden hap which their superiors want.
But some vntimelie thought did instigate,
His all too timelesse speede if none of those,
His honor, his affaires, his friends, his state,
Neglected all, with swift intent he goes,
To quench the coale which in his liuer glowes.
O rash false heate, wrapt in repentant cold,
Thy hastie spring still blasts and nere growes old.
When at Colatia this false Lord arriued,
Well was he welcom'd by the Romaine dame,
Within whose face Beautie and Vertue striued,
Which of them both should vnderprop her fame.
Whẽ Vertue brag'd, Beautie wold blush for shame,
When Beautie bosted blushes, in despight
Vertue would staine that ore with siluer white.
But Beautie in that white entituled,
From Venus doues doth challenge that faire field,
Then Vertue claimes from Beautie, Beauties red,
Which Vertue gaue the golden age, to guild
Their siluer cheekes, and cald it then their shield,
Teaching them thus to vse it in the fight,
Whẽ shame assaild, the red should fẽce the white.
This Herauldry in LVCRECE face was seene,
Argued by Beauties red and Vertues white,
Of eithers colour was the other Queene:
Prouing from worlds minority their right,
Yet their ambition makes them still to fight:
The soueraignty of either being so great,
That oft they interchange ech others seat.
This silent warre of Lillies and of Roses,
Which TARQVIN vew'd in her faire faces field,
In their pure rankes his traytor eye encloses,
Where least betweene them both it should be kild.
The coward captiue vanquished, doth yeeld
To those two Armies that would let him goe,
Rather then triumph in so false a foe.
Now thinkes he that her husbands shallow tongue,
The niggard prodigall that praisde her so:
In that high taske hath done her Beauty wrong.
Which farre exceedes his barren skill to show.
Therefore that praise which COLATINE doth owe,
Inchaunted TARQVIN aunswers with surmise,
In silent wonder of still gazing eyes.
This earthly sainct adored by this deuill,
Little suspecteth the false worshipper:
"For vnstaind thoughts do seldom dream on euill.
"Birds neuer lim'd, no secret bushes feare:
So guiltlesse shee securely giues good cheare,
And reuerend welcome to her princely guest,
Whose inward ill no outward harme exprest.
For that he colourd with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in pleats of Maiestie:
That nothing in him seemd inordinate,
Saue sometime too much wonder of his eye,
Which hauing all, all could not satisfie;
But poorly rich so wanteth in his store,
That cloy'd with much, he pineth still for more.
But she that neuer cop't with straunger eies,
Could picke no meaning from their parling lookes,
Nor read the subtle shining secrecies,
Writ in the glassie margents of such bookes,
Shee toucht no vnknown baits, nor feard no hooks,
Nor could shee moralize his wanton sight,
More then his eies were opend to the light.
He stories to her eares her husbands fame,
Wonne in the fields of fruitfull Italie:
And decks with praises Colatines high name,
Made glorious by his manlie chiualrie,
With bruised armes and wreathes of victorie,
Her ioie with heaued-vp hand she doth expresse,
And wordlesse so greetes heauen for his successe.
Far from the purpose of his comming thither,
He makes excuses for his being there,
No clowdie show of stormie blustring wether,
Doth yet in his faire welkin once appeare,
Till sable Night mother of dread and feare,
Vppon the world dim darknesse doth displaie,
And in her vaultie prison, stowes the daie.
For then is Tarquine brought vnto his bed,
Intending wearinesse with heauie sprite:
For after supper long he questioned,
With modest Lucrece, and wore out the night,
Now leaden slumber with liues strength doth fight,
And euerie one to rest themselues betake,
Saue theeues, and cares, and troubled minds that wake.
As one of which doth Tarquin lie reuoluing
The sundrie dangers of his wils obtaining:
Yet euer to obtaine his will resoluing.
Though weake-built hopes perswade him to abstaining
Dispaire to gaine doth traffique oft for gaining,
And when great treasure is the meede proposed,
Though death be adiũct, ther's no death supposed.
Those that much couet are with gaine so fond,
That what they haue not, that which they possesse
They scatter and vnloose it from their bond,
And so by hoping more they haue but lesse,
Or gaining more, the profite of excesse
Is but to surfet, and such griefes sustaine,
That they proue bãckrout in this poore rich gain.
The ayme of all is but to nourse the life,
With honor, wealth, and ease in wainyng age:
And in this ayme there is such thwarting strife,
That one for all, or all for one we gage:
As life for honour, in fell battailes rage,
Honor for wealth, and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all, and altogether lost.
So that in ventring ill, we leaue to be
The things we are, for that which we expect:
And this ambitious foule infirmitie,
In hauing much torments vs with defect
Of that we haue: so then we doe neglect
The thing we haue, and all for want of wit,
Make something nothing, by augmenting it.
Such hazard now must doting TARQVIN make,
Pawning his honor to obtaine his lust,
And for himselfe, himselfe he must forsake.
Then where is truth if there be no selfe-trust?
When shall he thinke to find a stranger iust,
When he himselfe, himselfe confounds, betraies,
To sclandrous tongues & wretched hateful daies?
Now stole vppon the time the dead of night,
When heauie sleeep had closd vp mortall eyes,
No comfortable starre did lend his light,
No noise but Owles, & wolues death-boding cries:
Now serues the season that they may surprise
The sillie Lambes, pure thoughts are dead & still,
While Lust and Murder wakes to staine and kill
And now this lustfull Lord leapt from his bed,
Throwing his mantle rudely ore his arme,
Is madly tost betweene desire and dred;
Th'one sweetely flatters, th'other feareth harme,
But honest feare, bewicht with lustes foule charme,
Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
Beaten away by brainesicke rude desire.
His Faulchon on a flint he softly smiteth,
That from the could stone sparkes of fire doe flie,
Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he lighteth,
Which must be lodestarre to his lustfull eye.
And to the flame thus speakes aduisedlie;
As from this cold flint I enforst this fire,
So LVCRECE must I force to my desire.
Here pale with feare he doth premeditate,
The daungers of his lothsome enterprise:
And in his inward mind he doth debate,
What following sorrow may on this arise.
Then looking scornfully, he doth despise
His naked armour of still slaughtered lust,
And iustly thus controlls his thoughts vniust.
Faire torch burne out thy light, and lend it not
To darken her whose light excelleth thine:
And die vnhallowed thoughts, before you blot
With your vncleannesse, that which is deuine:
Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine:
Let faire humanitie abhor the deede,
That spots & stains loues modest snow-white weed.
O shame to knighthood, and to shining Armes,
O foule dishonor to my houshoulds graue:
O impious act including all foule harmes.
A martiall man to be soft fancies slaue,
True valour still a true respect should haue,
Then my digression is so vile, so base,
That it will liue engrauen in my face.
Yea though I die the scandale will suruiue,
And be an eie sore in my golden coate:
Some lothsome dash the Herrald will contriue,
To cipher me how fondlie I did dote:
That my posteritie sham'd with the note
Shall curse my bones, and hold it for no sinne,
To wish that I their father had not beene.
What win I if I gaine the thing I seeke?
A dreame, a breath, a froth of fleeting ioy,
Who buies a minutes mirth to waile a weeke?
Or sels eternitie to get a toy?
For one sweete grape who will the vine destroy?
Or what fond begger, but to touch the crowne,
Would with the scepter straight be strokẽ down?
If COLATINVS dreame of my intent,
Will he not wake, and in a desp'rate rage
Post hither, this vile purpose to preuent?
This siege that hath ingirt his marriage,
This blur to youth, this sorrow to the sage,
This dying vertue, this suruiuing shame,
Whose crime will beare an euer-during blame.
O what excuse can my inuention make
When thou shalt charge me with so blacke a deed?
Wil not my tongue be mute, my fraile ioints shake?
Mine eies forgo their light, my false hart bleede?
The guilt beeing great, the feare doth still exceede;
And extreme feare can neither fight nor flie,
But cowardlike with trembling terror die.
Had COLATINVS kild my sonne or sire,
Or laine in ambush to betray my life,
Or were he not my deare friend, this desire
Might haue excuse to worke vppon his wife:
As in reuenge or quittall of such strife.
But as he is my kinsman, my deare friend,
The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
Shamefull it is: I, if the fact be knowne,
Hatefull it is: there is no hate in louing,
Ile beg her loue: but she is not her owne:
The worst is but deniall and reproouing.
My will is strong past reasons weake remoouing:
Who feares a sentence or an old mans saw,
Shall by a painted cloth be kept in awe.
Thus gracelesse holds he disputation,
Tweene frozen conscience and hot burning will,
And with good thoughts makes dispensation,
Vrging the worser sence for vantage still.
Which in a moment doth confound and kill
All pure effects, and doth so farre proceede,
That what is vile, shewes like a vertuous deede.
Quoth he, shee tooke me kindlie by the hand,
And gaz'd for tidings in my eager eyes,
Fearing some hard newes from the warlike band,
Where her beloued COLATINVS lies.
O how her feare did make her colour rise!
First red as Roses that on Lawne we laie,
Then white as Lawne the Roses tooke awaie.
And how her hand in my hand being lockt,
Forst it to tremble with her loyall feare:
Which strooke her sad, and then it faster rockt,
Vntill her husbands welfare shee did heare.
Whereat shee smiled with so sweete a cheare,
That had NARCISSVS seene her as shee stood,
Selfe-loue had neuer drown'd him in the flood.
Why hunt I then for colour or excuses?
All Orators are dumbe when Beautie pleadeth,
Poore wretches haue remorse in poore abuses,
Loue thriues not in the hart that shadows dreadeth,
Affection is my Captaine and he leadeth.
And when his gaudie banner is displaide,
The coward fights, and will not be dismaide.
Then childish feare auaunt, debating die,
Respect and reason waite on wrinckled age:
My heart shall neuer countermand mine eie;
Sad pause, and deepe regard beseemes the sage,
My part is youth and beates these from the stage.
Desire my Pilot is, Beautie my prise,
Then who feares sinking where such treasure lies?
As corne ore-growne by weedes: so heedfull feare
Is almost choakt by vnresisted lust:
Away he steales with open listning eare,
Full of foule hope, and full of fond mistrust:
Both which as seruitors to the vniust,
So crosse him with their opposit perswasion,
That now he vowes a league, and now inuasion.
Within his thought her heauenly image sits,
And in the selfe same seat sits COLATINE,
That eye which lookes on her confounds his wits,
That eye which him beholdes, as more deuine,
Vnto a view so false will not incline;
But with a pure appeale seekes to the heart,
Which once corrupted takes the worser part.
And therein heartens vp his seruile powers,
Who flattred by their leaders iocound show,
Stuffe vp his lust: as minutes fill vp howres.
And as their Captaine: so their pride doth grow,
Paying more slauish tribute then they owe.
By reprobate desire thus madly led,
The Romane Lord marcheth to LVCRECE bed.
The lockes betweene her chamber and his will,
Ech one by him inforst retires his ward:
But as they open they all rate his ill,
Which driues the creeping theefe to some regard,
The threshold grates the doore to haue him heard,
Night-wandring weezels shreek to see him there,
They fright him, yet he still pursues his feare.
As each vnwilling portall yeelds him way,
Through little vents and cranies of the place,
The wind warres with his torch, to make him staie,
And blowes the smoake of it into his face,
Extinguishing his conduct in this case.
But his hot heart, which fond desire doth scorch,
Puffes forth another wind that fires the torch.
And being lighted, by the light he spies
LVCRECIAS gloue, wherein her needle sticks,
He takes it from the rushes where it lies,
And griping it, the needle his finger pricks.
As who should say, this gloue to wanton trickes
Is not inur'd; returne againe in hast,
Thou seest our mistresse ornaments are chast.
But all these poore forbiddings could not stay him,
He in the worst sence consters their deniall:
The dores, the wind, the gloue that did delay him,
He takes for accidentall things of triall.
Or as those bars which stop the hourely diall,
Who with a lingring staie his course doth let,
Till euerie minute payes the howre his debt.
So so, quoth he, these lets attend the time,
Like little frosts that sometime threat the spring,
To ad a more reioysing to the prime,
And giue the sneaped birds more cause to sing.
Pain payes the income of ech precious thing,
Huge rocks, high winds, strong pirats, shelues and sands
The marchant feares, ere rich at home he lands.
Now is he come vnto the chamber dore,
That shuts him from the Heauen of his thought,
Which with a yeelding latch, and with no more,
Hath bard him from the blessed thing he sought.
So from himselfe impiety hath wrought,
That for his pray to pray he doth begin,
As if the Heauens should countenance his sin.
But in the midst of his vnfruitfull prayer,
Hauing solicited th'eternall power,
That his foule thoughts might cõpasse his fair faire,
And they would stand auspicious to the howre.
Euen there he starts, quoth he, I must deflowre;
The powers to whom I pray abhor this fact,
How can they then assist me in the act?
Then Loue and Fortune be my Gods, my guide,
My will is backt with resolution:
Thoughts are but dreames till their effects be tried,
The blackest sinne is clear'd with absolution.
Against loues fire, feares frost hath dissolution.
The eye of Heauen is out, and mistie night
Couers the shame that followes sweet delight.
This said, his guiltie hand pluckt vp the latch,
And with his knee the dore he opens wide,
The doue sleeps fast that this night-Owle will catch.
Thus treason workes ere traitors be espied.
Who sees the lurking serpent steppes aside;
But shee sound sleeping fearing no such thing,
Lies at the mercie of his mortall sting.
Into the chamber wickedlie he stalkes,
And gazeth on her yet vnstained bed:
The curtaines being close, about he walkes,
Rowling his greedie eye-bals in his head.
By their high treason is his heart mis led,
Which giues the watch-word to his hand ful soon,
To draw the clowd that hides the siluer Moon.
Looke as the faire and fierie pointed Sunne,
Rushing from forth a cloud, bereaues our sight:
Euen so the Curtaine drawne, his eyes begun,
To winke, being blinded with a greater light.
Whether it is that shee reflects so bright,
That dazleth them, or else some shame supposed,
But blind they are, and keep themselues inclosed.
O had they in that darkesome prison died,
Then had they seene the period of their ill:
Then COLATINE againe by LVCRECE side,
In his cleare bed might haue reposed still.
But they must ope this blessed league to kill,
And holie-thoughted LVCRECE to their sight,
Must sell her ioy, her life, her worlds delight.
Her lillie hand, her rosie cheeke lies vnder,
Coosning the pillow of a lawfull kisse:
Who therefore angrie seemes to part in sunder,
Swelling on either side to want his blisse.
Betweene whose hils her head intombed is;
Where like a vertuous Monument shee lies,
To be admir'd of lewd vnhallowed eyes.
Without the bed her other faire hand was,
On the greene couerlet whose perfect white
Showed like an Aprill dazie on the grasse,
With pearlie swet resembling dew of night.
Her eyes like Marigolds had sheath'd their light,
And canopied in darkenesse sweetly lay,
Till they might open to adorne the day.
Her haire like golde threeds playd with her breath,
O modest wantons, wanton modestie!
Showing lifes triumph in the map of death,
And deaths dim looke in lifes mortalitie.
Ech in her sleepe themselues so beautifie,
As if betweene them twaine there were no strife,
But that life liu'd in death, and death in life.
Her breasts like Iuory globes circled with blew,
A paire of maiden worlds vnconquered,
Saue of their Lord, no bearing yoke they knew,
And him by oath they truely honored.
These worlds in TARQVIN new ambition bred,
Who like a fowle vsurper went about,
From this faire throne to heaue the owner out.
What could he see but mightily he noted?
What did he note, but strongly he desired?
What he beheld, on that he firmely doted,
And in his will his wilfull eye he tyred.
With more then admiration he admired
Her azure vaines, her alablaster skinne,
Her corall lips, her snow-white dimpled chin.
As the grim Lion fawneth ore his pray,
Sharpe hunger by the conquest satisfied:
So ore this sleeping soule doth TARQVIN stay,
His rage of lust by gazing qualified;
Slakt, not supprest, for standing by her side,
His eye which late this mutiny restraines,
Vnto a greater vprore tempts his vaines.
And they like stragling slaues for pillage fighting,
Obdurate vassals fell exploits effecting,
In bloudy death and rauishment delighting;
Nor childrens tears nor mothers grones respecting,
Swell in their pride, the onset still expecting:
Anon his beating heart allarum striking,
Giues the hot charge, & bids thẽ do their liking.
His drumming heart cheares vp his burning eye,
His eye commends the leading to his hand;
His hand as proud of such a dignitie,
Smoaking with pride, marcht on, to make his stand
On her bare brest, the heart of all her land;
Whose ranks of blew vains as his hand did scale,
Left their round turrets destitute and pale.
They mustring to the quiet Cabinet,
Where their deare gouernesse and ladie lies,
Do tell her shee is dreadfullie beset,
And fright her with confusion of their cries.
Shee much amaz'd breakes ope her lockt vp eyes,
Who peeping foorth this tumult to behold,
Are by his flaming torch dim'd and controld.
Imagine her as one in dead of night,
From forth dull sleepe by dreadfull fancie waking,
That thinkes shee hath beheld some gastlie sprite,
Whose grim aspect sets euerie ioint a shaking,
What terror tis: but shee in worser taking,
From sleepe disturbed, heedfullie doth view
The sight which makes supposed terror trew.
Wrapt and confounded in a thousand feares,
Like to a new kild bird shee trembling lies:
Shee dares not looke, yet winking there appeares
Quicke-shifting Antiques vglie in her eyes.
"Such shadowes are the weake-brains forgeries,
Who angrie that the eyes flie from their lights,
In darknes daunts thẽ with more dreadfull sights.
His hand that yet remaines vppon her brest,
(Rude Ram to batter such an Iuorie wall:)
May feele her heart (poore Cittizen) distrest,
Wounding it selfe to death, rise vp and fall;
Beating her bulke, that his hand shakes withall.
This moues in him more rage and lesser pittie,
To make the breach and enter this sweet Citty.
First like a Trompet doth his tongue begin,
To sound a parlie to his heartlesse foe,
Who ore the white sheet peers her whiter chin,
The reason of this rash allarme to know,
Which he by dum demeanor seekes to show.
But shee with vehement prayers vrgeth still,
Vnder what colour he commits this ill.
Thus he replies, the colour in thy face,
That euen for anger makes the Lilly pale,
And the red rose blush at her owne disgrace,
Shall plead for me and tell my louing tale.
Vnder that colour am I come to scale
Thy neuer conquered Fort, the fault is thine,
For those thine eyes betray thee vnto mine.
Thus I forestall thee, if thou meane to chide,
Thy beauty hath ensnar'd thee to this night,
Where thou with patience must my will abide,
My will that markes thee for my earths delight,
Which I to conquer sought with all my might.
But as reproofe and reason beat it dead,
By thy bright beautie was it newlie bred.
I see what crosses my attempt will bring,
I know what thornes the growing rose defends,
I thinke the honie garded with a sting,
All this before-hand counsell comprehends.
But Will is deafe, and hears no heedfull friends,
Onely he hath an eye to gaze on Beautie,
And dotes on what he looks, gainst law or duety.
I haue debated euen in my soule,
What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shal breed,
But nothing can affections course controull,
Or stop the headlong furie of his speed.
