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ArribaAbajoThird part

    This said, from her be-tumbled 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;  1040
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, «live, and seek in vain
Some happy mean to end a hapless life.  1045
I feared Tarquin's falchion to be slain,
Yet for the self-same purpose seek a knife:
But when I fear'd I was a loyal wife:
So am I now: O no, that cannot be;
Of that true type hath Tarquin rifled me.  1050

    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:  1055
Poor helpless help, the treasure stol'n 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,  1060
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,  1065
Nor laugh with his companions at thy state;
But thou shalt know thy interest was not bought
Basely with gold, but stol'n from forth thy gate.
For me, I am the mistress of my fate,
And with my trespass never will dispense,  1070
Till life to death acquit my forced offence.

    I will not poison thee with my attaint,
Nor fold my fault in cleanly-coin'd excuses;
My sable ground of sin I will not paint,
To hide the truth of this false night's abuses:  1075
My tongue shall utter all; mine eyes, like sluices,
As from a mountain-spring that feeds a dale,
Shall gust pure streams to purge my impure tale.»

    By this, lamenting Philomel had ended
The well tuned warble of her nightly sorrow,  1080
And solemn night slow sad gait descended
To ugly hell; when, low, 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 cloister'd be.  1085

    Revealing day through every canny 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:  1090
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 nought agrees:  1095
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,  1100
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;  1105
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;  1110
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;  1115
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 stopp'd the bounding banks o'erflows;
Grief dallied with nor law nor limit knows.»  1120

    «You, mocking birds», quoth she, «your tunes entomb
Within your hollow-swelling feather'd 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:  1125
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 dishevell'd hair:
As the dank earth weeps at thy languishment,  1130
So I at each sad strain will strain a tear,
And with deep groans the diapason bear;
For burden-wise hum on Tarquin still,
While thou on Tereus descant'st better skill.

    And whiles against a thorn thou bear'st thy part,  1135
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 wink, shall thereon fall and die.
These means, as frets upon an instrument,  1140
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,  1145
Will we find out; and there we will unfold
To creatures stern sad tunes, to charge their kinds:
Since men prove beasts, let beasts bear gentle minds.»

    As the poor frighted deer, that stands at goze,
Wildly determining which way to fly,  1150
Or one encompass'd with a winding maze,
That cannot tread the way out readily;
So with herself is she mutiny,
To live or die, which of the twain were better,
When life is shamed and death reproach's debtor.  1155

    «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 is swallow'd in confusion.
That mother tries a merciless conclusion  1160
Who, having two sweet babes, when death takes one,
Will slay the other and be nurse to one.

    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,  1165
When both were kept for heaven and Collatine?
Ay me! the bark peel'd from the lofty pine,
His leaves will wither and his sap decay;
So must my soul, her bark being peel'd away.

    Her house is sack'd, her quiet interrupted,  1170
Her mansion batter'd by the enemy;
Her sacred temple spotted, spoil'd, corrupted,
Grossly engirt with daring infamy:
Then let not be call'd impiety,
If in this blemish'd fort I make some hole  1175
Through which I many 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.  1180
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.  1185
Tis honour to deprive dishonour'd 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.  1190

    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:  1195
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;  1200
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;  1205
How was I overseen that thou shalt see it!
My blood shall wash the slader 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:  1210
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;  1215
For fleet-wing'd duty with thought's feathers flies.
Poor Lucrece' cheek 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,  1220
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-wash'd with woe.  1225

    But as the earth doth weep, the sun being set,
Each flower moisten'd like a melting eye,
Even so the maid with swelling drops'gan wet
Her circle eyne, enforced by sympaty
Of those fair suns set in her mistress' sky,  1230
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  1235
No cause, but company, of her drops spilling:
Their gentle sex to weep are often willing,
Grieving themselves to guess at other' smarts,
And then they drown their eyes or break their hearts.

    For men have marble, women waxen, minds,  1240
And therefore are they form's as marble will;
The weak oppress'd, the impression of strange kinds
Is form'd in them by force, by fraud, or skill:
Then call then not the authors of their ill,
No more than wax shall be accounted evil  1245
Wherein is stamp'd 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:  1250
Through crystal walls each little mote will peep:
Though men can cover crimes with bold stern looks,
Poor women's faces are their own faults' books.

