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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    "To kill myself," quoth she, "alack, what were it
    But with my body my poor soul's pollution?
    They that lose half with greater patience bear it
    Than they whose whole is swallowed in confusion.
    1160That mother tries a merciless conclusion
    Who, having two sweet babes, when death takes one,
    Will slay the other and be nurse to none."
    "My body or my soul, which was the dearer,
    When the one pure, the other made divine?
    1165Whose love of either to myself was nearer
    When both were kept for heaven and Collatine?
    Ay me, the bark pilled from the lofty pine
    His leaves will wither and his sap decay;
    So must my soul, her bark being pilled away."
    1170"Her house is sacked, her quiet interrupted,
    Her mansion battered by the enemy,
    Her sacred temple spotted, spoiled, corrupted,
    Grossly engirt with daring infamy.
    Then let it not be called impiety
    1175If in this blemished fort I make some hole
    Through which I may convey this troubled soul."
    "Yet die I will not till my Collatine
    Have heard the cause of my untimely death,
    That he may vow, in that sad hour of mine,
    1180Revenge on him that made me stop my breath.
    My stainèd blood to Tarquin I'll bequeath,
    Which, by him tainted, shall for him be spent,
    And as his due writ in my testament."
    "My honor I'll bequeath unto the knife
    1185That wounds my body so dishonorèd.
    'Tis honor to deprive dishonored life;
    The one will live, the other being dead.
    So of shame's ashes shall my fame be bred,
    For in my death I murder shameful scorn;
    1190My shame so dead, mine honor is new born."