William Michael Rossetti William Shakespeare.

The complete works of Shakespeare: With a critical biography online

. (page 211 of 224)
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For pnnces are the gtaits, the school,' the book.
Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look.
And wilt thou be the school where lust shall learn?
Must he in thee read lectures of such shame?
Wilt thou be glass, wherein it shall discern
Authority for sin. warrant from blame.
To privilege dishonour in thy name?
Thou back'st reproach against long-living laud,
Ajid mak at fair repuutiou but a bawd.
Hast thou command? by him that gave it thee^
From a pure heart command thy rebel will:
Praw not thy sword to guard iniquity.
For it was lent thee all that brood to kill.
Thy princely office how canst thou fultil.

When, pattern d by thy fault, foul bin may say,
Ue iearn'a to ain, and thou didst teach the way.



THE RAPE OP LUCRECE.



Think but how vile a speetjusle it were
To view thy present trespass in another.
Men's faults do seldom to themselves appear;
Their own transgressions partially they smother;
This guilt would seem death -worthy in thy brother,

how are they wrappM in with infamies.

That from their own misdeeds aakannce their eyeel

To thee, to thee, my heav'd-np hands appeal

Not to seducing lust, thy rash relier;

I sue for exird majesty's repeal ;

Let him return, and flattering thoughts retire :

His true respect will 'pnson false deaire.
And wipe the dim mist from thy lioting eyno.
That thou shalt see thy state, and pity mine.

Have done, quoth be, my uncontrolled tide
Turns not, but swells the higher by this let.
Small lighu are soon blown out, huge fires abides
And with the wind in greater furv fret:
The petty streams that pay a daily debt piaste
To their salt sovereign, with their ftresh fisUa*
Add to his flow, and alter not his taste.

Thou art, quoth she, a sea, a sovereign king ;
And lo, there falls into thy boundless flood
Black lust, dishonour, sliame, misgoverning.
Who seek to stain the ocean of thy blood.
If all these petty ills shall change thy gmid.
Thy sea within a puddle's womb is hersed.
And not the pudcUe in thy sea dispersed.
So shall these slaves be king, and thou their slave;
Thou nobly base, they basely dignified ;
Thou their fair life, and they thy fouler grave :
Thou loathed in their shame, they in thv pride;
The lesser thing should not the greater hide ;
'Vhe cedar stoops not to the base shrub's foot.
But low shrubs wither at the cedar's root
So let thy thoughu, low vassals to thy state—
No more, quoth he, by heaven, I will not hear thea :
Yield to mv love ; if not, enforced hate.
Instead of love's coy touch, shall rudely tear thee ;
That done, despitelully 1 mean to bear thee
Unto the base bed of some rascal crooin.
To be thy partner in this shameful doom.
This said, he sets his foot upon the light.
For light and lust are deadly enemies :
Shame folded up in blind concealing night.
When most unseen then most doth tyrannise.
The wolf hath seiz'd his prey, tlie poor lamb criee.
Till « ith her own white fieece her voice cuutr^'d
Entombs her outcry in her lips' sweet fold :
For with her nightly linen that she wears
He pens her piteous clamours in her bead;
Cooling his hot face in the chastest tears

1 hat ever modest eyes with sorrow shed.

O that prone lust should stain so pure a bed I
The spots whereof could weeping purity.
Her tears should drop on them perpetuaJly.
But she hath lost a dearer thing than life,
And he hath won whac he would lose again.
Tins forced It-ague doth force a further strife.
This momentary joy breeds months of pain.
This hot desire converts to cold disdain :
Pure chastity is rifleit of her store.
And lust, the thief, tar poorer than before.
Look as the full-fed hound or gorged hawk*
Unapt for under smell or spe^y flight.
Make slow pursuit, or altogether balk
The prey wherein by nature they delight s
So surfeit- taking Tari^uin fares this night :
His taste delicious, m digestion soniing,
Devours his will that liv'd by foul devouring.
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O d««per iId than bottomlets conceit

Om comprehend 'n still imagiiMtioo !

