Imagini ale paginilor

The cedar stoops not to the base shrub's foot.
But low shrubs wither at the cedar's root.

'So let thy thoughts, low vassals to thy state," 'No more,' quoth he: by heaven, I will not hear thee:

Yield to my love; if not, enforced hate,

Instead of love's coy touch, shall rudely tear thee :
That done, despitefully I mean to bear thee
Unto the base bed of some rascal groom,
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 seised his prey, the poor lamb


Till with her own white fleece her voice controll'd Entombs her outcry in her lips' sweet fold:

For with the nightly linen that she wears,
pens her piteous clamors in her head;
Cooling his hot face in the chastest tears
That ever modest eyes with sorrow shed.
O, that prone lust should stain so pure a bed!
The spots whereof could weeping purify,
Her tears should drop on them perpetually.

But she hath lost a dearer thing than life,
And he hath won what he would lose again.


This forced league doth force a farther strife;
This momentary joy breeds months of pain;
This hot desire converts to cold disdain :
Pure chastity is rifled of her store;

And lust, the thief, far poorer than before.

Look, as the full-fed hound or gorged hawk,
Unapt for tender smell or speedy flight,
Make slow pursuit, or altogether balk 1
The prey, wherein by nature they delight;
So surfeit-taking Tarquin fares this night :
His taste delicious, in digestion souring,
Devours his will, that lived by foul devouring.

O, deeper sin than bottomless conceit
Can comprehend in still imagination!
Drunken Desire must vomit his receipt,
Ere he can see his own abomination.
While lust is in his pride, no exclamation

Can curb his heat, or rein his rash desire,
Till, like a jade, self-will himself doth tire :

And then, with lank and lean, discolor'd cheek,
With heavy eye, knit brow, and strengthless pace,
Feeble Desire, all recreant, poor, and meek,
Like to a bankrupt beggar wails his case:

[merged small][ocr errors]

The flesh being proud, Desire doth fight with grace,

1. Omit, leave.

For there it revels; and when that decays.
The guilty rebel for remission prays.

So fares it with this faultful lord of Rome,

Who this accomplishment so hotly chased;
For now against himself he sounds this doom :-
That through the length of times he stands dis-
graced :

Besides, his soul's fair temple is defaced;

To whose weak ruins muster troops of cares,
To ask the spotted princess how she fares.

She says, her subjects with foul insurrection
Have batter'd down her consecrated wall,
And by their mortal fault brought in subjection
Her immortality, and made her thrall
To living death, and pain perpetual;

Which in her prescience she controlled still,
But her foresight could not forestall their will.

Even in this thought, through the dark night he stealeth,

A captive victor, that hath lost in gain;

Bearing away the wound that nothing healeth;
The scar that will, despite of cure, remain,
Leaving his spoil perplex'd in greater pain.

She bears the load of lust he left behind,
And he the burthen of a guilty mind.

He, like a thievish dog, creeps sadly thence;
She, like a wearied lamb, les panting there:

He scowls, and hates himself for his offence;
She desperate, with her nails her flesh doth tear;
He faintly flies, sweating with guilty fear;
She stays, exclaiming on the direful night;

He runs, and chides his vanish'd, loathed delight.

He thence departs a heavy convertite; 1
She there remains a hopeless castaway:

He in his speed looks for the morning light;


[ocr errors]

prays she never may behold the day:

For day,' quoth she, 'night's scapes doth open


And my true eyes have never practised how

To cloak offences with a cunning brow.

They think not but that every eye can see

The same disgrace which they themselves behold;
And therefore would they still in darkness be,
To have their unseen sin remain untold:
For they their guilt with weeping will unfold;
And grave, like water, that doth eat in steel,
Upon my cheeks what helpless shame I feel.'

Here she exclaims against repose and rest,
And bids her eyes hereafter still be blind.
She wakes her heart by beating on her breast,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

And bids it leap from thence, where it may find
Some purer chest, to close so pure a mind.

[ocr errors]

Frantic with grief, thus breathes she forth her spite

Against the unseen secresy of night :

O comfort-killing night, image of hell!

Dim register and notary of shame!

Black stage for tragedies and murders fell!
Vast sin-concealing chaos! nurse of blame!
Blind, muffled bawd! dark harbor for defame!
Grim cave of death! whispering conspirator.
With close-tongued treason and the ravisher!

O hateful, vaporous, and foggy night,
Since thou art guilty of my cureless crime,
Muster thy mists to meet the eastern light,
Make war against proportion'd course of time!
Or, if thou wilt permit the sun to climb

His wonted height, yet ere he go to bed,
Knit poisonous clouds about his golden head.

• With rotten damps ravish the morning air; Let their exhaled, unwholesome breaths make


The life of purity, the supreme fair,

Ere he arrive his weary noontide prick;

And let thy misty vapòrs march so thick,

That in their smoky ranks his smother'd light

May set at noon, and make perpetual night.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »