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Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Lucrece (Modern)
  • Editor: Hardy M. Cook
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-411-0

    Copyright Hardy M. Cook. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Hardy M. Cook
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Lucrece (Modern)

    "In Tarquin's likeness I did entertain thee.
    Hast thou put on his shape to do him shame?
    To all the host of heaven I complain me.
    Thou wrong'st his honor, wound'st his princely name.
    600Thou art not what thou seem'st, and if the same,
    Thou seem'st not what thou art, a god, a king;
    For kings, like gods, should govern everything."
    "How will thy shame be seeded in thine age
    When thus thy vices bud before thy spring?
    605If in thy hope thou dar'st do such outrage,
    What dar'st thou not when once thou art a king?
    O, be remembered, no outrageous thing
    From vassal actors can be wiped away;
    Then kings' misdeeds cannot be hid in clay."
    610"This deed will make thee only loved for fear,
    But happy monarchs still are feared for love.
    With foul offenders thou perforce must bear
    When they in thee the like offenses prove.
    If but for fear of this, thy will remove;
    615For princes are the glass, the school, the book,
    Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look."
    "And wilt thou be the school where lust shall learn?
    Must he in thee read lectures of such shame?
    Wilt thou be glass wherein it shall discern
    620Authority for sin, warrant for blame,
    To privilege dishonor in thy name?
    Thou back'st reproach against long-living laud
    And mak'st fair reputation but a bawd."
    "Hast thou command? By him that gave it thee,
    625From a pure heart command thy rebel will.
    Draw not thy sword to guard iniquity,
    For it was lent thee all that brood to kill.
    Thy princely office how canst thou fulfill
    When, patterned by thy fault, foul sin may say
    630He learned to sin, and thou didst teach the way?"