Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Quarto, 1594)

The ayme of all is but to nourse the life,
VVith honor, wealth, and ease in wainyng age:
And in this ayme there is such thwarting strife,
That one for all, or all for one we gage:
145As life for honour, in fell battailes rage,
Honor for wealth, and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all, and altogether lost.
So that in ventring ill, we leaue to be
The things we are, for that which we expect:
150And this ambitious foule infirmitie,
In hauing much torments vs with defect
Of that we haue: so then we doe neglect
The thing we haue, and all for want of wit,
Make something nothing, by augmenting it.
155Such hazard now must doting TARQVIN make,
Pawning his honor to obtaine his lust,
And for himselfe, himselfe he must forsake.
Then where is truth if there be no selfe-trust?
VVhen shall he thinke to find a stranger iust,
160VVhen he himselfe, himselfe confounds, betraies,
To sclandrous tongues & wretched hateful daies?
Now stole vppon the time the dead of night,
VVhen heauie sleeep had closd vp mortall eyes,
No comfortable starre did lend his light,
165No noise but Owles, & wolues death-boding cries:
Now serues the season that they may surprise
The sillie Lambes, pure thoughts are dead & still,
VVhile Lust and Murder wakes to staine and kill.
And now this lustfull Lord leapt from his bed,
170Throwing his mantle rudely ore his arme,
Is madly tost betweene desire and dred;
Th'one sweetely flatters, th'other feareth harme,
But honest feare, bewicht with lustes foule charme,
Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
175Beaten away by brainesicke rude desire.