Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)


Here with a sigh, as if her heart would break,
She throws forth Tarquin's name: "He, he," she says,
But more then "he" her poor tongue could not speak,
Till after many accents and delays,
1720Untimely breathings, sick and short assays,
She utters this: "He, he, fair lords, 'tis he
That guides this hand to give this wound to me."
Even here she sheathèd in her harmless breast
A harmful knife, that thence her soul unsheathed.
1725That blow did bail it from the deep unrest
Of that polluted prison where it breathed.
Her contrite sighs unto the clouds bequeathed
Her wingèd sprite, and through her wounds doth fly
Life's lasting date from canceled destiny.
1730Stone-still, astonished with this deadly deed
Stood Collatine and all his lordly crew,
Till Lucrece' father that beholds her bleed,
Himself on her self-slaughtered body threw,
And from the purple fountain Brutus drew
1735The murd'rous knife, and, as it left the place,
Her blood, in poor revenge, held it in chase;
And, bubbling from her breast, it doth divide
In two slow rivers, that the crimson blood
Circles her body in on every side,
1740Who like a late-sacked island vastly stood
Bare and unpeopled in this fearful flood.
Some of her blood still pure and red remained,
And some looked black, and that false Tarquin stained.
About the mourning and congealèd face
1745Of that black blood, a wat'ry rigol goes,
Which seems to weep upon the tainted place;
And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes,
Corrupted blood some watery token shows,
And blood untainted still doth red abide,
1750Blushing at that which is so putrefied.