Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds), The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition

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pg 677Lucrece Edited by Francis X. Connor


Editor’s Note1To The Right Honourable Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton and 2Baron of Titchfield.

Editor’s Note3The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end, whereof this pamphlet Editor’s Note4without beginning is but a superfluous moiety. The warrant I have of your 5honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored lines, make it 6assured of acceptance. What I have done is yours, what I have to do is 7yours, being part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my 8duty would show greater; meantime, as it is, it is bound to your Lordship, Editor’s Note9to whom I wish long life still lengthened with all happiness.

  • 10    Your lordship's in all duty,
  • 11        William Shakespeare


Editor’s Note1Lucius Tarquinius (for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus), after he 2had caused his own father-in-law Servius Tullius to be cruelly murdered—Editor’s Note3and (contrary to the Roman laws and customs) not requiring or staying Editor’s Note4for the people's suffrages, had possessed himself of the kingdom—went, 5accompanied with his sons and other noblemen of Rome, to besiege Editor’s Note6Ardea, during which siege the principal men of the army meeting one 7evening at the tent of Sextus Tarquinius (the King's son), in their discourses 8after supper everyone commended the virtues of his own wife, among 9whom Colatinus extolled the incomparable chastity of his wife Lucretia. In Editor’s Note10that pleasant humour they all posted to Rome, and, intending by their Editor’s Note11secret and sudden arrival to make trial of that which everyone had before 12avouched, only Colatinus finds his wife (though it were late in the night) pg 67813spinning amongst her maids. The other ladies were all found dancing Editor’s Note14and revelling, or in several disports, whereupon the noblemen yielded 15Colatinus the victory and his wife the fame. At that time Sextus Tarquinius, 16being enflamed with Lucrece' beauty (yet smothering his passions for 17the present), departed with the rest back to the camp: from whence he, Editor’s Note18shortly after, privily withdrew himself, and was (according to his estate) Editor’s Note19royally entertained and lodged by Lucrece at Collatia. The same night he 20treacherously stealeth into her chamber, violently ravished her, and early 21in the morning speedeth away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight, hastily 22dispatcheth messengers—one to Rome for her father, another to the camp 23for Collatine. They came—the one accompanied with Junius Brutus, the 24other with Publius Valerius—and, finding Lucrece attired in mourning Editor’s Note25habit, demanded the cause of her sorrow. She, first taking an oath of them 26for her revenge, revealed the actor, and whole manner of his dealing, and Editor’s Note27withal suddenly stabbed herself. Which done, with one consent they all 28vowed to root out the whole hated family of the Tarquins, and, bearing the 29dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the people with the doer and 30manner of the vile deed with a bitter invective against the tyranny of the 31king—wherewith the people were so moved that, with one consent and a 32general acclamation, the Tarquins were all exiled and the state government Editor’s Note33changed from kings to consuls.


  • Editor’s Note1From the besieged Ardea all in post,
  • Editor’s Note2Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
  • Editor’s Note3Lust-breathèd Tarquin leaves the Roman host
  • Editor’s Note4And to Collatia bears the lightless fire
  • Editor’s Note5Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
  • 6    And girdle with embracing flames the waist
  • 7    Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.
  • 15For he the night before in Tarquin's tent
  • 16Unlocked the treasure of his happy state:
  • 17What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent
  • pg 67918In the possession of his beauteous mate.
  • 19Reck'ning his fortune at such high proud rate
  • 20    That kings might be espousèd to more fame,
  • 21    But king nor peer to such a peerless dame.
  • 22O happiness enjoyed but of a few!
  • 23And, if possessed, as soon decayed and done
  • 24As is the morning's silver melting dew
  • 25Against the golden splendour of the sun:
  • Editor’s Note26An expired date cancelled ere well begun.
  • 27    Honour and beauty in the owner's arms
  • 28    Are weakly fortressed from a world of harms.
  • Editor’s Note29Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
  • Editor’s Note30The eyes of men without an orator.
  • 31What needeth then apologies be made
  • Editor’s Note32To set forth that which is so singular?
  • Editor’s Note33Or why is Collatine the publisher
  • 34    Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
  • 35    From thievish ears because it is his own?
  • Editor’s Note36Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
  • Editor’s Note37Suggested this proud issue of a king,
  • 38For by our ears our hearts oft tainted be.
  • 39Perchance that envy of so rich a thing,
  • Editor’s Note40Braving compare, disdainfully did sting
  • 41    His high-pitched thoughts, that meaner men should vaunt
  • Editor’s Note42    That golden hap which their superiors want.
  • Editor’s Note43But some untimely thought did instigate
  • Editor’s Note44His all-too timeless speed, if none of those.
  • 45His honour, his affairs, his friends, his state,
  • 46Neglected all; with swift intent he goes
  • Editor’s Note47To quench the coal which in his liver glows.
  • 48    O rash, false heat, wrapped in repentant cold!
  • Editor’s Note49    Thy hasty spring still blasts and ne'er grows old.
  • 50When at Colatia this false lord arrived,
  • 51Well was he welcomed by the Roman dame,
  • 52Within whose face beauty and virtue strived
  • 53Which of them both should underprop her fame.
  • 54When virtue bragged, beauty would blush for shame;
  • 55    When beauty boasted blushes, in despite
  • Editor’s Note56    Virtue would stain that o'er with silver white.
  • Editor’s Note57But beauty, in that white entitlèd
  • Editor’s Note58From Venus' doves doth challenge that fair field.
  • 59Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
  • pg 68060Which virtue gave the golden age to gild
  • 61Their silver cheeks, and called it then their shield,
  • 62    Teaching them thus to use it in the fight:
  • Editor’s Note63    When shame assailed, the red should fence the white.
  • 64This heraldry in Lucrece' face was seen,
  • Editor’s Note65Argued by beauty's red and virtue's white:
  • 66Of either's colour was the other queen,
  • Editor’s Note67Proving (from world's minority) their right,
  • 68Yet their ambition makes them still to fight,
  • 69    The sovereignty of either being so great
  • 70    That oft they interchange each other's seat.
  • 71This silent war of lilies and of roses,
  • 72Which Tarquin viewed in her fair face's field,
  • 73In their pure ranks his traitor eye encloses,
  • 74Where—lest between them both it should be killed—
  • 75The coward captive (vanquishèd) doth yield
  • 76    To those two armies that would let him go,
  • 77    Rather than triumph in so false a foe.
  • 78Now thinks he that her husband's shallow tongue,
  • Editor’s Note79The niggard prodigal that praised her so,
  • 80In that high task hath done her beauty wrong,
  • 81Which far exceeds his barren skill to show.
  • 82Therefore that praise which Collatine doth owe
  • Editor’s Note83    Enchanted Tarquin answers with surmise
  • 84    In silent wonder of still-gazing eyes.
  • 85This earthly saint, adorèd by this devil,
  • 86Little suspecteth the false worshipper,
  • 87For unstained thoughts do seldom dream on evil.
  • Editor’s Note88Birds never limed, no secret bushes fear.
  • Editor’s Note89So guiltless she securely gives good cheer
  • 90    And reverent welcome to her princely guest,
  • 91    Whose inward ill no outward harm expressed.
  • Editor’s Note92For that he coloured with his high estate,
  • Editor’s Note93Hiding base sin in pleats of majesty,
  • Editor’s Note94That nothing in him seemed inordinate,
  • 95Save sometime too much wonder of his eye,
  • 96Which, having all, all could not satisfy,
  • Editor’s Note97    But (poorly rich) so wanteth in his store
  • 98    That (cloyed with much) he pineth still for more.
  • Editor’s Note99But she that never coped with stranger eyes
  • Editor’s Note100Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,
  • 101Nor read the subtle shining secrecies
  • pg 681Editor’s Note102Writ in the glassy margins of such books.
  • 103She touched no unknown baits, nor feared no hooks,
  • Editor’s Note104    Nor could she moralize his wanton sight
  • Editor’s Note105    More than his eyes were opened to the light.
  • Editor’s Note106He stories to her ears her husband's fame—
  • 107Won in the fields of fruitful Italy—
  • 108And decks with praises Collatine's high name,
  • 109Made glorious by his manly chivalry
  • Editor’s Note110With bruisèd arms and wreaths of victory.
  • 111    Her joy with heaved-up hand she doth express,
  • 112    And (wordless) so greets heaven for his success.
  • 113Far from the purpose of his coming thither,
  • 114He makes excuses for his being there.
  • 115No cloudy show of stormy blust'ring weather
  • Editor’s Note116Doth yet in his fair welkin once appear
  • Editor’s Note117Till sable night, mother of dread and fear,
  • 118    Upon the world dim darkness doth display
  • Editor’s Note119    And in her vaulty prison stows the day.
  • 120For then is Tarquin brought unto his bed,
  • Editor’s Note121Intending weariness with heavy sprite;
  • Editor’s Note122For after supper long he questionèd
  • 123With modest Lucrece, and wore out the night.
  • 124Now leaden slumber with life's strength doth fight,
  • 125    And everyone to rest themselves betake
  • Editor’s Note126    Save thieves, and cares, and troubled minds that wake.
  • Editor’s Note127As one of which doth Tarquin lie revolving
  • 128The sundry dangers of his will's obtaining,
  • 129Yet ever to obtain his will resolving,
  • 130Though weak-built hopes persuade him to abstaining.
  • Editor’s Note131Despair to gain doth traffic oft for gaining,
  • Editor’s Note132    And when great treasure is the meed proposed,
  • Editor’s Note133    Though death be adjunct, there's no death supposed.
  • Editor’s Note134Those that much covet are with gain so fond
  • 135Of what they have not, that which they possess
  • 136They scatter and unloose it from their bond,
  • 137And so by hoping more they have but less—
  • 138Or, gaining more, the profit of excess
  • 139    Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain
  • 140    That they prove bankrupt in this poor rich gain.
  • 141The aim of all is but to nurse the life
  • 142With honour, wealth, and ease in waning age,
  • 143And in this aim there is such thwarting strife
  • pg 682Editor’s Note144That one for all, or all for one we gage,
  • Editor’s Note145As life for honour in fell battles rage,
  • 146    Honour for wealth—and oft that wealth doth cost
  • 147    The death of all, and all together lost.
  • 148So that, in vent'ring ill, we leave to be
  • 149The things we are, for that which we expect,
  • Editor’s Note150And this ambitious foul infirmity
  • Editor’s Note151In having much torments us with defect
  • 152Of that we have; so then we do neglect
  • Editor’s Note153    The thing we have, and all for want of wit
  • 154    Make something nothing by augmenting it.
  • 155Such hazard now must doting Tarquin make—
  • 156Pawning his honour to obtain his lust—
  • 157And for himself, himself he must forsake.
  • 158Then where is truth if there be no self-trust?
  • 159When shall he think to find a stranger just
  • 160    When he himself himself confounds, betrays
  • 161    To sland'rous tongues and wretched hateful days?
  • 162Now stole upon the time the dead of night
  • 163When heavy sleep had closed up mortal eyes.
  • Editor’s Note164No comfortable star did lend his light,
  • 165No noise but owls' and wolves' death-boding cries
  • 166Now serves the season, that they may surprise
  • Editor’s Note167    The silly lambs. Pure thoughts are dead and still,
  • 168    While lust and murder wakes to stain and kill.
  • 169And now this lustful lord—leapt from his bed,
  • 170Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm—
  • 171Is madly tossed between desire and dread.
  • 172Th'one sweetly flatters, th'other feareth harm.
  • 173But honest fear, bewitched with lust's foul charm,
  • Editor’s Note174    Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
  • 175    Beaten away by brainsick rude desire.
  • Editor’s Note176His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
  • 177That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly,
  • 178Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he lighteth,
  • Editor’s Note179Which must be lodestar to his lustful eye.
  • Editor’s Note180And to the flame thus speaks advisedly:
  • 181    'As from this cold flint I enforced this fire,
  • 182    So Lucrece must I force to my desire.'
  • 183Here pale with fear he doth premeditate
  • 184The dangers of his loathsome enterprise,
  • 185And in his inward mind he doth debate
  • 186What following sorrow may on this arise.
  • 187Then looking scornfully, he doth despise
  • pg 683Editor’s Note188    His naked armour of still-slaughtered lust,
  • 189    And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust:
  • 190'Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
  • 191To darken her whose light excelleth thine;
  • 192And die, unhallowed thoughts, before you blot
  • 193With your uncleanness that which is divine.
  • 194Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine.
  • 195    Let fair humanity abhor the deed
  • Editor’s Note196    That spots and stains love's modest snow-white weed.
  • 197'O shame to knighthood and to shining arms!
  • Editor’s Note198O foul dishonour to my household's grave!
  • 199O impious act including all foul harms—
  • 200A martial man to be soft fancy's slave.
  • Editor’s Note201True valour still a true respect should have.
  • Editor’s Note202    Then my digression is so vile, so base,
  • 203    That it will live engraven in my face.
  • 204'Yea, though I die, the scandal will survive
  • Editor’s Note205And be an eyesore in my golden coat.
  • Editor’s Note206Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive
  • Editor’s Note207To cipher me how fondly I did dote,
  • Editor’s Note208That my posterity, shamed with the note
  • 209    Shall curse my bones, and hold it for no sin
  • 210    To wish that I their father had not been.
  • 211'What win I if I gain the thing I seek?
  • 212A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
  • 213Who buys a minute's mirth to wail a week,
  • 214Or sells eternity to get a toy?
  • 215For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy?
  • 216    Or what fond beggar, but to touch the crown,
  • 217    Would with the sceptre straight be strucken down?
  • 218'If Colatinus dream of my intent,
  • 219Will he not wake, and in a desp'rate rage
  • Editor’s Note220Post hither, this vile purpose to prevent?
  • Editor’s Note221This siege that hath engirt his marrïage,
  • Editor’s Note222This blur to youth, this sorrow to the sage,
  • 223    This dying virtue, this surviving shame,
  • Editor’s Note224    Whose crime will bear an ever-during blame.
  • Editor’s Note225'O what excuse can my invention make
  • 226When thou shalt charge me with so black a deed?
