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King Lear
by William Shakespeare

Act 3, Scene 4 Easiest-to-Read Edition

The heath in front of a hovel

 

 

 

 



King Lear Act 3, Scene 4


 

King Lear Act 3 Scene 4

Enter LEAR, KENT disguised, and FOOL

Enter LEAR, KENT disguised, and FOOL

KENT

Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.

The tyranny of the open night’s too rough

For nature to endure.

 

KENT

Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.

The tyranny of the open night’s too rough

For nature to endure.

 

Storm still

Storm still

LEAR

   Let me alone.

 

LEAR

   Let me alone.

 

KENT

Good my lord, enter here.

 

KENT

Good my lord, enter here.

 

LEAR

   Wilt break my heart?

 

LEAR

   Wilt break my heart?

 

KENT

I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.

 

KENT

I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.

 

LEAR

Thou think’st ’tis much that this contentious storm

Invades us to the skin. So ’tis to thee.

But where the greater malady is fixed

The lesser is scarce felt. Thou’dst shun a bear,

But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea

Thou’dst meet the bear i' th' mouth. When the mind’s free,

The body’s delicate. The tempest in my mind

Doth from my senses take all feeling else

Save what beats there—filial ingratitude.

Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand

as=as if

tear=injure

For lifting food to ’t? But I will punish home.

home=thoroughly

No, I will weep no more. In such a night

To shut me out! Pour on, I will endure.

In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril,

Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all—

Oh, that way madness lies. Let me shun that.

No more of that.

 

LEAR

Thou think’st ’tis much that this contentious storm

Invades us to the skin. So ’tis to thee.

But where the greater malady is fixed

The lesser is scarce felt. Thou’dst shun a bear,

But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea

Thou’dst meet the bear i' th' mouth. When the mind’s free,

The body’s delicate. The tempest in my mind

Doth from my senses take all feeling else

Save what beats there—filial ingratitude.

Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand

For lifting food to ’t? But I will punish home.

No, I will weep no more. In such a night

To shut me out! Pour on, I will endure.

In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril,

Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all—

Oh, that way madness lies. Let me shun that.

No more of that.

 

KENT

   Good my lord, enter here.

 

KENT

   Good my lord, enter here.

 

LEAR

Prithee, go in thyself. Seek thine own ease.

This tempest will not give me leave to ponder

On things would hurt me more. But I’ll go in.

would=which would

(to FOOL) In, boy. Go first. You houseless poverty—

you houseless poverty=you pitiful homeless poor people

Nay, get thee in. I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep.

 

LEAR

Prithee, go in thyself. Seek thine own ease.

This tempest will not give me leave to ponder

On things would hurt me more. But I’ll go in.

(to FOOL) In, boy. Go first. You houseless poverty—

Nay, get thee in. I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep.

 

Exit FOOL

Exit FOOL

Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,

That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,

How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,

Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you

looped and windowed=having holes and openings

From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta'en

Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp.

take physic, pomp=take a remedy, pompous people

Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,

That thou mayst shake the superflux to them

shake the superflux to them=shower them with your abundance

And show the heavens more just.

 

Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,

That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,

How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,

Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you

From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta'en

Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp.

Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,

That thou mayst shake the superflux to them

And show the heavens more just.

 

EDGAR

(within the hovel) Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom!

fathom=soundings of deep water taken by sailors

 

EDGAR

(within the hovel) Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom!

 

Enter FOOL from the hovel

Enter FOOL from the hovel

FOOL

Come not in here, nuncle. Here’s a spirit (ghost). Help me, help me!

 

FOOL

Come not in here, nuncle. Here’s a spirit. Help me, help me!

 

KENT

Give me thy hand. Who’s there?

 

KENT

Give me thy hand. Who’s there?

 

FOOL

A spirit, a spirit. He says his name’s Poor Tom.

 

FOOL

A spirit, a spirit. He says his name’s Poor Tom.

 

KENT

What art thou that dost grumble there i' th' straw?

Come forth.

 

KENT

What art thou that dost grumble there i' th' straw?

Come forth.

 

Enter EDGAR disguised as a madman

Enter EDGAR disguised as a madman

EDGAR

Away! The foul fiend follows me! Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Hum! Go to thy cold bed and warm thee.

