Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

"And for my sake, when I might charm thee so,
For she that was thy Lucrece, now attend me.
Be suddenly revengèd on my foe.
Thine, mine, his own. Suppose thou dost defend me
1685From what is past. The help that thou shalt lend me
Comes all too late, yet let the traitor die,
For sparing justice feeds iniquity."
"But ere I name him, you fair lords," quoth she,
Speaking to those that came with Collatine,
1690"Shall plight your honorable faiths to me
With swift pursuit to venge this wrong of mine;
For 'tis a meritorious fair design
To chase injustice with revengeful arms.
Knights, by their oaths, should right poor ladies' harms."
1695At this request with noble disposition
Each present lord began to promise aid,
As bound in knighthood to her imposition,
Longing to hear the hateful foe bewrayed.
But she, that yet her sad task hath not said,
1700The protestation stops. "O, speak," quoth she,
"How may this forcèd stain be wiped from me?"
"What is the quality of my offense,
Being constrained with dreadful circumstance?
May my pure mind with the foul act dispense,
1705My low-declinèd honor to advance?
May any terms acquit me from this chance?
The poisoned fountain clears itself again,
And why not I from this compellèd stain?"
With this they all at once began to say
1710Her body's stain her mind untainted clears,
While with a joyless smile she turns away
The face, that map which deep impression bears
Of hard misfortune, carved it in with tears.
"No, no," quoth she, "no dame hereafter living
1715By my excuse shall claim excuse's giving."