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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
    That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly;
    Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he lighteth,
    Which must be lodestar to his lustful eye;
    180And to the flame thus speaks advisedly;
    "As from this cold flint I enforced this fire,
    So Lucrece must I force to my desire."
    Here pale with fear he doth premeditate
    The dangers of his loathsome enterprise,
    185And in his inward mind he doth debate
    What following sorrow may on this arise.
    Then, looking scornfully, he doth despise
    His naked armor of still-slaughtered lust
    And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust.
    190"Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
    To darken her whose light excelleth thine;
    And die, unhallowed thoughts, before you blot
    With your uncleanness that which is divine;
    Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine;
    195Let fair humanity abhor the deed
    That spots and stains love's modest snow-white weed."
    "O shame to knighthood and to shining arms.
    O foul dishonor to my household's grave.
    O impious act including all foul harms.
    200A martial man to be soft fancy's slave.
    True valor still a true respect should have.
    Then my digression is so vile, so base,
    That it will live engraven in my face."
    "Yea, though I die, the scandal will survive
    205And be an eyesore in my golden coat;
    Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive
    To cipher me how fondly I did dote,
    That my posterity, shamed with the note,
    Shall curse my bones and hold it for no sin
    210To wish that I their father had not been."