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Whether it is that she reflects so bright,
That dazzleth them, or else some shame suppos'd; But blind they are, and keep themselves inclos'd.
O had they in that darksome prison died !
Then had they seen the period of their ill,
Then Colatine again by Lucrece's side,
In his clear bed might have reposed still.
But they must ope this blessed league to kill ;
And holy-thoughted Lucrece to their sight
Must sell her joy, her life, her world's delight.
Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies under,
Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss ;
Which therefore angry, seems to part in sunder,
Swelling on either side to want his bliss :
Between whose hills, her head intombed is ;
Where like a virtuous monument she lies,
To be admir'd of lewd unhallow'd eyes.
Without the bed her other fair hand was,
On the green coverlet, whose perfect white
Shew'd like an April daisy on the grass,
With pearly sweat, resembling dew of night,
Her eyes like marigolds had sheath'd their light,
And canopy'd in darkness sweetly lay,
Till they might open to adorn the day.
Her hair like golden threads play'd with her breath;
O modest wantons, wanton modesty!
Shewing life's triumph in the map of death,
And death's dim look in life's mortality:
Each in her sleep themselves so beautify,
As if between them twain there were no strife,
But that life liv'd in death, and death in life.
Her breasts like ivory globes circled with blue,
A pair of maiden worlds unconquered ;
Save of their lord ; no bearing yoke they knew,
And him by oath they truly honoured.
These worlds in Tarquin new ambition bred,
Who like a foul usurper went about,
From this fair throne to have the owner out.
What could he see, but mightily he noted ?
What did he note, but strongly he desir'd ?
What he beheld, on that he firmly doated,
And in his will his wilful eye he tir'd.
With more than admiration he admir'd
Her azure veins, her alabaster skin,
Her coral lips, her snow-white dimpled chin.
As the grim lion fawneth o'er his prey,
Sharp hunger by the conquest satisfy'd ;
So o'er this sleeping soul doth Tarquin stay,
His rage of lust by gazing qualify’d,
Slack’d, not suppress’d; for, standing by her side,
His eye which late this mutiny restrains,
Unto a greater uproar tempts his veins. And they, like straggling slaves for pillage fighting, Obdurate vassals, fell exploits effecting, In bloody death and ravishment delighting, Nor children's tears nor mother's groans respecting, Swell in their pride, the onset still expecting.
Anon his beating heart, alarum striking,
Gives the hot charge, and bids them do their liking,
His drumming heart cheers up his burning eye ;
His eye commends the leading to his hand ;
His hand as proud of such a dignity,
Smoaking with pride, march'd on to make his stand
On her bare breast, the heart of all her land ;
Whose ranks of blue veins, as his hand did scale,
Left their round turrets destitute and pale.
They must'ring to the quiet cabinet,
Where their dear governess and lady lies,
Do tell her she is dreadfully beset,
And fright her with confusion of their cries,
She, much amaz'd, breaks ope her lock'd-up eyes ;
Who peeping forth, this tumult to behold,
Are by his flaming torch dim'd and controul'd.
Imagine her as one in dead of night,
Forth from dull sleep by dreadful fancy waking,
That thinks she hath beheld some ghastly sprite,
Whose grim aspect sets every joint a shaking,
What terror 'tis : but she in worser taking,
From sleep disturbed, heedfully doth view
The sight, which makes supposed terror true.
Wrapt and confounded in a thousand fears,
Like to a new kill'd bird she trembling lies :
She dares not look, yet winking there appear
Quick shifting anticks ugly in her eyes,
Such shadows are the weak brain's forgeries ;
Who angry that the eyes fly from their lights,
In darkness daunts them with more dreadful sights
His hand, that yet remains upon her breast,
(Rude ram ! to batter such an ivory wall)
May feel her heart, poor citizen ! distrest,
Wounding itself to death, rise up and fall,
Beating her bulk, that his hand shakes withall.
This moves in him more rage, and lesser pity,
To make the breach, and enter this sweet city.
