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“ 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 could'st not defend thy loyal dame,
And wast afear'd to scratch her wicked foe,
Kill both thyself and her for yielding so.”
This said, from her be-tumbled couch she starteth.
To find some desperate instrument of death ;
But this no slaughter-house no tool imparteth,
To make more vent for passage of her breath,
Which, thronging through her lips, so vanisheth
As smoke from Ætna, 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 fear'd by 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.
“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 stoln 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 forc'd 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 :
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-tun'd 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 cloister'd 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 pri’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 naught 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 unpractis'd 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 pleas'd with grief's society :
True sorrow then is feelingly suffic'd,
When with like semblance it is sympathiz'd.
'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 food,
Who, being stopp'd, 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 feather'd breasts,
And in my hearing be you mute and dumb:
My restless discord loves no stops nor rests ;
A woful 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 dishevell’d 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 burthen-wise I'll hum on Tarquin still,
While thou on Tereus descant'st, 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 encompass'd 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 sham’d, 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 swallow'd 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 ?
Ah me! the bark peeld from the lofty pine,
His leaves will wither, and his sap decay ;
So must my soul, her bark being peel'd away.