I know repentant teares insewe the deed,
Reproch, disdaine, and deadly enmity,
Yet striue I to embrace mine infamy.
This said, hee shakes aloft his Romaine blade,
Which like a Faulcon towring in the skies,
Cowcheth the fowle below with his wings shade,
Whose crooked beake threats, if he mount he dies.
So vnder his insulting Fauchion lies
Harmelesse LVCRETIA marking what he tels,
With trembling feare: as fowl hear Faulcõs bels.
LVCRECE, quoth he, this night I must enioy thee,
If thou deny, then force must worke my way:
For in thy bed I purpose to destroie thee.
That done, some worthlesse slaue of thine ile slay.
To kill thine Honour with thy liues decaie.
And in thy dead armes do I meane to place him,
Swearing I slue him seeing thee imbrace him.
So thy suruiuing husband shall remaine
The scornefull marke of euerie open eye,
Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdaine,
Thy issue blur'd with namelesse bastardie;
And thou the author of their obloquie,
Shalt haue thy trespasse cited vp in rimes,
And sung by children in succeeding times.
But if thou yeeld, I rest thy secret friend,
The fault vnknowne, is as a thought vnacted,
"A little harme done to a great good end,
For lawfull pollicie remaines enacted.
The poysonous simple sometime is compacted
In a pure compound; being so applied,
His venome in effect is purified.
Then for thy husband and thy childrens sake,
Tender my suite, bequeath not to their lot
The shame that from them no deuise can take,
The blemish that will neuer be forgot:
Worse then a slauish wipe, or birth howrs blot,
For markes discried in mens natiuitie,
Are natures faultes, not their owne infamie.
Here with a Cockeatrice dead killing eye,
He rowseth vp himselfe, and makes a pause,
While shee the picture of pure pietie,
Like a white Hinde vnder the grypes sharpe clawes,
Pleades in a wildernesse where are no lawes,
To the rough beast, that knowes no gentle right,
Nor ought obayes but his fowle appetite.
But when a black-fac'd clowd the world doth thret,
In his dim mist th'aspiring mountaines hiding:
From earths dark-womb, some gentle gust doth get,
Which blow these pitchie vapours frõ their biding:
Hindring their present fall by this deuiding.
So his vnhallowed hast her words delayes,
And moodie PLVTO winks while Orpheus playes.
Yet fowle night-waking Cat he doth but dallie,
While in his hold-fast foot the weak mouse pãteth,
Her sad behauiour feedes his vulture follie,
A swallowing gulfe that euen in plentie wanteth.
His eare her prayers admits, but his heart granteth
No penetrable entrance to her playning,
Tears harden lust though marble were with rayning.
Her pittie-pleading eyes are sadlie fixed
In the remorselesse wrinckles of his face.
Her modest eloquence with sighes is mixed,
Which to her Oratorie addes more grace.
Shee puts the period often from his place,
And midst the sentence so her accent breakes,
That twise she doth begin ere once she speakes.
She coniures him by high Almightie loue,
By knighthood, gentrie, and sweete friendships oth,
By her vntimely teares, her husbands loue,
By holie humaine law, and common troth,
By Heauen and Earth, and all the power of both:
That to his borrowed bed he make retire,
And stoope to Honor, not to fowle desire.
Quoth shee, reward not Hospitalitie,
With such black payment, as thou hast pretended,
Mudde not the fountaine that gaue drinke to thee,
Mar not the thing that cannot be amended.
End thy ill ayme, before thy shoote be ended.
He is no wood-man that doth bend his bow,
To strike a poore vnseasonable Doe.
My husband is thy friend, for his sake spare me,
Thy selfe art mightie, for thine own sake leaue me:
My selfe a weakling, do not then insnare me.
Thou look'st not like deceipt, do not deceiue me.
My sighes like whirlewindes labor hence to heaue (thee.
If euer man were mou'd with womãs mones,
Be moued with my teares, my sighes, my grones.
All which together like a troubled Ocean,
Beat at thy rockie, and wracke-threatning heart,
To soften it with their continuall motion:
For stones dissolu'd to water do conuert.
O if no harder then a stone thou art,
Melt at my teares and be compassionate,
Soft pittie enters at an iron gate.
In TARQVINS likenesse I did entertaine thee,
Hast thou put on his shape, to do him shame?
To all the Host of Heauen I complaine me.
Thou wrongst his honor, woũdst his princely name:
Thou art not what thou seem'st, and if the same,
Thou seem'st not what thou art, a God, a King;
For kings like Gods should gouerne euery thing.
How will thy shame be seeded in thine age
When thus thy vices bud before thy spring?
If in thy hope thou darst do such outrage,
What dar'st thou not when once thou art a King?
O be remembred, no outragious thing
From vassall actors can be wipt away,
Then Kings misdeedes cannot be hid in clay.
This deede will make thee only lou'd for feare,
But happie Monarchs still are feard for loue:
With fowle offendors thou perforce must beare,
When they in thee the like offences proue;
If but for feare of this, thy will remoue.
For Princes are the glasse, the schoole, the booke,
Where subiects eies do learn, do read, do looke.
And wilt thou be the schoole where lust shall learne?
Must he in thee read lectures of such shame?
Wilt thou be glasse wherein it shall discerne
Authoritie for sinne, warrant for blame?
To priuiledge dishonor in thy name.
Thou backst reproch against long-liuing lawd,
And mak'st faire reputation but a bawd.
Hast thou commaund? by him that gaue it thee
From a pure heart commaund thy rebell will:
Draw not thy sword to gard iniquitie,
For it was lent thee all that broode to kill.
Thy Princelie office how canst thou fulfill?
When patternd by thy fault fowle sin may say,
He learnd to sin, and thou didst teach the way.
Thinke but how vile a spectacle it were,
To view thy present trespasse in another:
Mens faults do seldome to themselues appeare,
Their own transgressions partiallie they smother,
This guilt would seem death-worthie in thy brother.
O how are they wrapt in with infamies,
That frõ their own misdeeds askaunce their eyes?
To thee, to thee, my heau'd vp hands appeale,
Not to seducing lust thy rash relier:
I sue for exil'd maiesties repeale,
Let him returne, and flattring thoughts retire.
His true respect will prison false desire,
And wipe the dim mist from thy doting eien,
That thou shalt see thy state, and pittie mine.
Haue done, quoth he, my vncontrolled tide
Turnes not, but swels the higher by this let.
Small lightes are soone blown out, huge fires abide,
And with the winde in greater furie fret:
The petty streames that paie a dailie det
To their salt soueraigne with their fresh fals hast,
Adde to his flowe, but alter not his tast.
Thou art, quoth shee, a sea, a soueraigne King,
And loe there fals into thy boundlesse flood,
Blacke lust, dishonor, shame, mis-gouerning,
Who seeke to staine the Ocean of thy blood.
If all these pettie ils shall change thy good,
Thy sea within a puddels wombe is hersed,
And not the puddle in thy sea dispersed.
So shall these slaues be King, and thou their slaue,
Thou noblie base, they baselie dignified:
Thou their faire life, and they thy fowler graue:
Thou lothed in their shame, they in thy pride,
The lesser thing should not the greater hide.
The Cedar stoopes not to the base shrubs foote,
But low-shrubs wither at the Cedars roote.
So let thy thoughts low vassals to thy state,
No more quoth he, by Heauen I will not heare thee.
Yeeld to my loue, if not inforced hate,
In steed of loues coy tutch shall rudelie teare thee.
That done, despitefullie I meane to beare thee
Vnto the base bed of some rascall groome,
To be thy partner in this shamefull doome.
This said, he sets his foote vppon the light,
For light and lust are deadlie enemies,
Shame folded vp in blind concealing night,
When most vnseene, then most doth tyrannize.
The wolfe hath ceazd his pray, the poor lamb cries,
Till with her own white fleece her voice controld,
Intombes her outcrie in her lips sweet fold.
For with the nightlie linnen that shee weares,
He pens her piteous clamors in her head,
Cooling his hot face in the chastest teares,
That euer modest eyes with sorrow shed.
O that prone lust should staine so pure a bed,
The spots whereof could weeping purifie,
Her tears should drop on them perpetuallie.
But shee hath lost a dearer thing then life,
And he hath wonne what he would loose againe,
This forced league doth force a further strife,
This momentarie ioy breeds months of paine,
This hot desire conuerts to colde disdaine;
Pure chastitie is rifled of her store,
And lust the theefe farre poorer then before.
Looke as the full-fed Hound, or gorged Hawke,
Vnapt for tender smell, or speedie flight,
Make slow pursuite, or altogether bauk,
The praie wherein by nature they delight:
So surfet-taking TARQVIN fares this night:
His tast delicious, in digestion sowring,
Deuoures his will that liu'd by fowle deuouring.
O deeper sinne then bottomelesse conceit
Can comprehend in still imagination!
Drunken Desire must vomite his receipt
Ere he can see his owne abhomination.
While Lust is in his pride no exclamation
Can curbe his heat, or reine his rash desire,
Till like a Iade, self-will himselfe doth tire.
And then with lanke, and leane discolour'd cheeke,
With heauie eye, knit-brow, and strengthlesse pace,
Feeble desire all recreant, poore and meeke,
Like to a banckrout begger wailes his cace:
The flesh being proud, Desire doth fight with grace;
For there it reuels, and when that decaies,
The guiltie rebell for remission praies.
So fares it with this fault-full Lord of Rome,
Who this accomplishment so hotly chased,
For now against himselfe he sounds this doome,
That through the length of times he stãds disgraced:
Besides his soules faire temple is defaced,
To whose weake ruines muster troopes of cares,
To aske the spotted Princesse how she fares.
Shee sayes her subiects with fowle insurrection,
Haue batterd downe her consecrated wall,
And by their mortall fault brought in subiection
Her immortalitie, and made her thrall,
To liuing death and payne perpetuall.
Which in her prescience shee controlled still,
But her foresight could not forestall their will.
Eu'n in this thought through the dark-night he stealeth,
A captiue victor that hath lost in gaine,
Bearing away the wound that nothing healeth,
The scarre that will dispight of Cure remaine,
Leauing his spoile perplext in greater paine.
Shee beares the lode of lust he left behinde,
And he the burthen of a guiltie minde.
Hee like a theeuish dog creeps sadly thence,
Shee like a wearied Lambe lies panting there,
He scowles and hates himselfe for his offence,
Shee desperat with her nailes her flesh doth teare.
He faintly flies sweating with guiltie feare;
Shee staies exclayming on the direfull night,
He runnes and chides his vanisht loth'd delight.
He thence departs a heauy conuertite,
Shee there remaines a hopelesse cast-away,
He in his speed lookes for the morning light:
Shee prayes shee neuer may behold the day.
For daie, quoth shee, nights scapes doth open lay,
And my true eyes haue neuer practiz'd how
To cloake offences with a cunning brow.
They thinke not but that euerie eye can see,
The same disgrace which they themselues behold:
And therefore would they still in darkenesse be,
To haue their vnseene sinne remaine vntold.
For they their guilt with weeping will vnfold,
And graue like water that doth eate in steele,
Vppon my cheeks, what helpelesse shame I feele.
Here shee exclaimes against repose and rest,
And bids her eyes hereafter still be blinde,
Shee wakes her heart by beating on her brest,
And bids it leape from thence, where it maie finde
Some purer chest, to close so pure a minde.
Franticke with griefe thus breaths shee forth her spite,
Against the vnseene secrecie of night.
O comfort-killing night, image of Hell,
Dim register, and notarie of shame,
Blacke stage for tragedies, and murthers fell,
Vast sin-concealing Chaos, nourse of blame.
Blinde muffled bawd, darke harber for defame,
Grim caue of death, whispring conspirator,
With close-tong'd treason & the rauisher.
O hatefull, vaporous, and foggy night,
Since thou art guilty of my curelesse crime:
Muster thy mists to meete the Easterne light,
Make war against proportion'd course of time.
Or if thou wilt permit the Sunne to clime
His wonted height, yet ere he go to bed,
Knit poysonous clouds about his golden head.
With rotten damps rauish the morning aire,
Let their exhald vnholdsome breaths make sicke
The life of puritie, the supreme faire,
Ere he arriue his wearie noone-tide pricke,
And let thy mustie vapours march so thicke,
That in their smoakie rankes, his smothred light
May set at noone, and make perpetuall night.
Were TARQVIN night, as he is but nights child,
The siluer shining Queene he would distaine;
Her twinckling handmaids to (by him defil'd)
Through nights black bosom shuld not peep again.
So should I haue copartners in my paine,
And fellowship in woe doth woe asswage,
As Palmers chat makes short their pilgrimage.
Where now I haue no one to blush with me,
To crosse their armes & hang their heads with mine,
To maske their browes and hide their infamie,
But I alone, alone must sit and pine,
Seasoning the earth with showres of siluer brine;
Mingling my talk with tears, my greef with grones,
Poore wasting monuments of lasting mones.
O night thou furnace of fowle reeking smoke!
Let not the iealous daie behold that face,
Which vnderneath thy blacke all-hiding cloke
Immodestly lies martird with disgrace.
Keepe still possession of thy gloomy place,
That all the faults which in thy raigne are made,
May likewise be sepulcherd in thy shade.
Make me not obiect to the tell-tale day,
The light will shew characterd in my brow,
The storie of sweete chastities decay,
The impious breach of holy wedlocke vowe.
Yea the illiterate that know not how
To cipher what is writ in learned bookes,
Will cote my lothsome trespasse in my lookes.
The nourse to still her child will tell my storie,
And fright her crying babe with TARQVINS name.
The Orator to decke his oratorie,
Will couple my reproch to TARQVINS shame.
Feast-finding minstrels tuning my defame,
Will tie the hearers to attend ech line,
How TARQVIN wronged me, I COLATINE.
Let my good name, that sencelesse reputation,
For COLATINES deare loue be kept vnspotted:
If that be made a theame for disputation,
The branches of another roote are rotted;
And vndeseru'd reproch to him alotted,
That is as cleare from this attaint of mine,
As I ere this was pure to COLATINE.
O vnseene shame, inuisible disgrace,
O vnfelt sore, crest-wounding priuat scarre!
Reproch is stampt in COLATINVS face,
And TARQVINS eye maie read the mot a farre,
"How he in peace is wounded not in warre.
"Alas how manie beare such shamefull blowes,
Which not thẽselues but he that giues thẽ knowes.
If COLATINE, thine honor laie in me,
From me by strong assault it is bereft:
My Honnie lost, and I a Drone-like Bee,
Haue no perfection of my sommer left,
But rob'd and ransak't by iniurious theft.
In thy weake Hiue a wandring waspe hath crept,
And suck't the Honnie which thy chast Bee kept.
Yet am I guiltie of thy Honors wracke,
Yet for thy Honor did I entertaine him,
Comming from thee I could not put him backe:
For it had beene dishonor to disdaine him,
Besides of wearinesse he did complaine him,
And talk't of Vertue (O vnlook't for euill,)
When Vertue is prophan'd in such a Deuill.
Why should the worme intrude the maiden bud?
Or hatefull Kuckcowes hatch in Sparrows nests?
Or Todes infect faire founts with venome mud?
Or tyrant follie lurke in gentle brests?
Or Kings be breakers of their owne behestes?
"But no perfection is so absolute,
That some impuritie doth not pollute.
The aged man that coffers vp his gold,
Is plagu'd with cramps, and gouts, and painefull fits,
And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold,
But like still pining TANTALVS he sits,
And vselesse barnes the haruest of his wits:
Hauing no other pleasure of his gaine,
But torment that it cannot cure his paine.
So then he hath it when he cannot vse it,
And leaues it to be maistred by his yong:
Who in their pride do presently abuse it,
Their father was too weake, and they too strong
To hold their cursed-blessed Fortune long.
"The sweets we wish for, turne to lothed sowrs,
"Euen in the moment that we call them ours.
Vnruly blasts wait on the tender spring,
Vnholsome weeds take roote with precious flowrs,
The Adder hisses where the sweete birds sing,
What Vertue breedes Iniquity deuours:
We haue no good that we can say is ours,
But ill annexed opportunity
Or kils his life, or else his quality.
O opportunity thy guilt is great,
Tis thou that execut'st the traytors treason:
Thou sets the wolfe where he the lambe may get,
Who euer plots the sinne thou poinst the season.
Tis thou that spurn'st at right, at law, at reason,
And in thy shadie Cell where none may spie him,
Sits sin to ceaze the soules that wander by him.
Thou makest the vestall violate her oath,
Thou blowest the fire when temperance is thawd,
Thou smotherst honestie, thou murthrest troth,
Thou fowle abbettor, thou notorious bawd,
Thou plantest scandall, and displacest lawd.
Thou rauisher, thou traytor, thou false theefe,
Thy honie turnes to gall, thy ioy to greefe.
Thy secret pleasure turnes to open shame,
Thy priuate feasting to a publicke fast,
Thy smoothing titles to a ragged name,
Thy sugred tongue to bitter wormwood tast,
Thy violent vanities can neuer last.
How comes it then, vile opportunity
Being so bad, such numbers seeke for thee?
When wilt thou be the humble suppliants friend
And bring him where his suit may be obtained?
When wilt thou sort an howre great strifes to end?
Or free that soule which wretchednes hath chained?
Giue phisicke to the sicke, ease to the pained?
The poore, lame, blind, hault, creepe, cry out for thee,
But they nere meet with oportunitie.
The patient dies while the Phisitian sleepes,
The Orphane pines while the oppressor feedes.
Iustice is feasting while the widow weepes.
Aduise is sporting while infection breeds.
Thou graunt'st no time for charitable deeds.
Wrath, enuy, treason, rape, and murthers rages,
Thy heinous houres wait on them as their Pages.
When Trueth and Vertue haue to do with thee,
A thousand crosses keepe them from thy aide:
They buie thy helpe, but sinne nere giues a fee,
He gratis comes, and thou art well apaide,
As well to heare, as graunt what he hath saide.
My COLATINE would else haue come to me,
When TARQVIN did, but he was staied by thee.
Guilty thou art of murther, and of theft,
Guilty of periurie, and subornation,
Guilty of treason, forgerie, and shift,
Guilty of incest that abhomination,
An accessarie by thine inclination.
To all sinnes past and all that are to come,
From the creation to the generall doome.
Misshapen time, copesmate of vgly night,
Swift subtle post, carrier of grieslie care,
Eater of youth, false slaue to false delight:
Base watch of woes, sins packhorse, vertues snare.
Thou noursest all, and murthrest all that are.
O heare me then, iniurious shifting time,
Be guiltie of my death since of my crime.
Why hath thy seruant opportunity
Betraide the howres thou gau'st me to repose?
Canceld my fortunes, and inchained me
To endlesse date of neuer-ending woes?
Times office is to fine the hate of foes,
To eate vp errours by opinion bred,
Not spend the dowrie of a lawfull bed.
Times glorie is to calme contending Kings,
To vnmaske falshood, and bring truth to light,
To stampe the seale of time in aged things,
To wake the morne, and Centinell the night,
To wrong the wronger till he render right,
To ruinate proud buildings with thy howres,
And smeare with dust their glitring golden towrs.
