Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed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.