Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)


As the grim lion fawneth o'er his prey,
Sharp hunger by the conquest satisfied,
So o'er this sleeping soul doth Tarquin stay,
His rage of lust by gazing qualified,
425Slaked, not suppressed; for, standing by her side,
His eye, which late this mutiny restrains,
Unto a greater uproar tempts his veins.
And they, like straggling slaves for pillage fighting,
Obdurate vassals fell exploits effecting,
430In bloody death and ravishment delighting,
Nor children's tears nor mothers' groans respecting,
Swell in their pride, the onset still expecting.
Anon his beating heart, alarum striking,
Gives the hot charge and bids them do their liking.
435His drumming heart cheers up his burning eye;
His eye commends the leading to his hand;
His hand, as proud of such a dignity,
Smoking with pride, marched on to make his stand
On her bare breast, the heart of all her land,
440Whose ranks of blue veins, as his hand did scale,
Left their round turrets destitute and pale.
They, mustering to the quiet cabinet
Where their dear governess and lady lies,
Do tell her she is dreadfully beset
445And fright her with confusion of their cries.
She, much amazed, breaks ope her locked-up eyes,
Who, peeping forth this tumult to behold,
Are by his flaming torch dimmed and controlled.
Imagine her as one in dead of night
450From forth dull sleep by dreadful fancy waking,
That thinks she hath beheld some ghastly sprite,
Whose grim aspect sets every joint a-shaking.
What terror 'tis! But she, in worser taking,
From sleep disturbèd, heedfully doth view
455The sight which makes supposed terror true.