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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    At last she calls to mind where hangs a piece
    Of skillful painting, made for Priam's Troy,
    Before the which is drawn the power of Greece,
    For Helen's rape, the city to destroy,
    1370Threat'ning cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy,
    Which the conceited painter drew so proud
    As heaven, it seemed, to kiss the turrets bowed.
    A thousand lamentable objects there,
    In scorn of nature, art gave lifeless life.
    1375Many a dry drop seemed a weeping tear
    Shed for the slaughtered husband by the wife.
    The red blood reeked to show the painter's strife,
    And dying eyes gleamed forth their ashy lights
    Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights.
    1380There might you see the laboring pioneer
    Begrimed with sweat and smearèd all with dust;
    And from the towers of Troy, there would appear
    The very eyes of men through loopholes thrust,
    Gazing upon the Greeks with little lust.
    1385Such sweet observance in this work was had
    That one might see those far-off eyes look sad.
    In great commanders, grace and majesty
    You might behold, triumphing in their faces;
    In youth, quick bearing and dexterity;
    1390And here and there the painter interlaces
    Pale cowards marching on with trembling paces,
    Which heartless peasants did so well resemble
    That one would swear he saw them quake and tremble.
    In Ajax and Ulysses, O, what art
    1395Of physiognomy might one behold!
    The face of either ciphered either's heart;
    Their face their manners most expressly told:
    In Ajax' eyes blunt rage and rigor rolled,
    But the mild glance that sly Ulysses lent
    1400Showed deep regard and smiling government.