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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    And from the strand of Dardan where they fought
    To Simois' reedy banks the red blood ran,
    Whose waves to imitate the battle sought
    With swelling ridges, and their ranks began
    1440To break upon the gallèd shore, and then
    Retire again, till meeting greater ranks
    They join and shoot their foam at Simois' banks.
    To this well-painted piece is Lucrece come,
    To find a face where all distress is stelled.
    1445Many she sees where cares have carvèd some,
    But none where all distress and dolor dwelled
    Till she despairing Hecuba beheld,
    Staring on Priam's wounds with her old eyes,
    Which bleeding under Pyrrhus' proud foot lies.
    1450In her the painter had anatomized
    Time's ruin, beauty's wrack, and grim care's reign.
    Her cheeks with chaps and wrinkles were disguised;
    Of what she was no semblance did remain.
    Her blue blood, changed to black in every vein,
    1455Wanting the spring that those shrunk pipes had fed,
    Showed life imprisoned in a body dead.
    On this sad shadow Lucrece spends her eyes
    And shapes her sorrow to the beldame's woes,
    Who nothing wants to answer her but cries
    1460And bitter words to ban her cruel foes.
    The painter was no god to lend her those,
    And therefore Lucrece swears he did her wrong
    To give her so much grief and not a tongue.
    "Poor instrument," quoth she, "without a sound,
    1465I'll tune thy woes with my lamenting tongue,
    And drop sweet balm in Priam's painted wound,
    And rail on Pyrrhus that hath done him wrong,
    And with my tears quench Troy that burns so long,
    And with my knife scratch out the angry eyes
    1470Of all the Greeks that are thine enemies."