Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

Thus graceless holds he disputation
'Tween frozen conscience and hot-burning will,
And with good thoughts makes dispensation,
Urging the worser sense for vantage still,
250Which in a moment doth confound and kill
All pure effects, and doth so far proceed
That what is vile shows like a virtuous deed.
Quoth he, "She took me kindly by the hand
And gazed for tidings in my eager eyes,
255Fearing some hard news from the warlike band
Where her belovèd Collatinus lies.
O, how her fear did make her color rise!
First red as roses that on lawn we lay,
Then white as lawn, the roses took away."
260"And how her hand, in my hand being locked,
Forced it to tremble with her loyal fear,
Which struck her sad, and then it faster rocked
Until her husband's welfare she did hear;
Whereat she smilèd with so sweet a cheer
265That had Narcissus seen her as she stood
Self-love had never drowned him in the flood."
"Why hunt I then for color or excuses?
All orators are dumb when beauty pleadeth;
Poor wretches have remorse in poor abuses;
270Love thrives not in the heart that shadows dreadeth.
Affection is my captain, and he leadeth;
And when his gaudy banner is displayed,
The coward fights and will not be dismayed."
"Then, childish fear, avaunt; debating die.
275Respect and reason wait on wrinkled age.
My heart shall never countermand mine eye.
Sad pause and deep regard beseems the sage.
My part is youth and beats these from the stage.
Desire my pilot is, beauty my prize.
280Then who fears sinking where such treasure lies?"