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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Thinke but how vile a spectacle it were,
    To view thy present trespasse in another:
    Mens faults do seldome to themselues appeare,
    Their own transgressions partiallie they smother,
    635This guilt would seem death-worthie in thy brother.
    O how are they wrapt in with infamies,
    That frō their own misdeeds askaunce their eyes?
    To thee, to thee, my heau'd vp hands appeale,
    Not to seducing lust thy rash relier:
    640I sue for exil'd maiesties repeale,
    Let him returne, and flattring thoughts retire.
    His true respect will prison false desire,
    And wipe the dim mist from thy doting eien,
    That thou shalt see thy state, and pittie mine.
    645Haue done, quoth he, my vncontrolled tide
    Turnes not, but swels the higher by this let.
    Small lightes are soone blown out, huge fires abide,
    And with the winde in greater furie fret:
    The petty streames that paie a dailie det
    650 To their salt soueraigne with their fresh fals hast,
    Adde to his flowe, but alter not his tast.
    Thou art, quoth shee, a sea, a soueraigne King,
    And loe there fals into thy boundlesse flood,
    Blacke lust, dishonor, shame, mis-gouerning,
    655Who seeke to staine the Ocean of thy blood.
    If all these pettie ils shall change thy good,
    Thy sea within a puddels wombe is hersed,
    And not the puddle in thy sea dispersed.
    So shall these slaues be King, and thou their slaue,
    660Thou noblie base, they baselie dignified:
    Thou their faire life, and they thy fowler graue:
    Thou lothed in their shame, they in thy pride,
    The lesser thing should not the greater hide.
    The Cedar stoopes not to the base shrubs foote,
    665 But low-shrubs wither at the Cedars roote.