Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)


His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly;
Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he lighteth,
Which must be lodestar to his lustful eye;
180And to the flame thus speaks advisedly;
"As from this cold flint I enforced this fire,
So Lucrece must I force to my desire."
Here pale with fear he doth premeditate
The dangers of his loathsome enterprise,
185And in his inward mind he doth debate
What following sorrow may on this arise.
Then, looking scornfully, he doth despise
His naked armor of still-slaughtered lust
And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust.
190"Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
To darken her whose light excelleth thine;
And die, unhallowed thoughts, before you blot
With your uncleanness that which is divine;
Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine;
195Let fair humanity abhor the deed
That spots and stains love's modest snow-white weed."
"O shame to knighthood and to shining arms.
O foul dishonor to my household's grave.
O impious act including all foul harms.
200A martial man to be soft fancy's slave.
True valor still a true respect should have.
Then my digression is so vile, so base,
That it will live engraven in my face."
"Yea, though I die, the scandal will survive
205And be an eyesore in my golden coat;
Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive
To cipher me how fondly I did dote,
That my posterity, shamed with the note,
Shall curse my bones and hold it for no sin
210To wish that I their father had not been."