    No man inveigh against the withered flower,
But chide rough winter that the flower hath kill'd:  1255
Not that devour'd, but that which doth devour,
Is worthy blame. O, let it not be hild
Poor women's faults, that they are so fulfill'd
With men's abuses: those proud lords to blame
Make weak-made women tenants to their shame.  1260

    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,  1265
That dying fear through all her body spread;
And who cannot abuse a body dead?

    By this, mild patience did fair Lucrece speak
To the poor counterfeit of her complaining:
«My girl», quoth she, «on what occasion break  1270
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 stay'd  1275
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,  1280
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,  1285
For more it is than I can well express:
And that deep torture may be call'd 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.  1290
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.»  1295

   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:  1300
Much like a press of people at the 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-  1305
If ever, love, thy Lucrece thou wilt see-
Some present speed to came 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,  1310
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,  1315
Ere she with blood had stain'd 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  1320
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  1325
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.  1330

    Her letter now is seal'd 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:  1335
Speed more than speed but dull and slow she deems:
Extremity still urgeth such extremes.

    The homely villain court'sies to her low,
And blushing on her, with a steadfast eye
Receives the scroll without or yea or no,  1340
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 blush'd to see her shame:

    When, silly groom! God wot, it was defect  1345
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  1350
Pawn'd 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 blush'd, as knowing Tarquin's lust
And blushing with him, wistly on him gazed;  1355
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,  1360
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.  1365

    At lasts she calls to mind where hangs a piece
Of skilful painting, made for Priam's Try;
Before the which is drawn the power of Greece,
For Helen's rape the city to destroy,
Threatening cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy  1370
Which the conceited painter drew so proud,
As heaven, it seem'd, to kiss the turrets bow'd.

    A thousand lamentable objects there,
In scorn of nature, art gave lifeless life:
Many a dry drop seem'd a weeping tear,  1375
Shed for the slaughter'd husband by the wife:
The red blood reeked to show the painter's strife;
And dying eyes gleam'd forth their ashy lights,
Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights.

    There might you see the labouring pioneer  1380
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  1385
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  1390
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!  1395
The face of either cipher'd either's heart;
Their face their manners most expressly told:
In Ajax' eyes blunt rage and rigour roll'd;
But the mild glance that sly Ulysses lent
Show'd deep regard and smiling government.  1400

    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, charm'd the sight:
In speech, it seem'd, his beard all silver white  1405
Wagg'd up and down, and from his lips did fly
Thin winding breath which purl'd up to the sky.

    About him were a press of gaping faces,
Which seem'd to swallow up his sound advice;
All jointly listening, but with several graces,  1410
As it 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 seem'd, to mock the mind.

    Here one man's hand lean'd on another's head,  1415
His nose being shadow'd by his neighbour's ear;
Here one being throng'd bears back, all boll'n and red;
Another smother'd seems to pelt and swear;
And in their rage suchs signs of rage they bear
As, but for loss of Nestor's golden words,  1420
It seem'd they would debate with angry swords.

ArribaFourth part

    For much imaginary work was there;
Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,
That for Achilles' image stood his spear
Griped in an armed hand; himself behind  1425
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, march'd to field,  1430
Stood many Trojan mothers sharing joy
To see their youthful sons bright weapons wield;
And to they hope they such odd action yield
That through their light joy seemed to appear,
Like bright things stain'd, a kind of heavy fear.  1435

    And from the strand of Dardan, where they fought,
To Simois' reedy banks the red blood ran,
Whose wawes to initate the battle saught
With swelling ridges; and their ranks began
To break upon the galled shore, and then  1440
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 stell'd.
Many she sees where cares have carved some,  1445
But none where all distress and dolour dwell'd,
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 anatomised  1450
Time's ruin, beauty's wreck, 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,  1455
Show'd life imprison'd in a body dead.

    On this sad shadow Lucrece spends her eyes,
And shapes her sorrow to the beldam's woes,
Who nothing wants to answer her but cries,
And bitter words to ban her cruel foes:  1460
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,  1465
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.  1470

    Show me the strumpet that began this stir,
That with my nails her beauty I may tear.
Thy heat of loust, fond Paris, did incur
This load of wrath that burning Troy doth bear:
Thy eye kindley the fire that burneth here;  1475
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  1480
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,  1485
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 check'd his son's desire,  1490
Troy had been bright with fame and not with fire.»

