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To whom she sobbing speaks: Oh eye of eyes!
Why pry'st thou through my window? leave thy peeping;
Mock with thy tickling beams eyes that are sleeping:
Brand not my forehead with thy piercing light,
For day hath nought to do what's done by night.
Thus cavils she with every thing she sees.
True grief is fond and testy as a child,
Who wayward once, his mood with nought agrees:
Old woes, not infant sorrows, bear them mild;
Continuance tames the one; the other wild,
Like an unpractis'd swimmer plunging still,
With too much labour drowns for want of skill.
So she, deep drenched in a sea of care,
Holds disputation with each thing she views,
And to herself all sorrow doth compare:
No object but her passion's strength renews,
And as one shifts, another straight ensues:
Sometime her grief is dumb, and hath no words:
Sometime 'tis mad, and too much talk affords.
The little birds that tune their morning's joy,
Make her moans mad with their sweet melody;
For mirth doth search the bottom of annoy:
Sad souls are slain in merry company;
Grief best is pleas'd with grief's society:
True sorrow then is feelingly suffic'd,
When with like semblance it is sympathiz'd.
'Tis double death to drown in ken of shore;
He ten times pines, that pines beholding food;
To see the salve doth make the wound ache more;
Great grief grieves most at that would do it good:
Deep woes roll forward like a gentle flood,
Who, being stopp'd, the bounding banks o'erflows:
Grief dallied with nor law nor limit knows.
You mocking birds, quoth she, your tunes entomb
Within your hollow swelling feather'd breasts,
And in my hearing be you mute and dumb:
My restless discord loves no stops nor rests';
A woful hostess brooks not merry guests.
Relish your nimble notes to pleasing ears;
Distress likes dumps, when time is kept with tears.
Come, Philomel, that sing'st of ravishment,
Make thy sad grove in my dishevel'd hair.
As the dank earth weeps at thy languishment,
So I at each sad strain will strain a tear,
And with deep groans the diapason bear:
For burden-wise I'll hum on Tarquin still,
While thou on Tereus descant'st better skill'.
And whiles against a thorn thou bear'st thy part,
To keep thy sharp woes waking, wretched I,
To imitate thee well, against my heart
Will fix a sharp knife, to affright mine eye,
Who, if it wink, shall thereon fall and die.
These means, as frets upon an instrument,
Shall tune our heart-strings to true languishment.
And for, poor bird, thou sing'st not in the day,
As shaming any eye should thee behold,
Some dark deep desert, seated from the way,
That knows not parching heat nor freezing cold,
Will we find out; and there we will unfold
To creatures stern sad tunes to change their kinds :
Since men prove beasts, let beasts bear gentle minds.
As the poor frighted deer, that stands at gaze,
Wildly determining which way to fly,
Or one encompass'd with a winding maze,
That cannot tread the way out readily;
So with herself is she in mutiny,
To live or die which of the twain were better,
When life is sham'd, and death reproach's debtor.
8 Distress likes DUMPS,] A "dump" was a melancholy piece of music, and it was sometimes used for a species of song. See Vol. ii. p. 34, and Vol. v. p. 187. 9 While thou on Tereus descant'st better skill.] i. e. With better skill; unless we suppose "descant'st" used as a verb transitive. The substantive "descant" seems to have meant what we now call variation. See Vol. iv. p. 298.
To kill myself, quoth she, alack! what were it,
But with my body my poor soul's pollution?
They that lose half, with greater patience bear it,
Than they whose whole is swallow'd in confusion.
That mother tries a merciless conclusion,
Who having two sweet babes, when death takes one,
Will slay the other, and be nurse to none.
My body or my soul, which was the dearer,
When the one pure, the other made divine?
Whose love of either to myself was nearer,
When both were kept for heaven and Collatine?
Ah me! the bark peel'd from the lofty pine,
His leaves will wither, and his sap decay;
So must my soul, her bark being peel'd away.
Her house is sack'd, her quiet interrupted,
Her mansion batter'd by the enemy;
Her sacred temple' spotted, spoil'd, corrupted,
Grossly engirt with daring infamy:
Then, let it not be call'd impiety,
If in this blemish'd fort I make some hole,
Through which I may convey this troubled soul.
Yet die I will not, till my Collatine
Have heard the cause of my untimely death,
That he may vow, in that sad hour of mine,
Revenge on him that made me stop my breath.
