Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed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."