Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Quarto, 1594)


Yet am I guiltie of thy Honors wracke,
Yet for thy Honor did I entertaine him,
Comming from thee I could not put him backe:
For it had beene dishonor to disdaine him,
845Besides of wearinesse he did complaine him,
And talk't of Vertue (O vnlook't for euill,)
VVhen Vertue is prophan'd in such a Deuill.
VVhy should the worme intrude the maiden bud?
Or hatefull Kuckcowes hatch in Sparrows nests?
850Or Todes infect faire founts with venome mud?
Or tyrant follie lurke in gentle brests?
Or Kings be breakers of their owne behestes?
"But no perfection is so absolute,
That some impuritie doth not pollute.
855The aged man that coffers vp his gold,
Is plagu'd with cramps, and gouts, and painefull fits,
And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold,
But like still pining TANTALVS he sits,
And vselesse barnes the haruest of his wits:
860Hauing no other pleasure of his gaine,
But torment that it cannot cure his paine.
So then he hath it when he cannot vse it,
And leaues it to be maistred by his yong:
VVho in their pride do presently abuse it,
865Their father was too weake, and they too strong
To hold their cursed-blessed Fortune long.
"The sweets we wish for, turne to lothed sowrs,
"Euen in the moment that we call them ours.
Vnruly blasts wait on the tender spring,
870Vnholsome weeds take roote with precious flowrs,
The Adder hisses where the sweete birds sing,
VVhat Vertue breedes Iniquity deuours:
VVe haue no good that we can say is ours,
But ill annexed opportunity
875Or kils his life, or else his quality.