To fill with worme-holes stately monuments,
To feede obliuion with decay of things,
To blot old bookes, and alter their contents,
To plucke the quils from auncient rauens wings,
To drie the old oakes sappe, and cherish springs:
To spoile Antiquities of hammerd steele,
And turne the giddy round of Fortunes wheele.
To shew the beldame daughters of her daughter,
To make the child a man, the man a childe,
To slay the tygre that doth liue by slaughter,
To tame the Vnicorne, and Lion wild,
To mocke the subtle in themselues beguild,
To cheare the Plowman with increasefull crops,
And wast huge stones with little water drops.
Why work'st thou mischiefe in thy Pilgrimage,
Vnlesse thou could'st returne to make amends?
One poore retyring minute in an age
Would purchase thee a thousand thousand friends,
Lending him wit that to bad detters lends,
O this dread night, would'st thou one howr come (backe,
I could preuent this storme, and shun thy wracke.
Thou ceaselesse lackie to Eternitie,
With some mischance crosse TARQVIN in his flight.
Deuise extreames beyond extremitie,
To make him curse this cursed crimefull night:
Let gastly shadowes his lewd eyes affright,
And the dire thought of his committed euill,
Shape euery bush a hideous shapelesse deuill.
Disturbe his howres of rest with restlesse trances,
Afflict him in his bed with bedred grones,
Let there bechaunce him pitifull mischances,
To make him mone, but pitie not his mones:
Stone him with hardned hearts harder then stones,
And let milde women to him loose their mildnesse,
Wilder to him then Tygers in their wildnesse.
Let him haue time to teare his curled haire,
Let him haue time against himselfe to raue,
Let him haue time of times helpe to dispaire,
Let him haue time to liue a lothed slaue,
Let him haue time a beggers orts to craue,
And time to see one that by almes doth liue,
Disdaine to him disdained scraps to giue.
Let him haue time to see his friends his foes,
And merrie fooles to mocke at him resort:
Let him haue time to marke how slow time goes
In time of sorrow, and how swift and short
His time of follie, and his time of sport.
And euer let his vnrecalling crime
Haue time to waile th'abusing of his time.
O time thou tutor both to good and bad,
Teach me to curse him that thou taught'st this ill:
At his owne shadow let the theefe runne mad,
Himselfe, himselfe seeke euerie howre to kill,
Such wretched hãds such wretched blood shuld spill.
For who so base would such an office haue,
As sclandrous deaths-man to so base a slaue
The baser is he comming from a King,
To shame his hope with deedes degenerate,
The mightier man the mightier is the thing
That makes him honord, or begets him hate:
For greatest scandall waits on greatest state.
The Moone being clouded, presently is mist,
But little stars may hide them when they list.
The Crow may bath his coaleblacke wings in mire,
And vnperceau d flie with the filth away,
But if the like the snow-white Swan desire,
The staine vppon his siluer Downe will stay.
Poore grooms are sightles night, kings glorious day,
Gnats are vnnoted wheresoere they flie,
But Eagles gaz'd vppon with euerie eye.
Out idle wordes, seruants to shallow fooles,
Vnprofitable sounds, weake arbitrators,
Busie your selues in skill contending schooles,
Debate where leysure serues with dull debators:
To trembling Clients be you mediators,
For me, I force not argument a straw,
Since that my case is past the helpe of law.
In vaine I raile at oportunitie,
At time, at TARQVIN, and vnchearfull night,
In vaine I cauill with mine infamie,
In vaine I spurne at my confirm'd despight,
This helplesse smoake of words doth me no right:
The remedie indeede to do me good,
Is to let forth my fowle defiled blood.
Poore hand why quiuerst thou at this decree?
Honor thy selfe to rid me of this shame,
For if I die, my Honor liues in thee,
But if I liue thou liu'st in my defame;
Since thou couldst not defend thy loyall Dame,
And wast affeard to scratch her wicked Fo,
Kill both thy selfe, and her for yeelding so.
This said, from her betombled couch shee starteth,
To finde some desp'rat Instrument of death,
But this no slaughter house no toole imparteth,
To make more vent for passage of her breath,
Which thronging through her lips so vanisheth,
As smoake from ATNA, that in aire consumes,
Or that which from discharged Cannon fumes.
In vaine (quoth shee) I liue, and seeke in vaine
Some happie meane to end a haplesse life.
I fear'd by TARQVINS Fauchion to be slaine,
Yet for the selfe same purpose seeke a knife;
But when I fear'd I was a loyall wife,
So am I now, ô no that cannot be,
Of that true tipe hath TARQVIN rifled me.
O that is gone for which I sought to liue,
And therefore now I need not feare to die,
To cleare this spot by death (at least) I giue
A badge of Fame to sclanders liuerie,
A dying life, to liuing infamie:
Poore helplesse helpe, the treasure stolne away,
To burne the guiltlesse casket where it lay.
Well well deare COLATINE, thou shalt not know
The stained tast of violated troth:
I will not wrong thy true affection so,
To flatter thee with an infringed oath:
This bastard graffe shall neuer come to growth,
He shall not boast who did thy stocke pollute,
That thou art doting father of his fruite.
Nor shall he smile at thee in secret thought,
Nor laugh with his companions at thy state,
But thou shalt know thy intrest was not bought
Basely with gold, but stolne from foorth thy gate.
For me I am the mistresse of my fate,
And with my trespasse neuer will dispence,
Till life to death acquit my forst offence.
I will not poyson thee with my attaint,
Nor fold my fault in cleanly coin'd excuses,
My sable ground of sinne I will not paint,
To hide the truth of this false nights abuses.
My tongue shall vtter all, mine eyes like sluces,
As from a mountaine spring that feeds a dale,
Shal gush pure streams to purge my impure tale.
By this lamenting Philomele had ended
The well-tun'd warble of her nightly sorrow,
And solemne night with slow sad gate descended
To ouglie Hell, when loe the blushing morrow
Lends light to all faire eyes that light will borrow.
But cloudie LVCRECE shames her selfe to see,
And therefore still in night would cloistred be.
Reuealing day through euery crannie spies,
And seems to point her out where she sits weeping,
To whom shee sobbing speakes, o eye of eyes,
Why pry'st thou throgh my window? leaue thy pee-ping,
Mock with thy tickling beams, eies that are sleeping;
Brand not my forehead with thy percing light,
For day hath nought to do what's done by night.
Thus cauils shee with euerie thing shee sees,
True griefe is fond and testie as a childe,
Who wayward once, his mood with naught agrees,
Old woes, not infant sorrowes beare them milde,
Continuance tames the one, the other wilde,
Like an vnpractiz'd swimmer plunging still,
With too much labour drowns for want of skill.
So shee deepe drenched in a Sea of care,
Holds disputation with ech thing shee vewes,
And to her selfe all sorrow doth compare,
No obiect but her passions strength renewes:
And as one shiftes another straight insewes,
Somtime her griefe is dumbe and hath no words,
Sometime tis mad and too much talke affords.
The little birds that tune their mornings ioy,
Make her mones mad, with their sweet melodie,
"For mirth doth search the bottome of annoy,
"Sad soules are slaine in merrie companie,
"Griefe best is pleas'd with griefes societie;
"True sorrow then is feelinglie suffiz'd,
"When with like semblance it is simpathiz'd.
"Tis double death to drowne in ken of shore,
"He ten times pines, that pines beholding food,
"To see the salue doth make the wound ake more:
"Great griefe greeues most at that wold do it good;
"Deepe woes roll forward like a gentle flood,
Who being stopt, the boũding banks oreflowes,
Griefe dallied with, nor law, nor limit knowes.
You mocking Birds (quoth she) your tunes intombe
Within your hollow swelling feathered breasts,
And in my hearing be you mute and dumbe,
My restlesse discord loues no stops nor rests:
"A woefull Hostesse brookes not merrie guests.
Ralish your nimble notes to pleasing eares,
"Distres likes dũps whẽ time is kept with teares.
Come Philomele that sing'st of rauishment,
Make thy sad groue in my disheueld heare,
As the danke earth weepes at thy languishment:
So I at each sad straine, will straine a teare,
And with deepe grones the Diapason beare:
For burthen-wise ile hum on TARQVIN still,
While thou on TEREVS descants better skill.
And whiles against a thorne thou bear'st thy part,
To keepe thy sharpe woes waking, wretched I
To imitate thee well, against my heart
Will fixe a sharpe knife to affright mine eye,
Who if it winke shall thereon fall and die.
These meanes as frets vpon an instrument,
Shal tune our heart-strings to true languishment.
And for poore bird thou sing'st not in the day,
As shaming anie eye should thee behold:
Some darke deepe desert seated from the way,
That knowes not parching heat, nor freezing cold
Will wee find out: and there we will vnfold
To creatures stern, sad tunes to change their kinds,
Since mẽ proue beasts, let beasts bear gẽtle minds.
As the poore frighted Deare that stands at gaze,
Wildly determining which way to flie,
Or one incompast with a winding maze,
That cannot tread the way out readilie:
So with her selfe is shee in mutinie,
To liue or die which of the twaine were better,
When life is sham'd and death reproches detter.
To kill my selfe, quoth shee, alacke what were it,
But with my body my poore soules pollusion?
They that loose halfe with greater patience beare it,
Then they whose whole is swallowed in confusion.
That mother tries a mercilesse conclusion,
Who hauing two sweet babes, when death takes one,
Will slay the other, and be nurse to none.
My bodie or my soule which was the dearer?
When the one pure, the other made deuine,
Whose loue of eyther to my selfe was nearer?
When both were kept for Heauen and COLATINE:
Ay me, the Barke pild from the loftie Pine,
His leaues will wither, and his sap decay,
So must my soule her barke being pild away.
Her house is sackt, her quiet interrupted,
Her mansion batterd by the enemie,
Her sacred temple spotted, spoild, corrupted,
Groslie ingirt with daring infamie.
Then let it not be cald impietie,
If in this blemisht fort I make some hole,
Through which I may conuay this troubled soule.
Yet die I will not, till my COLATINE
Haue heard the cause of my vntimelie death,
That he may vow in that sad houre of mine,
Reuenge on him that made me stop my breath,
My stained bloud to TARQVIN ile bequeath,
Which by him tainted, shall for him be spent,
And as his due writ in my testament.
My Honor ile bequeath vnto the knife
That wounds my bodie so dishonored,
Tis Honor to depriue dishonord life,
The one will liue, the other being dead.
So of shames ashes shall my Fame be bred,
For in my death I murther shamefull scorne,
My shame so dead, mine honor is new borne.
Deare Lord of that deare iewell I haue lost,
What legacie shall I bequeath to thee?
My resolution loue shall be thy bost,
By whose example thou reueng'd mayst be.
How TARQVIN must be vs'd, read it in me,
My selfe thy friend will kill my selfe thy fo,
And for my sake serue thou false TARQVIN so.
This briefe abridgement of my will I make,
My soule and bodie to the skies and ground:
My resolution Husband doe thou take,
Mine Honor be the knifes that makes my wound,
My shame be his that did my Fame confound;
And all my Fame that liues disbursed be,
To those that liue and thinke no shame of me.
Thou COLATINE shalt ouersee this will,
How was I ouerseene that thou shalt see it?
My bloud shall wash the sclander of mine ill,
My liues foule deed my lifes faire end shall free it.
Faint not faint heart, but stoutlie say so be it,
Yeeld to my hand, my hand shall conquer thee,
Thou dead, both die, and both shall victors be.
This plot of death when sadlie shee had layd,
And wip't the brinish pearle from her bright eies,
With vntun'd tongue shee hoarslie cals her mayd,
Whose swift obedience to her mistresse hies.
"For fleet-wing'd duetie with thoghts feathers flies,
Poore LVCRECE cheeks vnto her maid seem so,
As winter meads when sun doth melt their snow.
Her mistresse shee doth giue demure good morrow,
With soft slow-tongue, true marke of modestie,
And sorts a sad looke to her Ladies sorrow,
(For why her face wore sorrowes liuerie.)
But durst not aske of her audaciouslie,
Why her two suns were clowd ecclipsed so,
Nor why her faire cheeks ouer-washt with woe.
But as the earth doth weepe the Sun being set,
Each flowre moistned like a melting eye:
Euen so the maid with swelling drops gan wet
Her circled eien inforst, by simpathie
Of those faire Suns set in her mistresse skie,
Who in a salt wau'd Ocean quench their light,
Which makes the maid weep like the dewy night.
A prettie while these prettie creatures stand,
Like Iuorie conduits corall cesterns filling:
One iustlie weepes, the other takes in hand
No cause, but companie of her drops spilling.
Their gentle sex to weepe are often willing,
Greeuing themselues to gesse at others smarts,
And thẽ they drown their eies, or break their harts.
For men haue marble, women waxen mindes,
And therefore are they form'd as marble will,
The weake opprest, th'impression of strange kindes
Is form'd in them by force, by fraud, or skill.
Then call them not the Authors of their ill,
No more then waxe shall be accounted euill,
Wherein is stampt the semblance of a Deuill.
Their smoothnesse; like a goodly champaine plaine,
Laies open all the little wormes that creepe,
In men as in a rough-growne groue remaine.
Caue-keeping euils that obscurely sleepe.
Through christall wals ech little mote will peepe,
Though mẽ cã couer crimes with bold stern looks,
Poore womens faces are their owne faults books.
No man inueigh against the withered flowre,
But chide rough winter that the flowre hath kild,
Not that deuour'd, but that which doth deuour
Is worthie blame, ô let it not be hild
Poore womens faults, that they are so fulfild
With mens abuses, those proud Lords to blame,
Make weak-made womẽ tenants to their shame.
The president whereof in LVCRECE view,
Assail'd by night with circumstances strong
Of present death, and shame that might insue.
By that her death to do her husband wrong,
Such danger to resistance did belong:
That dying feare through all her bodie spred,
And who cannot abuse a bodie dead?
By this milde patience bid faire LVCRECE speake,
To the poore counterfaite of her complayning,
My girle, quoth shee, on what occasion breake
Those tears frõ thee, that downe thy cheeks are raigning?
If thou dost weepe for griefe of my sustaining:
Know gentle wench it small auailes my mood,
If tears could help, mine own would do me good.
But tell me girle, when went (and there shee staide,
Till after a deepe grone) TARQVIN from hence,
Madame ere I was vp (repli'd the maide,)
The more to blame my sluggard negligence.
Yet with the fault I thus farre can dispence:
My selfe was stirring ere the breake of day,
And ere I rose was TARQVIN gone away.
But Lady, if your maide may be so bold,
Shee would request to know your heauinesse:
(O peace quoth LVCRECE) if it should be told,
The repetition cannot make it lesse:
For more it is, then I can well expresse,
And that deepe torture may be cal'd a Hell,
When more is felt then one hath power to tell.
Go get mee hither paper, inke, and pen,
Yet saue that labour, for I haue them heare,
(What should I say) one of my husbands men
Bid thou be readie, by and by, to beare
A letter to my Lord, my Loue, my Deare,
Bid him with speede prepare to carrie it,
The cause craues hast, and it will soone be writ.
Her maide is gone, and shee prepares to write,
First houering ore the paper with her quill:
Conceipt and griefe an eager combat fight,
What wit sets downe is blotted straight with will.
This is too curious good, this blunt and ill,
Much like a presse of people at a dore,
Throng her inuentions which shall go before.
At last shee thus begins: thou worthie Lord,
Of that vnworthie wife that greeteth thee,
Health to thy person, next, vouchsafe t'afford
(If euer loue, thy LVCRECE thou wilt see,)
Some present speed, to come and visite me:
So I commend me, from our house in griefe,
My woes are tedious, though my words are briefe.
Here folds shee vp the tenure of her woe,
Her certaine sorrow writ vncertainely,
By this short Cedule COLATINE may know
Her griefe, but not her griefes true quality,
Shee dares not thereof make discouery,
Lest he should hold it her own grosse abuse,
Ere she with bloud had stain'd her stain'd excuse.
Besides the life and feeling of her passion,
Shee hoords to spend, when he is by to heare her,
When sighs, & grones, & tears may grace the fashiõ
Of her disgrace, the better so to cleare her
From that suspiciõ which the world might bear her.
To shun this blot, shee would not blot the letter
With words, till action might becom thẽ better.
To see sad sights, moues more then heare them told,
For then the eye interpretes to the eare
The heauie motion that it doth behold,
When euerie part, a part of woe doth beare.
Tis but a part of sorrow that we heare,
Deep sounds make lesser noise thẽ shallow foords,
And sorrow ebs, being blown with wind of words.
Her letter now is seal'd, and on it writ
At ARDEA to my Lord with more then hast,
The Post attends, and shee deliuers it,
Charging the sowr-fac'd groome, to high as fast
As lagging fowles before the Northerne blast,
Speed more then speed, but dul & slow she deems,
Extremity still vrgeth such extremes.
The homelie villaine cursies to her low,
And blushing on her with a stedfast eye,
Receaues the scroll without or yea or no,
And forth with bashfull innocence doth hie.
But they whose guilt within their bosomes lie,
Imagine euerie eye beholds their blame,
For LVCRECE thought, he blusht to see her shame.
When seelie Groome (God wot) it was defect
Of spirite, life, and bold audacitie,
Such harmlesse creatures haue a true respect
To talke in deeds, while others saucilie
Promise more speed, but do it leysurelie.
Euen so the patterne of this worne-out age,
Pawn'd honest looks, but laid no words to gage.
His kindled duetie kindled her mistrust,
That two red fires in both their faces blazed,
Shee thought he blusht, as knowing TARQVINS lust,
And blushing with him, wistlie on him gazed,
Her earnest eye did make him more amazed.
The more shee saw the bloud his cheeks replenish,
The more she thought he spied in her som blemish.
But long shee thinkes till he returne againe,
And yet the dutious vassall scarce is gone,
The wearie time shee cannot entertaine,
For now tis stale to sigh, to weepe, and grone,
So woe hath wearied woe, mone tired mone,
That shee her plaints a little while doth stay,
Pawsing for means to mourne some newer way.
At last shee cals to mind where hangs a peece
Of skilfull painting, made for PRIAMS Troy,
Before the which is drawn the power of Greece,
For HELENS rape, the Cittie to destroy,
Threatning cloud-kissing ILLION with annoy,
Which the conceipted Painter drew so prowd,
As Heauen (it seem'd) to kisse the turrets bow'd.
A thousand lamentable obiects there,
In scorne of Nature, Art gaue liuelesse life,
Many a dry drop seem'd a weeping teare,
Shed for the slaughtred husband by the wife.
The red bloud reek'd to shew the Painters strife,
And dying eyes gleem'd forth their ashie lights,
Like dying coales burnt out in tedious nights.
There might you see the labouring Pyoner
Begrim'd with sweat, and smeared all with dust,
And from the towres of Troy, there would appeare
The verie eyes of men through loop-holes thrust,
Gazing vppon the Greekes with little lust,
Such sweet obseruance in this worke was had,
That one might see those farre of eyes looke sad.
In great commaunders, Grace, and Maiestie,
You might behold triumphing in their faces,
In youth quick-bearing and dexteritie,
And here and there the Painter interlaces
Pale cowards marching on with trembling paces.
Which hartlesse peasaunts did so wel resemble,
That one would swear he saw them quake & trẽble.
