The Rape of Lucrece

 
 
 
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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE HENRY WRIOTHESLEY, EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND BARON OF TITCHFIELD
The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end;
whereof this pamphlet without beginning is but a
superfluous moiety. The warrant I have of your
honourable disposition, not the worth of my untu-
tored lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What I
have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being
part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth
greater, my duty would show greater; meantime,
as it is, it is bound to your lordship, to whom I wish
long life still lengthened with all happiness.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually
Your lordship's in all duty,
William Shakespeare
Lucius Tarquinius, for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus,
after he had caused his own father-in-law Servius Tullius to be
cruelly murdered, and, contrary to the Roman laws and cus-
toms, not requiring or staying for the people's suffrages, had
possessed himself of the kingdom, went, accompanied with
his sons and other noblemen of Rome, to besiege Ardea.
During which siege, the principal men of the army meeting
one evening at the tent of Sextus Tarquinius, the King's son, in
their discourses after supper every one commended the virtues
commend (v.) 4 praise, admire, extol
of his own wife; among whom Collatinus extolled the incom-
parable chastity of his wife Lucretia. In that pleasant humour
they all posted to Rome; and intending, by their secret and
post (v.) 1 hasten, speed, ride fast
sudden arrival, to make trial of that which everyone had before
avouched, only Collatinus finds his wife, though it were late in
the night, spinning amongst her maids: the other ladies were all
found dancing and revelling, or in several disports. Whereup-
disport (n.) diversion, pastime, entertainment
several (adj.) 2 various, sundry, respective, individual
on the noblemen yielded Collatinus the victory and his wife the
fame. At that time Sextus Tarquinius, being inflamed with
Lucrece' beauty, yet smothering his passions for the present,
departed with the rest back to the camp; from whence he
shortly after privily withdrew himself, and was according to
his estate royally entertained and lodged by Lucrece at Col-
latium. The same night he treacherously stealeth into her
chamber, violently ravished her, and early in the morning
speedeth away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight, hastily
dispatcheth messengers, one to Rome for her father, another to
the camp for Collatine. They came, the one accompanied with
Junius Brutus, the other with Publius Valerius; and finding
Lucrece attired in mourning habit, demanded the cause of her
habit (n.) 1 dress, clothing, costume
sorrow. She, first taking an oath of them for her revenge,
revealed the actor and whole manner of his dealing, and withal
suddenly stabbed herself. Which done, with one consent they
all vowed to root out the whole hated family of the Tarquins;
and, bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the
people with the doer and manner of the vile deed, with a bitter
invective against the tyranny of the King. Wherewith the
people were so moved that with one consent and a general
acclamation the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state govern-
ment changed from kings to consuls.
From the besieged Ardea all in post,
post, in in haste, at top speed
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
false (adj.) 4 wrong, mistaken
trustless treacherous, untrustworthy, unreliable
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host
lust-breathed (adj.) inspired by lust, driven by passion
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
lightless (adj.) dark, hidden, yielding no light
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
aspire (v.) 1 ascend, rise up, climb [to]
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.
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Haply the name of ‘ chaste ’ unhapp'ly set
haply (adv.) perhaps, maybe, by chance, with luck
This bateless edge on his keen appetite,
appetite (n.) 2 sexual desire, passion
bateless (adj.) unable to be blunted, permanently sharp
When Collatine unwisely did not let
let (v.) 3 refrain, omit, keep from
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
clear (adj.) 1 pure, spotless, faultless
Which triumphed in that sky of his delight,
Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
mortal (adj.) 2 human, subject to death, characterized by mortality
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.
aspect (n.) 3 gaze, look
peculiar (adj.) particular, private, personal
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For he the night before in Tarquin's tent
Unlocked 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,
high (adj.) 1 very great, extreme
That kings might be espoused to more fame,
espouse (v.) unite (in marriage), contract
But king nor peer to such a peerless dame.
dame (n.) 3 lady, mistress, woman of rank
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O happiness enjoyed but of a few,
And, if possessed, as soon decayed and done
do (v.) 6 destroy, consume, reduce to nothing
As is the morning silver melting dew
Against the golden splendour of the sun!
An expired date cancelled ere well begun!
date (n.) 4 due date, agreed day [for the end of a contract]
Honour and beauty in the owner's arms
Are weakly fortressed from a world of harms.
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Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator;
What needeth then apology be made
To set forth that which is so singular?
singular (adj.) unmatched, preeminent, outstanding
Or why is Collatine the publisher
publisher (n.) exposer, divulger, one who makes public
Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
From thievish ears, because it is his own?
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Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe
sovereignty (n.) 1 pre-eminence, greatest excellence
Suggested this proud issue of a king;
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant
suggest (v.) 1 tempt, prompt, incite
For by our ears our hearts oft tainted be:
Perchance that envy of so rich a thing,
Braving compare, disdainfully did sting
brave (v.) 1 challenge, defy, confront, provoke
compare (n.) comparison, simile, analogy
His high-pitched thoughts, that meaner men should vaunt
high-pitched (adj.) high-aspiring
mean (adj.) 1 of low rank, inferior in position, less important
vaunt (v.) 2 show off, display proudly
That golden hap which their superiors want.
hap (n.) 1 fortune, lot, fate
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without
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But some untimely thought did instigate
His all-too-timeless speed, if none of those;
His honour, his affairs, his friends, his state
state (n.) 11 estate, property, wealth, means
Neglected all, with swift intent he goes
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim
To quench the coal which in his liver glows.
liver (n.) 1 part of the body thought to be at the seat of the passions [especially sexual desire]
O rash false heat, wrapped in repentant cold,
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious
Thy hasty spring still blasts and ne'er grows old.
blast (v.) 1 blight, wither, destroy
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually
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When at Collatium this false lord arrived,
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious
Well was he welcomed by the Roman dame,
Within whose face beauty and virtue strived
Which of them both should underprop her fame:
underprop (v.) prop up, support, uphold
When virtue bragged, beauty would blush for shame;
When beauty boasted blushes, in despite
Virtue would stain that or with silver white.
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But beauty, in that white entitulèd
entitule, intitule (v.) 2 have a rightful claim, furnish with a title
From Venus' doves, doth challenge that fair field;
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat
Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
Which virtue gave the golden age to gild
Their silver cheeks, and called it then their shield;
Teaching them thus to use it in the fight,
When shame assailed, the red should fence the white.
fence (n.) 3 protect, shield, defend
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This heraldry in Lucrece' face was seen,
Argued by beauty's red and virtue's white;
argue (v.) 1 indicate, betoken, be evidence of
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.
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Their silent war of lilies and of roses
Which Tarquin viewed in her fair face's field
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat
In their pure ranks his traitor eye encloses;
Where, lest between them both it should be killed,
The coward captive vanquished doth yield
To those two armies that would let him go
Rather than triumph in so false a foe.
