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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    1From the besièged Ardea all in post,
    Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
    Lust-breathèd Tarquin leaves the Roman host
    And to Collatium bears the lightless fire,
    5Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
    And girdle with embracing flames the waist
    Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece, the chaste.
    Haply that name of "chaste" unhapp'ly set
    This bateless edge on his keen appetite,
    10When Collatine unwisely did not let
    To praise the clear unmatchèd red and white,
    Which triumphed in that sky of his delight,
    Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
    With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.
    15For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
    Unlocked the treasure of his happy state:
    What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent
    In the possession of his beauteous mate,
    Reck'ning his fortune at such high proud rate
    20That kings might be espousèd to more fame,
    But king nor peer to such a peerless dame.
    O happiness enjoyed but of a few,
    And, if possessed, as soon decayed and done
    As is the morning silver melting dew
    25Against the golden splendor of the sun;
    An expired date, canceled ere well begun.
    Honor and beauty in the owner's arms
    Are weakly fortressed from a world of harms.
    Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
    30The eyes of men without an orator.
    What needeth then apology be made
    To set forth that which is so singular?
    Or why is Collatine the publisher
    Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
    35From thievish ears, because it is his own?