In AIAX and VLYSSES, ô what Art
Of Phisiognomy might one behold!
The face of eyther cypher'd eythers heart,
Their face, their manners most expreslie told,
In AIAX eyes blunt rage and rigour rold,
But the mild glance that slie VLYSSES lent,
Shewed deepe regard and smiling gouernment.
There pleading might you see graue NESTOR stand,
As'twere incouraging the Greekes to fight,
Making such sober action with his hand,
That it beguild attention, charm'd the sight,
In speech it seemd his beard, all siluer white,
Wag'd vp and downe, and from his lips did flie,
Thin winding breath which purl'd vp to the skie.
About him were a presse of gaping faces,
Which seem'd to swallow vp his sound aduice,
All ioyntlie listning, but with seuerall graces,
As if some Marmaide did their eares intice,
Some high, some low, the Painter was so nice.
The scalpes of manie almost hid behind,
To iump vp higher seem'd to mocke the mind.
Here one mans hand leand on anothers head,
His nose being shadowed by his neighbours eare,
Here one being throng'd, bears back all boln, & red,
Another smotherd, seemes to pelt and sweare,
And in their rage such signes of rage they beare,
As but for losse of NESTORS golden words,
It seem'd they would debate with angrie swords.
For much imaginarie worke was there,
Conceipt deceitfull, so compact so kinde,
That for ACHILLES image stood his speare
Grip't in an Armed hand, himselfe behind
Was left vnseene, saue to the eye of mind,
A hand, a foote, a face, a leg, a head
Stood for the whole to be imagined.
And from the wals of strong besieged TROY,
When their braue hope, bold HECTOR march'd to field,
Stood manie Troian mothers sharing ioy,
To see their youthfull sons bright weapons wield,
And to their hope they such odde action yeeld,
That through their light ioy seemed to appeare,
(Like bright things staind) a kind of heauie feare.
And from the strond of DARDAN where they fought,
To SIMOIS reedie bankes the red bloud ran,
Whose waues to imitate the battaile sought
With swelling ridges, and their rankes began
To breake vppon the galled shore, and than
Retire againe, till meeting greater ranckes
They ioine, & shoot their fome at SIMOIS bancks.
To this well painted peece is LVCRECE come,
To find a face where all distresse is steld,
Manie shee sees, where cares haue carued some,
But none where all distresse and dolor dweld,
Till shee dispayring HECVBA beheld,
Staring on PRIAMS wounds with her old eyes,
Which bleeding vnder PIRRHVS proud foot lies.
In her the Painter had anathomiz'd
Times ruine, beauties wracke, and grim cares raign,
Her cheeks with chops and wrincles were disguiz'd,
Of what shee was, no semblance did remaine:
Her blew bloud chang'd to blacke in euerie vaine,
Wanting the spring, that those shrunke pipes had fed,
Shew'd life imprison'd in a bodie dead.
On this sad shadow LVCRECE spends her eyes,
And shapes her sorrow to the Beldames woes,
Who nothing wants to answer her but cries,
And bitter words to ban her cruell Foes.
The Painter was no God to lend her those,
And therefore LVCRECE swears he did her wrong,
To giue her so much griefe, and not a tong.
Poore Instrument (quoth shee) without a sound,
Ile tune thy woes with my lamenting tongue,
And drop sweet Balme in PRIAMS painted wound,
And raile on PIRRHVS that hath done him wrong;
And with my tears quench Troy that burns so long;
And with my knife scratch out the angrie eyes,
Of all the Greekes that are thine enemies.
Shew me the strumpet that began this stur,
That with my nailes her beautie I may teare:
Thy heat of lust fond PARIS did incur
This lode of wrath, that burning Troy doth beare;
Thy eye kindled the fire that burneth here,
And here in Troy for trespasse of thine eye,
The Sire, the sonne, the Dame and daughter die.
Why should the priuate pleasure of some one
Become the publicke plague of manie moe?
Let sinne alone committed, light alone
Vppon his head that hath transgressed so.
Let guiltlesse soules be freed from guilty woe,
For ones offence why should so many fall?
To plague a priuate sinne in generall.
Lo here weeps HECVBA, here PRIAM dies,
Here manly HECTOR faints, here TROYLVS sounds;
Here friend by friend in bloudie channel lies:
And friend to friend giues vnaduised wounds,
And one mans lust these manie liues confounds.
Had doting PRIAM checkt his sons desire,
TROY had bin bright with Fame, & not with fire.
Here feelingly she weeps TROYES painted woes,
For sorrow, like a heauie hanging Bell,
Once set on ringing, with his own waight goes,
Then little strength rings out the dolefull knell,
So LVCRECE set a worke, sad tales doth tell
To pencel'd pensiuenes, & colour'd sorrow,
She lends them words, & she their looks doth bor-(row,
Shee throwes her eyes about the painting round,
And who shee finds forlorne, shee doth lament:
At last shee sees a wretched image bound,
That piteous lookes, to Phrygian sheapheards lent,
His face though full of cares, yet shew d content,
Onward to TROY with the blunt swains he goes,
So mild that patience seem'd to scorne his woes.
In him the Painter labour'd with his skill
To hide deceipt, and giue the harmlesse show
An humble gate, calme looks, eyes wayling still,
A brow vnbent that seem'd to welcome wo,
Cheeks neither red, nor pale, but mingled so,
That blushing red, no guiltie instance gaue,
Nor ashie pale, the feare that false hearts haue.
But like a constant and confirmed Deuill,
He entertain'd a show, so seeming iust,
And therein so ensconc't his secret euill,
That Iealousie it selfe could not mistrust,
False creeping Craft, and Periurie should thrust
Into so bright a daie, such blackfac'd storms,
Or blot with Hell-born sin such Saint-like forms.
The well-skil'd workman this milde Image drew
For periur'd SINON, whose inchaunting storie
The credulous old PRIAM after slew.
Whose words like wild fire burnt the shining glorie
Of rich-built ILLION, that the skies were sorie,
And little stars shot from their fixed places,
Whẽ their glas fel, wherin they view'd their faces.
This picture shee aduisedly perus'd,
And chid the Painter for his wondrous skill:
Saying, some shape in SINONS was abus'd,
So faire a forme lodg'd not a mind so ill,
And still on him shee gaz'd, and gazing still,
Such signes of truth in his plaine face shee spied,
That shee concludes, the Picture was belied.
It cannot be (quoth she) that so much guile,
(Shee would haue said) can lurke in such a looke:
But TARQVINS shape, came in her mind the while,
And from her tongue, can lurk, from cannot, tooke
It cannot be, shee in that sence forsooke,
And turn'd it thus, it cannot be I find,
But such a face should beare a wicked mind.
For euen as subtill SINON here is painted,
So sober sad, so wearie, and so milde,
(As if with griefe or trauaile he had fainted)
To me came TARQVIN armed to beguild
With outward honestie, but yet defild
With inward vice, as PRIAM him did cherish:
So did I TARQVIN, so my Troy did perish.
1548 Looke looke how listning PRIAM wets his eyes,
To see those borrowed teares that SINON sheeds,
PRIAM why art thou old, and yet not wise?
For euerie teare he fals a Troian bleeds:
His eye drops fire, no water thence proceeds,
Those roũd clear pearls of his that moue thy pitty,
Are bals of quenchlesse fire to burne thy Citty.
Such Deuils steale effects from lightlesse Hell,
For SINON in his fire doth quake with cold,
And in that cold hot burning fire doth dwell,
These contraries such vnitie do hold,
Only to flatter fooles, and make them bold,
So PRIAMS trust false SINONS teares doth flatter,
That he finds means to burne his Troy with water.
Here all inrag'd such passion her assailes,
That patience is quite beaten from her breast,
Shee tears the sencelesse SINON with her nailes,
Comparing him to that vnhappie guest,
Whose deede hath made herselfe, herselfe detest,
At last shee smilingly with this giues ore,
Foole fool, quoth she, his wounds wil not be sore.
Thus ebs and flowes the currant of her sorrow
And time doth wearie time with her complayning,
Shee looks for night, & then shee longs for morrow,
And both shee thinks too long with her remayning.
Short time seems long, in sorrowes sharp sustayning,
Though wo be heauie, yet it seldome sleepes,
And they that watch, see time, how slow it creeps.
Which all this time hath ouerslipt her thought,
That shee with painted Images hath spent,
Being from the feeling of her own griefe brought,
By deepe surmise of others detriment,
Loosing her woes in shews of discontent:
It easeth some, though none it euer cured,
To thinke their dolour others haue endured.
But now the mindfull Messenger come backe,
Brings home his Lord and other companie,
Who finds his LVCRECE clad in mourning black,
And round about her teare-distained eye
Blew circles stream'd, like Rain bows in the skie.
These watergalls in her dim Element,
Foretell new stormes to those alreadie spent.
Which when her sad beholding husband saw,
Amazedlie in her sad face he stares:
Her eyes though sod in tears look d red and raw,
Her liuelie colour kil'd with deadlie cares,
He hath no power to aske her how shee fares,
Both stood like old acquaintance in a trance,
Met far from home, wondring ech others chance.
At last he takes her by the bloudlesse hand,
And thus begins: what vncouth ill euent
Hath thee befalne, that thou dost trembling stand?
Sweet loue what spite hath thy faire colour spent?
Why art thou thus attir'd in discontent?
Vnmaske deare deare, this moodie heauinesse,
And tell thy griefe, that we may giue redresse.
Three times with sighes shee giues her sorrow fire,
Ere once shee can discharge one word of woe:
At length addrest to answer his desire,
Shee modestlie prepares, to let them know
Her Honor is tane prisoner by the Foe,
While COLATINE and his consorted Lords,
With sad attention long to heare her words.
And now this pale Swan in her watrie nest,
Begins the sad Dirge of her certaine ending,
Few words (quoth shee) shall fit the trespasse best,
Where no excuse can giue the fault amending.
In me moe woes then words are now depending,
And my laments would be drawn out too long,
To tell them all with one poore tired tong.
Then be this all the taske it hath to say,
Deare husband in the interest of thy bed
A stranger came, and on that pillow lay,
Where thou wast wont to rest thy wearie head,
And what wrong else may be imagined,
By foule inforcement might be done to me,
From that (alas) thy LVCRECE is not free.
For in the dreadfull dead of darke midnight,
With shining Fauchion in my chamber came
A creeping creature with a flaming light,
And softly cried, awake thou Romaine Dame,
And entertaine my loue, else lasting shame
On thee and thine this night I will inflict,
If thou my loues desire do contradict.
For some hard fauour'd Groome of thine, quoth he,
Vnlesse thou yoke thy liking to my will
Ile murther straight, and then ile slaughter thee,
And sweare I found you where you did fulfill
The lothsome act of Lust, and so did kill
The lechors in their deed, this Act will be
My Fame, and thy perpetuall infamy.
With this I did begin to start and cry,
And then against my heart he set his sword,
Swearing, vnlesse I tooke all patiently,
I should not liue to speake another word.
So should my shame still rest vpon record,
And neuer be forgot in mightie Roome
Th'adulterat death of LVCRECE, and her Groome.
Mine enemy was strong, my poore selfe weake,
(And farre the weaker with so strong a feare)
My bloudie Iudge forbod my tongue to speake,
No rightfull plea might plead for Iustice there.
His scarlet Lust came euidence to sweare
That my poore beautie had purloin'd his eyes,
And when the Iudge is rob'd, the prisoner dies.
O teach me how to make mine owne excuse,
Or (at the least) this refuge let me finde,
Though my grosse bloud be staind with this abuse,
Immaculate, and spotlesse is my mind,
That was not forc'd, that neuer was inclind
To accessarie yeeldings, but still pure
Doth in her poyson'd closet yet endure.
Lo heare the hopelesse Marchant of this losse,
With head declin'd, and voice dam'd vp with wo,
With sad set eyes and wretched armes acrosse,
From lips new waxen pale, begins to blow
The griefe away, that stops his answer so.
But wretched as he is he striues in vaine,
What he breaths out, his breath drinks vp again.
As through an Arch, the violent roaring tide,
Outruns the eye that doth behold his hast:
Yet in the Edie boundeth in his pride,
Backe to the strait that forst him on so fast:
In rage sent out, recald in rage being past,
Euen so his sighes, his sorrowes make a saw,
To push griefe on, and back the same grief draw.
Which speechlesse woe of his poore she attendeth,
And his vntimelie frenzie thus awaketh,
Deare Lord, thy sorrow to my sorrow lendeth
Another power, no floud by raining slaketh,
My woe too sencible thy passion maketh
More feeling painfull, let it than suffice
To drowne on woe, one paire of weeping eyes.
And for my sake when I might charme thee so,
For shee that was thy LVCRECE, now attend me,
Be sodainelie reuenged on my Foe.
Thine, mine, his own, suppose thou dost defend me
From what is past, the helpe that thou shalt lend me
Comes all too late, yet let the Traytor die,
"For sparing Iustice feeds iniquitie.
But ere I name him, you faire Lords, quoth shee,
(Speaking to those that came with COLATINE)
Shall plight your Honourable faiths to me,
With swift pursuit to venge this wrong of mine,
For 'tis a meritorious faire designe,
To chase iniustice with reuengefull armes,
Knights by their oaths should right poore Ladies harmes.
At this request, with noble disposition,
Each present Lord began to promise aide,
As bound in Knighthood to her imposition,
Longing to heare the hatefull Foe bewraide.
But shee that yet her sad taske hath not said,
The protestation stops, ô speake quoth shee,
How may this forced staine be wip'd from me?
What is the qualitie of my offence
Being constrayn'd with dreadfull circumstance?
May my pure mind with the fowle act dispence
My low declined Honor to aduance?
May anie termes acquit me from this chance?
The poysoned fountaine cleares it selfe againe,
And why not I from this compelled staine?
With this they all at once began to saie,
Her bodies staine, her mind vntainted cleares,
While with a ioylesse smile, shee turnes awaie
The face, that map which deepe impression beares
Of hard misfortune, caru'd it in with tears.
No no, quoth shee, no Dame hereafter liuing,
By my excuse shall claime excuses giuing.
Here with a sigh as if her heart would breake,
Shee throwes forth TARQVINS name: he he, she saies,
But more then he, her poore tong could not speake,
Till after manie accents and delaies,
Vntimelie breathings, sicke and short assaies,
Shee vtters this, he he faire Lords, tis he
That guides this hand to giue this wound to me.
Euen here she sheathed in her harmlesse breast
A harmfull knife, that thence her soule vnsheathed,
That blow did baile it from the deepe vnrest
Of that polluted prison, where it breathed:
Her contrite sighes vnto the clouds bequeathed
Her winged sprite, & through her woũds doth flie
Liues lasting date, from cancel'd destinie.
Stone still, astonisht with this deadlie deed,
Stood COLATINE, and all his Lordly crew,
Till LVCRECE Father that beholds her bleed,
Himselfe, on her selfe-slaughtred bodie threw,
And from the purple fountaine BRVTVS drew
The murdrous knife, and as it left the place,
Her blood in poore reuenge, held it in chase.
And bubling from her brest, it doth deuide
In two slow riuers, that the crimson bloud
Circles her bodie in on euerie side,
Who like a late sack't Iland vastlie stood
Bare and vnpeopled, in this fearfull flood.
Some of her bloud still pure and red remain'd,
And som look'd black, & that false TARQVIN stain'd.
About the mourning and congealed face
Of that blacke bloud, a watrie rigoll goes,
Which seemes to weep vpon the tainted place,
And euer since as pittying LVCRECE woes,
Corrupted bloud, some waterie token showes,
And bloud vntainted, still doth red abide,
Blushing at that which is so putrified.
Daughter, deare daughter, old LVCRETIVS cries,
That life was mine which thou hast here depriued,
If in the childe the fathers image lies,
Where shall I liue now LVCRECE is vnliued?
Thou wast not to this end from me deriued.
If children praedecease progenitours,
We are their ofspring and they none of ours.
Poore broken glasse, I often did behold
In thy sweet semblance, my old age new borne,
But now that faire fresh mirror dim and old
Shewes me a bare bon'd death by time out-worne,
O from thy cheekes my image thou hast torne,
And shiuerd all the beautie of my glasse,
That I no more can see what once I was.
O time cease thou thy course and last no longer,
If they surcease to be that should suruiue:
Shall rotten death make conquest of the stronger,
And leaue the foultring feeble soules aliue?
The old Bees die, the young possesse their hiue,
Then liue sweet LVCRECE, liue againe and see
Thy father die, and not thy father thee.
By this starts COLATINE as from a dreame,
And bids LVCRECIVS giue his sorrow place,
And than in key-cold LVCRECE bleeding streame
He fals, and bathes the pale feare in his face,
And counterfaits to die with her a space,
Till manly shame bids him possesse his breath,
And liue to be reuenged on her death.
The deepe vexation of his inward soule,
Hath seru'd a dumbe arrest vpon his tongue,
Who mad that sorrow should his vse controll,
Or keepe him from heart-easing words so long,
Begins to talke, but through his lips do throng
Weake words, so thick come in his poor harts aid,
That no man could distinguish what he said.
Yet sometime TARQVIN was pronounced plaine,
But through his teeth, as if the name he tore,
This windie tempest, till it blow vp raine,
Held backe his sorrowes tide, to make it more.
At last it raines, and busie windes giue ore,
Then sonne and father weep with equall strife,
Who shuld weep most for daughter or for wife.
The one doth call her his, the other his,
Yet neither may possesse the claime they lay.
The father saies, shee's mine, ô mine shee is
Replies her husband, do not take away
My sorrowes interest, let no mourner say
He weepes for her, for shee was onely mine,
And onelie must be wayl'd by COLATINE.
O, quoth LVCRETIVS, I did giue that life
Which shee to earely and too late hath spil'd.
Woe woe, quoth COLATINE, shee was my wife,
I owed her, and tis mine that shee hath kil d.
My daughter and my wife with clamors fild
The disperst aire, who holding LVCRECE life,
Answer'd their cries, my daughter and my wife.
BRVTVS who pluck't the knife from LVCRECE side,
Seeing such emulation in their woe,
Began to cloath his wit in state and pride,
Burying in LVCRECE wound his follies show,
He with the Romains was esteemed so
As seelie ieering idiots are with Kings,
For sportiue words, and vttring foolish things.
But now he throwes that shallow habit by,
Wherein deepe pollicie did him disguise,
And arm'd his long hid wits aduisedlie,
To checke the teares in COLATINVS eies.
Thou wronged Lord of Rome, quoth he, arise,
Let my vnsounded selfe suppos'd a foole,
Now set thy long experienc't wit to schoole.
Why COLATINE, is woe the cure for woe?
Do wounds helpe wounds, or griefe helpe greeuous deeds?
Is it reuenge to giue thy selfe a blow,
For his fowle Act, by whom the faire wife bleeds?
Such childish humor from weake minds proceeds,
Thy wretched wife mistooke the matter so,
To slaie her selfe that should haue slaine her Foe.
Couragious Romaine, do not steepe thy hart
In such relenting dew of Lamentations,
But kneele with me and helpe to beare thy part,
To rowse our Romaine Gods with inuocations,
That they will suffer these abhominations.
(Since Rome her self in thẽ doth stand disgraced,)
By our strong arms frõ forth her fair streets chaced.