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious
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Now thinks he that her husband's shallow tongue,
The niggard prodigal that praised her so,
niggard (adj.) 1 miserly, parsimonious, sparing
prodigal (n.) 1 waster, squanderer, spendthrift
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,
answer (v.) 7 pay, repay, requite
surmise (n.) 1 idea, imagining, conjecture
In silent wonder of still-gazing eyes.
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This earthly saint adored by this devil
Little suspecteth the false worshipper;
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious
For unstained thoughts do seldom dream on evil;
Birds never limed no secret bushes fear:
lime (v.) 1 trap, snare, catch [as if by using birdlime]
So, guiltless, she securely gives good cheer
cheer (n.) 1 entertainment, fare, food and drink
securely (adv.) 1 confidently, without misgiving, fearlessly
And reverend welcome to her princely guest,
reverend (adj.) revered, worthy, respected
Whose inward ill no outward harm expressed.
ill (n.) 1 wrong, injury, harm, evil
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For that he coloured with his high estate,
colour (v.) 1 disguise, conceal, cloak
estate (n.) 2 high rank, standing, status
Hiding base sin in plaits of majesty,
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy
pleat (n.) fold, hanging, covering
That nothing in him seemed inordinate
inordinate (adj.) immoderate, intemperate, excessive
Save sometime too much wonder of his eye,
sometime (adv.) 2 sometimes, now and then
Which, having all, all could not satisfy;
But poorly rich so wanteth in his store
store (n.) 1 abundance, plenty, surplus, quantity
That cloyed with much he pineth still for more.
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without
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But she that never coped with stranger eyes
cope, cope with (v.) 1 encounter, face, have to do [with], come into contact [with]
stranger (adj.) foreign, alien
Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,
parling (adj.) speaking, parleying
pick (v.) 2 extract, make out, detect
Nor read the subtle-shining secrecies
Writ in the glassy margents of such books:
glassy (adj.) 1 as if made of glass, translucent
margent (n.) 1 margin [of a page, where an explanatory note would be found]
She touched no unknown baits; nor feared no hooks;
Nor could she moralize his wanton sight
moralise, moralize (v.) 1 explain, interpret
sight (n.) 1 eye
wanton (adj.) 6 lascivious, lewd, obscene
More than his eyes were opened to the light.
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He stories to her ears her husband's fame,
story (v.) give an account of, portray
Won in the fields of fruitful Italy;
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat
And decks with praises Collatine's high name,
Made glorious by his manly chivalry
chivalry (n.) 1 knightly prowess, warlike distinction
With bruised arms and wreaths of victory.
Her joy with heaved-up hand she doth express,
heaved-up (adj.) raised, lifted up
And wordless so greets heaven for his success.
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Far from the purpose of his coming thither
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan
He makes excuses for his being there.
No cloudy show of stormy blustering weather
Doth yet in his fair welkin once appear;
welkin (n.) sky, firmament, heavens
Till sable Night, mother of dread and fear,
Upon the world dim darkness doth display
display (v.) 2 diffuse, spread out, disperse
And in her vaulty prison stows the day.
stow (v.) 1 put away, put under cover
vaulty (adj.) 2 empty, cavernous, sepulchral
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For then is Tarquin brought unto his bed,
Intending weariness with heavy sprite;
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy
intend (v.) 1 pretend, convey, purport, profess
sprite, spright (n.) 2 spirit, feeling, frame of mind
For after supper long he questioned
question (v.) 2 converse with, talk away [at / with]
With modest Lucrece, and wore out the night.
wear out (v.) 2 pass, spend
Now leaden slumber with life's strength doth fight,
And every one to rest themselves betake,
betake (v.) 1 go, take oneself off, make one's way
Save thieves and cares and troubled minds that wake.
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As one of which doth Tarquin lie revolving
revolve (v.) consider, ponder, meditate
The sundry dangers of his will's obtaining;
Yet ever to obtain his will resolving,
Though weak-built hopes persuade him to abstaining.
weak-built (adj.) on poor foundation, ungrounded
Despair to gain doth traffic oft for gaining,
oft (adv.) often
traffic (n.) 3 trade, deal, carry on
And when great treasure is the meed proposed,
meed (n.) 1 reward, prize, recompense
Though death be adjunct, there's no death supposed.
adjunct (adj.) 1 attendant [upon], inevitable result [of]
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Those that much covet are with gain so fond
fond (adj.) 1 foolish, stupid, mad
For what they have not, that which they possess,
They scatter and unloose it from their bond;
bond (n.) 1 deed, contract, pledge
And so by hoping more they have but less,
Or, gaining more, the profit of excess
Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain
surfeit (v.) 2 become sick through having too much
That they prove bankrupt in this poor-rich gain.
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The aim of all is but to nurse the life
With honour, wealth, and ease in waning age;
And in this aim there is such thwarting strife
That one for all or all for one we gage:
gage (v.) 1 pledge, contract, stake
As life for honour in fell battle's rage;
fell (adj.) 1 cruel, fierce, savage
Honour for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all, and all together lost.
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So that in venturing ill we leave to be
ill (adv.) 1 badly, adversely, unfavourably
leave (v.) 1 cease, stop, give up
The things we are for that which we expect;
And this ambitious foul infirmity
In having much torments us with defect
defect (n.) 1 deficiency, shortcoming
Of that we have; so then we do neglect
The thing we have, and all for want of wit
want (n.) 1 lack, shortage, dearth
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability
Make something nothing by augmenting it.
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Such hazard now must doting Tarquin make,
Pawning his honour to obtain his lust;
pawn (v.) stake, pledge, risk
And for himself himself be must forsake.
Then where is truth if there be no self-trust?
When shall he think to find a stranger just
When he himself himself confounds, betrays
confound (v.) 1 destroy, overthrow, ruin
To slanderous tongues and wretched hateful days?
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Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
When heavy sleep had closed up mortal eyes;
No comfortable star did lend his light,
comfortable (adj.) 2 comforting, encouraging, reassuring
No noise but owls' and wolves' death-boding cries;
death-boding (adj.) full of forebodings about death, deadly ominous
Now serves the season that they may surprise
season (n.) 2 opportunity, favourable moment
serve (v.) 1 provide, supply, furnish
silly (adj.) 1 helpless, defenceless, vulnerable
The silly lambs; pure thoughts are dead and still,
While lust and murder wake to stain and kill.
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And now this lustful lord leaped from his bed,
Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm;
rudely (adv.) 1 violently, roughly, with great force
Is madly tossed between desire and dread:
Th' one sweetly flatters, th' other feareth harm;
But honest fear, bewitched with lust's foul charm,
honest (adj.) 2 honourable, respectable, upright
Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
betake (v.) 1 go, take oneself off, make one's way
oft (adv.) often
retire (n.) retreat, withdrawal
Beaten away by brain-sick rude desire.
brainsick, brain-sick (adj.) 1 mad, foolish, frantic
rude (adj.) 9 uncontrolled, unruly, of the flesh
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His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
falchion (n.) curved broadsword
softly (adv.) slowly, gently
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly;
Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he lighteth,
Which must be lodestar to his lustful eye;
lodestar (n.) guiding star, beacon
And to the flame thus speaks advisedly:
advisedly (adv.) 3 deliberately, intentionally, with full awareness
‘ As from this cold flint I enforced this fire,
enforce (v.) 2 force, compel, constrain, drive
So Lucrece must I force to my desire.’
