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ArribaAbajoVersión original

The rape of Lucrece

ArribaAbajoFirst part

    From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wing 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,  5
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.

    Haply that name of «chaste» unhappily set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not let  10
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumph'd 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  15
Unlock'd 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,  20
But king nor peer to such peerless dame.

    O happiness enjoy'd, but of a few!
And, if possess'd as soon decay'd and done
As is the morning's silver-melting dew
Against the golden splendour of the sun!  25
An expired date, cancell'd ere well begun:
Honour and beauty, in the owner's arms,
Are weakly fortress'd from a world of harms.

    Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator;  30
What needeth then apologies be made,
To set forth that which is so singular?
Or why Collatine the publisher
Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
From thievish ears, because it is his own?  35

    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  40
His high-pich'd 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,  45
Neglected all, with swift intent he goes
To quench the coal which in his liver glows.
O rash-false heat, wrapp'd in repentant cold,
Thy hasty spring still blasts, and ne'er grows old!

    When at Collation this false lord arrived,  50
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 bragg'd, beauty would blush for shame;
When beauty boasted blushes, in despite  55
Virtue would stain that o'er with silver white.

    But beauty, in that white intituled,
From Venus' doves doth challenge that fir field;
Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
Which virtue gave the golden age to gild  60
Their silver cheeks, and call'd it then their shield;
Teaching them thus to use it in the fight,
When shame assil'd, the red should fence the white.

    This heraldry in Lucrece' f ace was seen,
Argued by beauty's red and virtue's white;  65
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.  70

    This silent war of lilies and of roses,
Which Tarquin view'd in her fair face's field,
In their pure ranks his traitor eye encloses;
Where, lest between hem both it should be kill'd,
The coward captive vanquished doth yield  75
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,  80
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,  85
Little suspecteth the false worshipper;
For unstain'd thoughts do seldom dream on evil;
Birds never limed no secret bushes tear:
So guiltless she securely gives good cheer
And reverend welcome to her princely guest,  90
Whose inward ill no outward harm express'd:

    For that he colour'd with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in plaits of majesty;
That nothing in him seem'd inordinate,
Save sometime too much wonder of his eye,  95
Which. having all, all could not satisfy;
But, poorly rich, so wanteth in his store,
That, cloy'd with much, he pineth still for more.

    But, she, that never coped with stranger eyes,
Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,  100
Nor read the subtle-shining secrecies
Writ in the glassy margents of such books:
She touch'd no unknown baits, nor fear'd no hooks;
Nor could she moralize his wanton sight,
More than his eyes were open'd to the light.  105

    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:  110
Her joy with heaven-up hand she doth express,
And wordless so greets heaven for his success.

    Far from the purpose of his coming hither,
He makes excuses for his being there:
No cloudy show of stormy blustering weather  115
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,  120
Intending weariness with heavy spright;
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 betake,  125
Save thieves and cares and troubled minds that wake.

    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;  130
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
That what they have not, that which they posses,  135
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.  140

    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;  145
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,  150
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,  155
Pawning his honour to obtain his lust;
And for himself himself he 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  160
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;  165
Now serves the season that they may surprise
The silly lambs: pure thoughts are dead and still,
While lust and murder wakes to stain and kill.

    And now this lusful lord leap'd from his bed,
Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm;  170
Is madly toss'd between desire and dread;
Th'one sweetly flatters, th'other feareth harm;
But honest fear, betwitch'd with lust's foul charm,
Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
Beaten aeay by braind-stick rude desire.  175

    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 lode-star to his lustful eye;
And to the flame thus speaks advisedly:  180
«As from this cold tint 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  185
What following sorrow may on this arise:
Then looking scornfully he doth despise
His naked armour of still-slaughter'd lust,
And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust:

    Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not  190
To darken her whose light excelleth thine:
And die, unhallow'd 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  195
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!
Oh impious act, including all foul harms!
A martial man to be soft fancy's slave!  200
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;  205
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 bin.  210

    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?  215
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?  220
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,  225
When thou shalt charge me with so black a deed?
Will not my tongue be mute, my frail joints shake,
Mine eyes forgo their light, my false heart bleed?,
The guilt being great, the fear doth still exceed;
And extreme fear can neither fight nor fly,  230
But coward-like with trembling terror die.

