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King Lear
by William Shakespeare

Act 2, Scene 1 Easiest-to-Read Edition

Gloucester's castle

 

 

 

 



King Lear Act 2, Scene 1


 

Enter EDMUND the bastard and CURAN, severally

Enter EDMUND the bastard and CURAN, severally

EDMUND

Save thee, Curan.

Save thee=may God save you

 

EDMUND

Save thee, Curan.

 

CURAN

And you, sir. I have been with your father and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his duchess will be here with him this night.

 

CURAN

And you, sir. I have been with your father and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his duchess will be here with him this night.

 

EDMUND

How comes that?

 

EDMUND

How comes that?

 

CURAN

Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad?— I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing (whispered) arguments (statements).

 

CURAN

Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad?— I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments.

 

EDMUND

Not I. Pray you, what are they?

 

EDMUND

Not I. Pray you, what are they?

 

CURAN

Have you heard of no likely wars toward (approaching) ’twixt the two

Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?

 

CURAN

Have you heard of no likely wars toward ’twixt the two

Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?

 

EDMUND

Not a word.

 

EDMUND

Not a word.

 

CURAN

You may do then in time. Fare you well, sir.

 

CURAN

You may do then in time. Fare you well, sir.

 

Exit CURAN

Exit CURAN

EDMUND

The duke be here tonight? The better—best!

This weaves itself perforce into my business.

My father hath set guard to take my brother.

And I have one thing, of a queasy question,

queasy question=uncertain inquiry

Which I must act. Briefness and fortune, work!—

act=act on

fortune=luck

Brother, a word. Descend, brother, I say.

 

EDMUND

The duke be here tonight? The better—best!

This weaves itself perforce into my business.

My father hath set guard to take my brother.

And I have one thing, of a queasy question,

Which I must act. Briefness and fortune, work!—

Brother, a word. Descend, brother, I say.

 

Enter EDGAR

Enter EDGAR

My father watches. O sir, fly this place.

Intelligence is given where you are hid.

You have now the good advantage of the night.

Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall aught?

aught=anything

He’s coming hither—now, i' th' night, i' th' haste,

I’ th’ haste=hastily

And Regan with him. Have you nothing said

Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?

upon his party=about his dispute

Advise yourself (think about it).

 

My father watches. O sir, fly this place.

Intelligence is given where you are hid.

You have now the good advantage of the night.

Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall aught?

He’s coming hither—now, i' th' night, i' th' haste,

And Regan with him. Have you nothing said

Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?

Advise yourself.

 

EDGAR

   I am sure on ’t, not a word.

 

EDGAR

   I am sure on ’t, not a word.

 

EDMUND

I hear my father coming. Pardon me.

In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.

Draw. Seem to defend yourself. Now quit you well.—

(loudly) Yield! Come before my father. Light, ho! Here!

(aside to Edgar) Fly, brother, fly.

(loudly)

      Torches, torches!

(aside to Edgar) So, farewell.

 

EDMUND

I hear my father coming. Pardon me.

In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.

Draw. Seem to defend yourself. Now quit you well.—

(loudly) Yield! Come before my father. Light, ho! Here!

(aside to Edgar) Fly, brother, fly.

(loudly)

      Torches, torches!

(aside to Edgar) So, farewell.

 

Exit EDGAR

Exit EDGAR

Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion

beget=create

Of my more fierce endeavor.

(cuts his own arm)

     I have seen drunkards

Do more than this in sport.—Father, father!—

Stop, stop!—No help?

 

Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion

Of my more fierce endeavor.

(cuts his own arm)

     I have seen drunkards

Do more than this in sport.—Father, father!—

Stop, stop!—No help?

 

Enter GLOUCESTER and servants with torches

Enter GLOUCESTER and servants with torches

GLOUCESTER

Now Edmund, where’s the villain?

 

GLOUCESTER

Now Edmund, where’s the villain?

 

EDMUND

Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,

Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon

To stand ’s auspicious mistress—

(become his kind goddess)

 

EDMUND

Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,

Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon

To stand ’s auspicious mistress—

 

GLOUCESTER

But where is he?

 

GLOUCESTER

But where is he?

 

EDMUND

Look, sir, I bleed.

 

EDMUND

Look, sir, I bleed.

 

GLOUCESTER

   Where is the villain, Edmund?

 

GLOUCESTER

   Where is the villain, Edmund?