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Here pale with fear he doth premeditate
The dangers of his loathsome enterprise,
And in his inward mind he doth debate
What following sorrow may on this arise;
Then, looking scornfully, he doth despise
His naked armour of still-slaughtered lust,
And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust:
control (v.) 4 challenge, take to task
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‘ Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
To darken her whose light excelleth thine:
And die, unhallowed thoughts, before you blot
With your uncleanness that which is divine;
Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine;
Let fair humanity abhor the deed
That spots and stains love's modest snow-white weed.
weed (n.) 2 garment, piece of clothing
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‘ O shame to knighthood and to shining arms!
O foul dishonour to my household's grave!
O impious act including all foul harms!
A martial man to be soft fancy's slave!
fancy (n.) 1 love, amorousness, infatuation
True valour still a true respect should have;
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually
Then my digression is so vile, so base,
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy
digression (n.) transgression, moral deviation, lapse in proper behaviour
That it will live engraven in my face.
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‘ Yea, though I die the scandal will survive
And be an eye-sore in my golden coat:
coat (n.) 1 coat-of-arms
Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive,
dash (n.) 2 stroke, mark, sign
To cipher me how fondly I did dote,
cipher (v.) 1 symbolize, represent, portray
That my posterity, shamed with the note
note (n.) 12 reproach, stigma, mark of disgrace
Shall curse my bones, and hold it for no sin
To wish that I their father had not been.
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‘ What win I if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
froth (n.) insubstantial thing, empty moment
Who buys a minute's mirth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy?
Or what fond beggar, but to touch the crown,
Would with the sceptre straight be strucken down?
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once
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‘ If Collatinus dream of my intent,
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim
Will he not wake, and in a desperate rage
Post hither, this vile purpose to prevent?
post (v.) 1 hasten, speed, ride fast
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan
This siege that hath engirt his marriage,
engirt (v.) encircle, enclose
This blur to youth, this sorrow to the sage,
blur (n.) blot, stain, blemish
This dying virtue, this surviving shame,
Whose crime will bear an ever-during blame?
ever-during (adj.) always enduring, everlasting
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‘ O what excuse can my invention make
When thou shalt charge me with so black a deed?
Will not my tongue be mute, my frail joints shake,
Mine eyes forego their light, my false heart bleed?
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious
The guilt being great, the fear doth still exceed;
exceed (v.) outdo, surpass, excel, be superior
And extreme fear can neither fight nor fly,
But coward-like with trembling terror die.
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‘ Had Collatinus killed my son or sire,
Or lain in ambush to betray my life,
Or were he not my dear friend, this desire
Might have excuse to work upon his wife,
excuse (n.) pardon, dispensation, exoneration
work upon (v.) practise on, influence, act on
As in revenge or quittal of such strife;
quittal (n.) requital, recompense, payment
But as he is my kinsman, my dear friend,
The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
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‘ Shameful it is – ay, if the fact be known;
fact (n.) evil deed, wicked act, crime
Hateful it is – there is no hate in loving;
I'll beg her love – but she is not her own.
The worst is but denial and reproving.
My will is strong past reason's weak removing:
Who fears a sentence or an old man's saw
saw (n.) wise saying, platitude, maxim
sentence (n.) 1 maxim, wise saying, precept
Shall by a painted cloth be kept in awe.’
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Thus graceless holds he disputation
'Tween frozen conscience and hot-burning will,
And with good thoughts make dispensation,
Urging the worser sense for vantage still;
vantage (n.) 1 right moment, suitable opportunity
Which in a moment doth confound and kill
confound (v.) 1 destroy, overthrow, ruin
effect (n.) 6 desire, passion, emotion
All pure effects, and doth so far proceed
That what is vile shows like a virtuous deed.
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Quoth he, ‘ She took me kindly by the hand,
And gazed for tidings in my eager eyes,
Fearing some hard news from the warlike band
Where her beloved Collatinus lies.
O how her fear did make her colour rise!
First red as roses that on lawn we lay,
Then white as lawn, the roses took away.
lawn (n.) [type of] fine linen
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‘ And how her hand in my hand being locked
Forced it to tremble with her loyal fear!
Which struck her sad, and then it faster rocked
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy
Until her husband's welfare she did hear;
Whereat she smiled with so sweet a cheer
cheer (n.) 4 face, look, expression
That had Narcissus seen her as she stood
Self-love had never drowned him in the flood.
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‘ Why hunt I then for colour or excuses?
colour (n.) 1 pretext, pretence
All orators are dumb when beauty pleadeth;
Poor wretches have remorse in poor abuses;
Love thrives not in the heart that shadows dreadeth;
Affection is my captain, and he leadeth;
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling
And when his gaudy banner is displayed
gaudy (adj.) 1 bright, brilliant, shining
The coward fights and will not be dismayed.
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‘ Then childish fear avaunt, debating die!
avaunt (int.) begone, go away, be off
Respect and reason wait on wrinkled age!
respect (n.) 2 attention, heed, deliberation
wait on / upon (v.) 1 accompany, attend
My heart shall never countermand mine eye;
countermand (v.) 1 contradict, go counter to, oppose
Sad pause and deep regard beseems the sage:
beseem (v.) befit, be fitting [for], be seemly [for]
regard (n.) 1 consideration, concern, thought, heed
sad (adj.) 1 serious, grave, solemn
My part is Youth, and beats these from the stage.
Desire my pilot is, beauty my prize;
Then who fears sinking where such treasure lies?’
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As corn o'ergrown by weeds, so heedful fear
Is almost choked by unresisted lust.
Away he steals with open listening ear,
Full of foul hope and full of fond mistrust;
fond (adj.) 3 tender, loving, affectionate
Both which, as servitors to the unjust,
servitor (n.) 1 servant
So cross him with their opposite persuasion
cross (v.) 3 afflict, plague, go against
That now he vows a league, and now invasion.
league (n.) 1 compact, alliance, treaty, bond of friendship
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Within his thought her heavenly image sits,
And in the selfsame seat sits Collatine.
That eye which looks on her confounds his wits;
confound (v.) 1 destroy, overthrow, ruin
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)
That eye which him beholds, as more divine,
Unto a view so false will not incline;
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious
But with a pure appeal seeks to the heart,
seek (v.) seek help from, resort to
Which once corrupted takes the worser part;
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And therein heartens up his servile powers,
hearten up (v.) encourage, cheer up, animate
servile (adj.) 1 subordinate, controlled [by]
Who, flattered by their leader's jocund show,
Stuff up his lust, as minutes fill up hours;
And as their captain, so their pride doth grow,
Paying more slavish tribute than they owe.
By reprobate desire thus madly led
The Roman lord marcheth to Lucrece' bed.