    Had Collatinus kill'd 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,  235
As in revenge or quittal of such strife:
But as he is my kinsman mi 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;  240
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.  245

    Thus graceless holds he disputation
Tween frozen conscience and hot-burning will,
And with good thoughts makes dispensation,
Urging the worser sense for vantage still;
Which in a moment doth confound and kill  250
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,  255
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 lock'd,  260
Forced it to tremble with her loyal fear!
Which struck her sad, and then it faster rock'd,
Until her husband's welfare she did head;
Whereat she smiled with so sweet a cheer
That had Narcissus seen her as she stood  265
Self-love had never drown'd him in the flood.

    Why hunt I them 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:  270
Affection is my captain, and he leadeth;
And when his gaudy banner is display'd,
The coward fights, and will not be dismay'd.

    Then, childish fear avaunt! debating die!
Respect and reason wait on wrinkled age!  275
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 price;
Then who fears sinking where such treasure lies?»  280

    As corn overgrown 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,  285
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 self-same seat sits Collatine:
That eye which looks on her confounds his wits;  290
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,  295
Who, flatter'd 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,  300
The Roam 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:  305
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  310
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 he torch:  315

    And being lighted, by the light he spies
Lucretia's glove, wherein her needle sticks:
He takes if from the rushes where it lies.
And griping it, the needle his finger pricks;
As who should say: «This glove to wanton tricks  320
Is not inured; return again in haste;
Thou see'st our mistress' ornaments are chaste.»

    But all these poor forbiddings could not stay him;
He in the worst sense construes their denial;
The doors, the wind, the glove, hat did delay him,  325
He takes for accidental things of trial;
Or as those 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,  330
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,  335
The merchant fears, ere rich at home he lands.»

    Now is he come unto the chamber door,
That shuts him from the heaven of his tought,
Which with a yielding latch, and with no more,
Hath barr'd him from the blessed thing he sought.  340
So from himself impiety hath wrought,
That for his prey to pray he doth begin,
As if the heaven should countenance his sin.

    But in the midst of his unfruitful prayer,
Having solicited the eternal power  345
That his foul thoughts might compass his fair fair,
And they would stand auspicious to the hour,
Even there he stars: quoth he, I must deflower:
The powers to whom I pray abhor this fact;
How can they assist me in the act?  350

    The Love and Fortune be my gods, my guide!
My will is back'd with resolution:
Thoughts are but dreams till their effects be tried;
The blackest sin is clear'd with absolution;
Against love' fire fear's frost hath dissolution.  355
The eye of heaven is out, and misty night
Covers the shame that follows sweet delight.»

    This said, his guilty hand pluck'd up the latch,
And with his knee the door he opens wide.
The dove sleeps fast that this night-owl will catch;  360
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  365
And gazed 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 watch-word to his hand full soon  370
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;  375
Whether it is that she reflects so bright,
That dazzleth them, or else some shame supposed;
But blind they are, and keeps themselves enclosed.

    O, had they in that darksome prison died!
Then had they seen the period of the ill;  380
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.  385

    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:  390
Where, like a virtuous monument, she lies,
To be admired of lewd unhallow'd eyes.

    Without the bed other fait hand was,
On the green coverlet; whose perfect white
Show'd like an April daisy on the grass,  395
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, play'd with her breath;  400
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 beauty
As if between them twain there were no strife,  405
But that life lived in death and death in life.

    Her breasts, like ivory globes circle with blue,
A pair of maiden worlds unconquered,
Save of their lord no bearing yoke they knew,
And him by oath they truly honoured.  410
These worlds in Tarquin new ambition bred;
Who, like a foul usurper, went about
From this fair throne to heaven the owner out.

