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Titus Andronicus

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Act II, Scene 4

Another part of the forest.


[Enter DEMETRIUS and CHIRON with LAVINIA, ravished;] [p]her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out]

  • Demetrius. So, now go tell, an if thy tongue can speak,
    Who 'twas that cut thy tongue and ravish'd thee.
  • Chiron. Write down thy mind, bewray thy meaning so, 1065
    An if thy stumps will let thee play the scribe.
  • Demetrius. See, how with signs and tokens she can scrowl.
  • Chiron. Go home, call for sweet water, wash thy hands.
  • Demetrius. She hath no tongue to call, nor hands to wash;
    And so let's leave her to her silent walks. 1070
  • Chiron. An 'twere my case, I should go hang myself.
  • Demetrius. If thou hadst hands to help thee knit the cord.


[Enter MARCUS]

  • Marcus Andronicus. Who is this? my niece, that flies away so fast! 1075
    Cousin, a word; where is your husband?
    If I do dream, would all my wealth would wake me!
    If I do wake, some planet strike me down,
    That I may slumber in eternal sleep!
    Speak, gentle niece, what stern ungentle hands 1080
    Have lopp'd and hew'd and made thy body bare
    Of her two branches, those sweet ornaments,
    Whose circling shadows kings have sought to sleep in,
    And might not gain so great a happiness
    As have thy love? Why dost not speak to me? 1085
    Alas, a crimson river of warm blood,
    Like to a bubbling fountain stirr'd with wind,
    Doth rise and fall between thy rosed lips,
    Coming and going with thy honey breath.
    But, sure, some Tereus hath deflowered thee, 1090
    And, lest thou shouldst detect him, cut thy tongue.
    Ah, now thou turn'st away thy face for shame!
    And, notwithstanding all this loss of blood,
    As from a conduit with three issuing spouts,
    Yet do thy cheeks look red as Titan's face 1095
    Blushing to be encountered with a cloud.
    Shall I speak for thee? shall I say 'tis so?
    O, that I knew thy heart; and knew the beast,
    That I might rail at him, to ease my mind!
    Sorrow concealed, like an oven stopp'd, 1100
    Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is.
    Fair Philomela, she but lost her tongue,
    And in a tedious sampler sew'd her mind:
    But, lovely niece, that mean is cut from thee;
    A craftier Tereus, cousin, hast thou met, 1105
    And he hath cut those pretty fingers off,
    That could have better sew'd than Philomel.
    O, had the monster seen those lily hands
    Tremble, like aspen-leaves, upon a lute,
    And make the silken strings delight to kiss them, 1110
    He would not then have touch'd them for his life!
    Or, had he heard the heavenly harmony
    Which that sweet tongue hath made,
    He would have dropp'd his knife, and fell asleep
    As Cerberus at the Thracian poet's feet. 1115
    Come, let us go, and make thy father blind;
    For such a sight will blind a father's eye:
    One hour's storm will drown the fragrant meads;
    What will whole months of tears thy father's eyes?
    Do not draw back, for we will mourn with thee 1120
    O, could our mourning ease thy misery!