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The locks between her chamber and his will,
Each one by him enforced, retires his ward;
enforce (v.) 3 act upon by force
retire (v.) 3 draw back, pull back, yield
ward (n.) 4 catch inside a lock; lock
But, as they open, they all rate his ill,
ill (n.) 1 wrong, injury, harm, evil
rate (v.) 1 berate, reproach, rebuke, scold
Which drives the creeping thief to some regard.
regard (n.) 1 consideration, concern, thought, heed
The threshold grates the door to have him heard;
Night-wandering weasels shriek to see him there;
They fright him, yet he still pursues his fear.
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify
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As each unwilling portal yields him way,
portal (n.) door, doorway, gateway
Through little vents and crannies of the place
vent (n.) 1 aperture, opening
The wind wars with his torch to make him stay,
And blows the smoke of it into his face,
Extinguishing his conduct in this case;
conduct (n.) 3 conductor, leader, director
But his hot heart, which fond desire doth scorch,
Puffs forth another wind that fires the torch.
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And being lighted, by the light he spies
Lucretia's glove, wherein her needle sticks;
He takes it from the rushes where it lies,
And griping it, the needle his finger pricks,
As who should say ‘ This glove to wanton tricks
wanton (adj.) 6 lascivious, lewd, obscene
Is not inured; return again in haste;
enure, inure (v.) accustom, habituate, adapt
Thou seest our mistress' ornaments are chaste.’
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But all these poor forbiddings could not stay him;
stay (v.) 10 dissuade, stop, prevent
He in the worst sense consters their denial:
conster (v.) 2 construe, interpret, read
The doors, the wind, the glove, that did delay him
He takes for accidental things of trial;
accidental (adj.) happening by chance, fortuitous
Or as those bars which stop the hourly dial,
dial (n.) watch, timepiece, pocket sundial
Who with a lingering stay his course doth let
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding
let (v.) 1 hinder, prevent, stand in the way
stay (n.) 3 set-back, obstacle, delay
Till every minute pays the hour his debt.
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‘ So, so,’ quoth he, ‘ these lets attend the time,
attend (v.) 4 accompany, follow closely, go with
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect
let (n.) hindrance, obstacle, snag
quoth (v.) said
Like little frosts that sometime threat the spring,
sometime (adv.) 2 sometimes, now and then
To add a more rejoicing to the prime
more (adj.) 1 greater
prime (n.) 1 spring, springtime
And give the sneaped birds more cause to sing.
sneaped (adj.) nipped, frost-bitten
Pain pays the income of each precious thing:
income (n.) arrival, advent, entrance
Huge rocks, high winds, strong pirates, shelves, and sands
shelf (n.) sandbank, shoal
The merchant fears, ere rich at home he lands.’
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Now is he come unto the chamber door
That shuts him from the heaven of his thought,
Which with a yielding latch, and with no more,
Hath barred him from the blessed thing be sought.
So from himself impiety hath wrought
That for his prey to pray he doth begin,
As if the heavens should countenance his sin.
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But in the midst of his unfruitful prayer,
Having solicited the eternal power
power (n.) 9 (usually plural) gods, deities, divinities
That his foul thoughts might compass his fair fair,
compass (v.) 2 win, obtain, attain
fair (adj.) 7 virtuous, honourable, upright
fair (n.) 1 fair face, beauty
And they would stand auspicious to the hour,
Even there he starts; quoth he, ‘ I must deflower:
The powers to whom I pray abhor this fact;
fact (n.) evil deed, wicked act, crime
power (n.) 9 (usually plural) gods, deities, divinities
How can they then assist me in the act?
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‘Then Love and Fortune be my gods, my guide!
My will is backed with resolution;
back (v.) 1 support, help, back up
Thoughts are but dreams till their effects be tried;
The blackest sin is cleared with absolution;
Against love's fire fear's frost hath dissolution.
dissolution (n.) 1 melting, liquefaction, dissolving
The eye of heaven is out, and misty night
out (adv.) 6 at an end, finished
Covers the shame that follows sweet delight.’
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This said, his guilty hand plucked up the latch,
And with his knee the door he opens wide.
The dove sleeps fast that this night-owl will catch;
Thus treason works ere traitors be espied.
espy (v.) catch sight of, discern, see
Who sees the lurking serpent steps aside;
But she, sound sleeping, fearing no such thing,
Lies at the mercy of his mortal sting.
mortal (adj.) 1 fatal, deadly, lethal
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Into the chamber wickedly he stalks,
stalk (v.) move stealthily [as if hunting game]
And gazeth on her yet unstained bed.
The curtains being close, about he walks,
close (adj.) 6 closed, shut
Rolling his greedy eyeballs in his head;
By their high treason is his heart misled,
Which gives the watchword to his hand full soon
To draw the cloud that hides the silver moon.
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Look as the fair and fiery-pointed sun
Rushing from forth a cloud, bereaves our sight;
bereave (v.) 1 take away [from], deprive, deny, rob
Even so, the curtain drawn, his eyes begun
To wink, being blinded with a greater light.
wink (v.) 1 shut one's eyes
Whether it is that she reflects so bright
reflect (v.) shine, cast a bright light
That dazzleth them, or else some shame supposed,
supposed (adj.) 2 imagined, fancied
But blind they are, and keep themselves enclosed.
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O, had they in that darksome prison died,
Then had they seen the period of their ill!
ill (n.) 1 wrong, injury, harm, evil
period (n.) 1 full stop, end, ending, conclusion
Then Collatine again by Lucrece' side
In his clear bed might have reposed still:
clear (adj.) 1 pure, spotless, faultless
But they must ope, this blessed league to kill;
ope (v.) open
And holy-thoughted Lucrece to their sight
Must sell her joy, her life, her world's delight.
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Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies under,
lily (adj.) lily-white
Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss;
cozen (v.) cheat, dupe, trick, deceive
Who therefore angry seems to part in sunder,
Swelling on either side to want his bliss;
Between whose hills her head entombed is:
Where like a virtuous monument she lies
monument (n.) 4 effigy, carved figure, statue
To be admired of lewd unhallowed eyes.
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Without the bed her other fair hand was,
On the green coverlet, whose perfect white
Show'd like an April daisy on the grass,
With pearly sweat resembling dew of night.
Her eyes like marigolds had sheathed their light,
And canopied in darkness sweetly lay
Till they might open to adorn the day.
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Her hair like golden threads played with her breath:
O modest wantons, wanton modesty!
wanton (adj.) 7 [jocularly] naughty, wicked, mischievous
wanton (n.) 1 libertine, seducer
Showing life's triumph in the map of death,
map (n.) 1 outline, picture, image
And death's dim look in life's mortality:
dim (adj.) dull, pale-coloured, lacking lustre
Each in her sleep themselves so beautify
As if between them twain there were no strife,
But that life lived in death and death in life.
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Her breasts like ivory globes circled with blue,
A pair of maiden worlds unconquered,
maiden (adj.) 2 befitting chastity
Save of their lord no bearing yoke they knew,
And him by oath they truly honoured.
