Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Quarto, 1594)


The president whereof in LVCRECE view,
Assail'd by night with circumstances strong
Of present death, and shame that might insue.
By that her death to do her husband wrong,
1265Such danger to resistance did belong:
That dying feare through all her bodie spred,
And who cannot abuse a bodie dead?
By this milde patience bid faire LVCRECE speake,
To the poore counterfaite of her complayning,
1270My girle, quoth shee, on what occasion breake
Those tears frō thee, that downe thy cheeks are raig­
If thou dost weepe for griefe of my sustaining:
Know gentle wench it small auailes my mood,
If tears could help, mine own would do me good.
1275But tell me girle, when went (and there shee staide,
Till after a deepe grone) TARQVIN from hence,
Madame ere I was vp (repli'd the maide,)
The more to blame my sluggard negligence.
Yet with the fault I thus farre can dispence:
1280My selfe was stirring ere the breake of day,
And ere I rose was TARQVIN gone away.
But Lady, if your maide may be so bold,
Shee would request to know your heauinesse:
(O peace quoth LVCRECE) if it should be told,
1285The repetition cannot make it lesse:
For more it is, then I can well expresse,
And that deepe torture may be cal'd a Hell,
VVhen more is felt then one hath power to tell.
Go get mee hither paper, inke, and pen,
1290Yet saue that labour, for I haue them heare,
(VVhat should I say) one of my husbands men
Bid thou be readie, by and by, to beare
A letter to my Lord, my Loue, my Deare,
Bid him with speede prepare to carrie it,
1295The cause craues hast, and it will soone be writ.