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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,
From lips new-waxen pale begins to blow
The grief away, that stops his answer so:

But wretched as he is, he strives in vain;
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 forc'd him on so fast;
In rage sent out, recall'd in rage, being past:
Even so he sighs, his sorrows 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: "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

me;

"Be suddenly revenged on my foe,

"Thine, mine, his own; suppose thou dost defend

me

"From what is past: the help that thou shalt lend

me

"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
Each present lord began to promise aid,
As bound in knighthood to her imposition,
Longing to hear the hateful foe bewray'd.
But she, that yet her sad task hath not said,

The protestation stops. "O speak," quoth she, "How may this forced stain be wip'd from me?

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"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 ?

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May any terms acquit me from this chance? "The poison'd fountain clears itself again ; "And why not I from this compelled stain?"

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With this, they all at once began to say,
Her body's stain her mind untainted clears;
While with a joyless smile she turns away
The face, that map which deep impression bears
Of hard misfortune, carv'd in it with tears.

No, no," quoth she, "no dame, hereafter
living,

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By my excuse shall claim excuse's giving."

Here with a sigh, as if her heart would break,
She throws forth Tarquin's name:
He, he," she

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says,

But more than he her poor tongue could not speak ;
Till after many accents and delays,
Untimely breathings, sick and short assays,

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 unsheath'd:
That blow did bail it from the deep unrest

Of that polluted prison where it breath'd:
Her contrite sighs unto the clouds bequeath'd
Her winged sprite, and through her wounds
doth fly

Life's lasting date from cancell'd destiny.

Stone-still, astonish'd with this deadly deed,
Stood Collatine and all his lordly crew;
Till Lucrece' father, that beholds her bleed,
Himself on her self-slaughter'd body threw ;
And from the purple fountain Brutus drew

The murderous knife, and as it left the place,
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 55 stood
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 56 goes,
Which seems to weep upon the tainted place:
And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes,
Corrupted blood some watery token shows;

$5 vastly] i. e. like a waste.

56 rigol] i. e. circle.

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And blood untainted still doth red abide,
Blushing at that which is so putrify'd.

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;

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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, "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,
And bids Lucretius give his sorrow place;

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