Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)


"So let thy thoughts low vassals to thy state -- "
"No more," quoth he. "By heaven, I will not hear thee.
Yield to my love. If not enforcèd hate,
Instead of love's coy touch, shall rudely tear thee.
670That done, despitefully I mean to bear thee
Unto the base bed of some rascal groom
To be thy partner in this shameful doom."
This said, he sets his foot upon the light,
For light and lust are deadly enemies.
675Shame folded up in blind concealing night,
When most unseen, then most doth tyrannize.
The wolf hath seized his prey; the poor lamb cries,
Till, with her own white fleece, her voice controlled,
Entombs her outcry in her lips' sweet fold.
680For with the nightly linen that she wears,
He pens her piteous clamors in her head,
Cooling his hot face in the chastest tears
That ever modest eyes with sorrow shed.
O, that prone lust should stain so pure a bed!
685The spots whereof could weeping purify,
Her tears should drop on them perpetually.
But she hath lost a dearer thing than life,
And he hath won what he would lose again.
This forcèd league doth force a further strife;
690This momentary joy breeds months of pain;
This hot desire converts to cold disdain.
Pure chastity is rifled of her store,
And lust, the thief, far poorer than before.
Look as the full-fed hound or gorgèd hawk,
695Unapt for tender smell, or speedy flight,
Make slow pursuit, or altogether balk
The prey wherein by nature they delight,
So surfeit-taking Tarquin fares this night.
His taste delicious, in digestion souring,
700Devours his will that lived by foul devouring.