Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Quarto, 1594)

1FROM the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustlesse wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed TARQVIN, leaues the Roman host,
And to Colatium beares the lightlesse fire,
5VVhich in pale embers hid, lurkes to aspire,
And girdle with embracing flames, the wast
Of COLATINES fair loue, LVCRECE the chast.
Hap'ly that name of chast, vnhap'ly set
This batelesse edge on his keene appetite:
10VVhen COLATINE vnwisely did not let,
To praise the cleare vnmatched red and white,
VVhich triumpht in that skie of his delight:
VVhere mortal stars as bright as heauēs Beauties,
VVith pure aspects did him peculiar dueties.
15For he the night before in Tarquins Tent,
Vnlockt the treasure of his happie state:
VVhat priselesse wealth the heauens had him lent,
In the possession of his beauteous mate.
Reckning his fortune at such high proud rate,
20That Kings might be espowsed to more fame,
But King nor Peere to such a peerelesse dame.
O happinesse enioy'd but of a few,
And if possest as soone decayed and done:
As is the mornings siluer melting dew,
25Against the golden splendour of the Sunne.
An expir'd date canceld ere well begunne.
Honour and Beautie in the owners armes,
Are weakelie fortrest from a world ofharmes.
Beautie it selfe doth of it selfe perswade,
30The eies of men without an Orator,
VVhat needeth then Apologies be made
To set forth that which is so singuler?
Or why is Colatine the publisher
Of that rich iewell he should keepe vnknown,
35From theeuish eares because it is his owne?