    Here feelingly she weeps Troy's painter 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:  1495
So Lucrece, set a-work, sad tales doth tell
To pencill'd pensiveness and colour'd sorrow;
She lends them works, and she their looks doth borrow.

    She throws her eyes about the painting round,
And who she finds forlorn she doth lament.  1500
At last she sees a wretched image bound,
That piteous looks to Phrygian shepherds lent:
His face, though full of cares, yet show'd content;
Onward to Troy with the blunt swains he goes,
So mild that Patience seem'd to scorn his woes.  1505

    In him the painter labour'd with his skill
To hide deceit and give the harmless show
An humble gait, calm looks, eyes wailing still.
A brow unbent, that seem'd to welcome woe;
Cheeks neither red nor pale, but mingled so  1510
That blushing red no guilty instance gave,
Nor ashy pale the fear that false hearts have.

    But, like a constant and confirmed devil,
He entertain'd a show so seeming just,
And therein so ensconced his secret evil,  1515
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-skill'd workman this mild image drew  1520
For perjure Sinon, whose enchanting story
The credulous old Priam after slew;
Whose works, like wildfire, burnt the shining glory
Of rich-built Ilion, that the skies were sorry,
And little stars shot from their fixed places,  1525
When their glass fell wherein they view'd 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:  1530
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»;  1535
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 turn'd it thus, «It cannot be, I find,
But such a face should bear a wicked mind:  1540

    For even as subtle Sinon here is painted,
So sober-sad, so weary and so mild,
As if with grief or travail he had fainted,
To me came Tarquin armed: so beguiled
With outward honesty, but yet defiled  1545
With inward vice: as Priam him did cherih,
So did I Tarquin; so my Troy dir perish.

    Look, look, how listening Priam wets his eyes,
To see those borrow'd tears that Sinon sheds!
Priam, why art thou old and yet not wise?  1550
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;  1555
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 dot flatter,  1560
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  1565
Whose deed hath made herself herself detest:
At last she smilingly with this gives o'er;
«Fool, fool» quot she, «his wounds will not be sore.»

    Thus ebbs and flows the current of her sorrow,
And time doth weary time with her complaining.  1570
She look 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 snow it creeps.  1575

    Which all this time hath overslipp'd her thought,
That he with painted images hath spent;
Being from the feeling of her own grief brought
By deep surmise of other's detriment,
Losing her woes in shows of discontent.  1580
It easeth some, though none it ever cured,
To think their dolour others have endured.

    But now the mindful messenger come back
Bring home his lord and other company;
Who finds his Lucrece clad in mourning black:  1585
And round about her tear-distained eye
Blue circles stream'd, like rainbows in the sky:
These water-galls in her dim element
Foretell new storms to those already spent.

    Wich when her sad-beholding husband saw;  1590
Amazedly in her sad face he stares:
Her eyes, though sod in tears, look,d red and raw,
Her lively colour kill'd with deadly cares.
He hath no power to ask her how she fares:
Both stood, like old acquaintance in a trance,  1595
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 befall'n, that thou dost trembling stand?
Sweet love, what spite hath thy fair colour spent?  1600
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 sight she gives her sorrow fire,
Ere once she can discharge one word of woe:  1605
At length adress'd to ansver 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 works.  1610

    And now this pale swan in her watery nest
Begins the sad dirge of her certain ending:
«Few words», quot she, «shall fit the trespass best,
Where no excuse can give the fault amending:
In me moe woes than words are now depending;  1615
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  1620
Where thou wast 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,  1625
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 same
On thee and thine this night I will inflict,  1630
If thou my love's desire do contradict."

    "For some hard-favour'd 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  1635
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,  1640
Swaring, 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
The adulterate death of Lucrece and her groom.  1645

    Mine enemy was strong, mi 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  1650
That my poor beauty had purloin'd his eyes;
And when the judge is robb'd, 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 stain'd with this abuse,  1655
Immaculate and spotless is my mind;
That was not forced; that never was inclined
To accessary yieldings, but still pure
Doth in her poison'd closet yet endure.»