  • 227Will not my tongue be mute, my frail joints shake?
  • 228Mine eyes forgo their light, my false heart bleed?
  • 229The guilt being great, the fear doth still exceed—
  • pg 684Editor’s Note230    And extreme fear can neither fight nor fly,
  • 231    But coward-like with trembling terror die.
  • 232'Had Colatinus killed my son or sire,
  • 233Or lain in ambush to betray my life,
  • 234Or were he not my dear friend, this desire
  • 235Might have excuse to work upon his wife,
  • Editor’s Note236As in revenge or quittal of such strife.
  • 237    But as he is my kinsman, my dear friend,
  • 238    The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
  • Editor’s Note239'Shameful it is—ay, if the fact be known.
  • 240Hateful it is—there is no hate in loving.
  • 241I'll beg her love—but she is not her own.
  • 242The worst is but denial and reproving;
  • 243My will is strong, past reason's weak removing.
  • Editor’s Note244    Who fears a sentence, or an old man's saw,
  • Editor’s Note245    Shall by a painted cloth be kept in awe.'
  • 246Thus graceless holds he disputatïon
  • 247'Tween frozen conscience and hot-burning will,
  • Editor’s Note248And with good thoughts makes dispensatïon,
  • Editor’s Note249Urging the worser sense for vantage still;
  • 250Which in a moment doth confound and kill
  • Editor’s Note251    All pure effects, and doth so far proceed
  • 252    That what is vile shows like a virtuous deed.
  • 253Quoth he, 'She took me kindly by the hand,
  • 254And gazed for tidings in my eager eyes,
  • Editor’s Note255Fearing some hard news from the warlike band
  • 256Where her belovèd Colatinus lies.
  • 257O how her fear did make her colour rise!
  • Editor’s Note258    First red as roses that on lawn we lay,
  • Editor’s Note259    Then white as lawn, the roses took away.
  • 260'And how her hand, in my hand being locked,
  • 261Forced it to tremble with her loyal fear,
  • Editor’s Note262Which struck her sad, and then it faster rocked
  • 263Until her husband's welfare she did hear—
  • Editor’s Note264Whereat she smilèd with so sweet a cheer
  • Editor’s Note265    That, had Narcissus seen her as she stood,
  • Editor’s Note266    Self-love had never drowned him in the flood.
  • Editor’s Note267'Why hunt I then for colour or excuses?
  • 268All orators are dumb when beauty pleadeth.
  • Editor’s Note269Poor wretches have remorse in poor abuses.
  • pg 685270Love thrives not in the heart that shadows dreadeth.
  • Editor’s Note271Affection is my captain, and he leadeth,
  • 272    And when his gaudy banner is displayed,
  • 273    The coward fights, and will not be dismayed.
  • 281As corn o'ergrown by weeds, so heedful fear
  • 282Is almost choked by unresisted lust.
  • 283Away he steals, with open list'ning ear,
  • Editor’s Note284Full of foul hope and full of fond mistrust—
  • Editor’s Note285Both which, as servitors to the unjust,
  • Editor’s Note286    So cross him with their opposite persuasion
  • Editor’s Note287    That now he vows a league, and now invasion.
  • 288Within his thought her heavenly image sits,
  • 289And in the selfsame seat sits Colatine.
  • 290That eye which looks on her confounds his wits,
  • 291That eye which him beholds, as more divine,
  • 292Unto a view so false will not incline,
  • Editor’s Note293    But with a pure appeal seeks to the heart—
  • 294    Which, once corrupted, takes the worser part,
  • Editor’s Note295And therein heartens up his servile powers
  • Editor’s Note296Who, flattered by their leader's jocund show,
  • Editor’s Note297Stuff up his lust as minutes fill up hours,
  • 298And (as their captain) so their pride doth grow,
  • 299Paying more slavish tribute than they owe.
  • 300    By reprobate desire thus madly led,
  • 301    The Roman lord marcheth to Lucrece' bed.
  • 302The locks between her chamber and his will,
  • Editor’s Note303Each one by him enforced, retires his ward.
  • Editor’s Note304But as they open, they all rate his ill,
  • 305Which drives the creeping thief to some regard.
  • 306The threshold grates the door to have him heard.
  • 307    Night-wand'ring weasels shriek to see him there.
  • Editor’s Note308    They fright him, yet he still pursues his fear.
  • 309As each unwilling portal yields him way,
  • 310Through little vents and crannies of the place
  • 311The wind wars with his torch to make him stay,
  • pg 686312And blows the smoke of it into his face,
  • Editor’s Note313Extinguishing his conduct in this case.
  • 314    But his hot heart, which fond desire doth scorch,
  • 315    Puffs forth another wind that fires the torch.
  • 316And being lighted, by the light he spies
  • 317Lucretia's glove, wherein her needle sticks.
  • 318He takes it from the rushes where it lies,
  • Editor’s Note319And gripping it, the needle his finger pricks,
  • 320As who should say, 'This glove to wanton tricks
  • Editor’s Note321    Is not inured. Return again in haste.
  • 322    Thou seest our mistress' ornaments are chaste.'
  • 323But all these poor forbiddings could not stay him.
  • Editor’s Note324He in the worst sense consters their denial.
  • 325The doors, the wind, the glove that did delay him,
  • Editor’s Note326He takes for accidental things of trial,
  • Editor’s Note327Or as those bars which stop the hourly dial,
  • Editor’s Note328    Who with a ling'ring stay his course doth let
  • 329    Till every minute pays the hour his debt.
  • Editor’s Note330'So so,' quoth he, 'these lets attend the time,
  • 331Like little frosts that sometime threat the spring:
  • Editor’s Note332To add a more rejoicing to the prime,
  • Editor’s Note333And give the sneapèd birds more cause to sing.
  • Editor’s Note334Pain pays the income of each precious thing:
  • Editor’s Note335    Huge rocks, high winds, strong pirates, shelves and sands
  • 336    The merchant fears, ere rich at home he lands.'
  • 337Now is he come unto the chamber door
  • 338That shuts him from the heaven of his thought,
  • 339Which with a yielding latch, and with no more,
  • 340Hath barred him from the blessèd thing he sought.
  • Editor’s Note341So from himself impiety hath wrought
  • 342    That for his prey to pray he doth begin,
  • 343    As if the heavens should countenance his sin.
  • 344But in the midst of his unfruitful prayer
  • 345(Having solicited th'eternal power
  • Editor’s Note346That his foul thoughts might compass his fair fair,
  • Editor’s Note347And they would stand auspicious to the hour),
  • 348Even there he starts. Quoth he, 'I must deflower.
  • 349    The powers to whom I pray abhor this fact.
  • 350    How can they then assist me in the act?
  • 351'Then love and fortune be my gods, my guide!
  • 352My will is backed with resolutïon.
  • pg 687353Thoughts are but dreams till their effects be tried.
  • 354The blackest sin is cleared with absolutïon.
  • Editor’s Note355Against love's fire, fear's frost hath dissolutïon.
  • 356    The eye of heaven is out, and misty night
  • 357    Covers the shame that follows sweet delight.'
  • 358This said, his guilty hand plucked up the latch,
  • 359And with his knee the door he opens wide.
  • 360The dove sleeps fast that this night owl will catch.
  • 361Thus treason works ere traitors be espied.
  • 362Who sees the lurking serpent steps aside,
  • 363    But she, sound sleeping, fearing no such thing,
  • 364    Lies at the mercy of his mortal sting.
  • 365Into the chamber wickedly he stalks,
  • 366And gazeth on her yet-unstainèd bed.
  • Editor’s Note367The curtains being close, about he walks,
  • 368Rolling his greedy eyeballs in his head.
  • 369By their high treason is his heart misled,
  • 370    Which gives the watchword to his hand full soon
  • 371    To draw the cloud that hides the silver moon.
  • Editor’s Note372Look as the fair and fiery-pointed sun,
  • Editor’s Note373Rushing from forth a cloud, bereaves our sight;
  • 374Even so, the curtain drawn, his eyes begun
  • Editor’s Note375To wink, being blinded with a greater light.
  • 376Whether it is that she reflects so bright
  • 377    That dazzleth them, or else some shame supposed,
  • 378    But blind they are, and keep themselves enclosed.
  • 379O had they in that darksome prison died!
  • Editor’s Note380Then had they seen the period of their ill.
  • 381Then Collatine, again by Lucrece' side,
  • Editor’s Note382In his clear bed might have reposèd still.
  • Editor’s Note383But they must ope, this blessèd league to kill,
  • 384    And holy-thoughted Lucrece to their sight
  • 385    Must sell her joy, her life, her world's delight.
  • 386Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies under,
  • Editor’s Note387Coz'ning the pillow of a lawful kiss,
  • 388Who therefore angry seems to part in sunder,
  • Editor’s Note389Swelling on either side to want his bliss—
  • 390Between whose hills her head entombèd is,
  • Editor’s Note391    Where like a virtuous monument she lies
  • 392    To be admired of lewd unhallowed eyes.
  • Editor’s Note393Without the bed her other fair hand was,
  • 394On the green coverlet, whose perfect white
  • 395Showed like an April daisy on the grass,
  • pg 688396With pearly sweat resembling dew of night.
  • Editor’s Note397Her eyes, like marigolds, had sheathed their light,
  • 398    And canopied in darkness sweetly lay
  • 399    Till they might open to adorn the day.
  • 400Her hair like golden threads played with her breath—
  • 401O modest wantons, wanton modesty!—
  • Editor’s Note402Showing life's triumph in the map of death,
  • 403And death's dim look in life's mortality.
  • Editor’s Note404Each in her sleep themselves so beautify
  • 405    As if between them twain there were no strife,
  • 406    But that life lived in death, and death in life.
  • Editor’s Note407Her breasts like ivory globes circled with blue,
  • 408A pair of maiden worlds unconquerèd;
  • 409Save of their lord no bearing yoke they knew,
  • 410And him by oath they truly honourèd.
  • 411These worlds in Tarquin new ambition bred,
  • Editor’s Note412    Who like a foul usurper went about
  • 413    From this fair throne to heave the owner out.
  • 414What could he see but mightily he noted?
  • 415What did he note but strongly he desired?
  • 416What he beheld, on that he firmly doted,
  • Editor’s Note417And in his will his wilful eye he tired.
  • 418With more than admiration he admired
  • 419    Her azure veins, her alabaster skin,
  • 420    Her coral lips, her snow-white dimpled chin.
  • Editor’s Note421As the grim lion fawneth o'er his prey,
  • 422Sharp hunger by the conquest satisfied,
  • Editor’s Note423So o'er this sleeping soul doth Tarquin stay,
  • Editor’s Note424His rage of lust by gazing qualified,
  • 425Slacked (not suppressed) for standing by her side.
  • 426    His eye which late this mutiny restrains
  • 427    Unto a greater uproar tempts his veins,
  • 428And they, like straggling slaves for pillage fighting,
  • Editor’s Note429Obdurate vassals fell exploits effecting,
  • 430In bloody death and ravishment delighting,
  • 431Nor children's tears nor mothers' groans respecting,
  • Editor’s Note432Swell in their pride, the onset still expecting.
  • Editor’s Note433    Anon his beating heart, alarum striking,
  • 434    Gives the hot charge, and bids them do their liking.
  • 435His drumming heart cheers up his burning eye;
  • Editor’s Note436His eye commends the leading to his hand;
  • 437His hand, as proud of such a dignity,
  • 438Smoking with pride, marched on, to make his stand
  • 439On her bare breast, the heart of all her land,
  • pg 689440    Whose ranks of blue veins as his hand did scale
  • 441    Left their round turrets destitute and pale.
  • Editor’s Note442They must'ring to the quiet cabinet
  • 443Where their dear governess and lady lies,
  • 444Do tell her she is dreadfully beset,
  • 445And fright her with confusion of their cries.
  • 446She much amazed breaks ope her locked-up eyes,
  • 447    Who peeping forth this tumult to behold,
  • Editor’s Note448    Are by his flaming torch dimmed and controlled.
  • 449Imagine her as one in dead of night
  • 450From forth dull sleep by dreadful fancy waking,
  • 451That thinks she hath beheld some ghastly sprite
  • 452Whose grim aspect sets every joint a-shaking.
  • Editor’s Note453What terror 'tis! But she in worser taking,
  • 454    From sleep disturbèd, heedfully doth view
  • 455    The sight which makes supposèd terror true.
  • 456Wrapped and confounded in a thousand fears,
  • 457Like to a new-killed bird she trembling lies.
  • Editor’s Note458She dares not look, yet (winking) there appears
  • Editor’s Note459Quick-shifting antics, ugly in her eyes.
  • 460Such shadows are the weak brain's forgeries,
  • 461    Who, angry that the eyes fly from their lights,
  • 462    In darkness daunts them with more dreadful sights.
  • 463His hand that yet remains upon her breast—
  • 464Rude ram, to batter such an ivory wall—
  • 465May feel her heart, poor citizen, distressed,
  • 466Wounding itself to death, rise up and fall,
  • Editor’s Note467Beating her bulk, that his hand shakes withal.
  • 468    This moves in him more rage and lesser pity
  • 469    To make the breach and enter this sweet city.
  • 470First like a trumpet doth his tongue begin
  • Editor’s Note471To sound a parley to his heartless foe,
  • 472Who o'er the white sheet peers her whiter chin,
  • Editor’s Note473The reason of this rash alarm to know,
  • Editor’s Note474Which he by dumb demeanour seeks to show.
  • Editor’s Note475    But she with vehement prayers urgeth still
  • Editor’s Note476    Under what colour he commits this ill.
  • 477Thus he replies, 'The colour in thy face,
  • 478That even for anger makes the lily pale
  • 479And the red rose blush at her own disgrace,
  • 480Shall plead for me and tell my loving tale.
  • 481Under that colour am I come to scale
  • 482    Thy never-conquered fort. The fault is thine,
  • 483    For those thine eyes betray thee unto mine.
  • pg 690484'Thus I forestall thee, if thou mean to chide:
  • 485Thy beauty hath ensnared thee to this night,
  • 486Where thou with patience must my will abide,
  • 487My will that marks thee for my earth's delight,
  • 488Which I to conquer sought with all my might.