Drunken desire iLost Tomit his receipt^

Ere he can see his own abomination.

While lost is in his pride, no exclamatioa
Can cnrb his heat, or rein his rash de«ire^
Till, like a Jade, self-will himself doth tire.

And then with lank and lean discolonr'd cheek,
With heay^ eye, knit brow, and strenfrthless pace,
Feeble desire, all recreant, poor, and meek.
Like to a bankrupt beggar waiU his case:
The flesh being proad, desire doth fight with grace,
For there it revels ; and when that decays,
The guilty rebel for remission prays.

80 fares it with this fauhfal lord of Rome,
Who this accomplinhment so hotly chased ;
For now agaiiiAt himself he sounds this doom,
Tnat through the length of times hestandsdisgraced:
Besides, bis soul's fair temple is defaced :
To whose weak ruins muster troopA of cares,
To ask the spotted princess how she fares.

She savs, h«ir subjects with fool Insurrection
Have baiter'd duwn her coiisew-rated wall,
And by their mortal fault brought in subjection
Her immortality, and made her thrall
To living deatli, and pain perpetual :

Which in her prrsci^nce nhe c<Hitro11ed still.
But her fore-sigbt could not fore*stall their will.
Even in his thuuirht, thiouirh the dark night he
A captive victor, that hath lost in gain : [stca'Cth,
Bearing away the wound that nothing heaieth^
The scar that will, despite of cure, remain,
Leaving his spoil peiplex*d in greater pHiu.
Bha bears the load of lust he left behindy
And he the burthen of a guilty mind,
lie, like a thievish dog, creeps sadly thence,
She, like a weaned lamb, ties panting there; ^
He arowls, and hates himself tor his oflVnce,
She desiierate, with her nails ber flcAh doth tear}
He faintly flies, sweating with guilty fear;
She slsys, exclaiming on the direful night;
He runs, and chides bisvanbth'd, loath'd delight.
He thence departs, a heavy convertite.
She there remains, a hopeless cast-away :
He in hitf speo«l lookn for the morning tight,
She prays Mhe never mav behold *,he day :
For day, quoth she, Dignt-s<-ai>es doth open lay;
And my true eri*s have never practis'd how
To cloak otfencea with a cuiiiiiiig brow.
They think not but that every eve can see
The same disgrace whi<h they theinBelves behold ;
And therefore would they -till in darkness be.
To have their unaem sin' remain untold ;
For tliey their |;uilt with weeping will unfold.
And grave, like water that doth eat in steel,
Upon my cheeks what helpless shame 1 feaL
Here she exclaims against repose and rest.
And bills iter eves liereatter si ill be blind.
She wakes her 'heart by beating on her breast.
And bid> it leap from thence, where it may And
Some purer chei*t, to cloi»e so pure a mind.

Frantic with gnef,thusbreaihes8lie forth her ipita.
Against the uu«e«n secrecy of night.
O comfoit-killinf night, image of hell!
Dim register and notary of si 1 a roe t
Black stage for trage^lies snd murders fell!
Vast sin -concealing cha<»s ! nurMS of blame I
Bbnd mulfi»l bawd * dark harliour for defame!
Qrim cave of death, whiaiiering conspirator
Wilh doaa toogoed trauaoa and the raviaher 1



THE BAPE OF LUCTECE.



O hateful, vaporont and foggy night,
Since thou art guilty of my c'urseless crlnra.
Muster thy mists to meet the eastern light.
Make war against proportion'd course of tiioo}
Or if thou wilt permit the sun to climb
His wonted height, yet ere be go to bed^
Knit poisonous clouds about his goldea head.
With rotten damps ravish the morning air ;
Let their exhal'd unwholesome breaths make sick
The life of purity, the supreme fair,
Ere he arrive his weary noon-tide prick ;
And let tj^y misty vapours march so thick.
That in their smoky ranks his smotber'd light
May set at noon, and make perpetual night.