Now by the Capitoll that we adore,
And by this chast bloud so vniustlie stained,
By heauens faire sun that breeds the fat earths store,
By all our countrey rights in Rome maintained,
And by chast LVCRECE soule that late complained
Her wrongs to vs, and by this bloudie knife,
We will reuenge the death of this true wife.
This sayd, he strooke his hand vpon his breast,
And kist the fatall knife to end his vow:
And to his protestation vrg'd the rest,
Who wondring at him, did his words allow.
Then ioyntlie to the ground their knees they bow,
And that deepe vow which BRVTVS made before,
He doth againe repeat, and that they swore.
When they had sworne to this aduised doome,
They did conclude to beare dead LVCRECE thence,
To shew her bleeding bodie thorough Roome,
And so to publish TARQVINS fowle offence;
Which being done, with speedie diligence,
The Romaines plausibly did giue consent,
To TARQVINS euerlasting banishment.
Modern text
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE HENRY WRIOTHESLEY, EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND BARON OF TITCHFIELD
The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end;
whereof this pamphlet without beginning is but a
superfluous moiety. The warrant I have of your
honourable disposition, not the worth of my untu-
tored lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What I
have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being
part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth
greater, my duty would show greater; meantime,
as it is, it is bound to your lordship, to whom I wish
long life still lengthened with all happiness.
Your lordship's in all duty,
William Shakespeare
Lucius Tarquinius, for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus,
after he had caused his own father-in-law Servius Tullius to be
cruelly murdered, and, contrary to the Roman laws and cus-
toms, not requiring or staying for the people's suffrages, had
possessed himself of the kingdom, went, accompanied with
his sons and other noblemen of Rome, to besiege Ardea.
During which siege, the principal men of the army meeting
one evening at the tent of Sextus Tarquinius, the King's son, in
their discourses after supper every one commended the virtues
of his own wife; among whom Collatinus extolled the incom-
parable chastity of his wife Lucretia. In that pleasant humour
they all posted to Rome; and intending, by their secret and
sudden arrival, to make trial of that which everyone had before
avouched, only Collatinus finds his wife, though it were late in
the night, spinning amongst her maids: the other ladies were all
found dancing and revelling, or in several disports. Whereup-
on the noblemen yielded Collatinus the victory and his wife the
fame. At that time Sextus Tarquinius, being inflamed with
Lucrece' beauty, yet smothering his passions for the present,
departed with the rest back to the camp; from whence he
shortly after privily withdrew himself, and was according to
his estate royally entertained and lodged by Lucrece at Col-
latium. The same night he treacherously stealeth into her
chamber, violently ravished her, and early in the morning
speedeth away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight, hastily
dispatcheth messengers, one to Rome for her father, another to
the camp for Collatine. They came, the one accompanied with
Junius Brutus, the other with Publius Valerius; and finding
Lucrece attired in mourning habit, demanded the cause of her
sorrow. She, first taking an oath of them for her revenge,
revealed the actor and whole manner of his dealing, and withal
suddenly stabbed herself. Which done, with one consent they
all vowed to root out the whole hated family of the Tarquins;
and, bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the
people with the doer and manner of the vile deed, with a bitter
invective against the tyranny of the King. Wherewith the
people were so moved that with one consent and a general
acclamation the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state govern-
ment changed from kings to consuls.
From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.
Haply the name of ‘ chaste ’ unhapp'ly set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite,
When Collatine unwisely did not let
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumphed in that sky of his delight,
Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.
For he the night before in Tarquin's tent
Unlocked the treasure of his happy state;
What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent
In the possession of his beauteous mate;
Reckoning his fortune at such high-proud rate,
That kings might be espoused to more fame,
But king nor peer to such a peerless dame.
O happiness enjoyed but of a few,
And, if possessed, as soon decayed and done
As is the morning silver melting dew
Against the golden splendour of the sun!
An expired date cancelled ere well begun!
Honour and beauty in the owner's arms
Are weakly fortressed from a world of harms.
Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator;
What needeth then apology be made
To set forth that which is so singular?
Or why is Collatine the publisher
Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
From thievish ears, because it is his own?
Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
Suggested this proud issue of a king;
For by our ears our hearts oft tainted be:
Perchance that envy of so rich a thing,
Braving compare, disdainfully did sting
His high-pitched thoughts, that meaner men should vaunt
That golden hap which their superiors want.
But some untimely thought did instigate
His all-too-timeless speed, if none of those;
His honour, his affairs, his friends, his state
Neglected all, with swift intent he goes
To quench the coal which in his liver glows.
O rash false heat, wrapped in repentant cold,
Thy hasty spring still blasts and ne'er grows old.
When at Collatium this false lord arrived,
Well was he welcomed by the Roman dame,
Within whose face beauty and virtue strived
Which of them both should underprop her fame:
When virtue bragged, beauty would blush for shame;
When beauty boasted blushes, in despite
Virtue would stain that or with silver white.
But beauty, in that white entituled
From Venus' doves, doth challenge that fair field;
Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
Which virtue gave the golden age to gild
Their silver cheeks, and called it then their shield;
Teaching them thus to use it in the fight,
When shame assailed, the red should fence the white.
This heraldry in Lucrece' face was seen,
Argued by beauty's red and virtue's white;
Of either's colour was the other queen,
Proving from world's minority their right;
Yet their ambition makes them still to fight,
The sovereignty of either being so great
That oft they interchange each other's seat.
Their silent war of lilies and of roses
Which Tarquin viewed in her fair face's field
In their pure ranks his traitor eye encloses;
Where, lest between them both it should be killed,
The coward captive vanquished doth yield
To those two armies that would let him go
Rather than triumph in so false a foe.
Now thinks he that her husband's shallow tongue,
The niggard prodigal that praised her so,
In that high task hath done her beauty wrong,
Which far exceeds his barren skill to show;
Therefore that praise which Collatine doth owe
Enchanted Tarquin answers with surmise,
In silent wonder of still-gazing eyes.
This earthly saint adored by this devil
Little suspecteth the false worshipper;
For unstained thoughts do seldom dream on evil;
Birds never limed no secret bushes fear:
So, guiltless, she securely gives good cheer
And reverend welcome to her princely guest,
Whose inward ill no outward harm expressed.
For that he coloured with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in plaits of majesty,
That nothing in him seemed inordinate
Save sometime too much wonder of his eye,
Which, having all, all could not satisfy;
But poorly rich so wanteth in his store
That cloyed with much he pineth still for more.
But she that never coped with stranger eyes
Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,
Nor read the subtle-shining secrecies
Writ in the glassy margents of such books:
She touched no unknown baits; nor feared no hooks;
Nor could she moralize his wanton sight
More than his eyes were opened to the light.
He stories to her ears her husband's fame,
Won in the fields of fruitful Italy;
And decks with praises Collatine's high name,
Made glorious by his manly chivalry
With bruised arms and wreaths of victory.
Her joy with heaved-up hand she doth express,
And wordless so greets heaven for his success.
Far from the purpose of his coming thither
He makes excuses for his being there.
No cloudy show of stormy blustering weather
Doth yet in his fair welkin once appear;
Till sable Night, mother of dread and fear,
Upon the world dim darkness doth display
And in her vaulty prison stows the day.
For then is Tarquin brought unto his bed,
Intending weariness with heavy sprite;
For after supper long he questioned
With modest Lucrece, and wore out the night.
Now leaden slumber with life's strength doth fight,
And every one to rest themselves betakes,
Save thieves and cares and troubled minds that wakes.
As one of which doth Tarquin lie revolving
The sundry dangers of his will's obtaining;
Yet ever to obtain his will resolving,
Though weak-built hopes persuade him to abstaining.
Despair to gain doth traffic oft for gaining,
And when great treasure is the meed proposed,
Though death be adjunct, there's no death supposed.
Those that much covet are with gain so fond
For what they have not, that which they possess,
They scatter and unloose it from their bond;
And so by hoping more they have but less,
Or, gaining more, the profit of excess
Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain
That they prove bankrupt in this poor-rich gain.
The aim of all is but to nurse the life
With honour, wealth, and ease in waning age;
And in this aim there is such thwarting strife
That one for all or all for one we gage:
As life for honour in fell battle's rage;
Honour for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all, and all together lost.
So that in venturing ill we leave to be
The things we are for that which we expect;
And this ambitious foul infirmity
In having much torments us with defect
Of that we have; so then we do neglect
The thing we have, and all for want of wit
Make something nothing by augmenting it.
Such hazard now must doting Tarquin make,
Pawning his honour to obtain his lust;
And for himself himself be must forsake.
Then where is truth if there be no self-trust?
When shall he think to find a stranger just
When he himself himself confounds, betrays
To slanderous tongues and wretched hateful days?
Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
When heavy sleep had closed up mortal eyes;
No comfortable star did lend his light,
No noise but owls' and wolves' death-boding cries;
Now serves the season that they may surprise
The silly lambs; pure thoughts are dead and still,
While lust and murder wake to stain and kill.
And now this lustful lord leaped from his bed,
Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm;
Is madly tossed between desire and dread:
Th' one sweetly flatters, th' other feareth harm;
But honest fear, bewitched with lust's foul charm,
Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
Beaten away by brain-sick rude desire.
His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly;
Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he lighteth,
Which must be lodestar to his lustful eye;
And to the flame thus speaks advisedly:
‘ As from this cold flint I enforced this fire,
So Lucrece must I force to my desire.’
Here pale with fear he doth premeditate
The dangers of his loathsome enterprise,
And in his inward mind he doth debate
What following sorrow may on this arise;
Then, looking scornfully, he doth despise
His naked armour of still-slaughtered lust,
And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust:
‘ Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
To darken her whose light excelleth thine:
And die, unhallowed thoughts, before you blot
With your uncleanness that which is divine;
Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine;
Let fair humanity abhor the deed
That spots and stains love's modest snow-white weed.
‘ O shame to knighthood and to shining arms!
O foul dishonour to my household's grave!
O impious act including all foul harms!
A martial man to be soft fancy's slave!
True valour still a true respect should have;
Then my digression is so vile, so base,
That it will live engraven in my face.
‘ Yea, though I die the scandal will survive
And be an eye-sore in my golden coat:
Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive,
To cipher me how fondly I did dote,
That my posterity, shamed with the note
Shall curse my bones, and hold it for no sin
To wish that I their father had not been.
‘ What win I if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
Who buys a minute's mirth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy?
Or what fond beggar, but to touch the crown,
Would with the sceptre straight be strucken down?
‘ If Collatinus dream of my intent,
Will he not wake, and in a desperate rage
Post hither, this vile purpose to prevent?
This siege that hath engirt his marriage,
This blur to youth, this sorrow to the sage,
This dying virtue, this surviving shame,
Whose crime will bear an ever-during blame?
‘ O what excuse can my invention make
When thou shalt charge me with so black a deed?
Will not my tongue be mute, my frail joints shake,
Mine eyes forego their light, my false heart bleed?
The guilt being great, the fear doth still exceed;
And extreme fear can neither fight nor fly,
But coward-like with trembling terror die.
‘ Had Collatinus killed my son or sire,
Or lain in ambush to betray my life,
Or were he not my dear friend, this desire
Might have excuse to work upon his wife,
As in revenge or quittal of such strife;
But as he is my kinsman, my dear friend,
The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
‘ Shameful it is – ay, if the fact be known;
Hateful it is – there is no hate in loving;
I'll beg her love – but she is not her own.
The worst is but denial and reproving.
My will is strong past reason's weak removing:
Who fears a sentence or an old man's saw
Shall by a painted cloth be kept in awe.’
Thus graceless holds he disputation
'Tween frozen conscience and hot-burning will,
And with good thoughts make dispensation,
Urging the worser sense for vantage still;
Which in a moment doth confound and kill
All pure effects, and doth so far proceed
That what is vile shows like a virtuous deed.
Quoth he, ‘ She took me kindly by the hand,
And gazed for tidings in my eager eyes,
Fearing some hard news from the warlike band
Where her beloved Collatinus lies.
O how her fear did make her colour rise!
First red as roses that on lawn we lay,
Then white as lawn, the roses took away.
‘ And how her hand in my hand being locked
Forced it to tremble with her loyal fear!
Which struck her sad, and then it faster rocked
Until her husband's welfare she did hear;
Whereat she smiled with so sweet a cheer
That had Narcissus seen her as she stood
Self-love had never drowned him in the flood.
‘ Why hunt I then for colour or excuses?
All orators are dumb when beauty pleadeth;
Poor wretches have remorse in poor abuses;
Love thrives not in the heart that shadows dreadeth;
Affection is my captain, and he leadeth;
And when his gaudy banner is displayed
The coward fights and will not be dismayed.
‘ Then childish fear avaunt, debating die!
Respect and reason wait on wrinkled age!
My heart shall never countermand mine eye;
Sad pause and deep regard beseems the sage:
My part is Youth, and beats these from the stage.
Desire my pilot is, beauty my prize;
Then who fears sinking where such treasure lies?’
As corn o'ergrown by weeds, so heedful fear
Is almost choked by unresisted lust.
Away he steals with open listening ear,
Full of foul hope and full of fond mistrust;
Both which, as servitors to the unjust,
So cross him with their opposite persuasion
That now he vows a league, and now invasion.
Within his thought her heavenly image sits,
And in the selfsame seat sits Collatine.
That eye which looks on her confounds his wits;
That eye which him beholds, as more divine,
Unto a view so false will not incline;
But with a pure appeal seeks to the heart,
Which once corrupted takes the worser part;
And therein heartens up his servile powers,
Who, flattered by their leader's jocund show,
Stuff up his lust, as minutes fill up hours;
And as their captain, so their pride doth grow,
Paying more slavish tribute than they owe.
By reprobate desire thus madly led
The Roman lord marcheth to Lucrece' bed.
The locks between her chamber and his will,
Each one by him enforced, retires his ward;
But, as they open, they all rate his ill,
Which drives the creeping thief to some regard.
The threshold grates the door to have him heard;
Night-wandering weasels shriek to see him there;
They fright him, yet he still pursues his fear.
As each unwilling portal yields him way,
Through little vents and crannies of the place
The wind wars with his torch to make him stay,
And blows the smoke of it into his face,
Extinguishing his conduct in this case;
But his hot heart, which fond desire doth scorch,
Puffs forth another wind that fires the torch.
And being lighted, by the light he spies
Lucretia's glove, wherein her needle sticks;
He takes it from the rushes where it lies,
And griping it, the needle his finger pricks,
As who should say ‘ This glove to wanton tricks
Is not inured; return again in haste;
Thou seest our mistress' ornaments are chaste.’
But all these poor forbiddings could not stay him;
He in the worst sense consters their denial:
The doors, the wind, the glove, that did delay him
He takes for accidental things of trial;
Or as those bars which stop the hourly dial,
Who with a lingering stay his course doth let
Till every minute pays the hour his debt.
‘ So, so,’ quoth he, ‘ these lets attend the time,
Like little frosts that sometime threat the spring,
To add a more rejoicing to the prime
And give the sneaped birds more cause to sing.
Pain pays the income of each precious thing:
Huge rocks, high winds, strong pirates, shelves, and sands
The merchant fears, ere rich at home he lands.’
Now is he come unto the chamberdoor
That shuts him from the heaven of his thought,
Which with a yielding latch, and with no more,
Hath barred him from the blessed thing be sought.
So from himself impiety hath wrought
That for his prey to pray he doth begin,
As if the heavens should countenance his sin.
But in the midst of his unfruitful prayer,
Having solicited the eternal power
That his foul thoughts might compass his fair fair,
And they would stand auspicious to the hour,
Even there he starts; quoth he, ‘ I must deflower:
The powers to whom I pray abhor this fact;
How can they then assist me in the act?
‘Then Love and Fortune be my gods, my guide!
My will is backed with resolution;
Thoughts are but dreams till their effects be tried;
The blackest sin is cleared with absolution;
Against love's fire fear's frost hath dissolution.
The eye of heaven is out, and misty night
Covers the shame that follows sweet delight.’
This said, his guilty hand plucked up the latch,
And with his knee the door he opens wide.
The dove sleeps fast that this night-owl will catch;
Thus treason works ere traitors be espied.
Who sees the lurking serpent steps aside;
But she, sound sleeping, fearing no such thing,
Lies at the mercy of his mortal sting.
Into the chamber wickedly he stalks,
And gazeth on her yet unstained bed.
The curtains being close, about he walks,
Rolling his greedy eyeballs in his head;
By their high treason is his heart misled,
Which gives the watchword to his hand full soon
To draw the cloud that hides the silver moon.
Look as the fair and fiery-pointed sun
Rushing from forth a cloud, bereaves our sight;
Even so, the curtain drawn, his eyes begun
To wink, being blinded with a greater light.
Whether it is that she reflects so bright
That dazzleth them, or else some shame supposed,
But blind they are, and keep themselves enclosed.
O, had they in that darksome prison died,
Then had they seen the period of their ill!
Then Collatine again by Lucrece' side
In his clear bed might have reposed still:
But they must ope, this blessed league to kill;
And holy-thoughted Lucrece to their sight
Must sell her joy, her life, her world's delight.
Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies under,
Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss;
Who therefore angry seems to part in sunder,
Swelling on either side to want his bliss;
Between whose hills her head entombed is:
Where like a virtuous monument she lies
To be admired of lewd unhallowed eyes.
Without the bed her other fair hand was,
On the green coverlet, whose perfect white
Show'd like an April daisy on the grass,
With pearly sweat resembling dew of night.
Her eyes like marigolds had sheathed their light,
And canopied in darkness sweetly lay
Till they might open to adorn the day.
Her hair like golden threads played with her breath:
O modest wantons, wanton modesty!
Showing life's triumph in the map of death,
And death's dim look in life's mortality:
Each in her sleep themselves so beautify
As if between them twain there were no strife,
But that life lived in death and death in life.
Her breasts like ivory globes circled with blue,
A pair of maiden worlds unconquered,
Save of their lord no bearing yoke they knew,
And him by oath they truly honoured.
These worlds in Tarquin new ambition bred,
Who like a foul ursurper went about
From this fair throne to heave the owner out.
What could he see but mightily he noted?
What did he note but strongly he desired?
What he beheld, on that he firmly doted,
And in his will his wilful eye he tired.
With more than admiration he admired
Her azure veins, her alabaster skin,
Her coral lips, her snow-white dimpled chin.
As the grim lion fawneth o'er his prey,
Sharp hunger by the conquest satisfied,
So o'er this sleeping soul doth Tarquin stay,
His rage of lust by gazing qualified –
Slacked, not suppressed; for standing by her side,
His eye which late this mutiny restrains
Unto a greater uproar tempts his veins.
And they like straggling slaves for pillage fighting,
Obdurate vassals fell exploits effecting,
In bloody death and ravishment delighting,
Nor children's tears nor mothers' groans respecting,
Swell in their pride, the onset still expecting.
Anon his beating heart, alarum striking,
Gives the hot charge, and bids them do their liking.
His drumming heart cheers up his burning eye,
His eye commends the leading to his hand;
His hand, as proud of such a dignity,
Smoking with pride, march'd on to make his stand
On her bare breast, the heart of all her land;
Whose ranks of blue veins as his hand did scale
Left their round turrets destitute and pale.