  • 489    But as reproof and reason beat it dead,
  • 490    By thy bright beauty was it newly bred.
  • Editor’s Note491'I see what crosses my attempt will bring;
  • 492I know what thorns the growing rose defends;
  • 493I think the honey guarded with a sting;
  • 494All this beforehand counsel comprehends.
  • 495But will is deaf, and hears no heedful friends.
  • 496    Only he hath an eye to gaze on beauty,
  • 497    And dotes on what he looks, 'gainst law or duty.
  • 498'I have debated even in my soul
  • 499What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shall breed;
  • 500But nothing can affection's course control,
  • 501Or stop the headlong fury of his speed.
  • 502I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
  • 503    Reproach, disdain, and deadly enmity,
  • 504    Yet strive I to embrace mine infamy.'
  • 505This said, he shakes aloft his Roman blade,
  • 506Which like a falcon tow'ring in the skies
  • Editor’s Note507Coucheth the fowl below with his wings' shade,
  • Editor’s Note508Whose crooked beak threats: if he mount he dies.
  • Editor’s Note509So under his insulting falchion lies
  • 510    Harmless Lucretia, marking what he tells
  • 511    With trembling fear, as fowl hear falcons' bells.
  • 512'Lucrece', quoth he, 'this night I must enjoy thee.
  • 513If thou deny, then force must work my way,
  • 514For in thy bed I purpose to destroy thee.
  • 515That done, some worthless slave of thine I'll slay,
  • Editor’s Note516To kill thine honour with thy life's decay;
  • 517    And in thy dead arms do I mean to place him,
  • 518    Swearing I slew him seeing thee embrace him.
  • 519'So thy surviving husband shall remain
  • 520The scornful mark of every open eye,
  • 521Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdain,
  • Editor’s Note522Thy issue blurred with nameless bastardy,
  • 523And thou, the author of their obloquy,
  • 524    Shalt have thy trespass cited up in rhymes,
  • 525    And sung by children in succeeding times.
  • Editor’s Note526'But if thou yield, I rest thy secret friend.
  • 527The fault unknown is as a thought unacted.
  • 528A little harm done to a great good end
  • pg 691Editor’s Note529For lawful policy remains enacted.
  • Editor’s Note530The poisonous simple sometime is compacted
  • 531    In a pure compound; being so applied,
  • 532    His venom in effect is purified.
  • 533'Then for thy husband and thy children's sake,
  • Editor’s Note534Tender my suit; bequeath not to their lot
  • Editor’s Note535The shame that from them no device can take,
  • 536The blemish that will never be forgot:
  • Editor’s Note537Worse than a slavish wipe, or birth-hour's blot,
  • 538    For marks descried in men's nativity
  • 539    Are nature's faults, not their own infamy.'
  • Editor’s Note540Here with a cockatrice' dead-killing eye
  • 541He rouseth up himself, and makes a pause,
  • 542While she, the picture of pure piety,
  • Editor’s Note543Like a white hind under the gripe's sharp claws,
  • 544Pleads in a wilderness where are no laws
  • 545    To the rough beast that knows no gentle right,
  • 546    Nor aught obeys but his foul appetite.
  • 547But when a black-faced cloud the world doth threat,
  • Editor’s Note548In his dim mist th'aspiring mountains hiding,
  • Editor’s Note549From earth's dark womb some gentle gust doth get,
  • 550Which blow these pitchy vapours from their biding,
  • Editor’s Note551Hind'ring their present fall by this dividing;
  • Editor’s Note552    So his unhallowed haste her words delays,
  • Editor’s Note553    And moody Pluto winks while Orpheus plays.
  • 554Yet foul night-waking cat, he doth but dally
  • 555While in his holdfast foot the weak mouse panteth.
  • Editor’s Note556Her sad behaviour feeds his vulture folly,
  • 557A swallowing gulf that even in plenty wanteth.
  • 558His ear her prayers admits, but his heart granteth
  • Editor’s Note559    No penetrable entrance to her plaining.
  • 560    Tears harden lust, though marble wear with raining.
  • 561Her pity-pleading eyes are sadly fixed
  • Editor’s Note562In the remorseless wrinkles of his face.
  • 563Her modest eloquence with sighs is mixed,
  • 564Which to her oratory adds more grace.
  • Editor’s Note565She puts the period often from his place,
  • Editor’s Note566    And midst the sentence so her accent breaks
  • 567    That twice she doth begin ere once she speaks.
  • pg 692568She conjures him by high almighty Jove,
  • Editor’s Note569By knighthood, gentry, and sweet friendship's oath,
  • Editor’s Note570By her untimely tears, her husband's love,
  • Editor’s Note571By holy human law and common troth,
  • 572By heaven and earth and all the power of both,
  • 573    That to his borrowed bed he make retire,
  • Editor’s Note574    And stoop to honour, not to foul desire.
  • 575Quoth she, 'Reward not hospitality
  • Editor’s Note576With such black payment as thou hast pretended.
  • 577Mud not the fountain that gave drink to thee;
  • 578Mar not the thing that cannot be amended;
  • 579End thy ill aim before thy shoot be ended.
  • Editor’s Note580    He is no woodman that doth bend his bow
  • Editor’s Note581    To strike a poor unseasonable doe.
  • 582'My husband is thy friend; for his sake spare me.
  • 583Thyself art mighty; for thine own sake leave me;
  • 584Myself, a weakling; do not then ensnare me.
  • 585Thou look'st not like deceit; do not deceive me.
  • 586My sighs like whirlwinds labour hence to heave thee.
  • 587    If ever man were moved with woman's moans,
  • 588    Be movèd with my tears, my sighs, my groans.
  • 589'All which together, like a troubled ocean,
  • 590Beat at thy rocky and wreck-threat'ning heart
  • 591To soften it with their continual motion,
  • Editor’s Note592For stones dissolved to water do convert.
  • 593O, if no harder than a stone thou art,
  • 594    Melt at my tears, and be compassionate.
  • 595    Soft pity enters at an ïron gate.
  • 596'In Tarquin's likeness I did entertain thee.
  • 597Hast thou put on his shape to do him shame?
  • 598To all the host of heaven I complain me.
  • 599Thou wrong'st his honour, wound'st his princely name.
  • 600Thou art not what thou seem'st, and if the same,
  • 601    Thou seem'st not what thou art: a god, a king—
  • 602    For kings like gods should govern everything.
  • Editor’s Note603'How will thy shame be seeded in thine age
  • 604When thus thy vices bud before thy spring?
  • Editor’s Note605If in thy hope thou dar'st do such outrage,
  • 606What dar'st thou not when once thou art a king?
  • 607O be remembered, no outrageous thing
  • Editor’s Note608    From vassal actors can be wiped away;
  • Editor’s Note609    Then kings' misdeeds cannot be hid in clay.
  • 610'This deed will make thee only loved for fear,
  • 611But happy monarchs still are feared for love.
  • 612With foul offenders thou perforce must bear
  • pg 693613When they in thee the like offences prove.
  • 614If but for fear of this, thy will remove;
  • Editor’s Note615    For princes are the glass, the school, the book
  • 616    Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look.
  • 617'And wilt thou be the school where lust shall learn?
  • 618Must he in thee read lectures of such shame?
  • 619Wilt thou be glass wherein it shall discern
  • 620Authority for sin, warrant for blame,
  • 621To privilege dishonour in thy name?
  • Editor’s Note622    Thou back'st reproach against long-living laud,
  • Editor’s Note623    And mak'st fair reputation but a bawd.
  • 624'Hast thou command? By him that gave it thee
  • 625From a pure heart command thy rebel will.
  • 626Draw not thy sword to guard iniquity,
  • 627For it was lent thee all that brood to kill.
  • 628Thy princely office how canst thou fulfil
  • 629    When (patterned by thy fault) foul sin may say
  • 630    He learned to sin, and thou didst teach the way?
  • 631'Think but how vile a spectacle it were
  • 632To view thy present trespass in another.
  • 633Men's faults do seldom to themselves appear;
  • Editor’s Note634Their own transgressions partially they smother.
  • 635This guilt would seem death-worthy in thy brother.
  • 636    O, how are they wrapped in with infamies
  • Editor’s Note637    That from their own misdeeds askance their eyes!
  • 638'To thee, to thee my heaved-up hands appeal—
  • Editor’s Note639Not to seducing lust, thy rash relier.
  • Editor’s Note640I sue for exiled majesty's repeal;
  • 641Let him return, and flatt'ring thoughts retire.
  • Editor’s Note642His true respect will prison false desire,
  • Editor’s Note643    And wipe the dim mist from thy doting eyne,
  • 644    That thou shalt see thy state, and pity mine.'
  • 645'Have done', quoth he; 'my uncontrollèd tide
  • Editor’s Note646Turns not, but swells the higher by this let.
  • 647Small lights are soon blown out, huge fires abide,
  • Editor’s Note648And with the wind in greater fury fret.
  • 649The petty streams that pay a daily debt
  • Editor’s Note650    To their salt sovereign with their fresh falls' haste,
  • 651    Add to his flow, but alter not his taste.'
  • 652'Thou art', quoth she, 'a sea, a sovereign king,
  • 653And lo, there falls into thy boundless flood
  • 654Black lust, dishonour, shame, misgoverning,
  • 655Who seek to stain the ocean of thy blood.
  • 656If all these petty ills shall change thy good,
  • pg 694Editor’s Note657    Thy sea within a puddle's womb is hearsed,
  • 658    And not the puddle in thy sea dispersed.
  • 659'So shall these slaves be king, and thou their slave;
  • 660Thou nobly base, they basely dignified;
  • 661Thou their fair life, and they thy fouler grave;
  • 662Thou loathèd in their shame, they in thy pride.
  • 663The lesser thing should not the greater hide.
  • 664    The cedar stoops not to the base shrub's foot,
  • 665    But low shrubs wither at the cedar's root.
  • 666'So let thy thoughts, low vassals to thy state'—
  • 667'No more', quoth he; 'by heaven I will not hear thee.
  • 668Yield to my love. If not, enforcèd hate
  • Editor’s Note669Instead of love's coy touch shall rudely tear thee.
  • 670That done, despitefully I mean to bear thee
  • Editor’s Note671    Unto the base bed of some rascal groom
  • 672    To be thy partner in this shameful doom.'
  • 673This said, he sets his foot upon the light,
  • 674For light and lust are deadly enemies.
  • 675Shame folded up in blind concealing night
  • 676When most unseen, then most doth tyrannize.
  • 677The wolf hath seized his prey; the poor lamb cries,
  • 678    Till with her own white fleece her voice controlled
  • 679    Entombs her outcry in her lips' sweet fold.
  • Editor’s Note680For with the nightly linen that she wears
  • 681He pens her piteous clamours in her head,
  • 682Cooling his hot face in the chastest tears
  • 683That ever modest eyes with sorrow shed.
  • Editor’s Note684O that prone lust should stain so pure a bed,
  • 685    The spots whereof could weeping purify,
  • 686    Her tears should drop on them perpetually!
  • 687But she hath lost a dearer thing than life,
  • 688And he hath won what he would lose again.
  • 689This forcèd league doth force a further strife,
  • 690This momentary joy breeds months of pain;
  • 691This hot desire converts to cold disdain.
  • 692    Pure chastity is rifled of her store,
  • 693    And lust, the thief, far poorer than before.
  • 694Look as the full-fed hound or gorgèd hawk,
  • Editor’s Note695Unapt for tender smell or speedy flight,
  • Editor’s Note696Make slow pursuit, or altogether balk
  • 697The prey wherein by nature they delight,
  • 698So surfeit-taking Tarquin fares this night.
  • Editor’s Note699    His taste delicious, in digestion souring,
  • 700    Devours his will that lived by foul devouring.
  • pg 695Editor’s Note701O deeper sin than bottomless conceit
  • 702Can comprehend in still imagination!
  • Editor’s Note703Drunken desire must vomit his receipt
  • 704Ere he can see his own abomination.
  • 705While lust is in his pride, no exclamation
  • 706    Can curb his heat or rein his rash desire,
  • Editor’s Note707    Till (like a jade) self-will himself doth tire.
  • 708And then with lank and lean discoloured cheek,
  • 709With heavy eye, knit brow, and strengthless pace,
  • Editor’s Note710Feeble desire, all recreant, poor and meek,
  • 711Like to a bankrupt beggar wails his case.
  • 712The flesh being proud, desire doth fight with grace,
  • 713    For there it revels, and when that decays,
  • Editor’s Note714    The guilty rebel for remission prays.
  • 715So fares it with this faultful lord of Rome
  • 716Who this accomplishment so hotly chased;
  • Editor’s Note717For now against himself he sounds this doom,
  • Editor’s Note718That through the length of times he stands disgraced.
  • 719Besides, his soul's fair temple is defaced,
  • 720    To whose weak ruins muster troops of cares
  • Editor’s Note721    To ask the spotted princess how she fares.
  • 722She says her subjects with foul insurrection
  • 723Have battered down her consecrated wall,
  • Editor’s Note724And by their mortal fault brought in subjection
  • 725Her immortality, and made her thrall
  • 726To living death and pain perpetual,
  • Editor’s Note727    Which in her prescience she controllèd still,
  • Editor’s Note728    But her foresight could not forestall their will.
  • 729Ev'n in this thought, through the dark night he stealeth,
  • 730A captive victor that hath lost in gain,
  • 731Bearing away the wound that nothing healeth,
  • 732The scar that will, despite of cure, remain,
  • 733Leaving his spoil perplexed in greater pain.
  • 734    She bears the load of lust he left behind,
  • 735    And he the burden of a guilty mind.
  • 736He like a thievish dog creeps sadly thence;
  • 737She like a wearied lamb lies panting there.
  • 738He scowls and hates himself for his offence;
  • 739She desperate with her nails her flesh doth tear.
  • 740He faintly flies, sweating with guilty fear;
  • Editor’s Note741    She stays, exclaiming on the direful night.
  • 742    He runs and chides his vanished loathed delight.
  • pg 696Editor’s Note743He thence departs, a heavy convertite;
  • Editor’s Note744She there remains, a hopeless castaway.