First like a trumpet doth his tongue begin
To sound a parley to his heartless foe,
Who o'er the white sheet peers her whiter chin,
The reason of this alarum to know,
Which he by dumb demeanor seeks to show;
But she with vehement prayers urgeth still,
Under what colour he commits this ill.
Thus he replies : The colour in thy face,
That even for anger makes the lily pale,
And the red rose blush at her own disgrace,
Shall plead for me, and tell my loving tale.
Under that colour am I come to scale
Thy never-conquer'd fort, the fault is thine,
For those thine eyes betray thee unto mine,
Thus I forestall thee if thou mean to chide :
Thy beauty hath ensnar'd thee to this night,
Where thou with patience must my will abide ;
My will that marks thee for my earth's delight,
Which I to conquer sought with all my might.
But as reproof and reason beat it dead,
By thy bright beauty it was newly bred.
I see what crosses my attempts will bring,
I know what thorns the growing rose defends,
I think the honey guarded with a sting ;
All this beforehand counsel comprehends ;
But will is deaf, and hears no heedful friends.
Only he hath an eye to gaze on beauty,
And doats on what he looks, 'gainst law or duty. I have debated, even in my soul, What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shall breed ; But nothing can affection's course control, Or stop the headlong fury of his speed. I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
Reproach, disdain, and deadly enmity ;
Yet strive I to embrace mine infamy.
This said, he shakes aloft his Roman blade,
Which like a falcon towering in the skies,
Coucheth the fowl below with his wing shade,
Whose crooked beak threats, if he mount he dies :
So under his insulting fauchion lies
Harmless Lucretia, marking what he tells
With trembling fear, as fowls hear falcon's bells.
Lucrece, quoth he, this night I must enjoy thee,
If thou deny, then force must work my way ;.
For in thy bed I purpose to destroy thee.
That done, some worthless slave of thine I'll slay,
To kill thine honour with thy life's decay ;
And in thy dead arms do I mean to place him,
Swearing I slew him, seeing thee embrace him.
So thy surviving husband shall remain
The scornful mark of every open eye ;
Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdain,
Thy issue blurr'd with nameless bastardy' ;
And thou, the author of their obloquy,
Shalt have thy trespass cited up in rhimes,
And sung by children in succeeding times.
But if thou yield, I rest thy sacred friend,
The fault unknown is as a thought unacted ;
A little harm done to a great good end,
For lawful policy remains enactede
The poisonous simple sometimes is compacted
In purest compounds; being so apply'd,
His venom in effect is purify’d.
Then for thy husband's and thy children's sake,
Tender my suit, bequeath not to their lot
The shame that from them no device can take,
The blemish that will never be forgot,
Worse than a slavish wipe or birth-hour's blot ;
For marks describ’d in men's nativity,
Are nature's faults, not their own infamy. 1
Here with a cockatrice, dead-killing eye,
He rouseth up himself, and makes a pause ;
While she, the picture of true piety,
Like a white hind beneath a gripe's sharp claws,
Pleads in a wilderness, where are no laws,
To the rough beast that knows no gentle right ;
Nor nought obeys but his foul appetite.
As when a black-fac'd cloud the world does threat,
In his dim mist the aspiring mountain hiding,
From earth's dark womb some gentle gust does get,
Which blow these pitchy vapours from their biding,
Hindering their present fall by this dividing :
So his unhallow'd haste her words delays,
And moody Pluto winks, while Orpheus plays.
Like foul night-waking cat he doth but dally,
While in his hold-fast foot the weak mouse panteth;
Her sad behaviour feeds his vulture folly,
A swallowing gulf, that e'en in plenty wanteth ;
His ear her prayer admits, but his heart granteth
No penetrable entrance to her plaining ;
Tears harden lust, tho' marble wears with raining.
Her pity-pleading eyes are sadly fix'd
In the remorseless wrinkles of his face :
Her modest eloquence with sighs is mix'd,
Which to her oratory adds more grace.
She puts the period often from his place,
And midst the sentence so her accent breaks,
That twice she doth begin ere once she speaks.