These worlds in Tarquin new ambition bred,
Who like a foul ursurper went about
From this fair throne to heave the owner out.
heave (v.) 2 throw, toss, cast
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What could he see but mightily he noted?
note (v.) 2 notice, perceive, observe
What did he note but strongly he desired?
What he beheld, on that he firmly doted,
And in his will his wilful eye he tired.
will (n.) 2 lust, sexual desire, passion
With more than admiration he admired
Her azure veins, her alabaster skin,
Her coral lips, her snow-white dimpled chin.
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As the grim lion fawneth o'er his prey,
fawn (v.) revel, gloat, show delight
Sharp hunger by the conquest satisfied,
sharp (adj.) 6 [falconry] famished, hungry, starving
So o'er this sleeping soul doth Tarquin stay,
His rage of lust by gazing qualified –
qualify (v.) 1 moderate, weaken, diminish
rage (n.) 1 violent outburst, furious passion
Slacked, not suppressed; for standing by her side,
slack (v.) 1 slacken, reduce, slow down
slake (v.) abate, moderate, decrease
His eye which late this mutiny restrains
Unto a greater uproar tempts his veins.
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And they like straggling slaves for pillage fighting,
Obdurate vassals fell exploits effecting,
fell (adj.) 1 cruel, fierce, savage
obdurate (adj.) stubborn, obstinate, inflexible
In bloody death and ravishment delighting,
Nor children's tears nor mothers' groans respecting,
Swell in their pride, the onset still expecting.
Anon his beating heart, alarum striking,
alarm, alarum, 'larm, 'larum (n.) 1 call to arms, call to battle, signal to begin fighting
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently
Gives the hot charge, and bids them do their liking.
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His drumming heart cheers up his burning eye,
cheer up (v.) encourage, urge on, egg on
His eye commends the leading to his hand;
commend (v.) 2 commit, entrust, hand over
His hand, as proud of such a dignity,
Smoking with pride, march'd on to make his stand
On her bare breast, the heart of all her land;
Whose ranks of blue veins as his hand did scale
scale (v.) 3 climb up, ascend, mount
Left their round turrets destitute and pale.
destitute (adj.) abandoned, deserted, forsaken
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They, mustering to the quiet cabinet
cabinet (n.) 2 dwelling, lodging
muster (v.) 1 assemble, gather together [at], rush
Where their dear governess and lady lies,
governess (n.) ruler, mistress
Do tell her she is dreadfully beset,
beset (v.) set upon, assail, besiege
And fright her with confusion of their cries.
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify
She much amazed breaks ope her locked-up eyes,
Who, peeping forth this tumult to behold,
Are by his flaming torch dimmed and controlled.
control (v.) 2 overwhelm, overpower
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Imagine her as one in dead of night
From forth dull sleep by dreadful fancy waking,
That thinks she hath beheld some ghastly sprite,
sprite, spright (n.) 1 spirit, ghost, supernatural being
Whose grim aspect sets every joint a-shaking;
aspect (n.) 1 [of a human face] look, appearance, expression
What terror 'tis! but she in worser taking,
taking (n.) 1 state, fright, agitation
From sleep disturbed, heedfully doth view
heedfully (adv.) 2 with anxious attention, apprehensively
The sight which makes supposed terror true.
supposed (adj.) 2 imagined, fancied
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Wrapped and confounded in a thousand fears,
wrap (v.) beset, envelop, surround [by]
Like to a new-killed bird she trembling lies;
She dares not look, yet, winking, there appears
wink (v.) 1 shut one's eyes
Quick-shifting antics, ugly in her eyes.
antic, antick(e), antique (n.) 2 bizarre dance, fantastic spectacle, grotesque entertainment
Such shadows are the weak brain's forgeries,
shadow (n.) 4 illusion, unreal image, delusion
Who, angry that the eyes fly from their lights,
In darkness daunts them with more dreadful sights.
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His hand that yet remains upon her breast –
Rude ram, to batter such an ivory wall –
ivory (adj.) white
ram (n.) battering-ram
May feel her heart, poor citizen, distressed,
Wounding itself to death, rise up and fall,
Beating her bulk, that his hand shakes withal.
bulk (n.) 1 body, trunk, frame
This moves in him more rage and lesser pity
rage (n.) 1 violent outburst, furious passion
To make the breach and enter this sweet city.
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First like a trumpet doth his tongue begin
To sound a parley to his heartless foe,
heartless (adj.) cowardly, gutless, spiritless
parle, parley (n.) 1 negotiation, meeting [between enemies under a truce, to discuss terms]
Who o'er the white sheet peers her whiter chin,
peer (v.) 1 appear, come into sight
The reason of this rash alarm to know,
alarm, alarum, 'larm, 'larum (n.) 1 call to arms, call to battle, signal to begin fighting
rash (adj.) 1 sudden, quickly acting, operating immediately
Which he by dumb demeanor seeks to show;
But she with vehement prayers urgeth still
urge (v.) 1 press, insist on, state emphatically
Under what colour he commits this ill.
colour (n.) 1 pretext, pretence
ill (n.) 1 wrong, injury, harm, evil
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually
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Thus he replies: ‘ The colour in thy face,
That even for anger makes the lily pale
And the red rose blush at her own disgrace,
Shall plead for me and tell my loving tale.
Under that colour am I come to scale
colour (n.) 1 pretext, pretence
Thy never-conquered fort: the fault is thine,
For those thine eyes betray thee unto mine.
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‘ Thus I forestall thee, if thou mean to chide:
chide (v.), past form chid 1 scold, rebuke, reprove
Thy beauty hath ensnared thee to this night,
Where thou with patience must my will abide,
will (n.) 2 lust, sexual desire, passion
My will that marks thee for my earth's delight,
Which I to conquer sought with all my might;
But as reproof and reason beat it dead,
By thy bright beauty was it newly bred.
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‘ I see what crosses my attempt will bring;
I know what thorns the growing rose defends;
I think the honey guarded with a sting;
think (v.) 1 realize, appreciate, understand
All this beforehand counsel comprehends.
counsel (n.) 1 advice, guidance, direction
But Will is deaf, and hears no heedful friends;
heedful (adj.) 1 careful, mindful, watchful
will (n.) 2 lust, sexual desire, passion
Only he hath an eye to gaze on Beauty,
And dotes on what he looks, 'gainst law or duty.
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‘ I have debated even in my soul
What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shall breed;
But nothing can affection's course control,
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding
Or stop the headlong fury of his speed.
I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
ensue (v.) 1 follow [especially, as a logical outcome]
Reproach, disdain, and deadly enmity;
Yet strive I to embrace mine infamy.’
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This said, he shakes aloft his Roman blade,
Which like a falcon towering in the skies
couch (v.) 3 make crouch down, cause to cower
tower (v.) [falconry] mount up to a great height, circle, soar
Coucheth the fowl below with his wings' shade,
Whose crooked beak threats, if he mount he dies:
crooked (adj.) 2 rounded, curved
threat (v.) threaten
So under his insulting falchion lies
falchion (n.) curved broadsword
Harmless Lucretia, marking what he tells
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of]
With trembling fear, as fowl hear falcon's bells.
