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Thus ebbs and flows the current of her sorrow,
And time doth weary time with her complaining :
She looks for night, and then she longs for morrow,
And both she thinks too long with her remaining ;
Short time seems long, in sorrow's sharp sustaining.
Tho' woe be heavy, yet it seldom sleeps,
And they that watch, see time how slow it creeps.
Which all this time hath over-slipt her thought,
That she with painted images hath spent,
Being from the feeling of her own grief brought,
By deep surmise of others detriment,
Losing her woes in shows of discontent.
It easeth some, tho' none it ever cur'd,
To think their dolour others have endur'd.
But now the mindful messenger come back,
Brings home his lord, and other company:
Who finds his Lucrece clad in mourning black,
And round about her tear-distained eye
Blue circles stream'd, like rainbows in the sky,
These watergalls, in her dim element,
Foretel new storms to those already spent.
Which when her sad beholding husband saw,
Amazedly in her sad face he stares:
Her eyes, tho' sod in tears, look red and raw,
Her lively colour kill'd with deadly cares,
He has no power to ask her how she fares,
But stood like old acquaintance in a trance,
Met far from home, wond'ring each other's chance.
At last he takes her by the bloodless hand,
And thus begins: What uncouth ill event
Hath thee befallen, that thou dost trembling stand?
Sweet love, what spite hath thy fair colour spent?
Why art thou thus attir'd in discontent?
Unmask, dear dear, this moody heaviness,
And tell thy grief, that we may give redress.
Three times with sighs she gives her sorrow fire,
Ere once she can discharge one word of woe:
At length address'd, to answer his desire,
She modestly prepares, to let them know
Her honour is ta'en prisoner by the foe:
While Colatine, and his consorted lords,
With sad attention long to hear her words.
And now this pale swan in her wať'ry nest,
Begins the sad dirge of her certain ending.
Few words, quoth she, shall fit the trespass best,
Where no excuse can give the fault amending;
In me more woes than words are now depending:
And my laments would be drawn out too long,
To tell them all with one poor tired tongue.
Then be this all the task it hath to say,
Dear husband, in the interest of thy bed
A stranger came, and on that pillow lay,
Where thou wast wont to rest thy weary head;
And what wrong else may be imagined
By foul enforcement might be done to me,
From that, alas! thy Lucrece is not free.
For in the dreadful dead of dark midnight,
With shining fauchion in my chamber, came
A creeping creature with a flaming light,
And softly cry'd, Awake, thou Roman dame,
And entertain my love, else lasting shame,
On thee and thine this night I will inflict,
If thou my love's desire do contradict.
For some hard-favour'd groom of thine, quoth he,
Unless thou yoke thy liking to my will,
I'll murder straight, and then I'll slaughter thee,
And swear I found you, where you did fulfil
The loathsome act of lust; and so did kill
The lechers in their deed; this act will be
My fame, and thy perpetual infamy.
With this I did begin to start and cry,
And then against my heart he sets his sword,
Swearing, unless I took all patiently,
I should not live to speak another word:
So should my shame still rest upon record,
And never be forgot in mighty Rome,
Th' adult'rate death of Lucrece and her groom.
Mine enemy was strong, my poor self weak,
(And far the weaker with so strong a fear)
My bloody judge forbad my tongue to speak,
No rightful plea might plead for justice there :
His scarlet lust came evidence to swear,
That my poor beauty had purloin'd his eyes;
And when the judge is robb'd, the prisoner dies.
Oh! teach me how to make mine own excuse,
Or at the least, this refuge let me find;
Tho' my gross blood be stain'd with this abuse,
Immaculate and spotless is my mind;
That was not forc❜d, that never was inclin'd
To accessary yieldings: but still pure
Doth in her poison'd closet yet endure.
Lo! here the hopeless merchant of this loss,
With head inclin'd, and voice damm'd up with woe;
With sąd wet eyes, and wretched arms across,
From lips new waxen pale begins to blow
The grief away, that stops his answer so.
But wretched as he is, he strives in vain ;
What he breathes out, his breath drinks up again.
As through an arch, the violent roaring tide
Out-runs the eye, that doth behold his haste;
Yet in the eddy boundeth in his pride
Back to the straight that forc'd him on so fast;
In rage sent out, recall'd in rage being past:
Even so his sighs, his sorrows make a saw,
To push grief on, and back the same grief draw.
Which speechless woe of his, poor she attendeth,
And his untimely frenzy thus awaketh :
Dear lord, thy sorrow to my sorrow lendeth
Another power, no flood my raining slacketh;
My woe too sensible thy passion maketh
More feeling painful; let it then suffice
To drown one woe, one pair of weeping eyes.
And for my sake, when I might charm thee so,
For she that was thy Lucrece-now attend me,
Be suddenly revenged on my foe;
Thine, mine, his own, suppose thou dost defend me.
From what is past, the help that thou thall lend me
Comes all too late, yet let the traitor die,
For sparing justice feeds iniquity.
But ere I name him, you fair lords, quoth she,
(Speaking to those that came with Calatine)
Shall plight your honourable faiths to me,
With swift pursuit to 'venge this wrong of mine:
For 'tis a meritorious fair design,
To chase injustice with revengeful arms,
Knights by their oaths should right poor ladies' harms.
At this request, with noble disposition,
Each present lord began to promise aid,
As bound in knighthood to her imposition,
Longing to hear the hateful foe bewray'd:
But she that yet her sad task hath not said,
The protestation stops. O speak, quoth she,
How may this forced stain be wip'd from me?
What is the quality of my offence,
Being constrain'd with dreadful circumstance?
May my pure mind with the foul act dispense,
My low declined 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 carv'd in it with tears.
No, no, quoth she, no dame hereafter living,
By my excuse shall claim excuses 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 speak,
Till after many accents and delays,
Untimely breathings, sick and short essays,
She utters this, He, he, fair lord, '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 bequeathed
Her winged sprite, and thro' her wounds doth fly
Life's lasting date from cancell❜d destiny.
Stone-still, astonish'd, with this deadly deed,
Stood Colatine, 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 murd'rous knife, and as it left the place,
Her blood, in pure revenge, held it in chase.
And bubbling from her breast it doth ivide
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 wat'ry rigol goes,
Which seems to weep upon the tainted place;
And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes,
Corrupted blood some wat'ry tokens shows:
And blood untainted still doth red abide,
Blushing at that which is so putrify'd.
Daughter, dear daughter, old Lucretius cries,
That life was mine, which thou hast here depriv'd;
If in the child the father's image lies,
Where shall I live, now Lucrece is unliv'd ?
Thou wast not to this end from me deriv'd,
If children predecease progenitors,
We are their offspring, and they none of ours.
Poor broken glass, I often did behold
In thy sweet semblance, my old age new-born ;
But now that fair fresh mirror, dim and old,
Shows me a bare-bon'd death by time out-worn: