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As the poor frighted deer, that stands at gaze,
To live or die which of the twain were better, When life is shamed, and death reproach's debtor.
"To kill myself," quoth she, "alack! what were it,
But with my body my poor soul's pollution? They that lose half with greater patience bear it Than they whose whole is swallow'd in confusion.
That mother tries a merciless conclusion
Who, having two sweet babes, when Death takes one,
Will slay the other, and be nurse to none.
"My body or my soul, which was the dearer,
His leaves will wither, and his sap decay;
"Her house is sack'd, her quiet interrupted,
If in this blemish'd fort I make some hole Through which I may convey this troubled soul.
"Yet die I will not till my Collatine
"My honour I'll bequeath unto the knife
"Dear lord of that dear jewel I have lost,
"This brief abridgment of my will I make :My soul and body to the skies and ground; My resolution, husband, do thou take;
Mine honour be the knife's that makes my wound;
My shame be his that did my fame confound; And all my fame that lives disbursed be
To those that live, and think no shame of me.
"Thou, Collatine, shalt oversee this will; How was I overseen that thou shalt see it! My blood shall wash the slander of mine ill;
My life's foul deed, my life's fair end shall free it. Faint not, faint heart, but stoutly say, 'so be it.' Yield to my hand; my hand shall conquer thee;
Thou dead, both die, and both shall victors be."
This plot of death when sadly she had laid,
With untuned tongue she hoarsely call'd her
Whose swift obedience to her mistress hies; For fleet-wing'd duty with thought's feathers flies.
Poor Lucrece' cheeks unto her maid seem so As winter meads when sun doth melt their
Her mistress she doth give demure good-morrow,
Why her two suns were cloud-eclipsed so,
But as the earth doth weep, the sun being set,
Who in a salt-waved ocean quench their light,
A pretty while these pretty creatures stand,
Grieving themselves to guess at others' smarts, And then they drown their eyes, or break their hearts.
For men have marble, women waxen, minds, And therefore are they form'd as marble will; The weak oppress'd, the impression of strange kinds
Is form'd in them by force, by fraud, or skill: Then call them not the authors of their ill,
No more than wax shall be accounted evil,
Their smoothness, like a goodly champaign plain,
Poor women's faces are their own faults' books.
No man inveigh against the wither'd flower,
Make weak-made women tenants to their
The precedent whereof in Lucrece view, Assail'd by night with circumstances strong Of present death, and shame that might ensue By that her death, to do her husband wrong: Such danger to resistance did belong,
That dying fear through all her body spread;
By this, mild patience bid fair Lucrece speak
If thou dost weep for grief of my sustaining,
"But tell me, girl, when went"-(and there she stay'd
Till after a deep groan) "Tarquin from hence?" "Madam, ere I was up," replied the maid, "The more to blame my sluggard negligence: Yet with the fault I thus far can dispense,Myself was stirring ere the break of day, And, ere I rose, was Tarquin gone away.
"But, lady, your maid may be so bold, She would request to know your heaviness." "O, peace!" quoth Lucrece; "if it should be told,
The repetition cannot make it less;
For more it is than I can well express:
And that deep torture may be call'd a hell, When more is felt than one hath power to tell.