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We will 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 incompass'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 reproaches 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 from heaven and Colatine ?
Ah, 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;
Her mansion batter'd by the enemy;
Her sacred temple spotted, spoil'd, corrupted,
Grossly ingirt with daring infamy.
Then let it not be call'd impiety,
If in this blemish'd fort I make some hole,
Thro' which I may convey this troubled soul.
Yet die I will not, till
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 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 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 shane so dead, my 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 reveng'd may'st be:
How Tarquin must be us’d, read it in me :
Myself thy friend, will kill myself thy foe,
And for my sake, serve thou false Tarquin som
This brief abridgement of my will I make :
My soul and body to the skies and ground;
My resolution, husband, do you take ;
My honour be the knife's that makes my wound;
My shame be his, that did my fame confound ;
And all my fame that lives disturbed be
To those that live, and think no shame of me.
When Colatine shall 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, and that shall conquer thee ;
Thou dead, that dies, and both shall victors be.
This plot of death, when sadly she had laid,
And wip'd the brinish pearl from her bright eyes,
With untun'd tongue she hoarsely call’d the maid,
Whose swift obedience to her mistress hies,
For fleet-wing'd duty with thought's feathers flies.
Poor Lucrece' cheeks unto her maid seem so,
As winter meads, when sun does melt their snow.
Ler mistress she doth give demure good-morrow,
With soft slow tongue, true marks 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 overwash'd with wo.
But as the earth doth weep, the sun being set,
Each flower moisten'd like a melting eye,
E'en so the maid with swelling drops 'gan wet
Her circled eyne, enforc'd by sympathy,
Of those fair suns set in her mistress' sky ;
Who in a salt-wav'd 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 they are form’d as marble will;
The weak oppress'd, th' impression of strange kinds
Is form'd in them by force, by fraud or skill.
Then call them not the authors of their ill,
No more than wax should be accounted evil,
Wherein is stamp'd the semblance of a devil.
Their smoothness, like an even 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 ;
Thro' crystal walls each little mote will peep.
Tho' men can cover crimes with bold, stern looks,
Poor women's faces are their own faults' books,
No man inveighs against the wither'd flower,
But chides rough winter, that the flower has kill'd;
Not that's devour'd, but that which doth devour
Is worthy blame ; O let it not be held
Poor women's faults that they are so fulfill'd
With men's abuses ; those proud lords, to blame,
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.
The dying fear thro' 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
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 staid,
Till after a deep groan) Tarquin from hence ?
Madam, ere I was up, reply'd 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 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..
What should I say? One of my husband's mer
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 still 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 tafford
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, tho' my words are brief.
Here folds she up the tenor of her woe,
Her certain sorrow writ uncertainly ;
By this short schedule Colatine may know
Her grief, but not her grief's true quality ;
She dares not therefore make discovery,
Lest he should hold it her own gross abuse,
Ere she with blood had stain'd her strain'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
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 thein 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 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-fac'd groom to hie as fast,
As lagging souls before the northern blast.
Speed, more than speed, but dull and slow she deemis,
Extremity still urgeth such extremes.