They, mustering to the quiet cabinet
Where their dear governess and lady lies,
Do tell her she is dreadfully beset,
And fright her with confusion of their cries.
She much amazed breaks ope her locked-up eyes,
Who, peeping forth this tumult to behold,
Are by his flaming torch dimmed and controlled.
Imagine her as one in dead of night
From forth dull sleep by dreadful fancy waking,
That thinks she hath beheld some ghastly sprite,
Whose grim aspect sets every joint a-shaking;
What terror 'tis! but she in worser taking,
From sleep disturbed, heedfully doth view
The sight which makes supposed terror true.
Wrapped and confounded in a thousand fears,
Like to a new-killed bird she trembling lies;
She dares not look, yet, winking, there appears
Quick-shifting antics, ugly in her eyes.
Such shadows are the weak brain's forgeries,
Who, angry that the eyes fly from their lights,
In darkness daunts them with more dreadful sights.
His hand that yet remains upon her breast –
Rude ram, to batter such an ivory wall –
May feel her heart, poor citizen, distressed,
Wounding itself to death, rise up and fall,
Beating her bulk, that his hand shakes withal.
This moves in him more rage and lesser pity
To make the breach and enter this sweet city.
First like a trumpet doth his tongue begin
To sound a parley to his heartless foe,
Who o'er the white sheet peers her whiter chin,
The reason of this rash alarm to know,
Which he by dumb demeanor seeks to show;
But she with vehement prayers urgeth still
Under what colour he commits this ill.
Thus he replies: ‘ The colour in thy face,
That even for anger makes the lily pale
And the red rose blush at her own disgrace,
Shall plead for me and tell my loving tale.
Under that colour am I come to scale
Thy never-conquered fort: the fault is thine,
For those thine eyes betray thee unto mine.
‘ Thus I forestall thee, if thou mean to chide:
Thy beauty hath ensnared thee to this night,
Where thou with patience must my will abide,
My will that marks thee for my earth's delight,
Which I to conquer sought with all my might;
But as reproof and reason beat it dead,
By thy bright beauty was it newly bred.
‘ I see what crosses my attempt will bring;
I know what thorns the growing rose defends;
I think the honey guarded with a sting;
All this beforehand counsel comprehends.
But Will is deaf, and hears no heedful friends;
Only he hath an eye to gaze on Beauty,
And dotes on what he looks, 'gainst law or duty.
‘ I have debated even in my soul
What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shall breed;
But nothing can affection's course control,
Or stop the headlong fury of his speed.
I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
Reproach, disdain, and deadly enmity;
Yet strive I to embrace mine infamy.’
This said, he shakes aloft his Roman blade,
Which like a falcon towering in the skies
Coucheth the fowl below with his wings' shade,
Whose crooked beak threats, if he mount he dies:
So under his insulting falchion lies
Harmless Lucretia, marking what he tells
With trembling fear, as fowl hear falcon's bells.
‘ Lucrece,’ quoth he, ‘ this night I must enjoy thee.
If thou deny, then force must work my way,
For in thy bed I purpose to destroy thee;
That done, some worthless slave of thine I'll slay,
To kill thine honour with thy life's decay;
And in thy dead arms do I mean to place him,
Swearing I slew him, seeing thee embrace him.
‘ So thy surviving husband shall remain
The scornful mark of every open eye;
Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdain,
Thy issue blurred with nameless bastardy;
And thou, the author of their obloquy,
Shalt have thy trespass cited up in rhymes
And sung by children in succeeding times.
‘ But if thou yield, I rest thy secret friend;
The fault unknown is as a thought unacted;
A little harm done to a great good end
For lawful policy remains enacted;
The poisonous simple sometimes is compacted
In a pure compound; being so applied,
His venom in effect is purified.
‘ Then for thy husband and thy children's sake,
Tender my suit; bequeath not to their lot
The shame that from them no device can take,
The blemish that will never be forgot,
Worse than a slavish wipe or birth-hour's blot;
For marks descried in men's nativity
Are nature's faults, not their own infamy.’
Here with a cockatrice' dead-killing eye
He rouseth up himself and makes a pause;
While she, the picture of pure piety,
Like a white hind under the gripe's sharp claws,
Pleads in a wilderness where are no laws
To the rough beast that knows no gentle right,
Nor aught obeys but his foul appetite.
But when a black-faced cloud the world doth threat,
In his dim mist th' aspiring mountains hiding,
From earth's dark womb some gentle gust doth get,
Which blows these pitchy vapours from their biding,
Hindering their present fall by this dividing;
So his unhallowed haste her words delays,
And moody Pluto winks while Orpheus plays.
Yet, foul night-waking cat, he doth but dally
While in his hold-fast foot the weak mouse panteth:
Her sad behaviour feeds his vulture folly,
A swallowing gulf that even in plenty wanteth;
His ear her prayers admits, but his heart granteth
No penetrable entrance to her plaining:
Tears harden lust, though marble wear with raining.
Her pity-pleading eyes are sadly fixed
In the remorseless wrinkles of his face;
Her modest eloquence with sighs is mixed,
Which to her oratory adds more grace.
She puts the period often from his place,
And 'midst the sentence so her accent breaks
That twice she doth begin ere once she speaks.
She conjures him by high almighty Jove,
By knighthood, gentry, and sweet friendship's oath,
By her untimely tears, her husband's love,
By holy human law and common troth,
By heaven and earth, and all the power of both,
That to his borrowed bed he make retire,
And stoop to honour, not to foul desire.
Quoth she, ‘ Reward not hospitality
With such black payment as thou hast pretended;
Mud not the fountain that gave drink to thee;
Mar not the thing that cannot be amended;
End thy ill aim before thy shoot be ended;
He is no woodman that doth bend his bow
To strike a poor unseasonable doe.
‘ My husband is thy friend; for his sake spare me:
Thyself art mighty; for thine own sake leave me:
Myself a weakling; do not then ensnare me:
Thou look'st not like deceit; do not deceive me.
My sighs like whirlwinds labour hence to heave thee.
If ever man were moved with woman's moans,
Be moved with my tears, my sighs, my groans:
‘ All which together, like a troubled ocean,
Beat at thy rocky and wreck-threatening heart,
To soften it with their continual motion;
For stones dissolved to water do convert.
O, if no harder than a stone thou art,
Melt at my tears and be compassionate;
Soft pity enters at an iron gate.
‘ In Tarquin's likeness I did entertain thee:
Hast thou put on his shape to do him shame?
To all the host of heaven I complain me
Thou wrong'st his honour, wound'st his princely name:
Thou art not what thou seem'st; and if the same,
Thou seem'st not what thou art, a god, a king;
For kings like gods should govern every thing.
‘ How will thy shame be seeded in thine age,
When thus thy vices bud before thy spring?
If in thy hope thou dar'st do such outrage,
What dar'st thou not when once thou art a king?
O, be remembered, no outrageous thing
From vassal actors can be wiped away;
Then kings' misdeeds cannot be hid in clay.
‘ This deed will make thee only loved for fear;
But happy monarchs still are feared for love:
With foul offenders thou perforce must bear,
When they in thee the like offences prove.
If but for fear of this, thy will remove;
For princes are the glass, the school, the book,
Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look.
‘ And wilt thou be the school where Lust shall learn?
Must he in thee read lectures of such shame?
Wilt thou be glass wherein it shall discern
Authority for sin, warrant for blame,
To privilege dishonour in thy name?
Thou black'st reproach against long-living laud,
And mak'st fair reputation but a bawd.
‘ Hast thou command? by him that gave it thee,
From a pure heart command thy rebel will.
Draw not thy sword to guard iniquity,
For it was lent thee all that brood to kill.
Thy princely office how canst thou fulfil,
When patterned by thy fault foul sin may say
He learned to sin, and thou didst teach the way?
‘ Think but how vile a spectacle it were
To view thy present trespass in another.
Men's faults do seldom to themselves appear;
Their own transgressions partially they smother.
This guilt would seem death-worthy in thy brother.
O, how are they wrapped in with infamies
That from their own misdeeds askance their eyes!
‘ To thee, to thee, my heaved-up hands appeal,
Not to seducing lust, thy rash relier:
I sue for exiled majesty's repeal;
Let him return, and flattering thoughts retire:
His true respect will prison false desire,
And wipe the dim mist from thy doting eyne,
That thou shalt see thy state, and pity mine.’
‘ Have done,’ quoth he: ‘ my uncontrolled tide
Turns not, but swells the higher by this let.
Small lights are soon blown out; huge fires abide,
And with the wind in greater fury fret;
The petty streams that pay a daily debt
To their salt sovereign, with their fresh falls' haste
Add to his flow, but alter not his taste.’
‘ Thou art,’ quoth she, ‘ a sea, a sovereign king;
And lo, there falls into thy boundless flood
Black lust, dishonour, shame, misgoverning,
Who seek to stain the ocean of thy blood.
If all these petty ills shall change thy good,
Thy sea within a puddle's womb is hearsed,
And not the puddle in thy sea dispersed.
‘ So shall these slaves be king, and thou their slave;
Thou nobly base, they basely dignified;
Thou their fair life, and they thy fouler grave:
Thou loathed in their shame, they in thy pride.
The lesser thing should not the greater hide:
The cedar stoops not to the base shrub's foot,
But low shrubs wither at the cedar's root.
‘ So let thy thoughts, low vassals to thy state ’ –
‘ No more,’ quoth he; ‘ by heaven I will not hear thee.
Yield to my love; if not, enforced hate
Instead of love's coy touch shall rudely tear thee.
That done, despitefully I mean to bear thee
Unto the base bed of some rascal groom,
To be thy partner in this shameful doom.’
This said, he sets his foot upon the light,
For light and lust are deadly enemies:
Shame folded up in blind concealing night,
When most unseen, then most doth tyrannize.
The wolf hath seized his prey, the poor lamb cries,
Till with her own white fleece her voice controlled
Entombs her outcry in her lips' sweet fold.
For with the nightly linen that she wears
He pens her piteous clamours in her head,
Cooling his hot face in the chastest tears
That ever modest eyes with sorrow shed.
O, that prone lust should stain so pure a bed!
The spots whereof could weeping purify,
Her tears should drop on them perpetually.
But she hath lost a dearer thing than life,
And he hath won what he would lose again.
This forced league doth force a further strife;
This momentary joy breeds months of pain;
This hot desire converts to cold disdain:
Pure Chastity is rifled of her store,
And Lust the thief far poorer than before.
Look as the full-fed hound or gorged hawk,
Unapt for tender smell or speedy flight,
Make slow pursuit, or altogether balk
The prey wherein by nature they delight,
So surfeit-taking Tarquin fares this night;
His taste delicious, in digestion souring,
Devours his will, that lived by foul devouring.
O deeper sin than bottomless conceit
Can comprehend in still imagination!
Drunken Desire must vomit his receipt
Ere he can see his own abomination.
While Lust is in his pride, no exclamation
Can curb his heat or rein his rash desire,
Till, like a jade, Self-will himself doth tire.
And then with lank and lean discoloured cheek,
With heavy eye, knit brow, and strengthless pace,
Feeble Desire, all recreant, poor, and meek,
Like to a bankrupt beggar wails his case.
The flesh being proud, Desire doth fight with Grace;
For there it revels, and when that decays,
The guilty rebel for remission prays.
So fares it with this faultful lord of Rome,
Who this accomplishment so hotly chased;
For now against himself he sounds this doom,
That through the length of times he stands disgraced.
Besides, his soul's fair temple is defaced,
To whose weak ruins muster troops of cares
To ask the spotted princess how she fares.
She says her subjects with foul insurrection
Have battered down her consecrated wall,
And by their mortal fault brought in subjection
Her immortality, and made her thrall
To living death and pain perpetual;
Which in her prescience she controlled still,
But her foresight could not forestall their will.
Even in this thought through the dark night he stealeth,
A captive victor that hath lost in gain;
Bearing away the wound that nothing healeth,
The scar that will, despite of cure, remain;
Leaving his spoil perplexed in greater pain.
She bears the load of lust he left behind,
And he the burden of a guilty mind.
He like a thievish dog creeps sadly thence;
She like a wearied lamb lies panting there;
He scowls, and hates himself for his offence;
She, desperate, with her nails her flesh doth tear.
He faintly flies, sneaking with guilty fear;
She stays, exclaiming on the direful night;
He runs, and chides his vanished loathed delight.
He thence departs a heavy convertite;
She there remains a hopeless castaway;
He in his speed looks for the morning light;
She prays she never may behold the day.
‘ For day,’ quoth she, ‘ night's scapes doth open lay,
And my true eyes have never practised how
To cloak offences with a cunning brow.
‘ They think not but that every eye can see
The same disgrace which they themselves behold;
And therefore would they still in darkness be,
To have their unseen sin remain untold.
For they their guilt with weeping will unfold,
And grave, like water that doth eat in steel,
Upon my cheeks what helpless shame I feel.’
Here she exclaims against repose and rest,
And bids her eyes hereafter still be blind;
She wakes her heart by beating on her breast,
And bids it leap from thence, where it may find
Some purer chest, to close so pure a mind.
Frantic with grief thus breathes she forth her spite
Against the unseen secrecy of night:
‘ O comfort-killing Night, image of hell,
Dim register and notary of shame,
Black stage for tragedies and murders fell,
Vast sin-concealing chaos, nurse of blame!
Blind muffled bawd, dark harbour for defame,
Grim cave of death, whispering conspirator
With close-tongued treason and the ravisher!
‘ O hateful, vaporous, and foggy Night,
Since thou art guilty of my cureless crime,
Muster thy mists to meet the eastern light,
Make war against proportioned course of time;
Or if thou wilt permit the sun to climb
His wonted height, yet ere he go to bed
Knit poisonous clouds about his golden head.
‘ With rotten damps ravish the morning air;
Let their exhaled unwholesome breaths make sick
The life of purity, the supreme fair,
Ere he arrive his weary noontide prick;
And let thy misty vapours march so thick,
That in their smoky ranks his smothered light
May set at noon and make perpetual night.
‘ Were Tarquin Night, as he is but Night's child,
The silver-shining queen he would distain;
Her twinkling handmaids too, by him defiled,
Through Night's black bosom should not peep again.
So should I have co-partners in my pain;
And fellowship in woe doth woe assuage,
As palmers' chat makes short their pilgrimage.
‘ Where now I have no one to blush with me,
To cross their arms and hang their heads with mine,
To mask their brows and hide their infamy;
But I alone alone must sit and pine,
Seasoning the earth with showers of silver brine,
Mingling my talk with tears, my grief with groans,
Poor wasting monuments of lasting moans.
‘ O Night, thou furnace of foul reeking smoke,
Let not the jealous Day behold that face
Which underneath thy black all-hiding cloak
Immodestly lies martyred with disgrace!
Keep still possession of thy gloomy place,
That all the faults which in thy reign are made
May likewise be sepulchred in thy shade.
‘ Make me not object to the tell-tale Day:
The light will show charactered in my brow
The story of sweet chastity's decay,
The impious breach of holy wedlock vow;
Yea, the illiterate that know not how
To cipher what is writ in learned books
Will quote my loathsome trespass in my looks.
‘ The nurse to still her child will tell my story,
And fright her crying babe with Tarquin's name;
The orator to deck his oratory
Will couple my reproach to Tarquin's shame;
Feast-finding minstrels tuning my defame
Will tie the hearers to attend each line,
How Tarquin wronged me, I Collatine.
‘ Let my good name, that senseless reputation,
For Collatine's dear love be kept unspotted;
If that be made a theme for disputation,
The branches of another root are rotted,
And undeserved reproach to him allotted
That is as clear from this attaint of mine
As I ere this was pure to Collatine.
‘ O unseen shame, invisible disgrace!
O unfelt sore, crest-wounding private scar!
Reproach is stamped in Collatinus' face,
And Tarquin's eye may read the mot afar,
How he in peace is wounded, not in war.
Alas, how many bear such shameful blows,
Which not themselves, but he that gives them knows!
‘ If, Collatine, thine honour lay in me,
From me by strong assault it is bereft.
My honey lost, and I, a drone-like bee,
Have no perfection of my summer left,
But robbed and ransacked by injurious theft.
In thy weak hive a wandering wasp hath crept,
And sucked the honey which thy chaste bee kept.
‘ Yet am I guilty of thy honour's wrack;
Yet for thy honour did I entertain him;
Coming from thee, I could not put him back,
For it had been dishonour to disdain him;
Besides, of weariness he did complain him,
And talked of virtue: O unlooked-for evil,
When virtue is profaned in such a devil!
‘ Why should the worm intrude the maiden bud?
Or hateful cuckoos hatch in sparrows' nests?
Or toads infect fair founts with venom mud?
Or tyrant folly lurk in gentle breasts?
Or kings be breakers of their own behests?
But no perfection is so absolute
That some impurity doth not pollute.
‘ The aged man that coffers up his gold
Is plagued with cramps and gouts and painful fits,
And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold;
But like still-pining Tantalus he sits,
And useless barns the harvest of his wits,
Having no other pleasure of his gain
But torment that it cannot cure his pain.
‘ So then he hath it when he cannot use it,
And leaves it to be mastered by his young,
Who in their pride do presently abuse it;
Their father was too weak and they too strong
To hold their cursed-blessed fortune long.
The sweets we wish for turn to loathed sours
Even in the moment that we call them ours.
‘ Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring;
Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers;
The adder hisses where the sweet birds sing;
What virtue breeds iniquity devours.
We have no good that we can say is ours
But ill-annexed Opportunity
Or kills his life or else his quality.
‘ O Opportunity, thy guilt is great!
'Tis thou that execut'st the traitor's treason;
Thou sets the wolf where he the lamb may get;
Whoever plots the sin, thou point'st the season.
'Tis thou that spurn'st at right, at law, at reason;
And in thy shady cell, where none may spy him
Sits Sin, to seize the souls that wander by him.
‘ Thou mak'st the vestal violate her oath;
Thou blow'st the fire when temperance is thawed;
Thou smother'st honesty, thou murd'rest troth;
Thou foul abettor, thou notorious bawd;
Thou plantest scandal, and displacest laud.
Thou ravisher, thou traitor, thou false thief,
Thy honey turns to gall, thy joy to grief.
‘ Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame,
Thy private feasting to a public fast,
Thy smoothing titles to a ragged name,
Thy sugared tongue to bitter wormwood taste;
Thy violent vanities can never last.
How comes it then, vile Opportunity,
Being so bad, such numbers seek for thee?
‘ When wilt thou be the humble suppliant's friend,
And bring him where his suit may be obtained?
When wilt thou sort an hour great strifes to end,
Or free that soul which wretchedness hath chained,
Give physic to the sick, ease to the pained?
The poor, lame, blind, halt, creep, cry out for thee;
But they ne'er meet with Opportunity.
‘ The patient dies while the physician sleeps;
The orphan pines while the oppressor feeds;
Justice is feasting while the widow weeps;
Advice is sporting while infection breeds.
Thou grant'st no time for charitable deeds;
Wrath, envy, treason, rape, and murder's rages,
Thy heinous hours wait on them as their pages.
