Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)


But as the earth doth weep, the sun being set,
Each flower moistened like a melting eye,
Even so the maid with swelling drops 'gan wet
Her circled eyne, enforced by sympathy
1230Of those fair suns set in her mistress' sky,
Who in a salt-waved ocean quench their light,
Which makes the maid weep like the dewy night.
A pretty while these pretty creatures stand,
Like ivory conduits coral cisterns filling.
1235One justly weeps; the other takes in hand
No cause but company of her drops' spilling.
Their gentle sex to weep are often willing,
Grieving themselves to guess at others' smarts,
And then they drown their eyes or break their hearts.
1240For men have marble, women waxen minds,
And therefore are they formed as marble will.
The weak oppressed, th' impression of strange kinds
Is formed in them by force, by fraud, or skill.
Then call them not the authors of their ill,
1245No more than wax shall be accounted evil
Wherein is stamped the semblance of a devil.
Their smoothness, like a goodly champaign plain,
Lays open all the little worms that creep;
In men, as in a rough-grown grove, remain
1250Cave-keeping evils that obscurely sleep.
Through crystal walls each little mote will peep.
Though men can cover crimes with bold stern looks,
Poor women's faces are their own faults' books.
No man inveigh against the withered flower,
1255But chide rough winter that the flower hath killed;
Not that devoured, but that which doth devour,
Is worthy blame. O, let it not be held
Poor women's faults that they are so fulfilled
With men's abuses. Those proud lords, to blame,
1260Make weak-made women tenants to their shame.