Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)


And being lighted, by the light he spies
Lucretia's glove, wherein her needle sticks.
He takes it from the rushes where it lies,
And griping it, the needle his finger pricks,
320As who should say, "This glove to wanton tricks
Is not inured; return again in haste;
Thou seest our mistress' ornaments are chaste."
But all these poor forbiddings could not stay him;
He in the worst sense consters their denial.
325The doors, the wind, the glove that did delay him
He takes for accidental things of trial,
Or as those bars which stop the hourly dial,
Who with a ling'ring stay his course doth let
Till every minute pays the hour his debt.
330"So, so," quoth he, "these lets attend the time,
Like little frosts that sometime threat the spring,
To add a more rejoicing to the prime
And give the sneapèd birds more cause to sing.
Pain pays the income of each precious thing;
335Huge rocks, high winds, strong pirates, shelves, and sands
The merchant fears, ere rich at home he lands."
Now is he come unto the chamber door
That shuts him from the heaven of his thought,
Which with a yielding latch, and with no more,
340Hath barred him from the blessèd thing he sought.
So from himself impiety hath wrought
That for his prey to pray he doth begin,
As if the heavens should countenance his sin.
But in the midst of his unfruitful prayer,
345Having solicited th' eternal power
That his foul thoughts might compass his fair fair;
And they would stand auspicious to the hour,
Even there he starts. Quoth he, "I must deflower;
The powers to whom I pray abhor this fact.
350How can they then assist me in the act?"