  • 745He in his speed looks for the morning light;
  • 746She prays she never may behold the day.
  • Editor’s Note747'For day', quoth she, 'night's scapes doth open lay,
  • 748    And my true eyes have never practised how
  • 749    To cloak offences with a cunning brow.
  • 750'They think not but that every eye can see
  • 751The same disgrace which they themselves behold,
  • 752And therefore would they still in darkness be
  • 753To have their unseen sin remain untold.
  • 754For they their guilt with weeping will unfold,
  • Editor’s Note755    And grave (like water that doth eat in steel)
  • 756    Upon my cheeks, what helpless shame I feel.'
  • 757Here she exclaims against repose and rest,
  • 758And bids her eyes hereafter still be blind.
  • 759She wakes her heart by beating on her breast,
  • 760And bids it leap from thence where it may find
  • Editor’s Note761Some purer chest to close so pure a mind.
  • Editor’s Note762    Frantic with grief, thus breathes she forth her spite
  • 763    Against the unseen secrecy of night:
  • 764'O comfort-killing night, image of hell,
  • 765Dim register and notary of shame,
  • Editor’s Note766Black stage for tragedies and murders fell,
  • 767Vast sin-concealing chaos, nurse of blame,
  • Editor’s Note768Blind muffled bawd, dark harbour for defame,
  • 769    Grim cave of death, whisp'ring conspirator
  • 770    With close-tongued treason and the ravisher!
  • 771'O hateful, vaporous, and foggy night,
  • 772Since thou art guilty of my cureless crime,
  • 773Muster thy mists to meet the eastern light,
  • Editor’s Note774Make war against proportioned course of time.
  • 775Or if thou wilt permit the sun to climb
  • 776    His wonted height, yet ere he go to bed
  • 777    Knit poisonous clouds about his golden head.
  • Editor’s Note778'With rotten damps ravish the morning air,
  • 779Let their exhaled unwholesome breaths make sick
  • 780The life of purity, the supreme fair,
  • Editor’s Note781Ere he arrive his weary noontide prick;
  • 782And let thy misty vapours march so thick
  • 783    That in their smoky ranks his smothered light
  • 784    May set at noon, and make perpetual night.
  • pg 697785'Were Tarquin night, as he is but night's child,
  • Editor’s Note786The silver shining queen he would distain;
  • 787Her twinkling handmaids too (by him defiled)
  • 788Through night's black bosom should not peep again.
  • 789So should I have co-partners in my pain,
  • 790    And fellowship in woe doth woe assuage,
  • Editor’s Note791    As palmers' chat makes short their pilgrimage.
  • 792'Where now I have no one to blush with me,
  • 793To cross their arms and hang their heads with mine,
  • 794To mask their brows and hide their infamy,
  • 795But I alone, alone must sit and pine,
  • 796Seasoning the earth with showers of silver brine,
  • 797    Mingling my talk with tears, my grief with groans,
  • Editor’s Note798    Poor wasting monuments of lasting moans.
  • 799'O night, thou furnace of foul reeking smoke!
  • 800Let not the jealous day behold that face
  • 801Which underneath thy black all-hiding cloak
  • Editor’s Note802Immodestly lies martyred with disgrace!
  • 803Keep still possession of thy gloomy place,
  • 804    That all the faults which in thy reign are made
  • 805    May likewise be sepùlchred in thy shade.
  • Editor’s Note806'Make me not object to the tell-tale day:
  • Editor’s Note807The light will show, charàctered in my brow,
  • 808The story of sweet chastity's decay,
  • 809The impious breach of holy wedlock vow.
  • 810Yea, the illiterate (that know not how
  • Editor’s Note811    To cipher what is writ in learnèd books)
  • Editor’s Note812    Will quote my loathsome trespass in my looks.
  • 813'The nurse to still her child will tell my story,
  • 814And fright her crying babe with Tarquin's name.
  • 815The orator to deck his oratory
  • 816Will couple my reproach to Tarquin's shame.
  • Editor’s Note817Feast-finding minstrels tuning my defame
  • 818    Will tie the hearers to attend each line,
  • 819    How Tarquin wrongèd me, I Collatine.
  • Editor’s Note820'Let my good name, that senseless reputation,
  • 821For Collatine's dear love be kept unspotted;
  • 822If that be made a theme for disputation,
  • 823The branches of another root are rotted,
  • 824And undeserved reproach to him allotted
  • Editor’s Note825    That is as clear from this attaint of mine
  • 826    As I ere this was pure to Collatine.
  • pg 698827'O unseen shame, invisible disgrace!
  • Editor’s Note828O unfelt sore, crest-wounding private scar!
  • 829Reproach is stamped in Colatinus' face,
  • Editor’s Note830And Tarquin's eye may read the mot afar,
  • 831How he in peace is wounded, not in war.
  • 832    Alas, how many bear such shameful blows,
  • 833    Which not themselves but he that gives them knows!
  • 834'If ,Collatine, thine honour lay in me,
  • 835From me by strong assault it is bereft.
  • 836My honey lost, and I, a dronelike bee,
  • 837Have no perfection of my summer left,
  • 838But robbed and ransacked by injurious theft.
  • 839    In thy weak hive a wand'ring wasp hath crept,
  • 840    And sucked the honey which thy chaste bee kept.
  • Editor’s Note841'Yet am I guilty of thy honour's wrack;
  • 842Yet for thy honour did I entertain him.
  • 843Coming from thee I could not put him back,
  • 844For it had been dishonour to disdain him.
  • 845Besides, of weariness he did complain him,
  • 846    And talked of virtue—O unlooked-for evil,
  • 847    When virtue is profaned in such a devil!
  • 848'Why should the worm intrude the maiden bud?
  • Editor’s Note849Or hateful cuckoos hatch in sparrows' nests?
  • Editor’s Note850Or toads infect fair founts with venom mud?
  • Editor’s Note851Or tyrant folly lurk in gentle breasts?
  • 852Or kings be breakers of their own behests?
  • 853    But no perfection is so absolute
  • 854    That some impurity doth not pollute.
  • 855'The agèd man that coffers up his gold
  • 856Is plagued with cramps and gouts and painful fits,
  • 857And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold,
  • Editor’s Note858But like still-pining Tantalus he sits,
  • Editor’s Note859And useless barns the harvest of his wits,
  • 860    Having no other pleasure of his gain
  • 861    But torment that it cannot cure his pain.
  • 862'So then he hath it when he cannot use it,
  • 863And leaves it to be mastered by his young,
  • 864Who in their pride do presently abuse it.
  • 865Their father was too weak, and they too strong
  • 866To hold their cursèd-blessèd fortune long.
  • 867    The sweets we wish for turn to loathèd sours
  • 868    Even in the moment that we call them ours.
  • Editor’s Note869'Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring;
  • 870Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers;
  • 871The adder hisses where the sweet birds sing;
  • pg 699872What virtue breeds, iniquity devours.
  • 873We have no good that we can say is ours
  • Editor’s Note874    But ill-annexèd opportunity
  • Editor’s Note875    Or kills his life or else his quality.
  • 876'O opportunity, thy guilt is great!
  • 877'Tis thou that execut'st the traitor's treason;
  • 878Thou sets the wolf where he the lamb may get;
  • Editor’s Note879Whoever plots the sin, thou point'st the season.
  • 880'Tis thou that spurn'st at right, at law, at reason—
  • 881    And in thy shady cell, where none may spy him,
  • 882    Sits sin, to seize the souls that wander by him.
  • Editor’s Note883'Thou mak'st the vestal violate her oath,
  • 884Thou blow'st the fire when temperance is thawed,
  • Editor’s Note885Thou smother'st honesty, thou murd'rest troth.
  • 886Thou foul abettor, thou notorious bawd,
  • 887Thou plantest scandal and displacest laud.
  • 888    Thou ravisher, thou traitor, thou false thief,
  • 889    Thy honey turns to gall, thy joy to grief.
  • 890'Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame,
  • 891Thy private feasting to a public fast,
  • Editor’s Note892Thy smoothing titles to a ragged name,
  • 893Thy sugared tongue to bitter wormwood taste.
  • 894Thy violent vanities can never last.
  • 895    How comes it then, vile opportunity,
  • 896    Being so bad, such numbers seek for thee?
  • 897'When wilt thou be the humble suppliant's friend
  • 898And bring him where his suit may be obtained?
  • Editor’s Note899When wilt thou sort an hour great strifes to end,
  • 900Or free that soul which wretchedness hath chained?
  • 901Give physic to the sick, ease to the pained?
  • Editor’s Note902    The poor, lame, blind, halt, creep, cry out for thee,
  • 903    But they ne'er meet with opportunity.
  • 904'The patient dies while the physician sleeps,
  • Editor’s Note905The orphan pines while the oppressor feeds,
  • 906Justice is feasting while the widow weeps,
  • Editor’s Note907Advice is sporting while infection breeds.
  • 908Thou grant'st no time for charitable deeds.
  • 909    Wrath, envy, treason, rape, and murder's rages,
  • 910    Thy heinous hours wait on them as their pages.
  • 911'When truth and virtue have to do with thee
  • Editor’s Note912A thousand crosses keep them from thy aid.
  • 913They buy thy help, but sin ne'er gives a fee;
  • pg 700Editor’s Note914He gratis comes, and thou art well a-paid
  • 915As well to hear as grant what he hath said.
  • 916    My Collatine would else have come to me
  • 917    When Tarquin did, but he was stayed by thee.
  • 918'Guilty thou art of murder and of theft,
  • 919Guilty of perjury and subornation,
  • Editor’s Note920Guilty of treason, forgery, and shift,
  • 921Guilty of incest (that abomination),
  • 922An áccessory by thine inclination
  • 923    To all sins past and all that are to come
  • Editor’s Note924    From the creation to the general doom.
  • Editor’s Note925'Misshapen time, copesmate of ugly night,
  • Editor’s Note926Swift subtle post, carrier of grisly care,
  • 927Eater of youth, false slave to false delight,
  • Editor’s Note928Base watch of woes, sin's packhorse, virtue's snare:
  • 929Thou nursest all and murd'rest all that are.
  • 930    O hear me then, injurious shifting time:
  • 931    Be guilty of my death, since of my crime.
  • 932'Why hath thy servant opportunity
  • 933Betrayed the hours thou gav'st me to repose,
  • 934Cancelled my fortunes, and enchainèd me
  • Editor’s Note935To endless date of never-ending woes?
  • Editor’s Note936Time's office is to fine the hate of foes,
  • Editor’s Note937    To eat up errors by opinion bred,
  • 938    Not spend the dowry of a lawful bed.
  • 939'Time's glory is to calm contending kings,
  • 940To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light,
  • 941To stamp the seal of time in agèd things,
  • 942To wake the morn and sentinel the night,
  • 943To wrong the wronger till he render right,
  • 944    To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours
  • 945    And smear with dust their glitt'ring golden tow'rs,
  • 946'To fill with wormholes stately monuments,
  • 947To feed oblivion with decay of things,
  • Editor’s Note948To blot old books and alter their contènts,
  • 949To pluck the quills from ancient ravens' wings,
  • Editor’s Note950To dry the old oak's sap and blemish springs,
  • 951    To spoil antiquities of hammered steel,
  • 952    And turn the giddy round of fortune's wheel,
  • Editor’s Note953'To show the beldame daughters of her daughter,
  • 954To make the child a man, the man a child,
  • 955To slay the tiger that doth live by slaughter,
  • 956To tame the unicorn and lion wild,
  • Editor’s Note957To mock the subtle in themselves beguiled,
  • pg 701958    To cheer the ploughman with increaseful crops,
  • 959    And waste huge stones with little water drops.
  • 960'Why work'st thou mischief in thy pilgrimage,
  • 961Unless thou couldst return to make amends?
  • Editor’s Note962One poor retiring minute in an age
  • 963Would purchase thee a thousand thousand friends,
  • Editor’s Note964Lending him wit that to bad debtors lends.
  • 965    O this dread night, wouldst thou one hour come back,
  • Editor’s Note966    I could prevent this storm and shun thy wrack!
  • Editor’s Note967'Thou ceaseless lackey to eternity,
  • 968With some mischance cross Tarquin in his flight.
  • 969Devise extremes beyond extremity
  • 970To make him curse this cursèd crimeful night.
  • 971Let ghastly shadows his lewd eyes affright,
  • 972    And the dire thought of his committed evil
  • 973    Shape every bush a hideous shapeless devil.
  • Editor’s Note974'Disturb his hours of rest with restless trances;
  • 975Afflict him in his bed with bedrid groans;
  • 976Let there bechance him pitiful mischances
  • 977To make him moan, but pity not his moans.
  • 978Stone him with hardened hearts harder than stones,
  • 979    And let mild women to him lose their mildness,
  • 980    Wilder to him than tigers in their wildness.
  • 981'Let him have time to tear his curlèd hair,
  • 982Let him have time against himself to rave,
  • 983Let him have time of time's help to despair,
  • 984Let him have time to live a loathèd slave,
  • Editor’s Note985Let him have time a beggar's orts to crave,
  • 986    And time to see one that by alms doth live
  • 987    Disdain to him disdainèd scraps to give.
  • 988'Let him have time to see his friends his foes,
  • 989And merry fools to mock at him resort.
  • 990Let him have time to mark how slow time goes
  • 991In time of sorrow, and how swift and short
  • 992His time of folly and his time of sport—
  • Editor’s Note993    And ever let his unrecalling crime
  • 994    Have time to wail th'abusing of his time.
  • 995'O time, thou tutor both to good and bad,
  • 996Teach me to curse him that thou taught'st this ill.
  • 997At his own shadow let the thief run mad.
  • 998Himself himself seek every hour to kill.
  • 999Such wretched hands such wretched blood should spill—
  • 1000    For who so base would such an office have
  • Editor’s Note1001    As sland'rous deathsman to so base a slave?
  • pg 7021002'The baser is he, coming from a king,
  • 1003To shame his hope with deeds degenerate.
  • 1004The mightier man, the mightier is the thing
  • 1005That makes him honoured or begets him hate,
  • 1006For greatest scandal waits on greatest state.