 

EDGAR

Away! The foul fiend follows me! Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Hum! Go to thy cold bed and warm thee.

 

LEAR

Didst thou give all to thy two daughters, and art thou come to this?

 

LEAR

Didst thou give all to thy two daughters, and art thou come to this?

 

EDGAR

Who gives anything to Poor Tom, whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame, through ford (shallow stream crossing) and whirlipool, o'er bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and halters (rope nooses) in his pew, set ratsbane (arsenic) by his porridge, made him proud of heart to ride on a bay trotting-horse over four-inched bridges (boards spanning a stream) to course (pursue) his own shadow for a traitor? Bless thy five wits. Tom’s a-cold. Oh, do-de, do-de, do-de. Bless (protect) thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting (evil influences from malignant stars), and taking (diseases)! Do Poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now (pounces)—and there—and there again—and there.

 

EDGAR

Who gives anything to Poor Tom, whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlipool, o'er bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge, made him proud of heart to ride on a bay trotting-horse over four-inched bridges to course his own shadow for a traitor? Bless thy five wits. Tom’s a-cold. Oh, do-de, do-de, do-de. Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do Poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now—and there—and there again—and there.

 

Storm still

Storm still

LEAR

What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?—

Couldst thou save nothing? Wouldst thou give 'em all?

 

LEAR

What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?—

Couldst thou save nothing? Wouldst thou give 'em all?

 

FOOL

Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all shamed (to see him naked).

 

FOOL

Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all shamed.

 

LEAR

Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air

pendulous=overhanging

Hang fated o'er men’s faults light on thy daughters!

fated=controlling our destiny

light=alight

 

LEAR

Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air

Hang fated o'er men’s faults light on thy daughters!

 

KENT

He hath no daughters, sir.

 

KENT

He hath no daughters, sir.

 

LEAR

(addressing Kent) Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature

To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.

Is it the fashion that discarded fathers

Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?

should have=have been shown

Judicious punishment! 'Twas this flesh begot

Those pelican daughters.

pelican daughters – daughters ate blood fed them by pelicans (myth)

 

LEAR

(addressing Kent) Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature

To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.

Is it the fashion that discarded fathers

Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?

Judicious punishment! 'Twas this flesh begot

Those pelican daughters.

 

EDGAR

Pillicock (penis) sat on Pillicock hill. Alow, alow, loo, loo!

 

EDGAR

Pillicock sat on Pillicock hill. Alow, alow, loo, loo!

 

FOOL

This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.

 

FOOL

This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.

 

EDGAR

Take heed o' th' foul fiend. Obey thy parents, keep thy word’s justly, swear not, commit (commit adultery) not with man’s sworn spouse, set not thy sweet heart on proud array (clothing). Tom’s a- cold.

 

EDGAR

Take heed o' th' foul fiend. Obey thy parents, keep thy word’s justly, swear not, commit not with man’s sworn spouse, set not thy sweet heart on proud array. Tom’s a- cold.

 

LEAR

What hast thou been?

 

LEAR

What hast thou been?

 

EDGAR

A servingman, proud in heart and mind, that curled my hair, wore gloves in my cap, served the lust of my mistress' heart and did the act of darkness with her, swore as many oaths as I spake words and broke them in the sweet face of heaven—one that slept in the contriving of lust and waked to do it. Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly, and in woman outparamoured the Turk. False of heart, light of ear (undiscriminating), bloody of hand—hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey (preying). Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets (slits in the waists of petticoats), thy pen from lenders' books, and defy the foul fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind, says, “Suum, mun, nonny.” Dauphin, (an imaginary horse?) my boy, my boy, cessez (cease). Let him trot by.

 

EDGAR

A servingman, proud in heart and mind, that curled my hair, wore gloves in my cap, served the lust of my mistress' heart and did the act of darkness with her, swore as many oaths as I spake words and broke them in the sweet face of heaven—one that slept in the contriving of lust and waked to do it. Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly, and in woman outparamoured the Turk. False of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand—hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lenders' books, and defy the foul fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind, says, “Suum, mun, nonny.” Dauphin, my boy, my boy, cessez. Let him trot by.