Were Tarquin night, (as he is but night's child,)
The silver-shiniiig queen he would distain ;
Her twinkling handmaids too, by him defil'd,
Through night's rJack bosom should not peep again;
So should 1 have copartners in my pain :
And fellowship in woe doth woe assuage.
As palmer's chat makes short their pilgrimage.
Where now I have no one to blush with me.
To cross their arms, ard hang their heads with mine,
To mask their browx, and bide their infamy;
But I alone, alone must sit and pine.
Seasoning the earth with showers of silver brine.
Mingling my talk with tears, m\ grief with groaua,
Poor wasting monumenu of lasting moaus.
O night, thou furnace of foul -reek iiig smoke,
I^t not the jealous day behold that face
Which underneath thy black all-hiding cloak
Immodestly lies martyr'd with disgrace !
Keep still possession of thy gloomy place.
That all the faults that in thy reign are made
May likewise be sepblchr'd in thy shade I
Make me not object to the tale-tell day !
The night will i^hew, chai-^cter'd in my brow
The itt'iry of sweet chastity's decay.
The impious breach of holy wedlock's vow?
Yea, the illiterate that kn'^w not bow
To 'cipher what is writ in learned books.
Will quote my loathsome trespass in my looks
The nurse, to still her child, will tell my story.
And fright her crying babe with Tarquin's name,*
The orator, to deck liis oratory.
Will couple my reproach to Tarquin's shame :
Feast-tinding minstrels, tuning my defame,
Will tie the hearers to attend each line,
How Tarquin wronged me, 1 CoUatine.
Let my good name, that senr<eless reputation.
For Collatine s dear love be kept uuspoited :
If that be made a theme for dixputation,
'ihe branches of another root are rotte<l,
And uo<lesery*d reuroacn to him allotted,
'i hat is as clear from this attaint of luine^
As 1, ere this, was pure to Collatine.
O unseen shame! invisible disgrace!
O unfelt sore! crest- wounding, private acarl
Keproach is stamp'd in Collstinas' tace.
And larquin's eye may read the iiioi afar,
how he in peace is wounded, not in watr,
Alas, how many bear such shamelui blows, [knows!
Which not themselves, but he that gives them
If, Collatine, thine honour lay in me.
From me bv strong aj«sault it is bereft.
My honey lost, and I, a drone like bee.
Have no perfection of my summer left.
But robb\l snd laiisack d by injurious theft :
In thy weak hive a wandering wu.-.p hath crept.
And suck'd the honey which thy cliasU bee kej^



036 THE RAPE

Yet am I guiltless of thy bononr's wreck ;
Tet for thy honour did I entertam him ;
Coming from thee, 1 could not put him back,
For it had been dishonour to disdain him;
Besides of weariness he did complain him.
And talk'd of virtue ;— O unlocked for evil,
When virtue is profan'd in such a devil I

Why should the worm intrude the maiden bu«l ?

Or hateful cuckoos hatch in sparrows' nests?

Or toads infect fair founts with venom mud ?

Or tyrant folly lurk in gentle breasts? ,

Or kings be breakers of their own behests?
But no perfection is so absolute.
That some impurity doth not pollute.

The aged man that coffers up his gold,
Is plagu'd with cramps^ and gouts, and painful fits,
And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold.
But like still-pining Tantalus he sits.
And useless bams the harvest of bis wits ;
Having no other pleasure of his gain,
But torment that it cannot cure his pain.

