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"What is the quality of mine offence,

Being constrain'd with dreadful circumstance?
May my pure mind with the foul act dispense,
My low-declinèd honour to advance ?
May any terms acquit me from this chance?
The poison'd fountain clears itself again;
And why not I from this compelled stain?"

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

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

By my excuse shall claim excuse's giving."

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

But more than "he!" her poor tongue could not


Till after many accents and delays,
Untimely breathings, sick and short

assays, She utters this: "He, he, fair lords, 'tis he, That guides this hand to give this wound to me!"

Even here she sheathed in her harmless breast
A harmful knife, that thence her soul unsheathed:
That blow did bail it from the deep unrest
Of that polluted prison where it breathed:
Her contrite sighs unto the clouds bequeath'd
Her winged sprite, and through her wounds
doth fly

Life's lasting date from cancell'd destiny.

Stone-still, astonish'd with this deadly deed,
Stood Collatine and all his lordly crew;
Till Lucrece' father, that beholds her bleed,
Himself on her self-slaughter'd body threw ;
And from the purple fountain Brutus drew
The murderous knife, and, as it left the place,
Her blood, in poor revenge, held it in chase

And bubbling from her breast, it doth divide
In two slow rivers, that the crimson blood
Circles her body in on every side,

Who like a late-sack'd island vastly stood
Bare and unpeopled, in this fearful flood.

Some of her blood still pure and red remain'd, And some look'd black, and that false Tarquin stain'd.

About the mourning and congealed face
Of that black blood a watery.rigol goes,
Which seems to weep upon the tainted place :
And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes,
Corrupted blood some watery token shows;
And blood untainted still doth red abide,
Blushing at that which is so putrefied.

"Daughter, dear daughter," old Lucretius cries, "That life was mine which thou hast here deprived.

If in the child the father's image lies,

Where shall I live now Lucrece is unlived?
Thou wast not to this end from me derived.
If children predecease progenitors,

We are their offspring, and they none of ours.

"Poor broken glass, I often did behold In thy sweet semblance my old age new born;

But now that fair fresh mirror, dim and old, Shows me a bareboned death by time outworn; O, from thy cheeks my image thou hast torn, And shiver'd all the beauty of my glass,

That I no more can see what once I was!

"O Time, cease thou thy course, and last nó longer,

If they surcease to be that should survive.

Shall rotten Death make conquest of the stronger,
And leave the faltering feeble souls alive?
The old bees die, the young possess their hive:
Then live, sweet Lucrece, live again, and see
Thy father die, and not thy father thee!"

By this starts Collatine as from a dream,
And bids Lucretius give his sorrow place;
And then in key-cold Lucrece' bleeding stream
He falls, and bathes the pale fear in his face,
And counterfeits to die with her a space;

Till manly shame bids him possess his breath,
And live, to be revengèd on her death.

The deep vexation of his inward soul
Hath served a dumb arrest upon his tongue;
Who, mad that sorrow should his use control,
Or keep him from heart-easing words so long,
Begins to talk; but through his lips do throng
Weak words, so thick come in his poor heart

That no man could distinguish what he said.

Yet sometime "Tarquin " was pronounce plain,

But through his teeth, as if the name he tore. This windy tempest, till it blow up rain,

Held back his sorrow's tide, to make it more; At last it rains, and busy winds give o'er :

Then son and father weep with equal strife, Who should weep most, for daughter or for wife.

The one doth call her his, the other his,
Yet neither may possess the claim they lay.
The father says, "She's mine." "O, mine she


Replies her husband: "do not take away
My sorrow's interest; let no mourner say
He weeps for her, for she was only mine,
And only must be wail'd by Collatine."

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"O," quoth Lucretius, "I did give that life Which she too early and too late hath spill'd! "Woe, woe," quoth Collatine, "she was my wife,


I owed her, and 'tis mine that she hath kill'd." 'My daughter!" and "my wife!" with clamours fill'd

The dispersed air, who, holding Lucrece' life, Answer'd their cries, "my daughter!" and "my wife!"

Brutus, who pluck'd the knife from Lucrece' side,
Seeing such emulation in their woe,

Began to clothe his wit in state and pride,
Burying in Lucrece' wound his folly's show.
He with the Romans was esteemed so
As silly jeering idiots are with kings,
For sportive words, and uttering foolish things.

But now he throws that shallow habit by,
Wherein deep policy did him disguise ;

And arm'd his long-hid wits advisedly, To check the tears in Collatinus' eyes. "Thou wronged lord of Rome," quoth he, "arise;

Let my unsounded self, supposed a fool, Now set thy long-experienced wit to school.

"Why, Collatine, is woe the cure for woe? Do wounds help wounds, or grief help grievous deeds?

Is it revenge to give thyself a blow,

For his foul act by whom thy fair wife bleeds? Such childish humour from weak minds proceeds:

Thy wretched wife mistook the matter so, To slay herself, that should have slain her foe.

"Courageous Roman, do not steep thy heart
In such relenting dew of lamentations,
But kneel with me, and help to bear thy part,
To rouse our Roman gods with invocations,
That they will suffer these abominations,

(Since Rome herself in them doth stand disgraced,)

By our strong arms from forth her fair streets chased.

66 Now, by the Capitol that we adore,

And by this chaste blood so unjustly stain'd,
By heaven's fair sun that breeds the fat earth's


By all our country rights in Rome maintain'd, And by chaste Lucrece' soul that late complain'd Her wrongs to us, and by this bloody knife, We will revenge the death of this true wife!"

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