   Lo, here, the hopeless merchant of this loss,  1660
With head declined, and voice damm'd up with woe,
With sad-set eyes and wretched arms across,
From lips new-waxen pale begins to blow
The grief away that stop his answer so:
But, wretched as he is, he strives in vain;  1665
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,  1670
In rage sent out, recall'd in rage, being past:
Even so his sight, his sorrow, 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:  1675
«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 one woe, one pair of weeping eyes.  1680

    And for my sake, when I might charm thee so,
For she that was thy Lucrece, now attend me:
Be suddenly reverged on my foe,
Thine, mine, his own: suppose thou dost defend me
From what is past: the help that thou shalt lend me  1685
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,  1690
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  1695
Each present lord began to promise aid,
As bound in knighthood to her imposition,
Longing to hear the hateful foe bewray'd.
Bt she, that yet her sad task hath not said,
The protestation stops. «O, speak», quoth she  1700
«How may this forced stain be wiped from me?

    What is the quality of my offence,
Being constrain'd with dreadful circumstance?
May my pure mind with the foul act dispense,
My low-declined honour to advance?  1705
May any terms acquit me from this chance?
The poison'd fountain clears itself again;
And why not I from this compelled stain?»

    With this, they all at once began to say,
Het body's stain her mind untainted clears;  1710
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.»  1715

    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,  1720
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 if from the deep unrest  1725
Of that polluted prison where it breathed:
Her contrite sight unto the clouds bequeathed
Her winged sprite, and through her wounds doth fly
Life's lasting date from cancell'd destiny.

    Stone-still, astonish'd with this deadly deep,  1730
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 murderous knife, and, as it left the place,  1735
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-sack'd island, vastly stood  1740
Bare and unpeopled in this fearful flood.
Some of her blood still pure and red remain'd,
And some look'd black, and that false Tarquin stain'd.

    About the mourning and congealed face
Of that black blood a watery rigol goes,  1745
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.  1750

    «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.  1755
If children pre-decease 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 fair fresh mirror, dim and old,  1760
Shows me a bare-boned death by time outworn:
O, from thy cheeks my image thou hast torn,
And shiver'd 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,  1765
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 bess die, the young posses their hive:
Then live, sweet Lucrece, live again, and see  1770
Thy father die, and not the 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,  1775
And counterfeits to die with her a space;
Till manly shame bids him posses his breath,
And live to be revenged on her death.

    The deep vexation of his inwar soul
Hath served a dumb arrest upon his tongue;  1780
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.  1785

    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 rains, and busy winds give o'er:  1790
Then son and father weep with equal strife
Who should weep most, for daughter or for wife.

    The one doth call her his, the other his,
Yet neither may possess the claim the lay.
The father say «She's mine.» «O, mine she is»,  1795
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 wail'd by Collatine.»

    «O», quoth Lucretius, «I did give that life  1800
Which she too early and too late hath spill'd.»
«Woe, woe», quoth Collatine, «she was my wife;
I owed her, and 'tis mine that she hath kill'd.»
«My daughter» and «my wife» with clamours fill'd
The dispersed air, who, holding Lucrece' life,  1805
Answer'd their cries, «my daughter» and «my wife»

    Brutus, who pluck'd 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.  1810
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,  1815
And arm's his long-hid wits advisedly
To cheek the tears in Collatine' eyes.
«Thou wronged lord of Roma», quoth he, «arise:
Let my unsounded self, supposed a fool,
Now set thy long-experienced wit to school.  1820

    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:  1825
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 releting dew of lamentations,
But kneel with me and help to bear thy part  1830
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,  1835
And by this chaste blood so injustly 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,  1840
We will revenge the death of this true wife.»

    This said, he struck his hand upon his breast,
And kiss'd te fatal knife, to end his wow,
And to his protestation urgend the rest,
Who, jointly to the ground their kness they bow;  1845
Then jointly to the ground their kness they bow;
And that deep vow, which Brutus made before,
He doth again repeat, and that they swore.

    When they had sworn to his advised doom,
They did conclude ti bear dear Lucrece thence  1850
To show her bleeding body thorough Rome,
And so to publish Tarquin's fould offence:
Which being done with speedy diligence,
The Romans plausibly did give consent
To Tarquin's everlasting banishment.  1855

THE END OF POEM «The rape of Lucrece»