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From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire,
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.
Haply that name of chaste unhapp'ly set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not let"
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumphd in that sky of his delight,
Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.
For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlock'd the treasure of his happy state;
What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent
In the possession of his beauteous mate;
Reckoning his fortune at such high-proud rate,
That kings might be espoused to more fame,
But king nor peer to such a peerless dame.
O happiness enjoy'd but of a few!
And, if possess'd, as soon decay’d and done a
As is the morning's silver-melting dew
Against the golden splendour of the sun!
An expir'd date, cancell'd ere well begun :
Honour and beauty, in the owner's arms,
Are weakly fortress'd from a world of harms.
Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
of men without an orator;
What needeth then apologies, be made
To set forth that which is so singular?
Or why is Collatine the publisher
Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
From thievish ears, because it is his own?
Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
Suggested b this proud issue of a king;
For by our ears our hearts oft tainted be:
Perchance that envy of so rich a thing,
Braving compare, disdainfully did sting
His high-pitch'd thoughts, that meaner men should vaunt
That golden hap which their superiors want.
a Done. The word is here
sed as in a previous passage of the · Venus and Adonis :
Wasted, thaw‘d, and done,
As mountain-show melts with the mid-day sun."
But some untimely thought did instigate
His all-too-timeless speed, if none of those :
His honour, his affairs, his friends, his state,
Neglected all, with swift intent he goes
To quench the coal which in his liver glows.
O rash false heat, wrapp'd in repentant cold,
Thy hasty spring still blasts, and ne'er grows old !
When at Collatium this false lord arriv'd,
Well was he welcom'd by the Roman dame,
Within whose face beauty and virtue striv'd
Which of them both should underprop her fame:
When virtue bragg'd, beauty would blush for shame;
When beauty boasted blushes, in despite
Virtue would stain that orb with silver white.
But beauty, in that white intituled,
From Venus' doves doth challenge that fair field:
Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
Which virtue gave the golden age, to gild
Their silver cheeks, and call'd it then their shield ;
Teaching them thus to use it in the fight,
When shame assail'd, the red should fence the white.
This heraldry in Lucrece' face was seen,
Argued by beauty's red, and virtue's white:
a Blasts is here used as a verb neuter. It is so used in the poem ascribed to Raleigh, entitled “The Farewell :'
“ Tell age it daily wasteth ;
Tell honour how it alters;
Tell beauty that it blasteth." 6 Or. The line usually stands thus :
“ Virtue would stain that o'er with silver white." The original has ore. Malone has suggested, but he does not act upon the suggestion, that “the word intended was perhaps or, i.e. gold, to which the poet compares the deep colour of a blush." We have no doubt whatever of the matter. The lines in the subsequent stanza complete the heraldic allusion :
* Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
Which virtue gave the golden age, to gild
Their silver cheeks, and call'd it then their shield."
Intituled-having a title to, or in.
Of either's colour was the other queen,
Proving from world's minority their right:
Yet their ambition makes them still to fight;
The sovereignty of either being so great,
That oft they interchange each other's seat.
This silent war of lilies and of roses
Which Tarquin view'd in her fair face's field,
In their pure ranks his traitor eye encloses ;
Where, lest between them both it should be kill’d,
The coward captive vanquished doth yield
To those two armies that would let him go,
Rather than triumph in so false a foe.
Now thinks he that her husband's shallow tongue
(The niggard prodigal that prais’d her so)
In that high task hath done her beauty wrong,
Which far exceeds his barren skill to show :
Therefore that praise which Collatine doth owe,
Enchanted Tarquin answers with surmise,
In silent wonder of still-gazing eyes.
This earthly saint, adored by this devil,
Little suspecteth the false worshipper;
For unstain'd thoughts do seldom dream on evil;
Birds never lim'd no secret bushes fear:
So guiltless she securely gives good cheer
And reverend welcome to her princely guest,
Whose inward ill no outward harm express'd:
For that he colour'd with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in plaits of majesty;
That nothing in him seem'd inordinate,
Save sometime too much wonder of his eye,
Which, having all, all could not satisfy;
But, poorly rich, so wanteth in his store,
That cloy'd with much he pineth still for more.
a The object of praise which Collatine doth possess,