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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    O deeper sin than bottomless conceit
    Can comprehend in still imagination!
    Drunken desire must vomit his receipt
    Ere he can see his own abomination.
    705While Lust is in his pride, no exclamation
    Can curb his heat or rein his rash desire,
    Till, like a jade, self-will himself doth tire.
    And then with lank and lean discolored cheek,
    With heavy eye, knit-brow, and strengthless pace,
    710Feeble desire, all recreant, poor, and meek,
    Like to a bankrupt beggar wails his case.
    The flesh being proud, desire doth fight with grace;
    For there it revels; and when that decays,
    The guilty rebel for remission prays.
    715So fares it with this faultful lord of Rome,
    Who this accomplishment so hotly chased,
    For now against himself he sounds this doom,
    That through the length of times he stands disgraced.
    Besides, his soul's fair temple is defaced,
    720To whose weak ruins muster troops of cares
    To ask the spotted princess how she fares.
    She says her subjects with foul insurrection
    Have battered down her consecrated wall
    And, by their mortal fault, brought in subjection
    725Her immortality, and made her thrall
    To living death and pain perpetual,
    Which in her prescience she controllèd still,
    But her foresight could not forestall their will.
    Ev'n in this thought through the dark night he stealeth,
    730A captive victor that hath lost in gain,
    Bearing away the wound that nothing healeth,
    The scar that will, despite of cure, remain,
    Leaving his spoil perplexed in greater pain.
    She bears the load of lust he left behind,
    735And he the burden of a guilty mind.