Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

"You mocking birds," quoth she, "your tunes entomb
Within your hollow-swelling feathered breasts,
And in my hearing be you mute and dumb;
My restless discord loves no stops nor rests."
1125A woeful hostess brooks not merry guests.
Relish your nimble notes to pleasing ears;
Distress likes dumps when time is kept with tears."
"Come, Philomel, that sing'st of ravishment,
Make thy sad grove in my disheveled hair.
1130As the dank earth weeps at thy languishment,
So I at each sad strain will strain a tear
And with deep groans the diapason bear;
For burden-wise I'll hum on Tarquin still,
While thou on Tereus descants better skill."
1135"And whiles against a thorn thou bear'st thy part
To keep thy sharp woes waking, wretched I,
To imitate thee well, against my heart
Will fix a sharp knife to affright mine eye,
Who if it wink shall thereon fall and die.
1140These means, as frets upon an instrument,
Shall tune our heartstrings to true languishment."
"And for, poor bird, thou sing'st not in the day,
As shaming any eye should thee behold,
Some dark, deep desert seated from the way,
1145That knows not parching heat nor freezing cold,
Will we find out, and there we will unfold
To creatures stern sad tunes to change their kinds.
Since men prove beasts, let beasts bear gentle minds."
As the poor frighted deer that stands at gaze,
1150Wildly determining which way to fly,
Or one encompassed with a winding maze,
That cannot tread the way out readily,
So with herself is she in mutiny,
To live or die which of the twain were better
1155When life is shamed and death reproach's debtor.