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‘ Lucrece,’ quoth he, ‘ this night I must enjoy thee.
If thou deny, then force must work my way,
For in thy bed I purpose to destroy thee;
That done, some worthless slave of thine I'll slay,
To kill thine honour with thy life's decay;
And in thy dead arms do I mean to place him,
Swearing I slew him, seeing thee embrace him.
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‘ So thy surviving husband shall remain
The scornful mark of every open eye;
scornful (adj.) scorned, contemptible, derided
Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdain,
Thy issue blurred with nameless bastardy;
blur (v.) blot, stain, defame
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant
nameless (adj.) 2 bearing no legitimate name
And thou, the author of their obloquy,
obloquy (n.) disgrace, reproach, slander
Shalt have thy trespass cited up in rhymes
cite up (v.) call to mind, make reference to
And sung by children in succeeding times.
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‘ But if thou yield, I rest thy secret friend;
The fault unknown is as a thought unacted;
A little harm done to a great good end
For lawful policy remains enacted;
enact (v.) 2 decree, ordain, enter in the records
policy (n.) 1 statecraft, statesmanship, diplomacy
The poisonous simple sometimes is compacted
compact (v.) 2 compound, make up firmly, consolidate
simple (n.) 1 ingredient, element, constituent
In a pure compound; being so applied,
His venom in effect is purified.
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‘ Then for thy husband and thy children's sake,
Tender my suit; bequeath not to their lot
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship
tender (v.) 4 grant, consent to
The shame that from them no device can take,
The blemish that will never be forgot,
Worse than a slavish wipe or birth-hour's blot;
wipe (n.) mark, brand, scar
For marks descried in men's nativity
descry (v.) 1 catch sight of, make out, espy, discover
Are nature's faults, not their own infamy.’
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Here with a cockatrice' dead-killing eye
cockatrice (n.) murderous serpent, basilisk
dead-killing (adj.) mortal, deadly, fatal
He rouseth up himself and makes a pause;
rouse (v.) 2 raise, lift up
While she, the picture of pure piety,
Like a white hind under the gripe's sharp claws,
gripe (n.) 2 vulture, eagle
Pleads in a wilderness where are no laws
To the rough beast that knows no gentle right,
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind
Nor aught obeys but his foul appetite.
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing
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But when a black-faced cloud the world doth threat,
threat (v.) threaten
In his dim mist th' aspiring mountains hiding,
From earth's dark womb some gentle gust doth get,
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed
Which blows these pitchy vapours from their biding,
biding (n.) 1 place of rest, dwelling-place
pitchy (adj.) pitch-dark, black, inky, dark
vapour (n.) 2 mist, cloud, fog
Hindering their present fall by this dividing;
So his unhallowed haste her words delays,
And moody Pluto winks while Orpheus plays.
wink (v.) 1 shut one's eyes
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Yet, foul night-waking cat, he doth but dally
dally (v.) 1 deal lightly, play about, tease
While in his hold-fast foot the weak mouse panteth:
hold-fast (adj.) firmly grasping
Her sad behaviour feeds his vulture folly,
folly (n.) wantonness, lewdness
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy
vulture (adj.) ravenous, devouring, rapacious
A swallowing gulf that even in plenty wanteth;
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without
His ear her prayers admits, but his heart granteth
No penetrable entrance to her plaining:
penetrable (adj.) 1 receptive, susceptible, capable of being affected
plaining (n.) 1 complaining, moaning, lamenting
Tears harden lust, though marble wear with raining.
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Her pity-pleading eyes are sadly fixed
In the remorseless wrinkles of his face;
wrinkle (n.) frown, disapproving look
Her modest eloquence with sighs is mixed,
Which to her oratory adds more grace.
She puts the period often from his place,
period (n.) 3 rhetorical pause, sentence ending, termination
And 'midst the sentence so her accent breaks
accent (n.) 1 talk, speech, utterance, words
That twice she doth begin ere once she speaks.
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She conjures him by high almighty Jove,
conjure (v.) 1 ask solemnly, entreat earnestly, beseech
By knighthood, gentry, and sweet friendship's oath,
gentry (n.) 1 courtesy, gentlemanliness, good breeding
By her untimely tears, her husband's love,
By holy human law and common troth,
troth (n.) 1 truth, good faith
By heaven and earth, and all the power of both,
That to his borrowed bed he make retire,
retire (n.) retreat, withdrawal
And stoop to honour, not to foul desire.
stoop (v.) 1 kneel, submit, bow down
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Quoth she, ‘ Reward not hospitality
With such black payment as thou hast pretended;
pretend (v.) 2 intend, design, plan
Mud not the fountain that gave drink to thee;
mud (v.) 2 muddy, make foul
Mar not the thing that cannot be amended;
End thy ill aim before thy shoot be ended;
ill (adj.) 2 evil, wicked, immoral
shoot (n.) 1 shot, act of shooting
He is no woodman that doth bend his bow
woodman (n.) hunter, huntsman
To strike a poor unseasonable doe.
unseasonable (adj.) 2 not in the hunting season
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‘ My husband is thy friend; for his sake spare me:
Thyself art mighty; for thine own sake leave me:
Myself a weakling; do not then ensnare me:
Thou look'st not like deceit; do not deceive me.
My sighs like whirlwinds labour hence to heave thee.
heave (v.) 2 throw, toss, cast
If ever man were moved with woman's moans,
Be moved with my tears, my sighs, my groans:
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‘ All which together, like a troubled ocean,
Beat at thy rocky and wreck-threatening heart,
wrack-threatening (adj.) threatening dishonour
To soften it with their continual motion;
For stones dissolved to water do convert.
convert (v.) change, transform, alter
O, if no harder than a stone thou art,
Melt at my tears and be compassionate;
Soft pity enters at an iron gate.
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‘ In Tarquin's likeness I did entertain thee:
Hast thou put on his shape to do him shame?
To all the host of heaven I complain me
Thou wrong'st his honour, wound'st his princely name:
Thou art not what thou seem'st; and if the same,
Thou seem'st not what thou art, a god, a king;
For kings like gods should govern every thing.
govern (v.) 1 restrain, control, hold in check
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‘ How will thy shame be seeded in thine age,
seed (v.) mature, yield fruit
When thus thy vices bud before thy spring?
If in thy hope thou dar'st do such outrage,
hope (n.) 2 prospect, expectation
What dar'st thou not when once thou art a king?
O, be remembered, no outrageous thing
From vassal actors can be wiped away;
actor (n.) doer, performer
vassal (adj.) 1 subject, servile, subordinate
Then kings' misdeeds cannot be hid in clay.
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‘ This deed will make thee only loved for fear;
But happy monarchs still are feared for love:
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually
With foul offenders thou perforce must bear,
perforce (adv.) 2 of necessity, with no choice in the matter
When they in thee the like offences prove.
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal
If but for fear of this, thy will remove;
will (n.) 2 lust, sexual desire, passion
For princes are the glass, the school, the book,
glass (n.) 1 mirror, looking-glass
Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look.