  • 1007    The moon being clouded presently is missed,
  • Editor’s Note1008    But little stars may hide them when they list.
  • 1009'The crow may bathe his coal-black wings in mire
  • 1010And unperceived fly with the filth away,
  • 1011But if the like the snow-white swan desire,
  • 1012The stain upon his silver down will stay.
  • Editor’s Note1013Poor grooms are sightless night; kings, glorious day.
  • 1014    Gnats are unnoted wheresoe'er they fly,
  • 1015    But eagles gazed upon with every eye.
  • 1016'Out, idle words, servants to shallow fools,
  • 1017Unprofitable sounds, weak arbitrators!
  • Editor’s Note1018Busy yourselves in skill-contending schools,
  • 1019Debate where leisure serves with dull debaters,
  • Editor’s Note1020To trembling clients be you mediators.
  • Editor’s Note1021    For me, I force not argument a straw,
  • 1022    Since that my case is past the help of law.
  • 1023'In vain I rail at opportunity,
  • 1024At time, at Tarquin, and uncheerful night.
  • Editor’s Note1025In vain I cavil with mine infamy,
  • 1026In vain I spurn at my confirmed despite.
  • Editor’s Note1027This helpless smoke of words doth me no right.
  • 1028    The remedy indeed to do me good
  • 1029    Is to let forth my foul defilèd blood.
  • 1030'Poor hand, why quiver'st thou at this decree?
  • Editor’s Note1031Honour thyself to rid me of this shame,
  • 1032For if I die, my honour lives in thee,
  • 1033But if I live, thou liv'st in my defame.
  • 1034Since thou couldst not defend thy loyal dame,
  • 1035    And wast afeard to scratch her wicked foe,
  • 1036    Kill both thyself and her for yielding so.'
  • Editor’s Note1037This said, from her betumbled couch she starteth,
  • 1038To find some desp'rate instrument of death.
  • Editor’s Note1039But this, no slaughterhouse, no tool imparteth
  • 1040To make more vent for passage of her breath,
  • 1041Which thronging through her lips so vanisheth
  • 1042    As smoke from Etna that in air consumes,
  • 1043    Or that which from dischargèd cannon fumes.
  • 1044'In vain,' quoth she, 'I live, and seek in vain
  • Editor’s Note1045Some happy mean to end a hapless life.
  • 1046I feared by Tarquin's falchion to be slain,
  • pg 7031047Yet for the selfsame purpose seek a knife.
  • 1048But when I feared I was a loyal wife;
  • 1049    So am I now—O no, that cannot be!
  • Editor’s Note1050    Of that true type hath Tarquin rifled me.
  • 1051'O, that is gone for which I sought to live!
  • 1052And therefore now I need not fear to die.
  • Editor’s Note1053To clear this spot by death, at least I give
  • Editor’s Note1054A badge of fame to slander's livery,
  • 1055A dying life to living infamy.
  • 1056    Poor helpless help, the treasure stol'n away,
  • 1057    To burn the guiltless casket where it lay!
  • 1058'Well, well, dear Collatine, thou shalt not know
  • 1059The stainèd taste of violated troth.
  • 1060I will not wrong thy true affection so,
  • 1061To flatter thee with an infringèd oath.
  • Editor’s Note1062This bastard graft shall never come to growth.
  • 1063    He shall not boast who did thy stock pollute,
  • 1064    That thou art doting father of his fruit,
  • 1065'Nor shall he smile at thee in secret thought,
  • 1066Nor laugh with his companions at thy state.
  • Editor’s Note1067But thou shalt know thy int'rest was not bought
  • 1068Basely with gold, but stol'n from forth thy gate.
  • 1069For me, I am the mistress of my fate,
  • Editor’s Note1070    And with my trespass never will dispense
  • 1071    Till life to death acquit my forced offence.
  • Editor’s Note1072'I will not poison thee with my attaint,
  • Editor’s Note1073Nor fold my fault in cleanly coined excuses.
  • Editor’s Note1074My sable ground of sin I will not paint
  • 1075To hide the truth of this false night's abuses.
  • 1076My tongue shall utter all; mine eyes, like sluices,
  • 1077    As from a mountain spring that feeds a dale
  • 1078    Shall gush pure streams to purge my impure tale.'
  • Editor’s Note1079By this, lamenting Philomel had ended
  • 1080The well-tuned warble of her nightly sorrow,
  • 1081And solemn night with slow sad gait descended
  • 1082To ugly hell, when lo, the blushing morrow
  • 1083Lends light to all fair eyes that light will borrow.
  • Editor’s Note1084    But cloudy Lucrece shames herself to see,
  • 1085    And therefore still in night would cloistered be.
  • 1086Revealing day through every cranny spies,
  • 1087And seems to point her out where she sits weeping;
  • 1088To whom she sobbing speaks, 'O eye of eyes,
  • 1089Why pry'st thou through my window? Leave thy peeping,
  • 1090Mock with thy tickling beams eyes that are sleeping,
  • pg 7041091    Brand not my forehead with thy piercing light,
  • 1092    For day hath naught to do what's done by night.'
  • 1093Thus cavils she with everything she sees.
  • Editor’s Note1094True grief is fond and testy as a child
  • Editor’s Note1095Who, wayward once, his mood with naught agrees;
  • Editor’s Note1096Old woes, not infant sorrows, bear them mild.
  • Editor’s Note1097Continuance tames the one; the other wild,
  • 1098    Like an unpractised swimmer plunging still,
  • 1099    With too much labour drowns for want of skill.
  • 1100So she, deep-drenchèd in a sea of care,
  • 1101Holds disputation with each thing she views,
  • 1102And to herself all sorrow doth compare.
  • 1103No object but her passion's strength renews,
  • 1104And as one shifts, another straight ensues.
  • 1105    Sometime her grief is dumb and hath no words,
  • 1106    Sometime 'tis mad and too much talk affords.
  • 1107The little birds that tune their morning's joy
  • 1108Make her moans mad with their sweet melody,
  • Editor’s Note1109For mirth doth search the bottom of annoy,
  • 1110Sad souls are slain in merry company,
  • 1111Grief best is pleased with grief's society.
  • Editor’s Note1112    True sorrow then is feelingly sufficed
  • Editor’s Note1113    When with like semblance it is sympathized.
  • Editor’s Note1114'Tis double death to drown in ken of shore;
  • 1115He ten times pines, that pines beholding food;
  • 1116To see the salve doth make the wound ache more;
  • Editor’s Note1117Great grief grieves most at that would do it good;
  • 1118Deep woes roll forward like a gentle flood
  • 1119    Who, being stopped, the bounding banks o'erflows.
  • Editor’s Note1120    Grief dallied with, nor law nor limit knows.
  • 1121'You mocking birds,' quoth she, 'your tunes entomb
  • 1122Within your hollow swelling feathered breasts,
  • 1123And in my hearing be you mute and dumb;
  • Editor’s Note1124My restless discord loves no stops nor rests;
  • 1125A woeful hostess brooks not merry guests.
  • Editor’s Note1126    Relish your nimble notes to pleasing ears;
  • Editor’s Note1127    Distress likes dumps when time is kept with tears.
  • Editor’s Note1135'And whiles against a thorn thou bear'st thy part
  • 1136To keep thy sharp woes waking, wretched I,
  • 1137To imitate thee well, against my heart
  • 1138Will fix a sharp knife to affright mine eye,
  • Editor’s Note1139Who if it wink shall thereon fall and die.
  • Editor’s Note1140    These means, as frets upon an instrument,
  • 1141    Shall tune our heart-strings to true languishment.
  • Editor’s Note1142'And for, poor bird, thou sing'st not in the day,
  • 1143As shaming any eye should thee behold,
  • Editor’s Note1144Some dark deep desert seated from the way,
  • 1145That knows not parching heat nor freezing cold,
  • 1146Will we find out, and there we will unfold
  • Editor’s Note1147    To creatures stern sad tunes to change their kinds.
  • 1148    Since men prove beasts, let beasts bear gentle minds.
  • Editor’s Note1149'As the poor frighted deer that stands at gaze,
  • 1150Wildly determining which way to fly,
  • 1151Or one encompassed with a winding maze,
  • 1152That cannot tread the way out readily,
  • 1153So with herself is she in mutiny,
  • 1154    To live or die which of the twain were better
  • Editor’s Note1155    When life is shamed, and death reproach's debtor.
  • 1156'To kill myself,' quoth she, 'alack, what were it
  • Editor’s Note1157But with my body my poor soul's pollution?
  • 1158They that lose half with greater patience bear it
  • 1159Than they whose whole is swallowed in confusion.
  • Editor’s Note1160That mother tries a merciless conclusion
  • 1161    Who, having two sweet babes, when death takes one
  • 1162    Will slay the other, and be nurse to none.
  • 1163'My body or my soul, which was the dearer,
  • 1164When the one pure, the other made divine?
  • Editor’s Note1165Whose love of either to myself was nearer,
  • 1166When both were kept for heaven and Collatine?
  • 1167Ay me, the bark peeled from the lofty pine
  • 1168    His leaves will wither and his sap decay;
  • 1169    So must my soul, her bark being peeled away.
  • 1170'Her house is sacked, her quiet interrupted,
  • 1171Her mansion battered by the enemy,
  • 1172Her sacred temple spotted, spoiled, corrupted,
  • 1173Grossly engirt with daring infamy.
  • 1174Then let it not be called impiety
  • pg 706Editor’s Note1175    If in this blemished fort I make some hole,
  • 1176    Through which I may convey this troubled soul.
  • 1177'Yet die I will not till my Collatine
  • 1178Have heard the cause of my untimely death,
  • 1179That he may vow in that sad hour of mine
  • 1180Revenge on him that made me stop my breath.
  • 1181My stainèd blood to Tarquin I'll bequeath,
  • 1182    Which by him tainted shall for him be spent,
  • 1183    And as his due writ in my testament.
  • 1184'My honour I'll bequeath unto the knife
  • 1185That wounds my body so dishonourèd.
  • Editor’s Note1186'Tis honour to deprive dishonoured life;
  • 1187The one will live, the other being dead.
  • Editor’s Note1188So of shame's ashes shall my fame be bred,
  • 1189    For in my death I murder shameful scorn;
  • 1190    My shame so dead, mine honour is new born.
  • 1191'Dear lord of that dear jewel I have lost,
  • 1192What legacy shall I bequeath to thee?
  • 1193My resolution, love, shall be thy boast,
  • 1194By whose example thou revenged mayst be.
  • 1195How Tarquin must be used, read it in me.
  • 1196    Myself thy friend will kill myself thy foe,
  • 1197    And for my sake serve thou false Tarquin so.
  • 1198'This brief abridgement of my will I make:
  • 1199My soul and body to the skies and ground;
  • 1200My resolution, husband, do thou take;
  • 1201Mine honour be the knife's that makes my wound;
  • 1202My shame be his that did my fame confound;
  • 1203    And all my fame that lives disbursèd be
  • 1204    To those that live and think no shame of me.
  • Editor’s Note1205'Thou, Collatine, shalt oversee this will.
  • 1206How was I overseen that thou shalt see it?
  • Editor’s Note1207My blood shall wash the slander of mine ill;
  • 1208My life's foul deed my life's fair end shall free it.
  • 1209Faint not, faint heart, but stoutly say, "So be it."
  • 1210    Yield to my hand, my hand shall conquer thee;
  • 1211    Thou dead, both die, and both shall victors be.'
  • 1212This plot of death when sadly she had laid,
  • Editor’s Note1213And wiped the brinish pearl from her bright eyes,
  • 1214With untuned tongue she hoarsely calls her maid,
  • Editor’s Note1215Whose swift obedience to her mistress hies,
  • 1216For fleet-winged duty with thought's feathers flies.
  • 1217    Poor Lucrece' cheeks unto her maid seem so
  • Editor’s Note1218    As winter meads when sun doth melt their snow.
  • pg 7071219Her mistress she doth give demure good-morrow
  • 1220With soft slow tongue, true mark of modesty,
  • Editor’s Note1221And sorts a sad look to her lady's sorrow,
  • Editor’s Note1222For why her face wore sorrow's livery;
  • 1223But durst not ask of her audaciously
  • Editor’s Note1224    Why her two suns were cloud-eclipsèd so,
  • 1225    Nor why her fair cheeks overwashed with woe.
  • 1226But as the earth doth weep, the sun being set,
  • 1227Each flower moistened like a melting eye,
  • Editor’s Note1228Even so the maid with swelling drops gan wet
  • Editor’s Note1229Her circled eyne, enforced by sympathy
  • 1230Of those fair suns set in her mistress' sky,
  • 1231    Who in a salt-waved ocean quench their light;
  • 1232    Which makes the maid weep like the dewy night.
  • Editor’s Note1233A pretty while these pretty creatures stand,
  • Editor’s Note1234Like ivory conduits coral cisterns filling.
  • Editor’s Note1235One justly weeps, the other takes in hand
  • Editor’s Note1236No cause but company of her drops' spilling.
  • 1237Their gentle sex to weep are often willing,
  • 1238    Grieving themselves to guess at others' smarts,
  • 1239    And then they drown their eyes or break their hearts.
  • 1240For men have marble, women waxen minds,
  • Editor’s Note1241And therefore are they formed as marble will.
  • 1242The weak oppressed, th'impression of strange kinds
  • 1243Is formed in them by force, by fraud, or skill.
  • 1244Then call them not the authors of their ill,
  • 1245    No more than wax shall be accounted evil
  • 1246    Wherein is stamped the semblance of a devil.
  • Editor’s Note1247Their smoothness like a goodly champaign plain
  • Editor’s Note1248Lays open all the little worms that creep;
  • 1249In men as in a rough-grown grove remain
  • Editor’s Note1250Cave-keeping evils that obscurely sleep.
  • 1251Through crystal walls each little mote will peep;
  • 1252    Though men can cover crimes with bold stern looks,
  • 1253    Poor women's faces are their own faults' books.
  • Editor’s Note1254No man inveigh against the withered flower,
  • 1255But chide rough winter that the flower hath killed.