 

EDMUND

Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could—

 

EDMUND

Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could—

 

GLOUCESTER

Pursue him, ho! Go after.

 

GLOUCESTER

Pursue him, ho! Go after.

 

Exeunt some servants

Exeunt some servants

 “By no means” what?

 “By no means” what?

EDMUND

Persuade me to the murder of your lordship,

But that I told him the revenging gods

'Gainst parricides did all the thunder bend,

Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond

manifold=of many kinds

The child was bound to th' father. Sir, in fine,

in fine=in short

Seeing how loathly opposite I stood

To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion,

in fell motion=in ruthless movement

With his preparèd sword he charges home

prepared=ready

My unprovided body, latched mine arm.

unprovided=unequipped

latched=struck

And when he saw my best alarumed spirits,

alarumed=aroused

Bold in the quarrel’s right, roused to the encounter,

(Edmund says that right is on his side)

Or whether ghasted by the noise I made,

ghasted=alarmed

Full suddenly he fled.

 

EDMUND

Persuade me to the murder of your lordship,

But that I told him the revenging gods

'Gainst parricides did all the thunder bend,

Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond

The child was bound to th' father. Sir, in fine,

Seeing how loathly opposite I stood

To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion,

With his preparèd sword he charges home

My unprovided body, latched mine arm.

And when he saw my best alarumed spirits,

Bold in the quarrel’s right, roused to the encounter,

Or whether ghasted by the noise I made,

Full suddenly he fled.

 

GLOUCESTER

   Let him fly far.

Not in this land shall he remain uncaught

And [not be] found— (to servants) dispatch. The noble duke my master (Duke of Cornwall),

My worthy arch (chief) and patron, comes tonight.

By his authority I will proclaim it

That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,

Bringing the murderous coward to the stake.

stake=place of execution

He that conceals him, death.

 

GLOUCESTER

   Let him fly far.

Not in this land shall he remain uncaught

And found— (to servants) dispatch. The noble duke my master,

My worthy arch and patron, comes tonight.

By his authority I will proclaim it

That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,

Bringing the murderous coward to the stake.

He that conceals him, death.

 

 

EDMUND

When I dissuaded him from his intent,

dissuaded=argued to dissuade

And found him pight to do it, with cursed speech

pight=determined

cursed=fierce

I threatened to discover him. He replied,

discover=expose

“Thou unpossessing bastard! Dost thou think

unpossessing=penniless

If I would stand against thee, would the reposal

reposal=placing

Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee

Make thy words faithed? No. What I should deny—

faithed=believed

As this I would, ay, though thou didst produce

My very character—I’d turn it all

character=handwriting

To thy suggestion, plot, and damnèd practice.

And thou must make a dullard of the world,

If they not thought the profits of my death

of my death=from my death

Were very pregnant and potential spurs

To make thee seek it.”

 

EDMUND

When I dissuaded him from his intent,

And found him pight to do it, with cursed speech

I threatened to discover him. He replied,

“Thou unpossessing bastard! Dost thou think

If I would stand against thee, would the reposal

Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee

Make thy words faithed? No. What I should deny—

As this I would, ay, though thou didst produce

My very character—I’d turn it all

To thy suggestion, plot, and damnèd practice.

And thou must make a dullard of the world,

If they not thought the profits of my death

Were very pregnant and potential spurs

To make thee seek it.”

 

Tucket (flourish of trumpets) within

Tucket within

GLOUCESTER

   O strange and fastened (confirmed) villain!

Would he deny his letter, said he (did he say that)? I never got (begot) him.—

Hark, the duke’s trumpets. I know not why he comes.

All ports I’ll bar. The villain shall not ’scape.

The duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture (description)

I will send far and near, that all the kingdom

May have the due note of him.—And of my land,

Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means

To make thee capable (able to inherit).

 

GLOUCESTER

   O strange and fastened villain!

Would he deny his letter, said he? I never got him.—

Hark, the duke’s trumpets. I know not why he comes.

All ports I’ll bar. The villain shall not ’scape.

The duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture

I will send far and near, that all the kingdom

May have the due note of him.—And of my land,

Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means

To make thee capable.

 

Enter the Duke of CORNWALL, REGAN, and attendants

Enter the Duke of CORNWALL, REGAN, and attendants

CORNWALL

How now, my noble friend? Since I came hither,

Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.