    What could he see but mightily he noted?
What did he note but strongly he desired?  415
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.  420

    As the grim lion fawneth o'er his prey,
So o'er sleeping soul doth Tarquin stay,
Sharp hunger by the conquest satisfied,
His rage of lust by gazing qualified;
Slack'd, not suppress'd for standing by her side,  425
His eye, which late this mutiny restrains,
Unto a greater uproar temps his veins:

    And they, like straggling slaves for pillage fighting,
Obdurate vassals fell exploits effecting
In bloody death and ravishment delighting,  430
Nor children's tears nor mother's groans despecting,
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,  435
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,  440
Left their round turrets destitute and pale.

    They, mustering 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;  445
She, much amazed, breaks ope her lock'd-up eyes,
Who, peeping forth this tumult to behold,
Are by his flaming torch dimm'd and controll'd.

    Imagine her as one in dead of night
From forth dull sleep by dreadful fancy waking,  450
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.  455

    Wrapp'd and confounded in a thousand fears,
Like to a new-kill'd 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;  460
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! distress'd,  465
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  470
To sound a parley to his heartless foe;
Who oér the white sheet peers her whiter chin,
The reason of this rash alarm to know,
Which he by dumb demeanour seeks to show;
But she with vehement prayers urgeth still  475
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:  480
Under that colour am I come to scale
Thy never-conquer'd 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,  485
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.  490

    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;  495
Only he hath an eye to gaze on beauty,
And dotes on what he looks, against 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,  500
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,  505
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  510
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 mine I'll slay,  515
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;  520
Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdain,
Thy issue blurr'd with nameless bastardy:
And thou, the author of their obloquy
Shalt have thy trespass cited up in thymes
And sung by children in succeeding times.  525

    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 sometime is compacted  530
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,  535
The blemish that will never be forgot;
Worse than a slavish wipe or mirth-hour's blot:
For marks descried in men's nativity
Are nature's faults, not their own infamy.»

ArribaAbajoSecond part

    Here with a cockatrice' dead-killing eye  540
He rouseth up himself, and makes a pause;
While she, the picture of true piety,
Like a white hind under the gripe's sharp claws,
Pleads, in a wilderness where are no laws,
To the rough beats that knows no gentle right,  545
No aught obeys but his foul appetite.

    But when a black-faced cloud the world doth threat,
In his dim mist the aspiring mountains hiding,
From earth's dark womb some gentle gust doth get,
Which blows these pitchy vapours from their biding,  550
Hindering their present fall by this dividing;
So his unhallow'd haste her words delays,
And moody Pluto winks Orpheus plays.

    Yet, foul night-waking vat, he doth but dally,
While in his hold-fast foot the weak mouse panteht:  555
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.  560

    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,  565
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 kinghood, gentry, and sweet friendship's oath,
By her untimely tears, her husband's love,  570
By holy human law and common troth,
By heaven and earth, and all the power of both,
That to his borrow'd bed he make retire,
And stoop to honour, not to foul desire.

    Quoth she: «Reward not hospitality  575
With such black payment as thou hast pretended;
Mud not the fountain that gave drink to thee;
Mar not the tring that cannot be amended;
End thy ill aim before thy shoot be ended;
He is no woodman that doth bend his bow  580
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.  585
My sight, like whirlwinds, labour hence to heave thee:
If ever man were moved with woman's moans,
Be moved with my tears, my sight, my groans.

    All which together, like a troubled ocean,
Beat at thy rocky and wreck-threatening heart,  590
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 tears, and be compassionate!
Soft pity enters at an iron gate.  595

    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,  600
Thou seem'st not what thou art, a good, 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 darest do such outrage,  605
What darest thou not when once thou art a king?
O, be remember'd, no outrageous thing
From vassal actors can be wiper away;
Then king's misdeeds cannot be hid in clay.

    This deed will make thee only loved for fear;  610
But happy monarchs still are fear'd 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,  615
Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look.

