Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

Her letter now is sealed, and on it writ
"At Ardea to my lord with more than haste."
The post attends, and she delivers it,
Charging the sour-faced groom to hie as fast
1335As lagging fowls before the northern blast.
Speed more than speed but dull and slow she deems;
Extremity still urgeth such extremes."
The homely villain curtsies to her low,
And blushing on her with a steadfast eye,
1340Receives the scroll without or yea or no,
And forth with bashful innocence doth hie.
But they whose guilt within their bosoms lie
Imagine every eye beholds their blame,
For Lucrece thought he blushed to see her shame,
1345When, silly groom, God wot, it was defect
Of spirit, life, and bold audacity.
Such harmless creatures have a true respect
To talk in deeds, while others saucily
Promise more speed, but do it leisurely.
1350Even so this pattern of the worn-out age
Pawned honest looks, but laid no words to gage.
His kindled duty kindled her mistrust,
That two red fires in both their faces blazed.
She thought he blushed as knowing Tarquin's lust,
1355And, blushing with him, wistly on him gazed.
Her earnest eye did make him more amazed.
The more she saw the blood his cheeks replenish,
The more she thought he spied in her some blemish.
But long she thinks till he return again,
1360And yet the duteous vassal scarce is gone.
The weary time she cannot entertain,
For now 'tis stale to sigh, to weep, and groan;
So woe hath wearied woe, moan tirèd moan,
That she her plaints a little while doth stay,
1365Pausing for means to mourn some newer way.