‘ When Truth and Virtue have to do with thee,
A thousand crosses keep them from thy aid;
They buy thy help, but Sin ne'er gives a fee:
He gratis comes, and thou art well appaid
As well to hear as grant what he hath said.
My Collatine would else have come to me
When Tarquin did, but he was stayed by thee.
‘ Guilty thou art of murder and of theft,
Guilty of perjury and subornation,
Guilty of treason, forgery, and shift,
Guilty of incest, that abomination:
An accessary by thine inclination
To all sins past and all that are to come
From the creation to the general doom.
‘ Misshapen Time, copesmate of ugly Night,
Swift subtle post, carrier of grisly care,
Eater of youth, false slave to false delight,
Base watch of woes, sin's pack-horse, virtue's snare;
Thou nursest all, and murderest all that are.
O hear me then, injurious shifting Time;
Be guilty of my death, since of my crime.
‘ Why hath thy servant Opportunity
Betrayed the hours thou gav'st me to repose,
Cancelled my fortunes and enchained me
To endless date of never-ending woes?
Time's office is to fine the hate of foes,
To eat up errors by opinion bred,
Not spend the dowry of a lawful bed.
‘ Time's glory is to calm contending kings,
To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light,
To stamp the seal of time in aged things,
To wake the morn and sentinel the night,
To wrong the wronger till he render right,
To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours,
And smear with dust their glittering golden towers;
‘ To fill with worm-holes stately monuments,
To feed oblivion with decay of things,
To blot old books and alter their contents,
To pluck the quills from ancient ravens' wings,
To dry the old oak's sap and cherish springs,
To spoil antiquities of hammered steel,
And turn the giddy round of Fortune's wheel;
‘ To show the beldame daughters of her daughter,
To make the child a man, the man a child,
To slay the tiger that doth live by slaughter,
To tame the unicorn and lion wild,
To mock the subtle in themselves beguiled,
To cheer the ploughman with increaseful crops,
And waste huge stones with little water-drops.
‘ Why work'st thou mischief in thy pilgrimage,
Unless thou couldst return to make amends?
One poor retiring minute in an age
Would purchase thee a thousand thousand friends,
Lending him wit that to bad debtors lends.
O this dread night, wouldst thou one hour come back,
I could prevent this storm and shun thy wrack!
‘ Thou ceaseless lackey to Eternity,
With some mischance cross Tarquin in his flight:
Devise extremes beyond extremity,
To make him curse this cursed crimeful night.
Let ghastly shadows his lewd eyes affright,
And the dire thought of his committed evil
Shape every bush a hideous shapeless devil.
Disturb his hours of rest with restless trances;
Afflict him in his bed with bedrid groans;
Let there bechance him pitiful mischances,
To make him moan, but pity not his moans.
Stone him with hardened hearts harder than stones,
And let mild women to him lose their mildness,
Wilder to him than tigers in their wildness.
Let him have time to tear his curled hair,
Let him have time against himself to rave,
Let him have time of time's help to despair,
Let him have time to live a loathed slave,
Let him have time a beggar's orts to crave,
And time to see one that by alms doth live
Disdain to him disdained scraps to give.
‘ Let him have time to see his friends his foes,
And merry fools to mock at him resort;
Let him have time to mark how slow time goes
In time of sorrow, and how swift and short
His time of folly and his time of sport;
And ever let his unrecalling crime
Have time to wail the abusing of his time.
‘ O Time, thou tutor both to good and bad,
Teach me to curse him that thou taught'st this ill;
At his own shadow let the thief run mad,
Himself himself seek every hour to kill;
Such wretched hands such wretched blood should spill;
For who so base would such an office have
As slanderous deathsman to so base a slave?
‘ The baser is he, coming from a king,
To shame his hope with deeds degenerate:
The mightier man, the mightier is the thing
That makes him honoured or begets him hate;
For greatest scandal waits on greatest state.
The moon being clouded presently is missed,
But little stars may hide them when they list.
‘ The crow may bathe his coal-black wings in mire,
And unperceived fly with the filth away;
But if the like the snow-white swan desire,
The stain upon his silver down will stay.
Poor grooms are sightless night, kings glorious day;
Gnats are unnoted wheresoe'er they fly,
But eagles gazed upon with every eye.
‘ Out, idle words, servants to shallow fools,
Unprofitable sounds, weak arbitrators!
Busy yourselves in skill-contending schools;
Debate where leisure serves with dull debaters;
To trembling clients be you mediators:
For me, I force not argument a straw,
Since that my case is past the help of law.
‘ In vain I rail at Opportunity,
At Time, at Tarquin, and uncheerful Night;
In vain I cavil with mine infamy,
In vain I spurn at my confirmed despite;
This helpless smoke of words doth me no right.
The remedy indeed to do me good
Is to let forth my foul-defiled blood.
‘ Poor hand, why quiver'st thou at this decree?
Honour thyself to rid me of this shame;
For if I die, my honour lives in thee,
But if I live, thou liv'st in my defame.
Since thou couldst not defend thy loyal dame,
And wast afeard to scratch her wicked foe,
Kill both thyself and her for yielding so.’
This said, from her betumbled couch she starteth,
To find some desperate instrument of death;
But this no-slaughterhouse no tool imparteth
To make more vent for passage of her breath;
Which thronging through her lips so vanisheth
As smoke from Etna that in air consumes,
Or that which from discharged cannon fumes.
‘ In vain,’ quoth she, ‘ I live, and seek in vain
Some happy mean to end a hapless life.
I feared by Tarquin's falchion to be slain,
Yet for the selfsame purpose seek a knife;
But when I feared, I was a loyal wife:
So am I now – O no, that cannot be;
Of that true type hath Tarquin rifled me.
‘ O, that is gone for which I sought to live,
And therefore now I need not fear to die.
To clear this spot by death, at least I give
A badge of fame to slander's livery,
A dying life to living infamy.
Poor helpless help, the treasure stolen away,
To burn the guiltless casket where it lay!
‘ Well, well, dear Collatine, thou shalt not know
The stained taste of violated troth;
I will not wrong thy true affection so,
To flatter thee with an infringed oath;
This bastard graff shall never come to growth:
He shall not boast who did thy stock pollute
That thou art doting father of his fruit.
‘ Nor shall he smile at thee in secret thought,
Nor laugh with his companions at thy state:
But thou shalt know thy interest was not bought
Basely with gold, but stolen from forth thy gate.
For me, I am the mistress of my fate,
And with my trespass never will dispense,
Till life to death acquit my forced offence.
‘ I will not poison thee with my attaint,
Nor fold my fault in cleanly-coined excuses;
My sable ground of sin I will not paint
To hide the truth of this false night's abuses.
My tongue shall utter all; mine eyes, like sluices,
As from a mountain spring that feeds a dale,
Shall gush pure streams to purge my impure tale.’
By this, lamenting Philomel had ended
The well-tuned warble of her nightly sorrow,
And solemn night with slow sad gait descended
To ugly hell; when lo, the blushing morrow
Lends light to all fair eyes that light will borrow;
But cloudy Lucrece shames herself to see,
And therefore still in night would cloistered be.
Revealing day through every cranny spies,
And seems to point her out where she sits weeping;
To whom she sobbing speaks: ‘ O eye of eyes,
Why pry'st thou through my window? leave thy peeping;
Mock with thy tickling beams eyes that are sleeping;
Brand not my forehead with thy piercing light,
For day hath nought to do what's done by night.’
Thus cavils she with every thing she sees.
True grief is fond and testy as a child,
Who wayward once, his mood with naught agrees;
Old woes, not infant sorrows, bear them mild.
Continuance tames the one; the other wild,
Like an unpractised swimmer plunging still,
With too much labour drowns for want of skill.
So she deep drenched in a sea of care
Holds disputation with each thing she views,
And to herself all sorrow doth compare;
No object but her passion's strength renews,
And as one shifts, another straight ensues.
Sometime her grief is dumb and hath no words,
Sometime 'tis mad and too much talk affords.
The little birds that tune their morning's joy
Make her moans mad with their sweet melody;
For mirth doth search the bottom of annoy;
Sad souls are slain in merry company;
Grief best is pleased with grief's society.
True sorrow then is feelingly sufficed
When with like semblance it is sympathized.
'Tis double death to drown in ken of shore;
He ten times pines that pines beholding food;
To see the salve doth make the wound ache more;
Great grief grieves most at that would do it good;
Deep woes roll forward like a gentle flood,
Who, being stopped, the bounding banks o'erflows;
Grief dallied with nor law nor limit knows.
‘ You mocking-birds,’ quoth she, ‘ your tunes entomb
Within your hollow-swelling feathered breasts,
And in my hearing be you mute and dumb;
My restless discord loves no stops nor rests;
A woeful hostess brooks not merry guests.
Relish your nimble notes to pleasing ears;
Distress likes dumps, when time is kept with tears.
‘ Come, Philomel, that sing'st of ravishment,
Make thy sad grove in my dishevelled hair.
As the dank earth weeps at thy languishment,
So I at each sad strain will strain a tear,
And with deep groans the diapason bear;
For burden-wise I'll hum on Tarquin still,
While thou on Tereus descants better skill.
‘ And whiles against a thorn thou bear'st thy part
To keep thy sharp woes waking, wretched I,
To imitate thee well, against my heart
Will fix a sharp knife to affright mine eye,
Who if it wink shall thereon fall and die:
These means as frets upon an instrument
Shall tune our heart-strings to true languishment.
‘ And for, poor bird, thou sing'st not in the day,
As shaming any eye should thee behold,
Some dark deep desert seated from the way,
That knows not parching heat nor freezing cold,
Will we find out; and there we will unfold
To creatures stern sad tunes to change their kinds:
Since men prove beasts, let beasts bear gentle minds.’
As the poor frighted deer that stands at gaze,
Wildly determining which way to fly,
Or one encompassed with a winding maze,
That cannot tread the way out readily,
So with herself is she in mutiny,
To live or die which of the twain were better
When life is shamed and death reproach's debtor.
‘ To kill myself,’ quoth she, ‘ alack, what were it,
But with my body my poor soul's pollution?
They that lose half with greater patience bear it
Than they whose whole is swallowed in confusion.
That mother tries a merciless conclusion
Who, having two sweet babes, when death takes one,
Will slay the other and be nurse to none.
‘ My body or my soul, which was the dearer,
When the one pure the other made divine?
Whose love of either to myself was nearer,
When both were kept for heaven and Collatine?
Ay me, the bark pilled from the lofty pine,
His leaves will wither and his sap decay;
So must my soul, her bark being pilled away.
‘ Her house is sacked, her quiet interrupted,
Her mansion battered by the enemy,
Her sacred temple spotted, spoiled, corrupted,
Grossly engirt with daring infamy.
Then let it not be called impiety
If in this blemished fort I make some hole
Through which I may convey this troubled soul.
‘ Yet die I will not till my Collatine
Have heard the cause of my untimely death,
That he may vow in that sad hour of mine
Revenge on him that made me stop my breath.
My stained blood to Tarquin I'll bequeath,
Which by him tainted shall for him be spent,
And as his due writ in my testament.
‘ My honour I'll bequeath unto the knife
That wounds my body so dishonoured.
'Tis honour to deprive dishonoured life;
The one will live, the other being dead.
So of shame's ashes shall my fame be bred;
For in my death I murder shameful scorn:
My shame so dead, mine honour is new born.
‘ Dear lord of that dear jewel I have lost,
What legacy shall I bequeath to thee?
My resolution, love, shall be thy boast,
By whose example thou revenged mayst be.
How Tarquin must be used, read it in me:
Myself thy friend will kill myself thy foe;
And for my sake serve thou false Tarquin so.
‘ This brief abridgement of my will I make:
My soul and body to the skies and ground;
My resolution, husband, do thou take;
Mine honour be the knife's that makes my wound;
My shame be his that did my fame confound;
And all my fame that lives disbursed be
To those that live and think no shame of me.
‘ Thou, Collatine, shalt oversee this will;
How was I overseen that thou shalt see it!
My blood shall wash the slander of mine ill;
My life's foul deed, my life's fair end shall free it.
Faint not, faint heart, but stoutly say So be it ;
Yield to my hand, my hand shall conquer thee:
Thou dead, both die, and both shall victors be.’
This plot of death when sadly she had laid,
And wiped the brinish pearl from her bright eyes,
With untuned tongue she hoarsely calls her maid,
Whose swift obedience to her mistress hies;
For fleet-winged duty with thought's feathers flies.
Poor Lucrece' cheeks unto her maid seem so
As winter meads when sun doth melt their snow.
Her mistress she doth give demure good-morrow
With soft slow tongue, true mark of modesty,
And sorts a sad look to her lady's sorrow,
For why her face wore sorrow's livery;
But durst not ask of her audaciously
Why her two suns were cloud-eclipsed so,
Nor why her fair cheeks over-washed with woe.
But as the earth doth weep, the sun being set,
Each flower moistened like a melting eye,
Even so the maid with swelling drops 'gan wet
Her circled eyne, enforced by sympathy
Of those fair suns set in her mistress' sky,
Who in a salt-waved ocean quench their light,
Which makes the maid weep like the dewy night.
A pretty while these pretty creatures stand,
Like ivory conduits coral cisterns filling.
One justly weeps; the other takes in hand
No cause but company of her drops spilling.
Their gentle sex to weep are often willing,
Grieving themselves to guess at others' smarts,
And then they drown their eyes or break their hearts.
For men have marble, women waxen, minds,
And therefore are they formed as marble will;
The weak oppressed, the impression of strange kinds
Is formed in them by force, by fraud, or skill.
Then call them not the authors of their ill,
No more than wax shall be accounted evil
Wherein is stamped the semblance of a devil.
Their smoothness, like a goodly champaign plain,
Lays open all the little worms that creep;
In men, as in a rough-grown grove, remain
Cave-keeping evils that obscurely sleep;
Through crystal walls each little mote will peep.
Though men can cover crimes with bold stern looks,
Poor women's faces are their own fault's books.
No man inveigh against the withered flower,
But chide rough winter that the flower hath killed;
Not that devoured, but that which doth devour,
Is worthy blame. O, let it not be hild
Poor women's faults that they are so fulfilled
With men's abuses: those proud lords to blame
Make weak-made women tenants to their shame.
The precedent whereof in Lucrece view,
Assail'd by night with circumstances strong
Of present death, and shame that might ensue
By that her death, to do her husband wrong;
Such danger to resistance did belong
That dying fear through all her body spread;
And who cannot abuse a body dead?
By this, mild patience bid fair Lucrece speak
To the poor counterfeit of her complaining.
‘ My girl,’ quoth she, ‘ on what occasion break
Those tears from thee that down thy cheeks are raining?
If thou dost weep for grief of my sustaining,
Know, gentle wench, it small avails my mood:
If tears could help, mine own would do me good.
‘ But tell me, girl, when went ’ – and there she stayed,
Till after a deep groan – ‘ Tarquin from hence?’
‘ Madam, ere I was up,’ replied the maid,
‘ The more to blame my sluggard negligence.
Yet with the fault I thus far can dispense;
Myself was stirring ere the break of day,
And, ere I rose was Tarquin gone away.
‘ But lady, if your maid may be so bold,
She would request to know your heaviness.’
‘ O, peace!’ quoth Lucrece. ‘ If it should be told,
The repetition cannot make it less;
For more it is than I can well express,
And that deep torture may be called a hell,
When more is felt than one hath power to tell.
‘ Go, get me hither paper, ink, and pen;
Yet save that labour, for I have them here.
What should I say? One of my husband's men
Bid thou be ready by and by to bear
A letter to my lord, my love, my dear.
Bid him with speed prepare to carry it;
The cause craves haste, and it will soon be writ.’
Her maid is gone, and she prepares to write,
First hovering o'er the paper with her quill;
Conceit and grief an eager combat fight;
What wit sets down is blotted straight with will;
This is too curious-good, this blunt and ill.
Much like a press of people at a door
Throng her inventions, which shall go before.
At last she thus begins: ‘ Thou worthy lord
Of that unworthy wife that greeteth thee,
Health to thy person! Next, vouchsafe t' afford –
If ever, love, thy Lucrece thou wilt see –
Some present speed to come and visit me.
So, I commend me, from our house in grief;
My woes are tedious, though my words are brief.’
Here folds she up the tenor of her woe,
Her certain sorrow writ uncertainly.
By this short schedule Collatine may know
Her grief, but not her grief's true quality;
She dares not thereof make discovery,
Lest he should hold it her own gross abuse,
Ere she with blood had stained her stained excuse.
Besides, the life and feeling of her passion
She hoards, to spend when he is by to hear her,
When sighs and groans and tears may grace the fashion
Of her disgrace, the better so to clear her
From that suspicion which the world might bear her.
To shun this blot, she would not blot the letter
With words, till action might become them better.
To see sad sights moves more than hear them told,
For then the eye interprets to the ear
The heavy motion that it doth behold,
When every part a part of woe doth bear.
'Tis but a part of sorrow that we hear;
Deep sounds make lesser noise than shallow fords,
And sorrow ebbs, being blown with wind of words.
Her letter now is sealed, and on it writ
‘ At Ardea to my lord with more than haste.’
The post attends, and she delivers it,
Charging the sour-faced groom to hie as fast
As lagging fowls before the northern blast.
Speed more than speed but dull and slow she deems:
Extremity still urgeth such extremes.
The homely villain curtsies to her low,
And blushing on her, with a steadfast eye
Receives the scroll without or yea or no,
And forth with bashful innocence doth hie.
But they whose guilt within their bosoms lie
Imagine every eye beholds their blame;
For Lucrece thought he blushed to see her shame:
When, silly groom, God wot, it was defect
Of spirit, life, and bold audacity;
Such harmless creatures have a true respect
To talk in deeds, while others saucily
Promise more speed, but do it leisurely.
Even so this pattern of the worn-out age
Pawned honest looks, but laid no words to gage.
His kindled duty kindled her mistrust,
That two red fires in both their faces blazed;
She thought he blushed as knowing Tarquin's lust,
And blushing with him, wistly on him gazed.
Her earnest eye did make him more amazed;
The more she saw the blood his cheeks replenish,
The more she thought he spied in her some blemish.
But long she thinks till he return again,
And yet the duteous vassal scarce is gone.
The weary time she cannot entertain,
For now 'tis stale to sigh, to weep, and groan;
So woe hath wearied woe, moan tired moan,
That she her plaints a little while doth stay,
Pausing for means to mourn some newer way.
At last she calls to mind where hangs a piece
Of skilful painting, made for Priam's Troy,
Before the which is drawn the power of Greece,
For Helen's rape the city to destroy,
Threatening cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy;
Which the conceited painter drew so proud
As heaven, it seemed, to kiss the turrets bowed.
A thousand lamentable objects there
In scorn of nature art gave lifeless life;
Many a dry drop seemed a weeping tear,
Shed for the slaughtered husband by the wife;
The red blood reeked to show the painter's strife,
And dying eyes gleamed forth their ashy lights
Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights.
There might you see the labouring pioneer
Begrimed with sweat and smeared all with dust;
And from the towers of Troy there would appear
The very eyes of men through loop-holes thrust,
Gazing upon the Greeks with little lust.
Such sweet observance in this work was had
That one might see those far-off eyes look sad.