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‘ And wilt thou be the school where Lust shall learn?
Must he in thee read lectures of such shame?
lecture (n.) 1 lesson, instructive example
Wilt thou be glass wherein it shall discern
glass (n.) 1 mirror, looking-glass
Authority for sin, warrant for blame,
To privilege dishonour in thy name?
Thou black'st reproach against long-living laud,
back (v.) 1 support, help, back up
laud (n.) 1 praise, homage, honour
And mak'st fair reputation but a bawd.
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between
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‘ Hast thou command? by him that gave it thee,
From a pure heart command thy rebel will.
Draw not thy sword to guard iniquity,
For it was lent thee all that brood to kill.
Thy princely office how canst thou fulfil,
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function
When patterned by thy fault foul sin may say
pattern (v.) 2 show a model, give a precedent
He learned to sin, and thou didst teach the way?
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‘ Think but how vile a spectacle it were
To view thy present trespass in another.
Men's faults do seldom to themselves appear;
Their own transgressions partially they smother.
partially (adv.) with partiality, in a biased way
This guilt would seem death-worthy in thy brother.
death-worthy (adj.) deserving death
O, how are they wrapped in with infamies
wrap in (v.) entangle, catch, involve
That from their own misdeeds askance their eyes!
askance, askaunce (v.) turn aside, divert
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‘ To thee, to thee, my heaved-up hands appeal,
heaved-up (adj.) raised, lifted up
Not to seducing lust, thy rash relier:
relier (n.) thing relied upon
I sue for exiled majesty's repeal;
repeal (n.) recall, return from banishment
Let him return, and flattering thoughts retire:
His true respect will prison false desire,
false (adj.) 4 wrong, mistaken
prison (v.) imprison, lock up, confine
respect (n.) 5 courtesy, politeness, consideration
And wipe the dim mist from thy doting eyne,
eyne (n.) [archaism] eyes
That thou shalt see thy state, and pity mine.’
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‘ Have done,’ quoth he: ‘ my uncontrolled tide
Turns not, but swells the higher by this let.
let (n.) hindrance, obstacle, snag
Small lights are soon blown out; huge fires abide,
And with the wind in greater fury fret;
fret (v.) 6 rage, rampage
The petty streams that pay a daily debt
To their salt sovereign, with their fresh falls' haste
Add to his flow, but alter not his taste.’
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‘ Thou art,’ quoth she, ‘ a sea, a sovereign king;
And lo, there falls into thy boundless flood
fall (v.) 7 discharge, issue, run
flood (n.) 2 river, stream, rushing water
Black lust, dishonour, shame, misgoverning,
Who seek to stain the ocean of thy blood.
If all these petty ills shall change thy good,
Thy sea within a puddle's womb is hearsed,
hearsed (v.) coffined, placed in a hearse
And not the puddle in thy sea dispersed.
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‘ So shall these slaves be king, and thou their slave;
Thou nobly base, they basely dignified;
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy
basely (adv.) dishonourably, shamefully, ignominiously
Thou their fair life, and they thy fouler grave:
Thou loathed in their shame, they in thy pride.
The lesser thing should not the greater hide:
The cedar stoops not to the base shrub's foot,
base (adj.) 5 low-lying, lowland
But low shrubs wither at the cedar's root.
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‘ So let thy thoughts, low vassals to thy state ’ –
vassal (n.) 1 servant, slave, subject
‘ No more,’ quoth he; ‘ by heaven I will not hear thee.
Yield to my love; if not, enforced hate
enforced (adj.) 3 violating, shown in an assault
Instead of love's coy touch shall rudely tear thee.
coy (adj.) 1 gentle, considerate, solicitous
rudely (adv.) 1 violently, roughly, with great force
That done, despitefully I mean to bear thee
despitefully (adv.) maliciously, cruelly; or: shamefully
Unto the base bed of some rascal groom,
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank
groom (n.) 1 servingman, servant, male attendant
rascal (adj.) worthless, good-for-nothing
To be thy partner in this shameful doom.’
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This said, he sets his foot upon the light,
For light and lust are deadly enemies:
Shame folded up in blind concealing night,
blind (adj.) 2 dark, black
When most unseen, then most doth tyrannize.
The wolf hath seized his prey, the poor lamb cries,
Till with her own white fleece her voice controlled
control (v.) 2 overwhelm, overpower
Entombs her outcry in her lips' sweet fold.
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For with the nightly linen that she wears
He pens her piteous clamours in her head,
pen (v.) shut up, confine; silence
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!
prone (adj.) 1 eager, ready
The spots whereof could weeping purify,
Her tears should drop on them perpetually.
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But she hath lost a dearer thing than life,
And he hath won what he would lose again.
This forced league doth force a further strife;
This momentary joy breeds months of pain;
This hot desire converts to cold disdain:
convert (v.) change, transform, alter
Pure Chastity is rifled of her store,
And Lust the thief far poorer than before.
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Look as the full-fed hound or gorged hawk,
Unapt for tender smell or speedy flight,
tender (adj.) 7 weak, faint, delicate
unapt (adj.) 2 unfit, not suited
Make slow pursuit, or altogether balk
balk (v.) 1 refuse, ignore, shirk, let slip
The prey wherein by nature they delight,
So surfeit-taking Tarquin fares this night;
fare (v.) 1 get on, manage, do, cope
surfeit-taking (adj.) over-indulging
His taste delicious, in digestion souring,
Devours his will, that lived by foul devouring.
will (n.) 2 lust, sexual desire, passion
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O deeper sin than bottomless conceit
bottomless (adj.) inexhaustible, unfathomable, infinite
conceit (n.) 1 imagination, fancy, wit
Can comprehend in still imagination!
still (adj.) 5 constant, continual, perpetual
Drunken Desire must vomit his receipt
receipt (n.) 1 what is received, acquisition, gain
Ere he can see his own abomination.
abomination (n.) 1 hatefulness, repugnance, disgusting state
While Lust is in his pride, no exclamation
exclamation (n.) 1 loud reproach, outcry, clamorous complaint
Can curb his heat or rein his rash desire,
Till, like a jade, Self-will himself doth tire.
jade (n.) 1 worn-out horse, hack, worthless nag
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And then with lank and lean discoloured cheek,
With heavy eye, knit brow, and strengthless pace,
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]
heavy (adj.) 2 grave, serious, weighty
Feeble Desire, all recreant, poor, and meek,
recreant (adj.) cowardly, faint-hearted, craven
Like to a bankrupt beggar wails his case.
The flesh being proud, Desire doth fight with Grace;
For there it revels, and when that decays,
The guilty rebel for remission prays.
remission (n.) 1 pardon, forgiveness
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So fares it with this faultful lord of Rome,
fare (v.) 2 go, happen, turn out
faultful (adj.) sinful, culpable, wicked
Who this accomplishment so hotly chased;
accomplishment (n.) fulfilment, consummation
For now against himself he sounds this doom,
doom (n.) 1 judgement, sentence, decision
sound (v.) 3 cry out, declare, proclaim
That through the length of times he stands disgraced.
