Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Lucrece (Quarto, 1594)
  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Quarto, 1594)

    Yet am I guiltie of thy Honors wracke,
    Yet for thy Honor did I entertaine him,
    Comming from thee I could not put him backe:
    For it had beene dishonor to disdaine him,
    845Besides of wearinesse he did complaine him,
    And talk't of Vertue (O vnlook't for euill,)
    When Vertue is prophan'd in such a Deuill.
    Why should the worme intrude the maiden bud?
    Or hatefull Kuckcowes hatch in Sparrows nests?
    850Or Todes infect faire founts with venome mud?
    Or tyrant follie lurke in gentle brests?
    Or Kings be breakers of their owne behestes?
    "But no perfection is so absolute,
    That some impuritie doth not pollute.
    855The aged man that coffers vp his gold,
    Is plagu'd with cramps, and gouts, and painefull fits,
    And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold,
    But like still pining TANTALVS he sits,
    And vselesse barnes the haruest of his wits:
    860 Hauing no other pleasure of his gaine,
    But torment that it cannot cure his paine.
    So then he hath it when he cannot vse it,
    And leaues it to be maistred by his yong:
    Who in their pride do presently abuse it,
    865Their father was too weake, and they too strong
    To hold their cursed-blessed Fortune long.
    "The sweets we wish for, turne to lothed sowrs,
    "Euen in the moment that we call them ours.
    Vnruly blasts wait on the tender spring,
    870Vnholsome weeds take roote with precious flowrs,
    The Adder hisses where the sweete birds sing,
    What Vertue breedes Iniquity deuours:
    We haue no good that we can say is ours,
    But ill annexed opportunity
    875 Or kils his life, or else his quality.