Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

"Then Love and Fortune be my gods, my guide.
My will is backed with resolution.
Thoughts are but dreams till their effects be tried.
The blackest sin is cleared with absolution.
355Against love's fire, fear's frost hath dissolution.
The eye of heaven is out, and misty night
Covers the shame that follows sweet delight."
This said, his guilty hand plucked up the latch,
And with his knee the door he opens wide.
360The dove sleeps fast that this night-owl will catch;
Thus treason works ere traitors be espied.
Who sees the lurking serpent steps aside;
But, she, sound sleeping, fearing no such thing,
Lies at the mercy of his mortal sting.
365Into the chamber wickedly he stalks,
And gazeth on her yet unstainèd bed.
The curtains being close, about he walks,
Rolling his greedy eyeballs in his head.
By their high treason is his heart misled,
370Which gives the watchword to his hand full soon
To draw the cloud that hides the silver moon.
Look as the fair and fiery-pointed sun,
Rushing from forth a cloud, bereaves our sight;
Even so, the curtain drawn, his eyes begun
375To wink, being blinded with a greater light.
Whether it is that she reflects so bright
That dazzleth them, or else some shame supposed;
But blind they are, and keep themselves enclosed.
O had they in that darksome prison died,
380Then had they seen the period of their ill;
Then Collatine again by Lucrece' side
In his clear bed might have reposèd still.
But they must ope, this blessèd league to kill,
And holy-thoughted Lucrece to their sight
385Must sell her joy, her life, her world's delight.