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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    The aim of all is but to nurse the life
    With honor, wealth, and ease in waning age;
    And in this aim there is such thwarting strife
    That one for all, or all for one we gage:
    145As life for honor in fell battle's rage,
    Honor for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost
    The death of all, and all together lost.
    So that, in vent'ring ill, we leave to be
    The things we are for that which we expect;
    150And this ambitious foul infirmity,
    In having much, torments us with defect
    Of that we have; so then we do neglect
    The thing we have and, all for want of wit,
    Make something nothing by augmenting it.
    155Such hazard now must doting Tarquin make,
    Pawning his honor to obtain his lust,
    And for himself himself he must forsake.
    Then where is truth if there be no self-trust?
    When shall he think to find a stranger just
    160When he himself himself confounds, betrays
    To sland'rous tongues and wretched hateful days?
    Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
    When heavy sleep had closed up mortal eyes.
    No comfortable star did lend his light,
    165No noise but owls' and wolves' death-boding cries
    Now serves the season that they may surprise
    The silly lambs; pure thoughts are dead and still,
    While lust and murder wakes to stain and kill.
    And now this lustful lord leapt from his bed,
    170Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm,
    Is madly tossed between desire and dread;
    Th' one sweetly flatters, th' other feareth harm,
    But honest fear, bewitched with lust's foul charm,
    Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
    175Beaten away by brainsick rude desire.