So then he hath it when he cannot use it.
And leaves it to be master'd bv his young ;
Who in their pride do presently abuse it:
Their father was too weak, and they too strong.
To hold their cursed -blessed fortune long.
The sweets we wish for turn to loathed soun.
Even in the moment that we call them ours.
Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring ;
Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers;
The adder hisses where the sweet bird sings }
What virtue breeds, iniquity devours:
We have no good that we can say is ovltm,
But ill-annexed opportunity
Or kills his life, or else his quality.
O Opportunity I thy guilt is great :
Tis tliou that execnt'st the traitor's treason |
Thou sett'st the wolf where he the lamb may get|
Whoever plots tlir sin thoa point'st the season ;
''lis thou that 81 urn'st at riiciit, at law, at reason ;
And in tbv shady cell, where none may spy him,
Sits Sin, to seize the souls that wander by him.
Thoa mak'st the vestal violate her oath ;
Thou blow'st the fire when temperance is thaw'd ;
Thou smother'st honesty, thou murder'st troth ;
Thou foul abettor I thou notorious bawd I
Thou plantest scandal, and disp'acest laud :
Thou ravisher, thou traitor, thou false thief.
Thy honey turns to gall, thy joy to grief 1
Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame.
Thy private feasting to a public fast ;
Thy smoothing title-s to a ragged name;
Thy sugar'd tongue to bitter wormwood taste ;
Thv Tiolent vanities can never last.
How comes i^ then, vile opportunity.
Being so bad, such numbers seek for thee?
When wilt thou b» the humble suppliant's friend.









OF LUCRECE.
When Truth and Yirtae have to do with thee,
A thousand crosses keep them from thy aid ;
They buy thy help: but Sin ne'er gives a fee.
He gratis comes: and thou art well appay'd*
As well to hear as grant what he hath said.
Mv Cullatine would else have come to me
When Tarquin did, but he was stay'd by thee

Guilty thou art of murder and of theft |

Guilty of perjury and subornation ;

Guilty of treason, forgery, and shift t

Guilty of incest, that abomination s

An accessary by thine inclination
To all sins past, and all that are to come^
From the creation to the general doom.

Misshapen Time, copesmate of ugly night»
Swift subtle post, carrier of grisly care ;
Kater of youth, false slave to fa se delight.
Base watch of woes, sin's pack-horse, virtue'i snare
Thou nursest ail, and muKlere.Ht all that are.
O hear me then, injurious shifting time I
Be guilty of my death, since of my crime.

Why hath thy servant. Opportunity,
Betray M the hours thou gav'st me to repose?
Cancell'd my fortunes, and enchained me
To endless date of never-ending woes?
Time's ofiUce is to find the hale of foes ;
To eat up error by opinion bred,
Not spend the dowry of a lawful bed.
Time's glory is to calm contending kings,
"To unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light*
To stamp the seal of time in aged things,
To wake the mom, and sentinel the night.
To wrong the wronger till he render right.
To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours,
Andsmearwithdust their glittering golden toweiB
To feed with worm-holes stately monuments,
To Teed oblivion with decay of things.
To blot old books, and alter their contents,
To pluck the quills from ancient ravens' wingi,
To dry the old oak's sap, and cherish springs;
To spoil antiquities of hammer'd steel,
And turn the giddy round of fortune's wheel :
To show the beldame daughters of her daughter.
To make the child a man, the man a child.
To slay the tiger that doth live by slaughter,
To tame the unicorn and lion wild ;
To mock the subtle, in themselves beguil'd;
To cheer the ploughman with iiicreasful crops,
And waste huge stones with little water drops.
Why work'it thou mischief in thy pilgrimage,
Unless thou could 'st return to make amends?
One poor letiring minute in an age
Would purchase thee a thousand tliousand friends,
Lending him wit, that to bad debtors lends: [back
0,tbis dread night, would'st thou this hour coine
I could prevent this storm, and shun this wrai k.
Thou ceaseless lackey to eternity.



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THE JIAPB
Let him have time to tear bit curled hair,
Let him have time against himself to rave»
Let him have time of time's help to despair;
Let bim have time to live a loathed slave.
Let him have time a beggar's orts to crave ,
And time to stre one that by alms doth live,
Disdain to him disdained scraps to give.

Let him have time to see his friends bis foes,
And merry fools to mock at him resort t
Let him have time to mark how slow time goes
In time of sorrow, and how swift and short
His time of follv and his time of sport:
And ever let his unrecalHng crime
Have time to wail the abusing of his time.

Time, thou tutor both to good and bad.