In great commanders, grace and majesty
You might behold, triumphing in their faces;
In youth, quick bearing and dexterity;
And here and there the painter interlaces
Pale cowards marching on with trembling paces,
Which heartless peasants did so well resemble
That one would swear he saw them quake and tremble.
In Ajax and Ulysses, O what art
Of physiognomy might one behold!
The face of either ciphered either's heart;
Their face their manners most expressly told:
In Ajax' eyes blunt rage and rigour rolled,
But the mild glance that sly Ulysses lent
Showed deep regard and smiling government.
There pleading might you see grave Nestor stand,
As 'twere encouraging the Greeks to fight,
Making such sober action with his hand
That it beguiled attention, charmed the sight;
In speech it seemed his beard all silver white
Wagged up and down, and from his lips did fly
Thin winding breath which purled up to the sky.
About him were a press of gaping faces
Which seemed to swallow up his sound advice;
All jointly listening, but with several graces,
As if some mermaid did their ears entice;
Some high, some low, the painter was so nice.
The scalps of many almost hid behind
To jump up higher seemed, to mock the mind.
Here one man's hand leaned on another's head,
His nose being shadowed by his neighbour's ear;
Here one being thronged bears back, all bollen and red;
Another smothered seems to pelt and swear;
And in their rage such signs of rage they bear
As, but for loss of Nestor's golden words,
It seemed they would debate with angry swords.
For much imaginary work was there;
Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,
That for Achilles' image stood his spear
Gripped in an armed hand; himself behind
Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind:
A hand, a foot, a face, a leg, a head,
Stood for the whole to be imagined.
And from the walls of strong-besieged Troy,
When their brave hope, bold Hector, marched to field,
Stood many Trojan mothers sharing joy
To see their youthful sons bright weapons wield;
And to their hope they such odd action yield
That through their light joy seemed to appear,
Like bright things stained, a kind of heavy fear.
And from the strand of Dardan, where they fought
To Simois' reedy banks the red blood ran,
Whose waves to imitate the battle sought
With swelling ridges, and their ranks began
To break upon the galled shore, and then
Retire again, till meeting greater ranks
They join, and shoot their foam at Simois' banks.
To this well-painted piece is Lucrece come,
To find a face where all distress is stelled.
Many she sees where cares have carved some,
But none where all distress and dolour dwelled,
Till she despairing Hecuba beheld,
Staring on Priam's wounds with her old eyes,
Which bleeding under Pyrrhus' proud foot lies.
In her the painter had anatomized
Time's ruin, beauty's wrack, and grim care's reign;
Her cheeks with chaps and wrinkles were disguised;
Of what she was no semblance did remain.
Her blue blood changed to black in every vein,
Wanting the spring that those shrunk pipes had fed,
Showed life imprisoned in a body dead.
On this sad shadow Lucrece spends her eyes,
And shapes her sorrow to the beldame's woes,
Who nothing wants to answer her but cries
And bitter words to ban her cruel foes;
The painter was no god to lend her those;
And therefore Lucrece swears he did her wrong,
To give her so much grief and not a tongue.
‘ Poor instrument,’ quoth she, ‘ without a sound,
I'll tune thy woes with my lamenting tongue;
And drop sweet balm in Priam's painted wound,
And rail on Pyrrhus that hath done him wrong,
And with my tears quench Troy that burns so long;
And with my knife scratch out the angry eyes
Of all the Greeks that are thine enemies.
‘ Show me the strumpet that began this stir,
That with my nails her beauty I may tear.
Thy heat of lust, fond Paris, did incur
This load of wrath that burning Troy doth bear;
Thy eye kindled the fire that burneth here;
And here in Troy, for trespass of thine eye,
The sire, the son, the dame and daughter die.
‘ Why should the private pleasure of some one
Become the public plague of many moe?
Let sin alone committed light alone
Upon his head that hath transgressed so;
Let guiltless souls be freed from guilty woe:
For one's offence why should so many fall,
To plague a private sin in general?
‘ Lo, here weeps Hecuba, here Priam dies,
Here manly Hector faints, here Troilus swounds,
Here friend by friend in bloody channel lies,
And friend to friend gives unadvised wounds,
And one man's lust these many lives confounds.
Had doting Priam checked his son's desire,
Troy had been bright with fame, and not with fire.’
Here feelingly she weeps Troy's painted woes;
For sorrow, like a heavy-hanging bell
Once set on ringing, with his own weight goes;
Then little strength rings out the doleful knell.
So Lucrece, set a-work, sad tales doth tell
To pencilled pensiveness and coloured sorrow:
She lends them words, and she their looks doth borrow.
She throws her eyes about the painting round,
And who she finds forlorn she doth lament.
At last she sees a wretched image bound,
That piteous looks to Phrygian shepherds lent;
His face, though full of cares, yet showed content;
Onward to Troy with the blunt swains he goes,
So mild, that patience seemed to scorn his woes.
In him the painter laboured with his skill
To hide deceit and give the harmless show
An humble gait, calm looks, eyes wailing still,
A brow unbent that seemed to welcome woe;
Cheeks neither red nor pale, but mingled so
That blushing red no guilty instance gave,
Nor ashy pale the fear that false hearts have.
But like a constant and confirmed devil,
He entertained a show so seeming just,
And therein so ensconced his secret evil,
That jealousy itself could not mistrust
False creeping craft and perjury should thrust
Into so bright a day such black-faced storms,
Or blot with hell-born sin such saint-like forms.
The well-skilled workman this mild image drew
For perjured Sinon, whose enchanting story
The credulous old Priam after slew;
Whose words like wildfire burnt the shining glory
Of rich-built Ilion, that the skies were sorry,
And little stars shot from their fixed places,
When their glass fell, wherein they viewed their faces.
This picture she advisedly perused,
And chid the painter for his wondrous skill,
Saying, some shape in Sinon's was abused:
So fair a form lodged not a mind so ill.
And still on him she gazed, and gazing still,
Such signs of truth in his plain face she spied
That she concludes the picture was belied.
‘ It cannot be,’ quoth she, ‘ that so much guile ’ –
She would have said ‘ can lurk in such a look ’;
But Tarquin's shape came in her mind the while,
And from her tongue ‘ can lurk ’ from ‘ cannot ’ took:
‘ It cannot be ’ she in that sense forsook,
And turned it thus: ‘ It cannot be, I find,
But such a face should bear a wicked mind:
‘ For even as subtle Sinon here is painted.
So sober-sad, so weary, and so mild,
As if with grief or travel he had fainted,
To me came Tarquin armed to beguild
With outward honesty, but yet defiled
With inward vice. As Priam him did cherish,
So did I Tarquin; so my Troy did perish.
‘ Look, look, how listening Priam wets his eyes,
To see those borrowed tears that Sinon sheeds.
Priam, why art thou old and yet not wise?
For every tear he falls a Trojan bleeds.
His eye drops fire, no water thence proceeds;
Those round clear pearls of his that move thy pity.
Are balls of quenchless fire to burn thy city.
‘ Such devils steal effects from lightless hell,
For Sinon in his fire doth quake with cold,
And in that cold hot-burning fire doth dwell.
These contraries such unity do hold
Only to flatter fools and make them bold:
So Priam's trust false Sinon's tears doth flatter
That he finds means to burn his Troy with water.’
Here, all enraged, such passion her assails
That patience is quite beaten from her breast.
She tears the senseless Sinon with her nails,
Comparing him to that unhappy guest
Whose deed hath made herself herself detest.
At last she smilingly with this gives o'er:
‘ Fool, fool,’ quoth she, ‘ his wounds will not be sore.’
Thus ebbs and flows the current of her sorrow,
And time doth weary time with her complaining;
She looks for night, and then she longs for morrow,
And both she thinks too long with her remaining.
Short time seems long in sorrow's sharp sustaining:
Though woe be heavy, yet it seldom sleeps,
And they that watch see time how slow it creeps.
Which all this time hath overslipped her thought
That she with painted images hath spent,
Being from the feeling of her own grief brought
By deep surmise of others' detriment,
Losing her woes in shows of discontent.
It easeth some, though none it ever cured,
To think their dolour others have endured.
But now the mindful messenger come back
Brings home his lord and other company;
Who finds his Lucrece clad in mourning black,
And round about her tear-distained eye
Blue circles streamed, like rainbows in the sky:
These water-galls in her dim element
Foretell new storms to those already spent.
Which when her sad-beholding husband saw,
Amazedly in her sad face he stares:
Her eyes, though sod in tears, looked red and raw,
Her lively colour killed with deadly cares.
He hath no power to ask her how she fares;
Both stood like old acquaintance in a trance,
Met far from home, wondering each other's chance.
At last he takes her by the bloodless hand,
And thus begins: ‘ What uncouth ill event
Hath thee befallen, that thou dost trembling stand?
Sweet love, what spite hath thy fair colour spent?
Why art thou thus attired in discontent?
Unmask, dear dear, this moody heaviness,
And tell thy grief, that we may give redress.’
Three times with sighs she gives her sorrow fire
Ere once she can discharge one word of woe:
At length addressed to answer his desire,
She modestly prepares to let them know
Her honour is ta'en prisoner by the foe;
While Collatine and his consorted lords
With sad attention long to hear her words.
And now this pale swan in her watery nest
Begins the sad dirge of her certain ending.
‘ Few words,’ quoth she, ‘ Shall fit the trespass best,
Where no excuse can give the fault amending:
In me moe woes than words are now depending;
And my laments would be drawn out too long
To tell them all with one poor tired tongue.
‘ Then be this all the task it hath to say:
Dear husband, in the interest of thy bed
A stranger came, and on that pillow lay
Where thou was wont to rest thy weary head;
And what wrong else may be imagined
By foul enforcement might be done to me,
From that, alas, thy Lucrece is not free.
‘ For in the dreadful dead of dark midnight
With shining falchion in my chamber came
A creeping creature with a flaming light,
And softly cried Awake, thou Roman dame,
And entertain my love; else lasting shame
On thee and thine this night I will inflict,
If thou my love's desire do contradict.
‘ For some hard-favoured groom of thine, quoth he,
Unless thou yoke thy liking to my will,
I'll murder straight, and then I'll slaughter thee,
And swear I found you where you did fulfil
The loathsome act of lust, and so did kill
The lechers in their deed: this act will be
My fame, and thy perpetual infamy.
‘ With this I did begin to start and cry,
And then against my heart he set his sword,
Swearing, unless I took all patiently,
I should not live to speak another word;
So should my shame still rest upon record,
And never be forgot in mighty Rome
Th' adulterate death of Lucrece and her groom.
‘ Mine enemy was strong, my poor self weak,
And far the weaker with so strong a fear.
My bloody judge forbade my tongue to speak;
No rightful plea might plead for justice there.
His scarlet lust came evidence to swear
That my poor beauty had purloined his eyes;
And when the judge is robbed, the prisoner dies.
‘ O teach me how to make mine own excuse;
Or at the least this refuge let me find:
Though my gross blood be stained with this abuse,
Immaculate and spotless is my mind;
That was not forced, that never was inclined
To accessary yieldings, but still pure
Doth in her poisoned closet yet endure.’
Lo, here the hopeless merchant of this loss,
With head declined, and voice dammed up with woe,
With sad set eyes and wretched arms across,
From lips new waxen pale begins to blow
The grief away that stops his answer so;
But wretched as he is, he strives in vain;
What he breathes out his breath drinks up again.
As through an arch the violent roaring tide
Outruns the eye that doth behold his haste,
Yet in the eddy boundeth in his pride
Back to the strait that forced him on so fast,
In rage sent out, recalled in rage being past;
Even so his sighs, his sorrows, make a saw,
To push grief on and back the same grief draw.
Which speechless woe of his poor she attendeth,
And his untimely frenzy thus awaketh:
‘ Dear lord, thy sorrow to my sorrow lendeth
Another power; no flood by raining slaketh;
My woe too sensible thy passion maketh
More feeling-painful. Let it then suffice
To drown on woe one pair of weeping eyes.
‘ And for my sake, when I might charm thee so,
For she that was thy Lucrece, now attend me:
Be suddenly revenged on my foe,
Thine, mine, his own. Suppose thou dost defend me
From what is past. The help that thou shalt lend me
Comes all too late, yet let the traitor die,
For sparing justice feeds iniquity.
‘ But ere I name him, you fair lords,’ quoth she,
Speaking to those that came with Collatine,
‘ Shall plight your honourable faiths to me,
With swift pursuit to venge this wrong of mine;
For 'tis a meritorious fair design
To chase injustice with revengeful arms:
Knights, by their oaths should right poor ladies' harms.’
At this request, with noble disposition
Each present lord began to promise aid,
As bound in knighthood to her imposition,
Longing to hear the hateful foe bewrayed;
But she, that yet her sad task hath not said,
The protestation stops. ‘ O, speak,’ quoth she:
‘ How may this forced stain be wiped from me?
‘ What is the quality of mine offence,
Being constrained with dreadful circumstance?
May my pure mind with the foul act dispense,
My low-declined honour to advance?
May any terms acquit me from this chance?
The poisoned fountain clears itself again,
And why not I from this compelled stain?’
With this they all at once began to say
Her body's stain her mind untainted clears;
While with a joyless smile she turns away
The face, that map which deep impression bears
Of hard misfortune, carved in it with tears.
‘ No, no,’ quoth she, ‘ no dame hereafter living
By my excuse shall claim excuse's giving.’
Here with a sigh as if her heart would break
She throws forth Tarquin's name: ‘ He, he,’ she says;
But more than ‘ he ’ her poor tongue could not speak;
Till after many accents and delays,
Untimely breathings, sick and short assays,
She utters this:, ‘ He, he, fair lords, 'tis he,
That guides this hand to give this wound to me.’
Even here she sheathed in her harmless breast
A harmful knife, that thence her soul unsheathed:
That blow did bail it from the deep unrest
Of that polluted prison where it breathed.
Her contrite sighs unto the clouds bequeathed
Her winged sprite, and through her wounds doth fly
Life's lasting date from cancelled destiny.
Stone-still, astonished with this deadly deed,
Stood Collatine and all his lordly crew;
Till Lucrece' father, that beholds her bleed,
Himself on her self-slaughtered body threw;
And from the purple fountain Brutus drew
The murd'rous knife; and, as it left the place,
Her blood in poor revenge held it in chase.
And bubbling from her breast it doth divide
In two slow rivers, that the crimson blood
Circles her body in on every side,
Who like a late-sacked island, vastly stood
Bare and unpeopled in this fearful flood.
Some of her blood still pure and red remained,
And some looked black, and that false Tarquin stained.
About the mourning and congealed face
Of that black blood a watery rigol goes,
Which seems to weep upon the tainted place;
And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes,
Corrupted blood some watery token shows;
And blood untainted still doth red abide,
Blushing at that which is so putrified.
‘ Daughter, dear daughter,’ old Lucretius cries,
‘ That life was mine which thou hast here deprived;
If in the child the father's image lies,
Where shall I live now Lucrece is unlived?
Thou wast not to this end from me derived.
If children predecease progenitors,
We are their offspring, and they none of ours.
‘ Poor broken glass, I often did behold
In thy sweet semblance my old age new-born;
But now that fresh fair mirror, dim and old,
Shows me a bare-boned death by time outworn.
O, from thy cheeks my image thou hast torn,
And shivered all the beauty of my glass,
That I no more can see what once I was!
‘ O time, cease thou thy course and last no longer,
If they surcease to be that should survive!
Shall rotten death make conquest of the stronger,
And leave the faltering feeble souls alive?
The old bees die, the young possess their hive;
Then live, sweet Lucrece, live again and see
Thy father die, and not thy father thee!’
By this starts Collatine as from a dream,
And bids Lucretius give his sorrow place;
And then in key-cold Lucrece' bleeding stream
He falls, and bathes the pale fear in his face,
And counterfeits to die with her a space;
Till manly shame bids him possess his breath,
And live to be revenged on her death.
The deep vexation of his inward soul
Hath served a dumb arrest upon his tongue;
Who, mad that sorrow should his use control,
Or keep him from heart-easing words so long,
Begins to talk; but through his lips do throng
Weak words, so thick come in his poor heart's aid
That no man could distinguish what he said.
Yet sometime ‘ Tarquin ’ was pronounced plain,
But through his teeth, as if the name he tore.
This windy tempest, till it blow up rain,
Held back his sorrow's tide to make it more.
At last it rains, and busy winds give o'er;
Then son and father weep with equal strife
Who should weep most, for daughter or for wife.
Then one doth call her his, the other his,
Yet neither may possess the claim they lay.
The father says ‘ She's mine ’; ‘ O, mine she is,’
Replies her husband; ‘ do not take away
My sorrow's interest; let no mourner say
He weeps for her, for she was only mine,
And only must be wailed by Collatine.’
‘ O,’ quoth Lucretius, ‘ I did give that life
Which she too early and too late hath spilled.’
‘ Woe, woe,’ quoth Collatine, ‘ she was my wife;,
I owed her, and 'tis mine that she hath killed.’
‘ My daughter ’ and ‘ my wife ’ with clamours filled
The dispersed air, who, holding Lucrece' life,
Answered their cries, ‘ my daughter ’ and ‘ my wife.’
Brutus, who plucked the knife from Lucrece' side,
Seeing such emulation in their woe
Began to clothe his wit in state and pride,
Burying in Lucrece' wound his folly's show.
He with the Romans was esteemed so
As silly-jeering idiots are with kings,
For sportive words and uttering foolish things.
But now he throws that shallow habit by
Wherein deep policy did him disguise,
And armed his long-hid wits advisedly
To check the tears in Collatinus' eyes.
‘ Thou wronged lord of Rome,’ quoth be, ‘ arise;
Let my unsounded self, supposed a fool,
Now set thy long-experienced wit to school.
‘ Why, Collatine, is woe the cure for woe?
Do wounds help wounds, or grief help grievous deeds?
Is it revenge to give thyself a blow
For his foul act by whom thy fair wife bleeds?
Such childish humour from weak minds proceeds;
Thy wretched wife mistook the matter so
To slay herself, that should have slain her foe.
‘ Courageous Roman, do not steep thy heart
In such relenting dew of lamentations,
But kneel with me and help to bear thy part
To rouse our Roman gods with invocations
That they will suffer these abominations –
Since Rome herself in them doth stand disgraced –
By our strong arms from forth her fair streets chased.
‘ Now by the Capitol that we adore,
And by this chaste blood so unjustly stained,
By heaven's fair sun that breeds the fat earth's store,
By all our country rights in Rome maintained,
And by chaste Lucrece' soul that late complained
Her wrongs to us, and by this bloody knife,
We will revenge the death of this true wife.’
This said, he struck his hand upon his breast,
And kissed the fatal knife, to end his vow,
And to his protestation urged the rest,
Who, wondering at him, did his words allow.
Then jointly to the ground their knees they bow,
And that deep vow which Brutus made before
He doth again repeat, and that they swore.
When they had sworn to this advised doom,
They did conclude to bear dead Lucrece thence,
To show her bleeding body thorough Rome,
And so to publish Tarquin's foul offence;
Which being done with speedy diligence,
The Romans plausibly did give consent
To Tarquin's everlasting banishment.
SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS © 2018 DAVID CRYSTAL & BEN CRYSTAL