Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)


The aim of all is but to nurse the life
With honor, wealth, and ease in waning age;
And in this aim there is such thwarting strife
That one for all, or all for one we gage:
145As life for honor in fell battle's rage,
Honor for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all, and all together lost.
So that, in vent'ring ill, we leave to be
The things we are for that which we expect;
150And this ambitious foul infirmity,
In having much, torments us with defect
Of that we have; so then we do neglect
The thing we have and, all for want of wit,
Make something nothing by augmenting it.
155Such hazard now must doting Tarquin make,
Pawning his honor to obtain his lust,
And for himself himself he must forsake.
Then where is truth if there be no self-trust?
When shall he think to find a stranger just
160When he himself himself confounds, betrays
To sland'rous tongues and wretched hateful days?
Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
When heavy sleep had closed up mortal eyes.
No comfortable star did lend his light,
165No noise but owls' and wolves' death-boding cries
Now serves the season that they may surprise
The silly lambs; pure thoughts are dead and still,
While lust and murder wakes to stain and kill.
And now this lustful lord leapt from his bed,
170Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm,
Is madly tossed between desire and dread;
Th' one sweetly flatters, th' other feareth harm,
But honest fear, bewitched with lust's foul charm,
Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
175Beaten away by brainsick rude desire.