Besides, his soul's fair temple is defaced,
To whose weak ruins muster troops of cares
To ask the spotted princess how she fares.
fare (v.) 1 get on, manage, do, cope
spotted (adj.) 1 stained, blemished
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She says her subjects with foul insurrection
Have battered down her consecrated wall,
And by their mortal fault brought in subjection
mortal (adj.) 1 fatal, deadly, lethal
Her immortality, and made her thrall
thrall (n.) slave, subject, captive
To living death and pain perpetual;
Which in her prescience she controlled still,
prescience (n.) 2 foresight, forethought, planning ahead
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually
But her foresight could not forestall their will.
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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 perplexed in greater pain.
spoil (n.) 2 plunder, booty
She bears the load of lust he left behind,
And he the burden of a guilty mind.
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He like a thievish dog creeps sadly thence;
She like a wearied lamb lies panting there;
He scowls, and hates himself for his offence;
She, desperate, with her nails her flesh doth tear.
He faintly flies, sneaking with guilty fear;
faintly (adv.) 4 like a coward, fearfully
She stays, exclaiming on the direful night;
direful (adj.) dreadful, terrible, frightful
exclaim against / on (v.) decry, cry out against, rail at
He runs, and chides his vanished loathed delight.
chide (v.), past form chid 1 scold, rebuke, reprove
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He thence departs a heavy convertite;
convertite (n.) convert, penitent
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy
She there remains a hopeless castaway;
castaway (n.) lost soul, reject, outcast
He in his speed looks for the morning light;
She prays she never may behold the day.
‘ For day,’ quoth she, ‘ night's scapes doth open lay,
scape, 'scape (n.) 2 escapade, fling, sexual wrongdoing
And my true eyes have never practised how
true (adj.) 3 honourable, virtuous, sincere
To cloak offences with a cunning brow.
brow (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, countenance
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‘ They think not but that every eye can see
The same disgrace which they themselves behold;
And therefore would they still in darkness be,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually
To have their unseen sin remain untold.
For they their guilt with weeping will unfold,
And grave, like water that doth eat in steel,
grave (v.) 2 engrave, inscribe [in], cut into
Upon my cheeks what helpless shame I feel.’
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Here she exclaims against repose and rest,
exclaim against / on (v.) decry, cry out against, rail at
And bids her eyes hereafter still be blind;
She wakes her heart by beating on her breast,
And bids it leap from thence, where it may find
Some purer chest, to close so pure a mind.
close (v.) 4 enclose, include, contain
Frantic with grief thus breathes she forth her spite
Against the unseen secrecy of night:
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‘ O comfort-killing Night, image of hell,
Dim register and notary of shame,
notary (n.) 1 noter, observer, witness
register (n.) 2 registrar, recorder
Black stage for tragedies and murders fell,
fell (adj.) 1 cruel, fierce, savage
Vast sin-concealing chaos, nurse of blame!
Blind muffled bawd, dark harbour for defame,
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between
defame (n.) disgrace, infamy, dishonour
harbour (n.) shelter, refuge, safe lodging
Grim cave of death, whispering conspirator
With close-tongued treason and the ravisher!
close-tongued (adj.) speaking secretly, tight-lipped
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‘ O hateful, vaporous, and foggy Night,
vaporous (adj.) misty, damp-filled, foggy
Since thou art guilty of my cureless crime,
cureless (adj.) incurable, fatal, without remedy
Muster thy mists to meet the eastern light,
Make war against proportioned course of time;
proportioned (adj.) regulated, well-ordered
Or if thou wilt permit the sun to climb
His wonted height, yet ere he go to bed
wonted (adj.) accustomed, usual, customary
Knit poisonous clouds about his golden head.
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‘ With rotten damps ravish the morning air;
damp (n.) fog, mist, vapour
ravish (v.) 3 seize, despoil, corrupt
rotten (adj.) 1 unhealthy, corrupting, unwholesome
Let their exhaled unwholesome breaths make sick
unwholesome (adj.) 1 harmful, damaging, noxious
The life of purity, the supreme fair,
supreme (n.) supreme ruler, king, highest in authority
Ere he arrive his weary noontide prick;
arrive (v.) reach, arrive at
prick (n.) 5 [on a sundial] mark, point, division
And let thy misty vapours march so thick,
vapour (n.) 2 mist, cloud, fog
That in their smoky ranks his smothered light
May set at noon and make perpetual night.
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‘ Were Tarquin Night, as he is but Night's child,
The silver-shining queen he would distain;
distain (v.) 1 dishonour, defile, corrupt
Her twinkling handmaids too, by him defiled,
Through Night's black bosom should not peep again.
So should I have co-partners in my pain;
And fellowship in woe doth woe assuage,
As palmers' chat makes short their pilgrimage.
chat (n.) chatter, prattle, idle talk
palmer (n.) pilgrim
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‘ Where now I have no one to blush with me,
To cross their arms and hang their heads with mine,
To mask their brows and hide their infamy;
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]
But I alone alone must sit and pine,
Seasoning the earth with showers of silver brine,
brine (n.) 1 salt water [i.e. tears]
Mingling my talk with tears, my grief with groans,
Poor wasting monuments of lasting moans.
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‘ O Night, thou furnace of foul reeking smoke,
Let not the jealous Day behold that face
jealous (adj.) 1 suspicious, mistrustful, wary, watchful
Which underneath thy black all-hiding cloak
Immodestly lies martyred with disgrace!
Keep still possession of thy gloomy place,
That all the faults which in thy reign are made
May likewise be sepulchred in thy shade.
sepulchre (v.) 1 place in a sepulchre, bury
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‘ Make me not object to the tell-tale Day:
object (n.) 1 spectacle, sight, object of attention
The light will show charactered in my brow
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]
character (v.) inscribe, engrave, write
The story of sweet chastity's decay,
decay (n.) 1 destruction, downfall, ending
The impious breach of holy wedlock vow;
Yea, the illiterate that know not how
To cipher what is writ in learned books
cipher (v.) 2 decipher, read, spell out
Will quote my loathsome trespass in my looks.
quote (v.) 1 closely observe, note, examine
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‘ The nurse to still her child will tell my story,
And fright her crying babe with Tarquin's name;
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify
The orator to deck his oratory
Will couple my reproach to Tarquin's shame;
Feast-finding minstrels tuning my defame
defame (n.) disgrace, infamy, dishonour
feast-finding (adj.) searching out feasts [at which to entertain the company]
Will tie the hearers to attend each line,
attend (v.) 6 regard, consider
tie (v.) 1 oblige, constrain, force
How Tarquin wronged me, I Collatine.
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‘ Let my good name, that senseless reputation,
senseless (adj.) 1 lacking human sensation, incapable of feeling
For Collatine's dear love be kept unspotted;
If that be made a theme for disputation,
The branches of another root are rotted,
And undeserved reproach to him allotted
That is as clear from this attaint of mine
attaint (n.) 1 disgrace, dishonour, corruption