Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Modern)

"I see what crosses my attempt will bring;
I know what thorns the growing rose defends;
I think the honey guarded with a sting;
All this beforehand counsel comprehends;
495But will is deaf and hears no heedful friends;
Only he hath an eye to gaze on beauty
And dotes on what he looks, 'gainst law or duty."
"I have debated, even in my soul,
What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shall breed,
500But nothing can affection's course control
Or stop the headlong fury of his speed.
I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
Reproach, disdain, and deadly enmity,
Yet strive I to embrace mine infamy."
505This said, he shakes aloft his Roman blade,
Which, like a falcon tow'ring in the skies,
Coucheth the fowl below with his wings' shade,
Whose crooked beak threats, if he mount, he dies.
So under his insulting falchion lies
510Harmless Lucretia, marking what he tells
With trembling fear, as fowl hear falcons' bells.
"Lucrece," quoth he, "this night I must enjoy thee.
If thou deny, then force must work my way,
For in thy bed I purpose to destroy thee;
515That done, some worthless slave of thine I'll slay,
To kill thine honor with thy life's decay;
And in thy dead arms do I mean to place him,
Swearing I slew him, seeing thee embrace him."
"So thy surviving husband shall remain
520The scornful mark of every open eye,
Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdain,
Thy issue blurred with nameless bastardy;
And thou, the author of their obloquy,
Shalt have thy trespass cited up in rhymes
525And sung by children in succeeding times."