    And wilt thou be the school where Lust shall lean?
Must he in thee read lectures of such shame?
Wilt thou be glass wherein it shall discern
Authority for sin, warrant for blame,  620
To privilege dishonour in thy name?
Thou back'st reproach against long-livin laud,
And makest fair reputation but a bawd.

    Hast thou command? by him that gave it thee,
From a pure heart command thy rebel will:  625
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, pattern'd by thy fault, foul sin may say
He learn'd sin and thou didst teach the way?  630

    Think but how vile a spectacle it were,
To view thy present trespass in another.
Man's faults do seldom to themselves appear;
Their own transgressions partially they smother:
This guilt would seem death-worthy in thy brother  635
O, how are they wrapp'd 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;  640
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  645
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
Tot their salt sovereign, with their fresh falls' haste  650
Add to his flow, but alter not his taste.»

    «Thou art» quoth she, «a sea, sovereign king;
And, lo, there falls into thy boundless flood
Black lust, dishonour, shame, misgoverning,
Who seek to stain the ocean of thy blood.  655
If all these petty ills shall charge 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;  660
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.  665

    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  670
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,  675
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 controll'd
Entombs her outcry in her lips' sweet fold:

    For with the nightly linen that she wears  680
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,  685
Her tears should drop on them perpetually.

    But she 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;  690
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,  695
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.  700

    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  705
Can curb his heat or rein his rash desire,
Till, like a jade, Self-will himself doth tire.

    And then with lank and lean discolour'd cheek,
With heavy eye, knit brow, and strengthless pace,
Feeble Desire, all recreant, poor and meek,  710
Like to a bankrupt beggar wails his case:
The flesh being proud, Desire doth figth 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,  715
Who this accomplishment so hotly chased;
For now against himself he sounds this doom,
That through the length of times he stands disgrace:
Besides, his soul's fair temple is defaced,
To whose weak ruins muster troops of cares,  720
Ti ask the spotted princess how she fares.

    She says, her subjects with foul insurrection
Have batter'd down her consecrated wall,
And by their mortal fault brought in subjection
Her immortality, and made her thrall  725
To living death and pain perpetual:
Which in her prescience she controlled still,
But her foresight could not forestall their will.

    Even in this though through the dark night he stealeth,
A captive victor that hath lost in gain;  730
Bearing away the wound that nothing healeth,
The scar that will, despite of cure, remain;
Leaving his spoil perplex's in greater pain.
She bears the load of lust he left behind,
And he the burthen of a guilty mind.  735

    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, sweating with guilty fear;  740
She stays, exclaiming on the direful night;
He runs, and chides his vanish'd, loathed delight.

    He thence departs a heavy convertite;
She there remains a hopeless cast-away;
He in his speed looks for the morning light;  745
She prays she never my 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  750
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,  755
Upon my cheeks 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  760
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!  765
Black stage for tragedies and murders fell!
Vast sin-concealing chaos! nurse of blame!
Blond muffled bawd! dark harbour for defame!
Grim cave of death! whispering conspirator
With close-tongued treason and the ravisher!  770

    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 proportion'd course of time;
Or if thou wilt permit the sun to climb  775
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 fait,  780
Ere he arrive his weary noon-tide prick;
And let thy misty vapours march so thick
That in their smoky ranks his smother'd light
May set at noon and make perpetual night.

    Were Tarquin Night, as he is but Night's child,  785
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,  790
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 must sit and pine,  795
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  800
Which underneath thy black all-hiding cloak
Immodestly martyr'd 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!  805

   Make me not object to the tell-tale Day!
The light will show, character'd in my brow,
The story of sweet chastity's decay,
The impious breach of holy wedlock vow:
Yea, the illiterate, that know not how  810
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,  815
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,  820
For Collatine's dear love be kept unspotted:
If that he 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  825
As I, ere this, was pure to Collatine.