  • 1256Not that devoured, but that which doth devour
  • Editor’s Note1257Is worthy blame. O, let it not be held
  • 1258Poor women's faults that they are so full-filled
  • Editor’s Note1259    With men's abuses. Those proud lords, to blame,
  • 1260    Make weak-made women tenants to their shame.
  • pg 7081261The precedent whereof in Lucrece view,
  • 1262Assailed by night with circumstances strong
  • Editor’s Note1263Of present death, and shame that might ensue
  • 1264By that her death, to do her husband wrong.
  • 1265Such danger to resistance did belong
  • 1266    That dying fear through all her body spread;
  • 1267    And who cannot abuse a body dead?
  • 1268By this, mild patience bid fair Lucrece speak
  • Editor’s Note1269To the poor counterfeit of her complaining.
  • 1270'My girl,' quoth she, 'on what occasion break
  • 1271Those tears from thee, that down thy cheeks are raining?
  • Editor’s Note1272If thou dost weep for grief of my sustaining,
  • 1273    Know, gentle wench, it small avails my mood.
  • 1274    If tears could help, mine own would do me good.
  • 1275'But tell me, girl, when went'—and there she stayed,
  • 1276Till after a deep groan—'Tarquin from hence?'
  • 1277'Madam, ere I was up,' replied the maid,
  • 1278'The more to blame my sluggard negligence.
  • Editor’s Note1279Yet with the fault I thus far can dispense:
  • 1280    Myself was stirring ere the break of day,
  • 1281    And ere I rose was Tarquin gone away.
  • 1282'But lady, if your maid may be so bold,
  • Editor’s Note1283She would request to know your heaviness.'
  • 1284'O, peace,' quoth Lucrece, 'if it should be told,
  • 1285The repetition cannot make it less.
  • 1286For more it is than I can well express,
  • 1287    And that deep torture may be called a hell
  • 1288    When more is felt than one hath power to tell.
  • 1289'Go get me hither paper, ink, and pen—
  • 1290Yet save that labour, for I have them here.
  • 1291What should I say? One of my husband's men
  • 1292Bid thou be ready by and by to bear
  • 1293A letter to my lord, my love, my dear.
  • 1294    Bid him with speed prepare to carry it;
  • 1295    The cause craves haste, and it will soon be writ.'
  • 1296Her maid is gone, and she prepares to write,
  • 1297First hovering o'er the paper with her quill.
  • Editor’s Note1298Conceit and grief an eager combat fight;
  • Editor’s Note1299What wit sets down is blotted straight with will—
  • Editor’s Note1300This is too curious-good, this blunt and ill—
  • 1301    Much like a press of people at a door
  • Editor’s Note1302    Throng her inventions, which shall go before.
  • 1303At last she thus begins: 'Thou worthy lord
  • 1304Of that unworthy wife that greeteth thee,
  • 1305Health to thy person! Next, vouchsafe t'afford—
  • pg 7091306If ever, love, thy Lucrece thou wilt see—
  • 1307Some present speed to come and visit me.
  • 1308    So I commend me, from our house in grief;
  • 1309    My woes are tedious, though my words are brief.'
  • 1310Here folds she up the tenor of her woe,
  • 1311Her certain sorrow writ uncertainly.
  • Editor’s Note1312By this short schedule Collatine may know
  • 1313Her grief, but not her grief's true quality.
  • Editor’s Note1314She dares not thereof make discovery,
  • 1315    Lest he should hold it her own gross abuse,
  • Editor’s Note1316    Ere she with blood had stained her stain's excuse.
  • 1317Besides, the life and feeling of her passion
  • 1318She hoards, to spend when he is by to hear her,
  • 1319When sighs and groans and tears may grace the fashion
  • 1320Of her disgrace, the better so to clear her
  • 1321From that suspicion which the world might bear her.
  • 1322    To shun this blot she would not blot the letter
  • 1323    With words, till action might become them better.
  • 1324To see sad sights moves more than hear them told,
  • 1325For then the eye interprets to the ear
  • Editor’s Note1326The heavy motion that it doth behold,
  • Editor’s Note1327When every part a part of woe doth bear.
  • 1328'Tis but a part of sorrow that we hear.
  • 1329    Deep sounds make lesser noise than shallow fords,
  • 1330    And sorrow ebbs, being blown with wind of words.
  • 1331Her letter now is sealed, and on it writ,
  • 1332'At Ardea to my lord with more than haste'.
  • Editor’s Note1333The post attends, and she delivers it,
  • 1334Charging the sour-faced groom to hie as fast
  • Editor’s Note1335As lagging fouls before the northern blast.
  • 1336    Speed more than speed but dull and slow she deems;
  • 1337    Extremity still urgeth such extremes.
  • Editor’s Note1338The homely villain curtsies to her low,
  • 1339And blushing on her with a steadfast eye
  • 1340Receives the scroll without or yea or no,
  • 1341And forth with bashful innocence doth hie.
  • 1342But they whose guilt within their bosoms lie
  • 1343    Imagine every eye beholds their blame,
  • 1344    For Lucrece thought he blushed to see her shame,
  • Editor’s Note1345When, silly groom, God wot, it was defect
  • 1346Of spirit, life, and bold audacity.
  • Editor’s Note1347Such harmless creatures have a true respect
  • Editor’s Note1348To talk in deeds, while others saucily
  • 1349Promise more speed, but do it leisurely.
  • pg 710Editor’s Note1350    Even so, this pattern of the worn-out age
  • Editor’s Note1351    Pawned honest looks, but laid no words to gage.
  • 1352His kindled duty kindled her mistrust,
  • 1353That two red fires in both their faces blazed.
  • 1354She thought he blushed as knowing Tarquin's lust,
  • Editor’s Note1355And blushing with him, wistly on him gazed.
  • Editor’s Note1356Her earnest eye did make him more amazed.
  • 1357    The more she saw the blood his cheeks replenish,
  • 1358    The more she thought he spied in her some blemish.
  • 1359But long she thinks till he return again,
  • 1360And yet the duteous vassal scarce is gone.
  • Editor’s Note1361The weary time she cannot entertain,
  • 1362For now 'tis stale to sigh, to weep, and groan.
  • 1363So woe hath wearied woe, moan tirèd moan,
  • 1364    That she her plaints a little while doth stay,
  • 1365    Pausing for means to mourn some newer way.
  • 1366At last she calls to mind where hangs a piece
  • Editor’s Note1367Of skilful painting made for Priam's Troy,
  • Editor’s Note1368Before the which is drawn the power of Greece,
  • Editor’s Note1369For Helen's rape the city to destroy,
  • Editor’s Note1370Threat'ning cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy;
  • Editor’s Note1371    Which the conceited painter drew so proud
  • 1372    As heaven (it seemed) to kiss the turrets bowed.
  • 1373A thousand lamentable objects there,
  • 1374In scorn of nature, art gave lifeless life.
  • 1375Many a dry drop seemed a weeping tear
  • 1376Shed for the slaughtered husband by the wife.
  • Editor’s Note1377The red blood reeked to show the painter's strife,
  • 1378    And dying eyes gleamed forth their ashy lights
  • 1379    Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights.
  • Editor’s Note1380There might you see the labouring pioneer
  • 1381Begrimed with sweat and smearèd all with dust,
  • 1382And from the towers of Troy there would appear
  • 1383The very eyes of men through loop-holes thrust,
  • Editor’s Note1384Gazing upon the Greeks with little lust.
  • Editor’s Note1385    Such sweet observance in this work was had
  • 1386    That one might see those far-off eyes look sad.
  • 1387In great commanders grace and majesty
  • 1388You might behold, triumphing in their faces;
  • 1389In youth, quick bearing and dexterity;
  • pg 7111390And here and there the painter interlaces
  • 1391Pale cowards marching on with trembling paces,
  • Editor’s Note1392    Which heartless peasants did so well resemble
  • 1393    That one would swear he saw them quake and tremble.
  • Editor’s Note1394In Ajax and Ulysses, O what art
  • 1395Of physiognomy might one behold!
  • Editor’s Note1396The face of either ciphered either's heart;
  • 1397Their face their manners most expressly told.
  • 1398In Ajax' eyes blunt rage and rigour rolled,
  • 1399    But the mild glance that sly Ulysses lent
  • Editor’s Note1400    Showed deep regard and smiling government.
  • Editor’s Note1401There pleading might you see grave Nestor stand,
  • 1402As 'twere encouraging the Greeks to fight,
  • 1403Making such sober action with his hand
  • 1404That it beguiled attention, charmed the sight.
  • 1405In speech it seemed his beard all silver-white
  • 1406    Wagged up and down, and from his lips did fly
  • Editor’s Note1407    Thin winding breath which purled up to the sky.
  • 1408About him were a press of gaping faces
  • 1409Which seemed to swallow up his sound advice,
  • Editor’s Note1410All jointly list'ning, but with several graces,
  • 1411As if some mermaid did their ears entice;
  • Editor’s Note1412Some high, some low, the painter was so nice.
  • 1413    The scalps of many almost hid behind
  • Editor’s Note1414     To jump up higher seemed, to mock the mind.
  • 1415Here one man's hand leaned on another's head,
  • 1416His nose being shadowed by his neighbour's ear;
  • Editor’s Note1417Here one being thronged bears back, all boll'n and red;
  • Editor’s Note1418Another, smothered, seems to pelt and swear,
  • 1419And in their rage such signs of rage they bear
  • 1420    As but for loss of Nestor's golden words,
  • 1421    It seemed they would debate with angry swords.
  • Editor’s Note1422For much imaginary work was there;
  • Editor’s Note1423Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,
  • Editor’s Note1424That for Achilles' image stood his spear
  • 1425Gripped in an armèd hand; himself behind
  • 1426Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind.
  • 1427    A hand, a foot, a face, a leg, a head
  • 1428    Stood for the whole to be imaginèd.
  • pg 7121429And from the walls of strong besiegèd Troy,
  • Editor’s Note1430When their brave hope, bold Hector, marched to field,
  • 1431Stood many Trojan mothers sharing joy
  • 1432To see their youthful sons bright weapons wield;
  • Editor’s Note1433And to their hope they such odd action yield,
  • 1434    That through their light joy seemèd to appear,
  • 1435     Like bright things stained, a kind of heavy fear.
  • Editor’s Note1436And from the strand of Dardan where they fought
  • Editor’s Note1437To Simois' reedy banks the red blood ran,
  • 1438Whose waves to imitate the battle sought
  • 1439With swelling ridges, and their ranks began
  • Editor’s Note1440To break upon the gallèd shore, and then
  • 1441    Retire again, till meeting greater ranks
  • 1442    They join, and shoot their foam at Simois' banks.
  • 1443To this well-painted piece is Lucrece come
  • Editor’s Note1444To find a face where all distress is stelled.
  • 1445Many she sees where cares have carvèd some,
  • 1446But none where all distress and dolour dwelled
  • Editor’s Note1447Till she despairing Hecuba beheld
  • 1448    Staring on Priam's wounds with her old eyes,
  • Editor’s Note1449    Which bleeding under Pyrrhus' proud foot lies.
  • Editor’s Note1450In her the painter had anatomized
  • 1451Time's ruin, beauty's wreck, and grim care's reign.
  • Editor’s Note1452Her cheeks with chaps and wrinkles were disguised;
  • 1453Of what she was, no semblance did remain.
  • 1454Her blue blood changed to black in every vein,
  • 1455    Wanting the spring that those shrunk pipes had fed,
  • 1456    Showed life imprisoned in a body dead.
  • 1457On this sad shadow Lucrece spends her eyes,
  • Editor’s Note1458And shapes her sorrow to the beldame's woes,
  • Editor’s Note1459Who nothing wants to answer her but cries
  • Editor’s Note1460And bitter words to ban her cruel foes.
  • 1461The painter was no god to lend her those,
  • 1462    And therefore Lucrece swears he did her wrong
  • 1463    To give her so much grief, and not a tongue.
  • 1464'Poor instrument,' quoth she, 'without a sound,
  • 1465I'll tune thy woes with my lamenting tongue,
  • 1466And drop sweet balm in Priam's painted wound,
  • 1467And rail on Pyrrhus that hath done him wrong,
  • 1468And with my tears quench Troy that burns so long,
  • 1469    And with my knife scratch out the angry eyes
  • 1470    Of all the Greeks that are thine enemies.
  • pg 7131471'Show me the strumpet that began this stir,
  • 1472That with my nails her beauty I may tear.
  • Editor’s Note1473Thy heat of lust, fond Paris, did incur
  • 1474This load of wrath that burning Troy doth bear.
  • 1475Thine eye kindled the fire that burneth here,
  • 1476    And here in Troy for trespass of thine eye
  • 1477    The sire, the son, the dame and daughter die.
  • 1478'Why should the private pleasure of some one
  • Editor’s Note1479Become the public plague of many moe?
  • 1480Let sin alone committed light alone
  • 1481Upon his head that hath transgressèd so;
  • 1482Let guiltless souls be freed from guilty woe.
  • 1483    For one's offence why should so many fall,
  • Editor’s Note1484    To plague a private sin in general?
  • 1485'Lo, here weeps Hecuba, here Priam dies,
  • Editor’s Note1486Here manly Hector faints, here Troilus swoons,
  • Editor’s Note1487Here friend by friend in bloody channel lies,
  • Editor’s Note1488And friend to friend gives unadvisèd wounds,
  • 1489And one man's lust these many lives confounds.
  • 1490    Had doting Priam checked his son's desire,
  • 1491    Troy had been bright with fame, and not with fire.'
  • 1492Here feelingly she weeps Troy's painted woes—
  • 1493For sorrow, like a heavy hanging bell
  • 1494Once set on ringing, with his own weight goes;
  • 1495Then little strength rings out the doleful knell.
  • 1496So Lucrece, set a-work, sad tales doth tell
  • Editor’s Note1497    To pencilled pensiveness and coloured sorrow.
  • 1498    She lends them words, and she their looks doth borrow.
  • 1499She throws her eyes about the painting round,
  • 1500And who she finds forlorn she doth lament.