My stained blood to Tarquin I'll bequeath,
Which by him tainted' shall for him be spent,
And as his due writ in my testament.
My honour I'll bequeath unto the knife
That wounds my body so dishonoured.
1 Her sacred TEMPLE] In Malone's Shakespeare by Boswell, Vol. xx. p. 173, we find the passage printed,
"Her sacred table spotted, spoil'd, corrupted," &c.
It was probably an error of the press, because it stands " temple" in Malone's "Supplement," 1780, and in every old edition: the Rev. Mr. Dyce and other modern editors have happily avoided this gross mistake.
2 Which By him tainted] Malone states that his copy of the edition, 1594, reads, "Which for him tainted." The Duke of Devonshire's "Lucrece," 1594, has "Which by him tainted," so that the error was discovered and corrected in the press.
"Tis honour to deprive dishonour'd life;
The one will live, the other being dead:
So of shame's ashes shall my fame be bred;
For in my death I murder shameful scorn:
My shame so dead, mine honour is new-born.
Dear lord of that dear jewel I have lost,
What legacy shall I bequeath to thee?
My resolution, love, shall be thy boast,
By whose example thou reveng'd mayst be.
How Tarquin must be us'd, read it in me:
Myself, thy friend, will kill myself, thy foe,
And for my sake serve thou false Tarquin so.
This brief abridgment of my will I make :—
My soul and body to the skies and ground;
My resolution, husband, do thou take;
Mine honour be the knife's that makes my wound;
My shame be his that did my fame confound;
And all my fame that lives disbursed be
To those that live, and think no shame of me.
Thou, Collatine, shalt oversee this will3:
How was I overseen that thou shalt see it!
My blood shall wash the slander of mine ill;
My life's foul deed my life's fair end shall free it.
Faint not, faint heart, but stoutly say, "so be it."
Yield to my hand; my hand shall conquer thee:
Thou dead, both die, and both shall victors be.
This plot of death when sadly she had laid,
And wip'd the brinish pearl from her bright eyes,
With untun'd tongue she hoarsely calls her maid',
Whose swift obedience to her mistress hies;
For fleet-wing'd duty with thought's feathers flies.
3 Thou, Collatine, shalt OVERSEE this will:] In the time of Shakespeare it was usual for testators to appoint not only executors, but overseers of their wills. Such was the case with our poet, when he named John Hall and his daughter Susanna executors, and Thomas Russell and Francis Collins overseers of his last will and testament.
4 she hoarsely CALLS her maid,] So the ancient editions, but changed to "call'd her maid" in all the modern editions. The alteration is trifling, but it is also unnecessary and inaccurate.
Poor Lucrece' cheeks unto her maid seem so
As winter meads, when sun doth melt their snow.
Her mistress she doth give demure good-morrow,
With soft slow tongue, true mark of modesty,
And sorts a sad look to her lady's sorrow,
For why, her face wore sorrow's livery;
But durst not ask of her audaciously
Why her two suns were cloud-eclipsed so,
Nor why her fair cheeks over-wash'd with woe.
But as the earth doth weep, the sun being set,
Each flower moisten'd like a melting eye,
Even so the maid with swelling drops 'gan wet
Her circled eyne, enforc'd by sympathy
Of those fair suns set in her mistress' sky,
Who in a salt-wav'd ocean quench their light,
Which makes the maid weep like the dewy night.
A pretty while these pretty creatures stand,
Like ivory conduits coral cisterns filling:
One justly weeps, the other takes in hand
No cause but company of her drops spilling:
Their gentle sex to weep are often willing,
Grieving themselves to guess at others' smarts,
And then they drown their eyes, or break their hearts:
For men have marble, women waxen, minds,
And therefore are they form'd as marble will;
The weak oppress'd, th' impression of strange kinds
Is form'd in them by force, by fraud, or skill:
Then, call them not the authors of their ill,
No more than wax shall be accounted evil,
Wherein is stamp'd the semblance of a devil.
Their smoothness, like a goodly champaign plain,
Lays open all the little worms that creep;
In men, as in a rough-grown grove, remain
Cave-keeping evils that obscurely sleep.
Through crystal walls each little mote will peep:
Though men can cover crimes with bold stern looks,
Poor women's faces are their own faults' books.