Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardy M. Cook
Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)


He stories to her ears her husband's fame,
Won in the fields of fruitful Italy,
And decks with praises Collatine's high name,
Made glorious by his manly chivalry,
110With bruisèd arms and wreaths of victory.
Her joy with heaved-up hand she doth express
And wordless so greets heaven for his success.
Far from the purpose of his coming thither,
He makes excuses for his being there.
115No cloudy show of stormy blust'ring weather
Doth yet in his fair welkin once appear
Till sable night, mother of dread and fear,
Upon the world dim darkness doth display
And in her vaulty prison stows the day.
120For then is Tarquin brought unto his bed,
Intending weariness with heavy sprite;
For after supper long he questionèd
With modest Lucrece and wore out the night.
Now leaden slumber with life's strength doth fight,
125And everyone to rest himself betakes,
Save thieves and cares and troubled minds that wakes.
As one of which doth Tarquin lie revolving
The sundry dangers of his will's obtaining,
Yet ever to obtain his will resolving,
130Though weak-built hopes persuade him to abstaining.
Despair to gain doth traffic oft for gaining;
And when great treasure is the meed proposed,
Though death be adjunct, there's no death supposed.
Those that much covet are with gain so fond
135That what they have not, that which they possess
They scatter and unloose it from their bond,
And so, by hoping, more they have but less;
Or, gaining more, the profit of excess
Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain
140That they prove bankrupt in this poor-rich gain.