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Griped in an armed hand; himself, behind,
And from the walls of strong-besieged Troy, When their brave hope, bold Hector, march'd to field,
Stood many Trojan mothers, sharing joy
And, from the strond of Dardan, where they fought,
To Simois' reedy banks, the red blood ran,
To this well-painted piece is Lucrece come,
Staring on Priam's wounds with her old eyes,
In her the painter had anatomized
Time's ruin, beauty's wreck, and grim care's reign;
Her cheeks with chaps and wrinkles were disguised;
Of what she was no semblance did remain :
Show'd life imprison'd in a body dead.
On this sad shadow Lucrece spends her eyes,
To give her so much grief, and not a tongue.
"Poor instrument," quoth she, "without a sound, I'll tune thy woes with my lamenting tongue : And drop sweet balm in Priam's painted wound, And rail on Pyrrhus that hath done him wrong; And with my tears quench Troy that burns so long;
And with my knife scratch out the angry eyes Of all the Greeks that are thine enemies.
"Show me the strumpet that began this stir,
This load of wrath that burning Troy doth bear;
Why should the private pleasure of some one Become the public plague of many mo? Let sin, alone committed, light alone
Upon his head that hath transgressed so.
"Lo, here weeps Hecuba, here Priam dies, Here manly Hector faints, here Troilus swounds; Here friend by friend in bloody channel lies, And friend to friend gives unadvised wounds, And one man's lust these many lives confounds: Had doting Priam check'd his son's desire, Troy had been bright with fame, and not with fire."
Here feelingly she weeps Troy's painted woes : For sorrow, like a heavy-hanging bell,
Once set on ringing, with his own weight goes; Then little strength rings out the doleful knell : So Lucrece, set a-work, sad tales doth tell
To pencill'd pensiveness, and colour'd sorrow; She lends them words, and she their looks doth borrow.
She throws her eyes about the painting, round,
Onward to Troy with the blunt swains he goes, So mild, that Patience seem'd to scorn his
In him the painter labour'd with his skill
A brow unbent, that seem'd to welcome woe; Cheeks neither red nor pale, but mingled so That blushing red no guilty instance gave, Nor ashy pale the fear that false hearts have.
But, like a constant and confirmed devil,
The well-skill'd workman this mild image drew For perjured Sinon, whose enchanting story The credulous old Priam after slew ;
Whose words, like wild-fire, burnt the shining glory
Of rich-built Ilion, that the skies were sorry, And little stars shot from their fixed places, When their glass fell wherein they view'd their faces.
This picture she advisedly perused,
And chid the painter for his wondrous skill;
"It cannot be," quoth she, "that so much guile"
(She would have said) "can lurk in such a look;" But Tarquin's shape came in her mind the while,
"It cannot be," she in that sense forsook, And turn'd it thus: "It cannot be, I find, But such a face should bear a wicked mind:
'For even as subtle Sinon here is painted, So sober-sad, so weary, and so mild,
(As if with grief or travail he had fainted,) To me came Tarquin armed; so beguiled With outward honesty, but yet defiled
With inward vice: as Priam him did cherish, So did I Tarquin; so my Troy did perish.
"Look, look, how listening Priam wets his eyes,
To see those borrow'd tears that Sinon sheds !
Are balls of quenchless fire to burn thy city.
"Such devils steal effects from lightless hell; For Sinon in his fire doth quake with cold, And in that cold hot-burning fire doth dwell; These contraries such unity do hold
Only to flatter fools, and make them bold:
So Priam's trust false Sinon's tears doth flatter, That he finds means to burn his Troy with water.
Here, all enraged, such passion her assails, That patience is quite beaten from her breast. She tears the senseless Sinon with her nails,