Teach me to curse him that thou taught'st this ill I
At his own shadow let the thief run mad.
Himself himself seek every hour to kill I [spill
Such wretched hands such wretched blood should
For who so base would such an office have
Ai ilanderons death*s-man to so base a slave?

The baser is he, coming from a king.
To shame bis hope with deeds degenerate.
The mightier man, the mightier it the thing
That makes him honour'd, or begets him hate ;
For greatest scandal waits on greatest state.
The moon being clouded presentlv is miss'd,
But little stars may hide them when they list.
The crow may bathe bis coal-black wings in mire.
And unperceiv'd fly with the filth away ;
But if the like the snow-white swan desire,
The stitin upon his silver down will stay.
Poor grooms are sightless ni^'ht, kings glorious day.
Gnats are unnoted wheresoe'er they fly.
But eagles gaz'd upon with every eye.
Out idle words, servants to shallow foola I
Unprofitable sounds, weak arbitrators 1
Busy yourselves in skill-contending schools.
Debate where leisure serves wit'h dull debators;
To trembling clients be you mediators:
For me, I force not argument a straw.
Since that my case is past the help of law.
In vain I rail at Opportunity,
At 'lime, at iarquin, and uncheerful night;
In vain 1 cavil with my in'amy.
In vain I spurn at my confirro'd despite i
This helpless smoke of words dotli nie no right,
like remedy indeed to do me good.
Is to lei forth my foul, defiled blood.
Poor hand, whv quiver'st thou at this decree!
Honour thyseir to rid nie of this shame,
For if I die, my honour lives in thee.
But if 1 live, thou liv'st in mv defame ;
Since thou cuuld'st not defend thy loyal dame^
And wast afraid to scratch her wicked foe,
Kill both thyself and her for jrielding so.
This said, from her be-tumbled couch she startoth.
To find some desperate instrument of death
But this no-slaughter house no tool imparteth,
To make more vent for passage of her breath,
Which thronging through her lips so vanishelh
As smoke from JEiua, that in air consumes,
Or that which from discharged cannon fumes.
In vain, quoth she, I live, and seek in vain
Bume happy mean to end a hapless life.

1 fear'd by I'arquin's falchion to be slain.
Yet for the self-same purpose seek a knife %
But when 1 fear'd, 1 was a loyal wife;

Bo am I now : — O no, that cannut be;
Of that true type hath Tarquiu rifled me.



OF LUCEBCE. 937

O ! that is gone, for which I sought to livfl^
And therefore now I need not fear to die.
To clear this spot by death, at least I give
A badge of fame to slander's livery ;
A dying life to Uving infamy ;
Poor helpless help, the treasure stolen away*
To bum the guiltless casket where it lay I

Well, well, dear CoUatine, then shalt not know

The stained taste of violated troth ;

I will not wrong thy true affection so.

To flatter thee with an infringed oath ;

This bastard graff shall never come to growth t
He shall not boast, who did thy stock pollute.
That thou art doting father of his fruit.

Nor shall he smile at thee in secret thought,
Kor laugh with his companions at thy state >
But thou shalt know thy interest was not bought
Basely with gold, but stolen from forth thy gate
For me, I am the mistress of my fate,
And with my trespass never will dispense,
Till life to death acquit my forc'd oflence.

I will not poison thee with my attaint.
Nor fold my fault in cleanly- coin 'd excuses;
My sable ground of sin I will not paint.
To hide the truth of this false night's abuses:
My tongue shall utter all ; mine eyes like sluices.
As from a mountain-spring that feeds a dale.
Shall gush pure streams to purge my impure tale.
By this, lamenting Philomel had endedl
The well-tuu'd warble of her nightly sorrow.
And solemn night with slow-sad gait descended
To ugly hell ; when lo, the blushing morrow
Lends light to all fair eves that light will borrow :
But cloudy Lucrece shames herself to see,
And therefore still in night would cloistered be.
Revealing day through every cranny spies,
And seems to point her out where she sits weeping ;
To whom she sobbingspeaks: Oeyeof eyes, [peepiug;
Why pry 'st thou through my window ? leave thy
Mock with thy tickling beams eyes thataresleeping:
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 t
True grief is fond and testy as a child.
Who wayward once, his mind with nought agrees.
Old woea, 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 ia dumb, and bath no words;
Sometime 'tis mad, and too much talk aflbrda.
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 ;
Orief best is pleas'd with grief's society :
True sorrow then is feelingly sufficed,
When with like semblance it is sympathiz'd.
^is double death to drown in ken of shore ;
He ten times pines, that pines beholding food t
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'er- flo|r
Grief dallied with nor law nor limit knowa.LV^



