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"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, "Immaculate and spotless is my mind; “That was not forc'd; that never was inclin'd "To accessary yieldings, but still pure "Doth in her poison'd closet yet endure."
Lo here, the hopeless merchant of this loss, With head declin'd, and voice damm'd up with woe,
With sad-set eyes, and wretched arms across,
But wretched as he is, he strives in vain;
As through an arch the violent roaring tide
Which speechless woe of his, poor she attendeth, And his untimely frenzy thus awaketh: "Dear lord, thy sorrow to my sorrow lendeth 'Another power; no flood by raining slaketh. 'My woe too sensible thy passion maketh
"More feeling-painful: let it then suffice "To drown one woe, one pair of weeping eyes.
"And for my sake, when I might charm thee so "For she that was thy Lucrece,—now attend
"Be suddenly revenged on my foe,
"Thine, mine, his own; suppose thou dost defend
"From what is past: the help that thou shalt lend
"Comes all too late, yet let the traitor die; "For sparing justice feeds iniquity.
"But ere I name him, you, fair lords," quoth she, (Speaking to those that came with Collatine) "Shall plight your honourable faiths to me, "With swift pursuit to venge this wrong of mine; "For 'tis a meritorious fair design,
"To chase injustice with revengeful arms: "Knights, by their oaths, should right poor ladies' harms."
At this request, with noble disposition
The protestation stops. "O speak," quoth she, "How may this forced stain be wip'd from me?
"What is the quality of mine offence,
Being constrain'd with dreadful circumstance? "May my pure mind with the foul act dispense, My low-declined honour to advance ?
May any terms acquit me from this chance? "The poison'd fountain clears itself again ; "And why not I from this compelled stain?"
With this, they all at once began to say,
No, no," quoth she, "no dame, hereafter
By my excuse shall claim excuse's giving."
Here with a sigh, as if her heart would break,
But more than he her poor tongue could not speak ;
She utters this: "He, he, fair lords, 'tis he,
Even here she sheathed in her harmless breast
Of that polluted prison where it breath'd:
Life's lasting date from cancell'd destiny.
Stone-still, astonish'd with this deadly deed,
The murderous knife, and as it left the place,
And bubbling from her breast, it doth divide
Who like a late-sack'd island vastly 55 stood
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
$5 vastly] i. e. like a waste.
56 rigol] i. e. circle.
And blood untainted still doth red abide,
Daughter, dear daughter," old Lucretius cries, 'That life was mine, which thou hast here depriv'd.
"If in the child the father's image lies,
"Where shall I live, now Lucrece is unliv'd? "Thou wast not to this end from me deriv'd. "If children predecease progenitors, "We are their offspring, and they none of ours.
"Poor broken glass, I often did behold old "In thy sweet semblance newborn; my age "But now that fair fresh mirror, dim and old, "Shows me a barebon'd death by time outworn;
O, from thy cheeks my image thou hast torn!
"O time, cease thou thy course, and last no longer, "If they surcease to be, that should survive. "Shall rotten death make conquest of the stronger "And leave the faltering feeble souls alive? “The old bees die, the young possess their hive: "Then live, sweet Lucrece, live again, and see "Thy father die, and not thy father thee!"
By this starts Collatine as from a dream,