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Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

There pleading might you see grave Nestor stand,
As 'twere encouraging the Greeks to fight,
Making such sober action with his hand
That it beguiled attention, charmed the sight.
1405In speech, it seemed his beard, all sliver white,
Waged up and down, and from his lips did fly
Thin winding breath, which purled up to the sky.
About him were a press of gaping faces,
Which seemed to swallow up his sound advice,
1410All jointly list'ning, but with several graces,
As if some mermaid did their ears entice;
Some high, some low, the painter was so nice.
The scalps of many, almost hid behind,
To jump up higher seemed, to mock the mind.
1415Here one man's hand leaned on another's head,
His nose being shadowed by his neighbor's ear;
Here one, being thronged, bears back all boll'n and red;
Another, smothered, seems to pelt and swear;
And in their rage such signs of rage they bear
1420As, but for loss of Nestor's golden words,
It seemed they would debate with angry swords.
For much imaginary work was there,
Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,
That for Achilles' image stood his spear
1425Gripped in an armèd hand; himself behind
Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind.
A hand, a foot, a face, a leg, a head,
Stood for the whole to be imaginèd.
And from the walls of strong-besiegèd Troy,
1430When their brave hope, bold Hector, marched to field,
Stood many Trojan mothers, sharing joy
To see their youthful sons bright weapons wield;
And to their hope they such odd action yield
That through their light joy seemèd to appear,
1435 Like bright things stained, a kind of heavy fear.