  • 1501At last she sees a wretched image bound,
  • Editor’s Note1502That piteous looks to Phrygian shepherds lent.
  • 1503His face, though full of cares, yet showed content.
  • Editor’s Note1504    Onward to Troy with the blunt swains he goes,
  • Editor’s Note1505    So mild that patience seemed to scorn his woes.
  • 1506In him the painter laboured with his skill
  • Editor’s Note1507To hide deceit, and give the harmless show
  • 1508An humble gait, calm looks, eyes wailing still,
  • 1509A brow unbent that seemed to welcome woe;
  • 1510Cheeks neither red nor pale, but mingled so
  • Editor’s Note1511    That blushing red no guilty instance gave,
  • 1512    Nor ashy pale the fear that false hearts have.
  • pg 7141513But like a constant and confirmèd devil
  • Editor’s Note1514He entertained a show so seeming just,
  • Editor’s Note1515And therein so ensconced his secret evil
  • Editor’s Note1516That jealousy itself could not mistrust
  • 1517False creeping craft and perjury should thrust
  • 1518    Into so bright a day such black-faced storms,
  • 1519    Or blot with hell-born sin such saint-like forms.
  • 1520The well-skilled workman this mild image drew
  • Editor’s Note1521For perjured Sinon, whose enchanting story
  • 1522The credulous old Priam after slew;
  • Editor’s Note1523Whose words like wildfire burnt the shining glory
  • Editor’s Note1524Of rich-built Ilion, that the skies were sorry,
  • 1525    And little stars shot from their fixèd places
  • Editor’s Note1526    When their glass fell, wherein they viewed their faces.
  • Editor’s Note1527This picture she advisedly perused,
  • 1528And chid the painter for his wondrous skill,
  • Editor’s Note1529Saying some shape in Sinon's was abused,
  • 1530So fair a form lodged not a mind so ill;
  • 1531And still on him she gazed, and gazing still,
  • Editor’s Note1532    Such signs of truth in his plain face she spied
  • 1533    That she concludes, the picture was belied.
  • 1534'It cannot be,' quoth she, 'that so much guile'—
  • 1535She would have said, 'can lurk in such a look',
  • 1536But Tarquin's shape came in her mind the while,
  • 1537And from her tongue 'can lurk' from 'cannot' took.
  • 1538'It cannot be' she in that sense forsook,
  • 1539    And turned it thus: 'It cannot be, I find,
  • 1540    But such a face should bear a wicked mind.
  • 1541'For even as subtle Sinon here is painted,
  • 1542So sober sad, so weary, and so mild,
  • Editor’s Note1543As if with grief or travail he had fainted,
  • Editor’s Note1544To me came Tarquin armèd, too beguiled
  • 1545With outward honesty, but yet defiled
  • 1546    With inward vice. As Priam him did cherish,
  • 1547    So did I Tarquin; so my Troy did perish.
  • 1548'Look, look how list'ning Priam wets his eyes
  • Editor’s Note1549To see those borrowed tears that Sinon sheds!
  • 1550Priam, why art thou old and yet not wise?
  • Editor’s Note1551For every tear he falls, a Trojan bleeds.
  • 1552His eye drops fire; no water thence proceeds.
  • pg 7151553    Those round clear pearls of his, that move thy pity,
  • Editor’s Note1554    Are balls of quenchless fire to burn thy city.
  • 1555'Such devils steal effects from lightless hell,
  • 1556For Sinon in his fire doth quake with cold,
  • 1557And in that cold hot-burning fire doth dwell.
  • 1558These contraries such unity do hold
  • Editor’s Note1559Only to flatter fools and make them bold;
  • 1560    So Priam's trust false Sinon's tears doth flatter
  • 1561    That he finds means to burn his Troy with water.'
  • 1562Here, all enraged, such passion her assails
  • 1563That patience is quite beaten from her breast.
  • Editor’s Note1564She tears the senseless Sinon with her nails,
  • Editor’s Note1565Comparing him to that unhappy guest
  • 1566Whose deed hath made herself herself detest.
  • 1567    At last she smilingly with this gives o'er:
  • 1568    'Fool, fool,' quoth she, 'his wounds will not be sore.'
  • 1569Thus ebbs and flows the current of her sorrow,
  • 1570And time doth weary time with her complaining.
  • 1571She looks for night, and then she longs for morrow,
  • 1572And both she thinks too long with her remaining.
  • 1573Short time seems long in sorrow's sharp sustaining.
  • Editor’s Note1574    Though woe be heavy, yet it seldom sleeps,
  • Editor’s Note1575    And they that watch see time how slow it creeps.
  • 1576Which all this time hath overslipped her thought
  • 1577That she with painted images hath spent,
  • 1578Being from the feeling of her own grief brought
  • Editor’s Note1579By deep surmise of other's detriment,
  • Editor’s Note1580Losing her woes in shows of discontent.
  • 1581    It easeth some, though none it ever cured,
  • 1582    To think their dolour others have endured.
  • Editor’s Note1583But now the mindful messenger come back
  • 1584Brings home his lord and other company,
  • 1585Who finds his Lucrece clad in mourning black,
  • Editor’s Note1586And round about her tear-distainèd eye
  • 1587Blue circles streamed, like rainbows in the sky—
  • Editor’s Note1588    These water-galls in her dim element
  • 1589    Foretell new storms to those already spent—
  • 1590Which when her sad beholding husband saw,
  • 1591Amazedly in her sad face he stares.
  • Editor’s Note1592Her eyes, though sod in tears, looked red and raw,
  • 1593Her lively colour killed with deadly cares.
  • 1594He hath no power to ask her how she fares.
  • pg 7161595    Both stood like old acquaintance in a trance,
  • Editor’s Note1596    Met far from home, wond'ring each other's chance.
  • 1597At last he takes her by the bloodless hand,
  • Editor’s Note1598And thus begins: 'What uncouth ill event
  • 1599Hath thee befall'n, that thou dost trembling stand?
  • Editor’s Note1600Sweet love, what spite hath thy fair colour spent?
  • 1601Why art thou thus attired in discontent?
  • 1602    Unmask, dear dear, this moody heaviness,
  • 1603    And tell thy grief, that we may give redress.'
  • Editor’s Note1604Three times with sighs she gives her sorrow fire
  • 1605Ere once she can discharge one word of woe.
  • Editor’s Note1606At length addressed to answer his desire,
  • 1607She modestly prepares to let them know
  • 1608Her honour is ta'en prisoner by the foe,
  • 1609    While Collatine and his consorted lords
  • Editor’s Note1610    With sad attention long to hear her words.
  • 1611And now this pale swan in her wat'ry nest
  • Editor’s Note1612Begins the sad dirge of her certain ending.
  • 1613'Few words,' quoth she, 'shall fit the trespass best,
  • 1614Where no excuse can give the fault amending.
  • Editor’s Note1615In me more woes than words are now depending,
  • 1616    And my laments would be drawn out too long
  • 1617    To tell them all with one poor tirèd tongue.
  • 1618'Then be this all the task it hath to say:
  • Editor’s Note1619Dear husband, in the interest of thy bed
  • 1620A stranger came, and on that pillow lay
  • 1621Where thou wast wont to rest thy weary head;
  • 1622And what wrong else may be imaginèd
  • Editor’s Note1623    By foul enforcement might be done to me,
  • 1624    From that, alas, thy Lucrece is not free.
  • 1625'For in the dreadful dead of dark midnight
  • 1626With shining falchion in my chamber came
  • 1627A creeping creature with a flaming light,
  • 1628And softly cried, "Awake, thou Roman dame,
  • 1629And entertain my love—else lasting shame
  • 1630    On thee and thine this night I will inflict,
  • 1631    If thou my love's desire do contradict."
  • Editor’s Note1632'"For some hard-favoured groom of thine," quoth he,
  • 1633"Unless thou yoke thy liking to my will
  • 1634I'll murder straight, and then I'll slaughter thee,
  • 1635And swear I found you where you did fulfil
  • 1636The loathsome act of lust, and so did kill
  • 1637    The lechers in their deed. This act will be
  • 1638    My fame, and thy perpetual infamy."
  • pg 7171639'With this I did begin to start and cry,
  • 1640And then against my heart he set his sword,
  • 1641Swearing, unless I took all patiently,
  • 1642I should not live to speak another word.
  • 1643So should my shame still rest upon recòrd,
  • 1644    And never be forgot in mighty Rome
  • Editor’s Note1645    Th'adulterate death of Lucrece and her groom.
  • 1646'Mine enemy was strong, my poor self weak,
  • 1647And far the weaker with so strong a fear.
  • 1648My bloody judge forbade my tongue to speak;
  • 1649No rightful plea might plead for justice there.
  • Editor’s Note1650His scarlet lust came evidence to swear
  • 1651    That my poor beauty had purloined his eyes—
  • 1652    And when the judge is robbed, the prisoner dies.
  • 1653'O teach me how to make mine own excuse,
  • 1654Or at the least this refuge let me find,
  • 1655Though my gross blood be stained with this abuse,
  • 1656Immaculate and spotless is my mind;
  • 1657That was not forced, that never was inclined
  • Editor’s Note1658    To áccessory yieldings, but still pure
  • Editor’s Note1659    Doth in her poisoned closet yet endure.'
  • Editor’s Note1660Lo, hear the hopeless merchant of this loss,
  • 1661With head declined and voice dammed up with woe,
  • Editor’s Note1662With sad set eyes and wreathèd arms across,
  • Editor’s Note1663From lips new waxen pale begins to blow
  • 1664The grief away that stops his answer so;
  • 1665    But wretched as he is he strives in vain.
  • 1666    What he breathes out, his breath drinks up again.
  • 1667As through an arch the violent roaring tide
  • 1668Outruns the eye that doth behold his haste,
  • Editor’s Note1669Yet in the eddy boundeth in his pride
  • 1670Back to the strait that forced him on so fast,
  • 1671In rage sent out, recalled in rage being past;
  • Editor’s Note1672    Even so his sighs, his sorrows, make a saw,
  • 1673    To push grief on, and back the same grief draw.
  • 1674Which speechless woe of his poor she attendeth,
  • Editor’s Note1675And his untimely frenzy thus awaketh:
  • 1676'Dear lord, thy sorrow to my sorrow lendeth
  • 1677Another power; no flood by raining slaketh.
  • Editor’s Note1678My woe too sensible thy passion maketh,
  • 1679    More feeling-painful. Let it then suffice
  • Editor’s Note1680    To drown one woe one pair of weeping eyes.
  • pg 7181681'And for my sake when I might charm thee so,
  • 1682For she that was thy Lucrece, now attend me.
  • 1683Be suddenly revengèd on my foe—
  • 1684Thine, mine, his own. Suppose thou dost defend me
  • 1685From what is past. The help that thou shalt lend me
  • 1686    Comes all too late, yet let the traitor die,
  • Editor’s Note1687    For sparing justice feeds iniquity.
  • 1688'But ere I name him, you fair lords,' quoth she,
  • 1689Speaking to those that came with Collatine,
  • 1690'Shall plight your honourable faiths to me
  • Editor’s Note1691With swift pursuit to venge this wrong of mine;
  • 1692For 'tis a meritorious fair design
  • 1693    To chase injustice with revengeful arms.
  • 1694    Knights by their oaths should right poor ladies' harms.'
  • 1695At this request with noble disposition
  • 1696Each present lord began to promise aid,
  • Editor’s Note1697As bound in knighthood to her imposition,
  • Editor’s Note1698Longing to hear the hateful foe bewrayed.
  • Editor’s Note1699But she (that yet her sad task hath not said)
  • 1700    The protestation stops. 'O speak,' quoth she;
  • 1701    'How may this forcèd stain be wiped from me?
  • Editor’s Note1702'What is the quality of my offence,
  • 1703Being constrained with dreadful circumstance?
  • Editor’s Note1704May my pure mind with the foul act dispense,
  • 1705My low-declinèd honour to advance?
  • 1706May any terms acquit me from this chance?
  • 1707    The poisoned fountain clears itself again,
  • 1708    And why not I from this compellèd stain?'
  • 1709With this they all at once began to say
  • 1710Her body's stain her mind untainted clears,
  • 1711While with a joyless smile she turns away
  • 1712The face, that map which deep impression bears
  • 1713Of hard misfortune, carved in it with tears.
  • 1714    'No, no,' quoth she, 'no dame hereafter living
  • 1715    By my excuse shall claim excuse's giving.'
  • 1716Here with a sigh as if her heart would break
  • 1717She throws forth Tarquin's name. 'He, he,' she says—
  • 1718But more than 'he' her poor tongue could not speak
  • Editor’s Note1719Till after many accents and delays,
  • Editor’s Note1720Untimely breathings, sick and short assays,
  • 1721    She utters this: 'He, he, fair lords, 'tis he
  • 1722    That guides this hand to give this wound to me.'
  • pg 7191723Even here she sheathèd in her harmless breast
  • 1724A harmful knife, that thence her soul unsheathed.
  • 1725That blow did bail it from the deep unrest
  • 1726Of that polluted prison where it breathed.
  • 1727Her contrite sighs unto the clouds bequeathed
  • 1728    Her wingèd sprite, and through her wounds doth fly
  • Editor’s Note1729    Life's lasting date from cancelled destiny.
  • 1730Stone-still, astonished with this deadly deed
  • 1731Stood Collatine and all his lordly crew,
  • 1732Till Lucrece' father that beholds her bleed
  • 1733Himself on her self-slaughtered body threw;
  • Editor’s Note1734And from the purple fountain Brutus drew
  • 1735    The murd'rous knife; and as it left the place
  • 1736    Her blood in poor revenge held it in chase,
  • 1737And bubbling from her breast it doth divide
  • 1738In two slow rivers, that the crimson blood
  • 1739Circles her body in on every side,
  • Editor’s Note1740Who like a late-sacked island vastly stood
  • 1741Bare and unpeopled in this fearful flood.
  • 1742    Some of her blood still pure and red remained,
  • 1743    And some looked black, and that false Tarquin stained.
