Tag Archives: lucrece

Lucrece Paraphrase

Let us go back to Lucrece shall we?

As I was skimming through my full notebook for a blank page today in  class I came across some notes about Lucrece. There was a specific passage that I struggled with and decided to paraphrase/annotate. I decided to share my paraphrase with you in the chance any of you struggled with the  same lines.

The original lines are:

“‘O unseen shame, invisible disgrace!

O unfelt sore, crest-wounding, private scar!

Reproach is stamped in Collatinus’ face,

And Tarquin’s eye may read the mot afar:

How he in peace is wounded, not in war.

Alas, how many bear such shameful blows,

Which not themselves but he that gives them knows.

‘If, Collatine, thine honour lay in me,

From me by strong assault it is bereft:

My honour lost, and I, a drone-like bee,

Have no perfection of my summer left,

But robbed and ransacked by injurious theft.

In thy weak hive a wand’ring wasp hath crept,

And suck’d the honey which thy chaste bee kept.” (827-840).


My paraphrase:

Shame is not seen, disgrace is invisible!

The unsupported scar will ruin the family’s name!

Shame is clear on Collatine’s face,

Tarquin can see the shame on the family and Collatine.

Collatine was not injured in the war but by this.

How often do people feel as much shame as the guilty.

Collatine placed his honour in me:

But, by force it was stolen.

The chastity I was fighting so hard to protect is gone,

And now I am no longer pure.

An evil wasp crept into my ‘hive’ and stole my ‘honey’.


I thought it was quite interesting how Shakespeare used the symbolism of the wasp to represent Tarquin, the bee to represent Lucrece and the honey to represent Lucrece’s chastity and purity. After reading Troilus and Cressida I cannot help but notice how much weight Shakespeare’s characters place on others opinions. This is evident in Lucrece’s fear of shame for both herself and Collatine. It is also interesting to note Shakespeare’s extensive emphasis on the eye and what is visible on the outside (and public) versus internal emotions that are private.


Ashley Anderson



Shakespeare, William. “Lucrece.” The Oxford Shakespeare: Complete Sonnets and Poems. Ed. Colin Burrow. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 289. Print.










My annotations for Lucrece. I like to keep it pretty simple so I don’t muddy the text too much (just a preference). The most effective method I employ is to quickly outline the main ideas (in modern english) of passages I find hard to understand. I also try to highlight important words to look up in the OED.

Big Idea 7: Topics – Light vs. Darkness

In Rape of Lucrece,  I noticed a heavy play on the themes of light vs. darknHateful, vaporous, and foggy Nightess/ night.

Initially, when Tarquin is planning out his heinous act, he says (possibly out of guilt):

“Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not/ To darken her whose light excelleth thine” (190-1)

Here, Tarquin describes Lucrece’s virtue as a light brighter than a torch (or in this case his lust). In the same stanza, he recognizes that his act is that of darkness/ evil. Tarquin calls his act the “blackest sin” (334).

This theme is also evident when, during the night, Tarquin first rests his eyes on Lucrece, he is (once again) astonished by “a greater light/… that she reflects so brightly” (375-6).

Moreover, when Tarquin initiates his crime, it is noted that Lucrece loses her ‘light’:

“… her locked up eyes,/…/ are  by his flaming torch dimmed and controlled.” (446-8)

Furthermore, after Tarquin ravishes her and runs off, Lucrece expresses her shame by cursing the Night and wishing that it will never be daylight again.

Shakespeare uses the theme of light and darkness to highlight the aspects of innocence and evil throughout the play, where the light is symbolized to be pure and untouched and the darkness is evil and full of evil opportunities.