Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

Her maid is gone, and she prepares to write,
First hovering o'er the paper with her quill.
Conceit and grief an eager combat fight;
What wit sets down is blotted straight with will;
1300This is too curious-good, this blunt and ill.
Much like a press of people at a door
Throng her inventions, which shall go before.
At last she thus begins: "Thou worthy lord
Of that unworthy wife that greeteth thee,
1305Health to thy person. Next, vouchsafe t' afford --
If ever, love, thy Lucrece thou wilt see --
Some present speed to come and visit me.
So I commend me, from our house in grief;
My woes are tedious, though my words are brief."
1310Here folds she up the tenor of her woe,
Her certain sorrow writ uncertainly.
By this short schedule Collatine may know
Her grief, but not her grief's true quality.
She dares not thereof make discovery,
1315Lest he should hold it her own gross abuse,
Ere she with blood had stained her stained excuse.
Besides, the life and feeling of her passion
She hoards, to spend when he is by to hear her,
When sighs and groans and tears may grace the fashion
1320Of her disgrace, the better so to clear her
From that suspicion which the world might bear her.
To shun this blot, she would not blot the letter
With words, till action might become them better.
To see sad sights moves more than hear them told,
1325For then the eye interprets to the ear
The heavy motion that it doth behold,
When every part a part of woe doth bear.
'Tis but a part of sorrow that we hear:
Deep sounds make lesser noise than shallow fords,
1330And sorrow ebbs, being blown with wind of words.