Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Quarto, 1594)


Out idle wordes, seruants to shallow fooles,
Vnprofitable sounds, weake arbitrators,
Busie your selues in skill contending schooles,
Debate where leysure serues with dull debators:
1020To trembling Clients be you mediators,
For me, I force not argument a straw,
Since that my case is past the helpe of law.
In vaine I raile at oportunitie,
At time, at TARQVIN, and vnchearfull night,
1025In vaine I cauill with mine infamie,
In vaine I spurne at my confirm'd despight,
This helplesse smoake of words doth me no right:
The remedie indeede to do me good,
Is to let forth my fowle defiled blood.
1030Poore hand why quiuerst thou at this decree?
Honor thy selfe to rid me of this shame,
For if I die, my Honor liues in thee,
But if I liue thou liu'st in my defame;
Since thou couldst not defend thy loyall Dame,
1035And wast affeard to scratch her wicked Fo,
Kill both thy selfe, and her for yeelding so.
This said, from her betombled couch shee starteth,
To finde some desp'rat Instrument of death,
But this no slaughter house no toole imparteth,
1040To make more vent for passage of her breath,
VVhich thronging through her lips so vanisheth,
As smoake from ÆTNA, that in aire consumes,
Or that which from discharged Cannon fumes.
In vaine (quoth shee) I liue, and seeke in vaine
1045Some happie meane to end a haplesse life.
I fear'd by TARQVINS Fauchion to be slaine,
Yet for the selfe same purpose seeke a knife;
But when I fear'd I was a loyall wife,
So am I now, ô no that cannot be,
1050Of that true tipe hath TARQVIN rifled me.