 

CORNWALL

How now, my noble friend? Since I came hither,

Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.

 

REGAN

If it be true, all vengeance comes too short

comes too short=is insufficient

Which can pursue th' offender. How dost, my lord?

 

REGAN

If it be true, all vengeance comes too short

Which can pursue th' offender. How dost, my lord?

 

GLOUCESTER

O madam, my old heart is cracked, it’s cracked.

 

GLOUCESTER

O madam, my old heart is cracked, it’s cracked.

 

REGAN

What, did my father’s godson seek your life?—

He whom my father named, your Edgar?

 

REGAN

What, did my father’s godson seek your life?—

He whom my father named, your Edgar?

 

GLOUCESTER

O, lady, lady, shame would have it hid.

 

GLOUCESTER

O, lady, lady, shame would have it hid.

 

REGAN

Was he not companion with the riotous knights

That tend upon my father?

tend=attend

 

REGAN

Was he not companion with the riotous knights

That tend upon my father?

 

GLOUCESTER

I know not, madam. 'Tis too bad, too bad.

 

GLOUCESTER

I know not, madam. 'Tis too bad, too bad.

 

EDMUND

Yes, madam, he was of that consort.

 

EDMUND

Yes, madam, he was of that consort.

 

REGAN

No marvel then, though he were ill affected.

though=that he was

'Tis they have put him on the old man’s death,

To have th' expense and spoil of his revenues.

expense and spoil=income and spoils

I have this present evening from my sister

Been well informed of them—and with such cautions

That if they come to sojourn at my house

I’ll not be there.

 

REGAN

No marvel then, though he were ill affected.

'Tis they have put him on the old man’s death,

To have th' expense and spoil of his revenues.

I have this present evening from my sister

Been well informed of them—and with such cautions

That if they come to sojourn at my house

I’ll not be there.

 

CORNWALL

   Nor I, assure thee, Regan.—

Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father

A childlike office (filial service).

 

CORNWALL

   Nor I, assure thee, Regan.—

Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father

A childlike office.

 

EDMUND

   It was my duty, sir.

 

EDMUND

   It was my duty, sir.

 

GLOUCESTER

He (Edmund) did bewray his (Edgar’s) practice, and received

This hurt (wound) you see striving to apprehend him.

 

GLOUCESTER

He did bewray his practice, and received

This hurt you see striving to apprehend him.

 

CORNWALL

Is he pursued?

 

CORNWALL

Is he pursued?

 

GLOUCESTER

   Ay, my good lord.

 

GLOUCESTER

   Ay, my good lord.

 

CORNWALL

If he be taken, he shall never more

Be feared of doing harm. Make your own purpose

How in my strength you please.—For you, Edmund,

how in my strength=however in my protection

Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant

So much commend itself, you shall be ours.

Natures of such deep trust we shall much need.

You we first seize on.

 

CORNWALL

If he be taken, he shall never more

Be feared of doing harm. Make your own purpose

How in my strength you please.—For you, Edmund,

Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant

So much commend itself, you shall be ours.

Natures of such deep trust we shall much need.

You we first seize on.

 

EDMUND

   I shall serve you, sir,

Truly, however else (however effective I may be).

 

EDMUND

   I shall serve you, sir,

Truly, however else.

 

GLOUCESTER

(to CORNWALL) For him I thank your grace.

 

GLOUCESTER

(to CORNWALL) For him I thank your grace.

 

CORNWALL

You know not why we came to visit you—

 

CORNWALL

You know not why we came to visit you—

 

REGAN

Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night.

out of season=at this abnormal time for traveling

Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,

poise=weight

Wherein we must have use of your advice:

Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,

Of differences, which I best thought it fit

To answer from our home. The several messengers

from our home=away from our home

From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,

attend dispatch=wait to be sent

Lay comforts to your bosom, and bestow

lay comforts to your bosom=prepare yourself to give advice

Your needful counsel to our business,

Which craves the instant use.

 

REGAN

Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night.

Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,

Wherein we must have use of your advice:

Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,

Of differences, which I least thought it fit

To answer from our home. The several messengers

From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,

Lay comforts to your bosom, and bestow

Your needful counsel to our business,

Which craves the instant use.

 

GLOUCESTER

I serve you, madam.

Your graces are right welcome.

 

GLOUCESTER

I serve you, madam.

Your graces are right welcome.

 

Flourish. Exeunt

Flourish. Exeunt

 

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