988



THE RAPE OP LUCRECE.



You mocking btrds, qnoth she, your tunes entomb
Within your hollow swelling feather'd breasts^
And in my hearing be you mute and dumb I
(My restless discord luVes no stops nor rests;
A woeful hostess brooks not merry guests:)

Kelirth your nimble notes to pleasing ears;

l>iairess likes dumps when time is kept with tears.

Come, Philomel, that sing'st of ravishment.
Make thy sad grove in my dishevell'd hair,
As the (tank earth weeps at thy languishmeot.
So I at each sad strain will strain a tear,
And with deep groans the diapason bear:
For burthen-wise I'll hum on Tarquin still,
Whilst thou on Tereus descant'st, better skilL

And whiles against a thorn thou bear'st thy part
To keep thy sharp woes waking, wretched 1,
To indcaie thee well, against my heart
Will hx a sharp knife, to affright mine eye ;
Who, if lu ^iiik, shall thereon fall and die.
'1 hese means, as frets upon an instrument,
Shall tuiieuur heart-strings to true ianguishment.

And for, poor bird, thou sing*st not in the da/.
As shaming any eye should thee behold.
Some dark deep desert, seated from the way,
That knows nor parching heat nor freezing cold«
Will we tind oui; and there we will unfold
Tocreatuiessturn sad tunes, to change their kinds i
Since men prove beasts, let be&tt.i bear gentle minda.
As the poor frighted deer, that stamls at gaae,
Wildly deterniiiiing wliiih way to ^y.
Or one encuuipass'd with a winding maze.
That i-annut tread ihu way out readily;
6o with herself is she in inuiiny.
To live or die which of the twain were better,
WbAu life is sl»am*d,and Death Keproach's debtor.
To kill myself, quoth she, alack t what were it,
but with my body my poor soul's pollution?
They that lose hall, with greater patience bear it.
Than they whose whoie is swallow d in coufubion.
That mother tries a merciless conclusion, [one

Who, having two sweet babes, when death takes
Will slay the other, and be nurse to none.
My body or my soul, which was the dearer?
\\ hen the one pure, the otiier made divine.
Whose love of either to myself was nearer?
U hen both were kep* fur heaven and Coliatine.
Ah me 1 the bark petflM from the lotty pine,
his leaves will w.ther, and his sap decay;
So must my soul, her bark being peei'd away.
iJer bouse is sack d, her quiet interrupted,
ber niauaion batter d by the enemy ;
Her sacred temple shotted soil'd, corrupted*
Grossly engirt with dating infamy:
'Ihen let it not be cail'd impiety,

if in this b.etnish'd fort 1 make some hole.
Through which 1 may convey this troubled soaL
Tet die i will not, till my Col atine






Dear Idrd of that dear Jewel I have lott,
What legacy shall I bequeath to thee?
My resolution. Love, shall be thy boast.
By whose example thou reveng'd may'st be.
How Tarquin must be us*d, read it in me :
Myself, thy friend, will kill myself, thy foe.
And, ior my sake, serve thou false Tarquin mK
This brief abridgement of my will I make i
My soul and body to the skies and groundf
My resolution, husband, do you take ;
Mine honour be the knife's, that makes my wound }
My shame be his that did my fame confound ;



Online LibraryWilliam Michael Rossetti William ShakespeareThe complete works of Shakespeare: With a critical biography → online text (page 211 of 224)