Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

"Yet am I guilty of thy honor's wrack;
Yet for thy honor did I entertain him.
Coming from thee, I could not put him back,
For it had been dishonor to disdain him.
845Besides, of weariness he did complain him
And talked of virtue. O, unlooked-for evil,
When virtue is profaned in such a devil."
"Why should the worm intrude the maiden bud?
Or hateful cuckoos hatch in sparrows' nests?
850Or toads infect fair founts with venom mud?
Or tyrant folly lurk in gentle breasts?
Or kings be breakers of their own behests?
But no perfection is so absolute
That some impurity doth not pollute."
855"The agèd man that coffers up his gold
Is plagued with cramps and gouts and painful fits
And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold,
But like still-pining Tantalus he sits,
And useless barns the harvest of his wits,
860Having no other pleasure of his gain
But torment that it cannot cure his pain."
"So then he hath it when he cannot use it
And leaves it to be mastered by his young,
Who in their pride do presently abuse it.
865Their father was too weak, and they too strong
To hold their cursèd-blessèd fortune long.
The sweets we wish for turn to loathèd sours
Even in the moment that we call them ours."
"Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring;
870Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers;
The adder hisses where the sweet birds sing;
What virtue breeds, iniquity devours.
We have no good that we can say is ours
But ill-annexèd Opportunity
875Or kills his life or else his quality."