  • 1744About the mourning and congealèd face
  • Editor’s Note1745Of that black blood a wat'ry rigol goes,
  • 1746Which seems to weep upon the tainted place;
  • 1747And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes,
  • 1748Corrupted blood some wat'ry token shows;
  • 1749    And blood untainted still doth red abide,
  • 1750    Blushing at that which is so putrefied.
  • 1751'Daughter, dear daughter,' old Lucretius cries,
  • 1752'That life was mine which thou hast here deprived.
  • 1753If in the child the father's image lies,
  • Editor’s Note1754Where shall I live now Lucrece is unlived?
  • 1755Thou wast not to this end from me derived.
  • 1756    If children predecease progenitors,
  • 1757    We are their offspring, and they none of ours.
  • Editor’s Note1758'Poor broken glass, I often did behold
  • 1759In thy sweet semblance my old age new born;
  • 1760But now that fair fresh mirror, dim and old,
  • Editor’s Note1761Shows me a bare-boned death by time outworn.
  • 1762O, from thy cheeks my image thou hast torn,
  • 1763    And shivered all the beauty of my glass,
  • 1764    That I no more can see what once I was.
  • 1765'O time, cease thou thy course and last no longer,
  • Editor’s Note1766If they surcease to be that should survive!
  • 1767Shall rotten death make conquest of the stronger,
  • pg 7201768And leave the falt'ring feeble souls alive?
  • 1769The old bees die, the young possess their hive.
  • 1770    Then live, sweet Lucrece, live again and see
  • 1771    Thy father die, and not thy father thee.'
  • 1772By this starts Collatine as from a dream,
  • Editor’s Note1773And bids Lucretius give his sorrow place;
  • Editor’s Note1774And then in key-cold Lucrece' bleeding stream
  • 1775He falls, and bathes the pale fear in his face,
  • 1776And counterfeits to die with her a space,
  • 1777    Till manly shame bids him possess his breath,
  • 1778    And live to be revengèd on her death.
  • 1779The deep vexation of his inward soul
  • Editor’s Note1780Hath served a dumb arrest upon his tongue
  • 1781Who, mad that sorrow should his use control
  • 1782Or keep him from heart-easing words so long,
  • 1783Begins to talk—but through his lips do throng
  • Editor’s Note1784    Weak words, so thick come in his poor heart's aid
  • 1785    That no man could distinguish what he said.
  • 1786Yet sometime Tarquin was pronouncèd plain,
  • 1787But through his teeth, as if the name he tore.
  • 1788This windy tempest, till it blow up rain,
  • 1789Held back his sorrow's tide to make it more.
  • 1790At last it rains, and busy winds give o'er.
  • 1791    Then son and father weep with equal strife
  • 1792    Who should weep most, for daughter or for wife.
  • 1793The one doth call her his, the other his,
  • 1794Yet neither may possess the claim they lay.
  • 1795The father says 'She's mine.'—'O mine she is,'
  • 1796Replies her husband; 'do not take away
  • Editor’s Note1797My sorrow's interest; let no mourner say
  • 1798    He weeps for her, for she was only mine,
  • 1799    And only must be wailed by Collatine.'
  • 1800'O,' quoth Lucretius, 'I did give that life
  • Editor’s Note1801Which she too early and too late hath spilled.'—
  • 1802'Woe, woe,' quoth Collatine, 'she was my wife.
  • Editor’s Note1803I owed her, and 'tis mine that she hath killed.'—
  • 1804'My daughter' and 'my wife' with clamours filled
  • 1805    The dispersed air, who, holding Lucrece' life,
  • 1806    Answered their cries, 'my daughter' and 'my wife'.
  • 1807Brutus. who plucked the knife from Lucrece' side,
  • 1808Seeing such emulation in their woe
  • Editor’s Note1809Began to clothe his wit in state and pride,
  • Editor’s Note1810Burying in Lucrece' wound his folly's show;
  • 1811He with the Romans was esteemèd so
  • pg 721Editor’s Note1812    As silly jeering idiots are with kings,
  • 1813    For sportive words and utt'ring foolish things.
  • Editor’s Note1814But now he throws that shallow habit by,
  • Editor’s Note1815Wherein deep policy did him disguise,
  • 1816And armed his long-hid wits advisedly
  • 1817To check the tears in Collatinus' eyes.
  • 1818'Thou wrongèd lord of Rome,' quoth he, 'arise.
  • Editor’s Note1819    Let my unsounded self, supposed a fool,
  • 1820    Now set thy long-experienced wit to school.
  • 1821'Why, Collatine, is woe the cure for woe?
  • 1822Do wounds help wounds, or grief help grievous deeds?
  • 1823Is it revenge to give thyself a blow
  • 1824For his foul act, by whom thy fair wife bleeds?
  • Editor’s Note1825Such childish humour from weak minds proceeds;
  • 1826    Thy wretched wife mistook the matter so,
  • 1827    To slay herself that should have slain her foe.
  • 1828'Courageous Roman, do not steep thy heart
  • 1829In such relenting dew of lamentations,
  • 1830But kneel with me and help to bear thy part
  • 1831To rouse our Roman gods with invocations
  • 1832That they will suffer these abominations—
  • 1833     Since Rome herself in them doth stand disgraced—
  • Editor’s Note1834    By our strong arms from forth her fair streets chased.
  • 1835'Now by the Capitol that we adore,
  • 1836And by this chaste blood so unjustly stained,
  • Editor’s Note1837By heaven's fair sun that breeds the fat earth's store,
  • 1838By all our country rights in Rome maintained,
  • 1839And by chaste Lucrece' soul that late complained
  • 1840    Her wrongs to us, and by this bloody knife,
  • 1841    We will revenge the death of this true wife.'
  • 1842This said, he struck his hand upon his breast,
  • 1843And kissed the fatal knife to end his vow,
  • 1844And to his protestation urged the rest,
  • Editor’s Note1845Who, wond'ring at him, did his words allow.
  • 1846Then jointly to the ground their knees they bow,
  • 1847    And that deep vow which Brutus made before
  • 1848    He doth again repeat, and that they swore.
  • Editor’s Note1849When they had sworn to this advisèd doom
  • 1850They did conclude to bear dead Lucrece thence,
  • Editor’s Note1851To show her bleeding body thorough Rome,
  • Editor’s Note1852And so to publish Tarquin's foul offence;
  • 1853Which being done with speedy diligence,
  • Editor’s Note1854    The Romans plausibly did give consent
  • 1855    To Tarquin's everlasting banishment.
pg 722

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Henry Wriothesley Third Earl of Southampton, to whom Shakespeare also dedicated Venus and Adonis
Editor’s Note
2 pamphlet printed text designed to be stitched rather than bound, usually associated with 'cheap print'
Editor’s Note
2 without beginning The poem opens abruptly, 'in medias res'.
Editor’s Note
3 superfluous moiety Unnecessary trifle. Shakespeare's modesty is characteristic of dedicatory writing.
Editor’s Note
3 warrant assurance
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6 still continually
Editor’s Note
1 THE ARGUMENT. The summary.
Editor’s Note
2 surnamed nicknamed, known as
Editor’s Note
2 Superbus the Proud (Latin)
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4 requiring requesting
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4 staying waiting
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4 suffrages votes of approval
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6 Ardea a city twenty-four miles south of Rome
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9–10 pleasant humour cheerful mood
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10 posted rode swiftly
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11 avouched affirmed
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13 several disports various pastimes
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17 estate rank
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18 Collatia a city ten miles east of Rome
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23 habit dress
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23 oath of oath from
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24 withal thereupon
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30 consuls elected magistrates who ruled Rome jointly
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1 post haste
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2 trustless treacherous
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3 Lust-breathèd inspired by lust
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4 lightless burning unseen
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5 aspire mount up to, seek to gain
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8 Haply … unhapp'ly perhaps … unfortunately
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9 bateless not to be blunted
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10 let forbear
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11 red and white conventional Petrarchan description of Lucrece's complexion
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12 sky i.e. Lucrece's face
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13 mortal stars eyes
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13 heaven's beauties (actual) stars
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14 aspects (accented on the second syllable) looks; (astrological) influences
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14 peculiar for him alone
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26 date time limit (as of a bond)
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29 of itself by its own nature
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30 orator advocate
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32 singular outstanding
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33 publisher publicist, one who makes things public
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36 sovereignty supremacy
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37 Suggested tempted
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37 issue offspring
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40 Braving compare defying comparison
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42 golden hap good fortune
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42 want lack
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43 untimely ill-timed, inappropriate
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44 timeless hasty
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47 liver thought to be the seat of passion
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49 still blasts always withers
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56 o'er with a pun on 'ore', gold, referring to blushes; gold and red were often equated, as again in ll. 59–60
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57–8 entitlèd / From having a chain derived from
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58 field background of a heraldic shield; battlefield
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63 fence defend
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65 Argued shown
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67 from world's minority since the world's early days (cf. 'the golden age', 60)
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79 niggard prodigal a paradox: inadequate though lavishly generous
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83 answers with surmise pays in imagination
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88 limed caught with birdlime (a sticky substance)
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89 securely without suspecting danger
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92 coloured disguised
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93 pleats concealing folds
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94 That so that
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94 inordinate irregular, unrestrained
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97 store abundance
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99 coped with encountered
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99 stranger i.e. a stranger's
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100 parling speaking
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102 books i.e. his eyes. Explanatory notes were printed or written in margins
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104 moralize interpret
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105 More than more than that
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106 stories tells
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110 bruisèd arms dented armour
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116 welkin sky (i.e. face)
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117 sable black
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119 vaulty like a roof, i.e. the sky
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121 Intending pretending
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121 sprite spirit
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122 questionèd conversed
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126 wake are wakeful
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127 revolving thinking over
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131 traffic bargain
Editor’s Note
132 meed proposed reward expected
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133 adjunct connected, consequent
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134 fond infatuated, besotted
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144 gage pledge or risk
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145 fell fierce
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150 ambitious foul infirmity this foul infirmity, ambition
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151 defect supposed deficiency
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153 want of wit lack of good sense
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164 comfortable comforting
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167 silly innocent
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174 betake him to retire resort to a retreat
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176 falchion broad, curved sword
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179 lodestar guiding star
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180 advisedly deliberately
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188 naked armour of still-slaughtered lust useless (naked) protection afforded by lust, which destroys itself in fulfilment
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196 snow-white weed garment of chastity
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198 household's grave ancestral tomb
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201 respect consideration, objective
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202 digression transgression
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205 golden coat honourable coat of arms
Editor’s Note
206 loathsome dash heraldic mark signifying dishonourable conduct
Editor’s Note
207 cipher … dote signify how foolishly I was infatuated
Editor’s Note
208 note reproach, brand
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220 Post hasten
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221 engirt surrounded
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222 blur to blot upon
Editor’s Note
224 ever-during everlasting
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225 invention creative thought
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230 extreme (accent on the first syllable)
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236 quittal repayment
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239 fact deed, crime
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244 sentence moral statement
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244 saw moral saying
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245 painted cloth i.e. wall hanging showing a moral scene or mottoes
Editor’s Note
248 makes dispensatïon dispenses
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249 Urging … for vantage putting ill thoughts in the most favourable light
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251 effects impulses
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255 hard news harsh, bad news
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258, 259 lawn fine linen
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259 took being taken
Editor’s Note
262 it … rocked caused it (her hand) to tremble
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264 cheer countenance
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265 Narcissus see Venus and Adonis l. 161, note
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266 flood water
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267 colour pretext
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269 Poor wretches … abuses only poor-spirited people feel regrets for trivial faults
Editor’s Note
271 Affection passion, desire
Editor’s Note
274 avaunt begone
Editor’s Note
275 Respect reflection
Editor’s Note
276 heart (here stands for the intellect)
Editor’s Note
277 Sad pause serious contemplation
Editor’s Note
277 regard thoughtfulness
Editor’s Note
278 part role, here esp. an allegorical figure from a morality play
Editor’s Note
279 prize ship to be captured
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284 fond infatuated, foolish
Editor’s Note
285 servitors servants, attendants
Editor’s Note
286 cross frustrate
Editor’s Note
286 opposite persuasion contrary impulses
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287 league alliance
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293 seeks looks for help from
Editor’s Note
295 servile powers i.e. senses, appetites
Editor’s Note
296 jocund show cheerful appearance
Editor’s Note
297 Stuff up fill up, complete
Editor’s Note
303 retires his ward withdraws its guard
Editor’s Note
304 rate his ill berate his evil (by squeaking)
Editor’s Note
308 his fear the object of his fear
Editor’s Note
313 conduct conductor, guide (i.e. his torch)
Editor’s Note
319 needle (pronounced as one syllable)
Editor’s Note
321 inured accustomed
Editor’s Note
324 consters construes
Editor’s Note
326 of trial sent to test him
Editor’s Note
327 bars i.e. minute-marks
Editor’s Note
328 Who which
Editor’s Note
328 let hinder
Editor’s Note
330 lets attend hindrances accompany
Editor’s Note
332 more greater
Editor’s Note
332 prime spring
Editor’s Note
333 sneapèd pinched with cold
Editor’s Note
334 pays the income is the price of obtaining
Editor’s Note
335 shelves sandbanks
Editor’s Note
341 So … wrought sin has so changed his nature
Editor’s Note
346 fair fair virtuous beauty
Editor’s Note
347 they the heavens (l. 343)
Editor’s Note
355 hath dissolutïon is sure to melt
Editor’s Note
367 close closed (round the bed)
Editor’s Note
372 Look as just as
Editor’s Note
373 bereaves takes away
Editor’s Note
375 wink close
Editor’s Note
380 period of their ill end of their wrongdoing
Editor’s Note
382 clear pure
Editor’s Note
383 league alliance (of husband and wife)
Editor’s Note
387 Coz'ning cheating
Editor’s Note
389 to want at being deprived of
Editor’s Note
391 monument effigy on a tomb
Editor’s Note
393 Without outside
Editor’s Note
397 marigolds (which close at sunset)
Editor’s Note
402 map likeness
Editor’s Note
404 Each i.e. life and death
Editor’s Note
407 circled with blue veins, cf. l. 419
Editor’s Note
412 went about schemed
Editor’s Note
417 his will … tired exhausted his lustful eyes