Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardy M. Cook
Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

And now this pale swan in her wat'ry nest
Begins the sad dirge of her certain ending.
"Few words," quoth she, "shall fit the trespass best,
Where no excuse can give the fault amending.
1615In me more woes than words are now depending,
And my laments would be drawn out too long
To tell them all with one poor tirèd tongue."
"Then be this all the task it hath to say:
Dear husband, in the interest of thy bed
1620A stranger came, and on that pillow lay
Where thou wast wont to rest thy weary head;
And what wrong else may be imaginèd
By foul enforcement might be done to me,
From that, alas, thy Lucrece is not free."
1625"For in the dreadful dead of dark midnight,
With shining falchion in my chamber came
A creeping creature with a flaming light,
And softly cried, 'Awake, thou Roman dame,
And entertain my love; else lasting shame
1630On thee and thine this night I will inflict,
If thou my love's desire do contradict."
"'For some hard-favored groom of thine,' quoth he,
'Unless thou yoke thy liking to my will,
I'll murder straight, and then I'll slaughter thee
1635And swear I found you where you did fulfill
The loathsome act of lust, and so did kill
The lechers in their deed. This act will be
My fame and thy perpetual infamy.'"
"With this, I did begin to start and cry;
1640And then against my heart he set his sword,
Swearing, unless I took all patiently,
I should not live to speak another word.
So should my shame still rest upon record,
And never be forgot in mighty Rome
1645Th' adulterate death of Lucrece and her groom."