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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 the mind untainted clears,
While with a joyless smile she turns away. . .
The face, that map, which deep impression bears .
Of hard misfortune carved in 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 ily
Life's lasting date from cancell'd destiny.
Kis he, That guides this hand to give this wound to me.
Tarquin and Lucretia, Vol.1 p.118.
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 divide
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 food.
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 seeins to weep upon the tainted place;
And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes,
Corrupted blood some wat’ry token 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 the 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 cold,
Shews me a bare-bon'd death by time out-worn :
O! from my cheeks my image thou hast torn!
And shiver'd all the beauty from my glass,
That I no more can see what once I was.
O, time! cease thou thy course, and haste no longer
If thou surcease to be, that should survive :
Shall rotten death make conquest of the stronger,
And leave the falt'ring feeble souls alive?
The old bees die, the young possess their hive;
Then live, sweet LUCRECE, live again and see
Thy father die, and not thy father thee.
By this starts COLATINE as from a dream,
And bids LUCRETIUS give his sorrow place :
And then in clay-cold Lucrece' bleeding stream
He falls, and bathes the pale fear in his face,
And counterfeits to die with her a space :
Till manly shame bids him possess his breath,
And live to be revenged on her death.
The deep vexation of his inward soul
Hath serv'd a dumb arrest upon his tongue;
Who made that sorrow should his use controul,
Or keep him from heart-easing words so long,
He ʼgins to talk; but thro' his lips do throng
Weak words, so thick come in his poor heart's aid,
That no man could distinguish what he said.