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Soe when in age I thought to live in peace,
My deare Lavinia was betrothed than
He being slaine, was cast in cruel wise,
The moore then fetcht the emperour with speed, 45
But nowe, behold! what wounded most my mind,
When they had tasted of soe sweete a flowre, Fearing this sweete should shortly turn to sowre, They cutt her tongue, whereby she could not tell How that dishonoure unto her befell. 56
Then both her hands they basely cutt off quite,
My brother Marcus found her in the wood, Staining the grassie ground with purple bloud, That trickled from her stumpes, and bloudlesse
Noe tongue at all she had to tell her harmes.
But when I sawe her in that woefull case,
When as I sawe she could not write nor speake,
For with a staffe, without the helpe of hand,
I tore the milk-white hairs from off mine head,
I wisht this hand, that fought for countrie's fame,
The moore delighting still in villainy
The moore I caus'd to strike it off with speede, 85
But as my life did linger thus in paine,
Then past reliefe I upp and downe did goe,
The empresse then, thinking that I was mad, Like Furies she and both her sonnes were clad, (She nam❜d Revenge, and Rape and Murder they) To undermine and heare what I would say. 100
* If the ballad was written before the play, I should suppose this to be only a metaphorical expression, taken from that in the Psalms, " They shoot out their arrows, even bitter words."
Ps. lxiv. 3.
I fed their foolish veines* a certaine space,
I cut their throates, my daughter held the pan 105 Betwixt her stumpes, wherein the bloud it ran: And then I ground their bones to powder small, And made a paste for pyes streight therewithall.
Then with their fleshe I made two mighty pyes,
Myselfe bereav'd my daughter then of life,
Then this revenge against the moore was found,
Take those Lips Away.
The first stanza of this little sonnet, which an eminent critic* justly admires for its extreme sweetness, is found in Shakspeare's Measure for Measure, act. iv. sc. 1. Both the stanzas are preserved in Beaum. and Fletcher's Bloody Brother, act v. sc. 2. Sewel and Gildon have printed it among Shakspeare's smaller poems, but they have done the same by twenty other pieces that were never writ by him; their book being a wretched heap of inaccuracies and mistakes. It is not found in Jaggard's old edition of Shakspeare's Passionate Pilgrime,† &c.
TAKE, oh take those lips away,
That so sweetlye were forsworne;
Lights, that do misleade the morne :
Hide, oh hide those hills of snowe,
Which thy frozen bosom beares,
* Dr. Warb. in his Shakspeare.
+ Mr. Malone, in his improved edit. of Shakspeare's Sonnets, &c. hath substituted this instead of Marlow's Madrigal, printed above; for which he hath assigned reasons, which the reader may see in his vol. x. p. 340.