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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    The ayme of all is but to nourse the life,
    With honor, wealth, and ease in wainyng age:
    And in this ayme there is such thwarting strife,
    That one for all, or all for one we gage:
    145As life for honour, in fell battailes rage,
    Honor for wealth, and oft that wealth doth cost
    The death of all, and altogether lost.
    So that in ventring ill, we leaue to be
    The things we are, for that which we expect:
    150And this ambitious foule infirmitie,
    In hauing much torments vs with defect
    Of that we haue: so then we doe neglect
    The thing we haue, and all for want of wit,
    Make something nothing, by augmenting it.
    155Such hazard now must doting TARQVIN make,
    Pawning his honor to obtaine his lust,
    And for himselfe, himselfe he must forsake.
    Then where is truth if there be no selfe-trust?
    When shall he thinke to find a stranger iust,
    160 When he himselfe, himselfe confounds, betraies,
    To sclandrous tongues & wretched hateful daies?
    Now stole vppon the time the dead of night,
    When heauie sleeep had closd vp mortall eyes,
    No comfortable starre did lend his light,
    165No noise but Owles, & wolues death-boding cries:
    Now serues the season that they may surprise
    The sillie Lambes, pure thoughts are dead & still,
    While Lust and Murder wakes to staine and kill.
    And now this lustfull Lord leapt from his bed,
    170Throwing his mantle rudely ore his arme,
    Is madly tost betweene desire and dred;
    Th'one sweetely flatters, th'other feareth harme,
    But honest feare, bewicht with lustes foule charme,
    Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
    175 Beaten away by brainesicke rude desire.