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“When he beheld his shadow in the brook,
The fishes spread on it their golden gills;
When he was by, the birds such pleasure took,
That some would sing, some other in their bills

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Thus weary of the world, away she hies, 1189
And yokes her silver doves; by whose swift aid
Their mistress mounted through the empty skies
In her light chariot quickly is convey'd;
Holding their course to Paphos, where their

Means to immure herself and not be seen.


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 water-galls in her dim element
Foretell new storms to those already spent.

Which when her sad-beholding husband saw,
Amazedly in her sad face he stares:

Her eyes, though sod in tears, look'd red and raw,
Her lively colour kill'd with deadly cares.
He hath no power to ask her how she fares:

Both stood, like old acquaintance in a trance, Met far from home, wondering each other's


At last he takes her by the bloodless hand,
And thus begins: “What uncouth ill event
Hath thee befall’n, that thou dost trembling stand ?
Sweet love, what spite hath thy fair colour spent ?
Why art thou thus attired in discontent? 1601

Unmask, dear dear, this moody heaviness,
And tell thy grief, that we may give redress.”

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 falchion in my chamber came
A creeping creature, with a flaming light,
And softly cried 'Awake, thou Roman dame,
And entertain my love; else lasting shame

On thee and thine this night I will inflict, 1630

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 ir 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, 1641 I should not live to speak another word; So should my shame still rest upon record,

And never be forgot in mighty Rome

Th' adulterate 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 forbade my tongue to speak; No rightful plea might plead for justice there: His scarlet lust came evidence to swear 1650

That my poor beauty had purloin'd his eyes;

And when the judge is robb’d the prisoner dies. O, teach me how to make mine own excuse! Or at the least this refuge let me find; Though my gross blood be stain'd with this abuse, Immaculate and spotless is my mind; That was not forced; that never was inclined

To accessary yieldings, but still pure

Doth in her poison'd closet yet endure."
Lo, here, the hopeless merchant of this loss, 1660
With head declined, and voice damm'd up with

With sad set 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 Outruns the eye that doth behold his haste, Yet in the eddy boundeth in his pride 1669 Back to the strait that forced him on so fast; In rage sent out, recall'd in rage, being past :

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 Collatine and his consorted lords
With sad attention long to hear her words.

And now this pale swan in her watery nest 1611
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 moe 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 1620
Where thou wast wont to rest thy weary head;
And what wrong else may be imagined

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 food by raining slaketh. 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

But more than "he" her poor tongue could not

speak; Till after many accents and delays, Untimely breathings, sick and short assays, 1720

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 bequeathed Her winged sprite, and through her wounds

doth fly Life's lasting date from cancell'd destiny:



From what is past: the help that thou shalt 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 Collatine, "Shall plight your honourable faiths to me, 1690 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, 1699

The protestation stops. "O, speak," quoth she,

“How may this forced stain be wiped from me? “What is the quality of mine 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 ?"

FROM A LOVER'S COMPLAINT “Yet did I not, as some my equals did, Demand of him, nor being desired yielded; Finding myself in honour so forbid,

150 With safest distance I mine honour shielded: Experience for me many bulwarks builded Of proofs new-bleeding, which remain'd the foil Of this false jewel, and his amorous spoil. “But, ah, who ever shunn'd by precedent The destined ill she must herself assay? Or forced examples, 'gainst her own content, To put the by-past perils in her way? Counsel may stop awhile what will not stay; For when we rage, advice is often seen 160 By blunting us to make our wits more keen. "Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood, That we must curb it upon others' proof: To be forbod the sweets that seem so good, For fear of harms that preach in our behoof. O appetite, from judgement stand aloof! The one a palate hath that needs will taste, Though Reason weep, and cry 'It is thy last.' “For further I could say “This man's untrue,' And knew the patterns of his foul beguiling; 170 Heard where his plants in others' orchards grew, Saw how deceits were gilded in his smiling; Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling; Thought characters and words merely but art, And bastards of his foul adulterate heart.

With this, they all at once began to say,
Her body's stain her mind untainted clears; 1710
While with a joyless smile she turns away
The face, that map which deep impression bears
Of hard misfortune, carved in it with tears.

“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


"And long upon these terms I held my city,
Till thus he gan besiege me: 'Gentle maid,
Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity,
And be not of my holy vows afraid:
That's to ye sworn to none was ever said; 18
For feasts of love I have been call'd unto,
Till now did ne'er invite, nor never woo.

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