miércoles, 22 de junio de 2011

Titus Andronicus' Complaint

To the Tune of Fortune

You noble minds and famous martial wights,
That in defence of native country fights,
Give ear to me that ten years fought for Rome,
Yet reaped disgrace when I returnèd home.

In Rome I lived in fame full threescore years,
By name belovèd dear of all his peers,
Full five-and-twenty valiant sons I had,
Whose forward virtues made their father glad.

For when Rome's foes their warlike forces felt,
Against them still my sons and I were sent;
Against the Goths full ten years' weary war
We spent, receiving many a bloody scar.

Just two-and-twenty of my sons were slain,
Before we did return to Rome again;
Of five-and-twenty sons I brought but three
Alive the stately towers of Rome to see.

When wars were done I conquest home did bring,
And did present my prisoners to the King;
The Queen of Goth, her sons, and eke a Moor,
Which did much murder, like was ne'er before.

The Emperor did make this Queen his wife,
Which bred in Rome debate and deadly strife;
The Moor with her two sons did grow so proud
That none like them in Rome was then allowed.

The Moor so pleased the new-made Empress' eye
That she consented with him secretly
For to abuse her husband's marriage bed,
And so in time a blackamoor she bred.

Then she, whose thoughts to murder were inclined,
Consented with the Moor with bloody mind
Against myself, my kin, and all my friends
In cruel sort to bring them to their ends.

So when in age I thought to live in peace,
Both woe and grief began then to increase;
Amongst my sons I had one daughter bright,
Which joyed and pleasèd best my age's sight.

My dear Lavinia was betrothed as then
To Caesar's son, a young and noble man,
Who in a hunting by the Emperor's wife
And her two sons bereavèd were of life.

He, being slain, was cast in cruel wise
Into a dismal den from light of skies;
The cruel Moor did come that way as then
With my two sons, who fell into that den.

The Moor then fetched the Emperor with speed,
For to accuse them of that murderous deed;
And then my sons within the den were found;
In wrongful prison they were cast and bound.

But now behold what wounded most my mind,
The Emperor's two sons of tiger's kind
My daughter ravishèd without remorse,
And took away her honour quite perforce.

When they had tasted of so sweet a flower
Fearing their sweet should shortly turn to sour,
They cut her tongue, whereby she could not tell
How that dishonour unto her befell.

Then both her hands they falsely cut off quite,
Whereby their wickedness she could not write,
Nor with her needle on her sampler sew
The bloody workers of her direful woe.

My brother Marcus found her in a wood,
Staining the grassy ground with purple blood
That trickled from her stumps and handless arms.
No tongue at all she had to tell her harms.

But when I saw her in that woeful case,
With tears of blood I wet my agèd face;
For my Lavinia I lamented more
Than for my two-and-twenty sons before.

Whenas I saw she could not write nor speak,
With grief my agèd heart began to break;
We spread a heap of sand upon the ground,
Whereby those bloody tyrants out we found.

For with a staff, without the help of hand,
She writ these words upon that plot of sand:
"The lustful sons of the proud Empress
Are doers of this hateful wickedness."

I tare the milk-white hairs from off my head,
I cursed the hour wherein I first was bred;
I wished the hand that fought for country's fame
In cradle's rock had first been stroken lame.

The Moor, delighting still in villainy,
Did say, to set my sons from prison free,
I should unto the King my right hand give,
And then my two imprisoned sons should live.

The Moor I caused to strike it off with speed,
Whereat I grievèd not to see it bleed,
But for my sons would willingly impart
And for their ransom send my bleeding heart.

But as my life did linger thus in pain,
They sent to me my bloodless hand again,
And therewithal the heads of my two sons,
Which filled my dying heart with fresher moans.

Then past relief, I up and down did go,
And with my tears writ in the dust my woe;
I shot my arrows towards heaven high,
And for revenge to hell did sometimes cry.

The Empress then, thinking I was mad,
Like furies she and both her sons were clad,
She named Revenge, and Rape and Murder they,
To undermine and know what I would say.

I fed their foolish veins a certain space,
Until my friends and I did find a place,
Where both her sons unto a post were bound,
Where just revenge in cruel sort was found.

I cut their throats, my daughter held the pan
Betwixt the stumps, wherein their blood then ran;
And then I ground their bones to powder small,
And made a paste for pies straight therewithal.

Then with their flesh I made two mighty pies,
And at a banquet served in stately wise
Before the Empress set this loathsome meat,
So of her sons' own flesh she well did eat.

Myself bereaved my daughter then of life;
The Empress then I slew with bloody knife,
And stabbed the Emperor immediately,
And then myself, even so did Titus die.

Then this revenge against their Moor was found:
Alive they set him half into the ground,
Whereas he stood until such time he starved;
And so God send all murderers may be served.

From Richard Johnson's The Golden Garland of Princely Pleasures, printed in 1620

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