    O unseen shame! invisible disgrace!
O unfelt sore! crest-wounding, private scar!
Reproach is stamp'd in Collatinus' face,
And Tarquin's eye may read the mot afar,  830
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.  835
My honey lost, and I, a drone-like bee,
Have no perfection of my summer left,
But robb'd and ransack'd by injurious theft;
In thy weak hive a wandering wasp hath crept,
And suck'd the honey which thy chaste bee kept.  840

    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,  845
And talk'd of virtue: O unlook'd-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?  850
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 fold  855
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  860
But torment that it cannot cure his pain.

    So then he hath it when he cannot use it,
And leaves it to be masterd'd by his young;
Who in their pride do presently abuse it;
Ther father was too weak, and they too strong,  865
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;  870
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.  875

    O Opportunity, thy guilt is great!
Tis thou that executest the traitor's treason;
Thou set'st 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;  880
And in thy shady cell, where none may spy him,
Sits Sin, to seize the souls that wander by him.

    Thou makest the vestal violate her oath;
Thou blow'st the fire when temperance is thaw'd;
Thou smother honesty, thou munder'st troth;  885
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 to grief!

    Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame,  890
Thy private feasting to a public fast,
Thy smoothing titles to a ragged name,
Thy sugar'd tongue to bitter wormwood taste;
Thy violent vanities can never last.
How comes it then, vile Opportunity,  895
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?  900
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;  905
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 munder's rages,
Thy heinous hours wait on them as their pages.  910

    When Truth and Virtue have to do with thee,
A thousand crosses keep them from thy aid:
They buy thy help, bur Sin ne'er gives a fee;
He gratis comes, and thou art well appaid
As well to hear as grant what he hath said.  915
My Collatine would else have come to me
When Tarquin did, but he was stay'd by thee.

    Guilty thou art of munder and of theft,
Guilty perjury and subornation,
Guilty treason, forgery and shift,  920
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.

    Mis-shapen Time, copesmate of ugly Night,  925
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 murder'st all that are:
O, hear me them, injurious, shifting Time!  930
Be guilty of my death, since of my crime.

    Why hath thy servant Opportunity
Betray'd the hours thou gavest me to repose,
Cancell'd my fortunes and enchained me
To endless date of never-ending woes?  935
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,  940
To stamp the seal of mine in aged things,
To wake the morn and sentinel the night,
To wrong the wronger till render right,
To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours,
And smear with dust their glittering golden towers;  945

    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  950
To spoil antiquities of hammer'd steel
And turn the giddy round of Fortune's wheel;

    To show the beldam daughters of her daughter,
To make the child a man, the man a child,
To slay the tiger that doth live by slaughter,  955
To tame the unicorn and lion wild!
To mock the subtle in themselves beguiled,
To cheer the ploughman with increaseful crops,
And waste stones with little water-drops.

    Why work'st thou mischief in thy pilgrimage,  960
Unless thou couldst return to make amends?
One poor retiring minute in an age
Would purchase thee a thousand friends,
Lending him wit that to bad debtors lends:
O, this dread night, wouldst thou one hour come back,  965
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;  970
Let ghastly shadows his lewd eyes affright,
And the dire thought of his committed evil
Shape every bush a hideous shapeless devil.

    Disturb his of rest with restless trances,
Afflict him in his bed with bedrid groans;  975
Let there bechance him pitiful mischances,
To make him moan; but pity not his moans:
Stone him with harden'd hearts, harder than stones;
And let mild women to him lose their mildness,
Wilder him than tigers in their wildness.  980

    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,  985
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  990
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,  995
Teach me to curse him that thou taugh'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  1000
As slanderous deathsman to so base a slave?

    To 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 honour'd or begets him hate;  1005
For greatest scandal wait on greatest state.
The moon being clouded presently is miss'd,
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;  1010
But if the like 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.  1015

    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:  1020
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,  1025
In vain I spurn at my confirm'd 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?  1030
Honour thyself to rid me of this shame;
For if I die, my honour lives in thee,
But if I live, thou livest in my defame:
Since thou couldst not defend thy loyal dame,
And wast afeard to scratch her wicked foe,  1035
Kill both thyself and her for yielding so.»