Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)


"Show me the strumpet that began this stir,
That with my nails her beauty I may tear.
Thy heat of lust, fond Paris, did incur
This lode of wrath that burning Troy doth bear;
1475Thy eye kindled the fire that burneth here,
And here in Troy, for trespass of thine eye,
The sire, the son, the dame, and daughter die."
"Why should the private pleasure of some one
Become the public plague of many moe?
1480Let sin, alone committed, light alone
Upon his head that hath transgressèd so;
Let guiltless souls be freed from guilty woe.
For one's offense why should so many fall,
To plague a private sin in general?"
1485"Lo, here weeps Hecuba, here Priam dies,
Here manly Hector faints, here Troilus swounds,
Here friend by friend in bloody channel lies,
And friend to friend gives unadvisèd wounds,
And one man's lust these many lives confounds.
1490Had doting Priam checked his son's desire,
Troy had been bright with fame and not with fire."
Here feelingly she weeps Troy's painted woes,
For sorrow, like a heavy-hanging bell,
Once set on ringing, with his own weight goes;
1495Then little strength rings out the doleful knell.
So Lucrece, set a-work, sad tales doth tell
To penciled pensiveness and colored sorrow;
She lends them words, and she their looks doth borrow.
She throws her eyes about the painting round,
1500And who she finds forlorn she doth lament.
At last she sees a wretched image bound,
That piteous looks to Phrygian shepherds lent:
His face, though full of cares, yet showed content;
Onward to Troy with the blunt swains he goes,
1505So mild that patience seemed to scorn his woes.