Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

"Out, idle words, servants to shallow fools,
Unprofitable sounds, weak arbitrators;
Busy yourselves in skill-contending schools;
Debate where leisure serves with dull debaters;
1020To trembling clients be you mediators.
For me, I force not argument a straw,
Since that my case is past the help of law."
"In vain I rail at Opportunity,
At Time, at Tarquin, and uncheerful Night;
1025In vain I cavil with mine infamy;
In vain I spurn at my confirmed despite.
This helpless smoke of words doth me no right.
The remedy indeed to do me good
Is to let forth my foul defilèd blood."
1030"Poor hand, why quiver'st thou at this decree?
Honor thyself to rid me of this shame,
For if I die, my honor lives in thee,
But if I live, thou liv'st in my defame.
Since thou couldst not defend thy loyal dame
1035And waste afeard to scratch her wicked foe,
Kill both thyself and her for yielding so."
This said, from her betumbled couch she starteth,
To find some desp'rate instrument of death,
But this, no slaughterhouse, no tool imparteth
1040To make more vent for passage of her breath,
Which, thronging through her lips, so vanisheth
As smoke from Etna that in air consumes
Or that which from dischargèd cannon fumes.
"In vain," quoth she, "I live and seek in vain
1045Some happy mean to end a hapless life.
I feared by Tarquin's falchion to be slain,
Yet for the selfsame purpose seek a knife;
But when I feared, I was a loyal wife.
So am I now -- O no, that cannot be;
1050Of that true type hath Tarquin rifled me."