 

Storm still

Storm still

LEAR

(to Edgar) Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.—Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou (uncovered) owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat (civet) no perfume. Ha! Here’s three on ’s (of us) are sophisticated (deprived of simple  naturalness). (to Edgar) Thou art the thing (natural man) itself.

Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked (divided into legs) animal as thou art.—

Off, off, you lendings (borrowings, i.e., clothes)! Come. Unbutton here. (tears at his clothes)

 

LEAR

Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.—Is man no more than this? Consider him well.—Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! Here’s three on ’s are sophisticated. (to Edgar) Thou art the thing itself.

Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art.—

Off, off, you lendings! Come. Unbutton here. (tears at his clothes)

 

Enter GLOUCESTER with a torch

Enter GLOUCESTER with a torch

FOOL

Prithee, nuncle, be contented. 'Tis a naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher’s heart—a small spark, all the rest on ’s (of his) body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire .

 

FOOL

Prithee, nuncle, be contented. 'Tis a naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher’s heart—a small spark, all the rest on ’s body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.

 

 

EDGAR

This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins at curfew (9:00 p.m.) and walks till the first cock (cockcrow). He gives the web and the pin (an eye disease), squints the eye and makes the harelip, mildews the white wheat and hurts the poor creature (i.e., creatures) of earth.

Swithold (Saint Withold, patron saint of nocturnal travelers) footed (walked) thrice the 'old (‘old=wold=open country).

He met the nightmare (female nighttime spirit that attacks sleeping people, lying on them and afflicting them with her weight) and her ninefold (nine attending creatures – “familiars”),

Bid her alight,

And her troth plight (promise to do no harm).

And aroint (be gone) thee, witch, aroint thee!

 

EDGAR

This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins at curfew and walks till the first cock. He gives the web and the pin, squints the eye and makes the harelip, mildews the white wheat and hurts the poor creature of earth.

Swithold footed thrice the 'old.

He met the nightmare and her ninefold,

Bid her alight,

And her troth plight.

And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!

KENT

How fares your grace?

 

KENT

How fares your grace?

 

LEAR

(indicating EDGAR) What’s he?

 

LEAR

(indicating EDGAR) What’s he?

 

KENT

Who’s there? What is ’t you seek?

 

KENT

Who’s there? What is ’t you seek?

 

GLOUCESTER

What are you there? Your names?

 

GLOUCESTER

What are you there? Your names?

 

EDGAR

Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall newt (newt on the wall), and the water (newt in the water); that in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow dung for salads, swallows the old rat and the ditch-dog (dead dog in a ditch), drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to tithing (one parish to another) and stocked (put into stocks), punished and imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body (as a servant, which Edgar claims to have been), Horse to ride and weapon to wear. But mice and rats and such small deer have been Tom’s food for seven long year. Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin (a minor devil). Peace, thou fiend!

 

EDGAR

Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall newt, and the water; that in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow dung for salads, swallows the old rat and the ditch-dog, drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to tithing and stocked, punished and imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body, Horse to ride and weapon to wear. But mice and rats and such small deer have been Tom’s food for seven long year. Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin. Peace, thou fiend!

 

GLOUCESTER

(to LEAR) What, hath your grace no better company?

 

GLOUCESTER

(to LEAR) What, hath your grace no better company?

 

EDGAR

The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo he’s called, and Mahu (minor devils).

 

EDGAR

The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo he’s called, and Mahu.

 

GLOUCESTER

(to LEAR) Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile

That it doth hate what gets (begets) it.

 

GLOUCESTER

(to LEAR) Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile

That it doth hate what gets it.

 

EDGAR

Poor Tom’s a-cold.

 

EDGAR

Poor Tom’s a-cold.

 

GLOUCESTER

Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer

To obey in all your daughters' hard commands.

Though their injunction be to bar my doors

And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,

Yet have I ventured to come seek you out

And bring you where both fire and food is ready.

 

GLOUCESTER

Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer

To obey in all your daughters' hard commands.

Though their injunction be to bar my doors

And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,

Yet have I ventured to come seek you out

And bring you where both fire and food is ready.

 

 LEAR

First let me talk with this philosopher.—

(to EDGAR) What is the cause of thunder?

 

LEAR

First let me talk with this philosopher.—

(to EDGAR) What is the cause of thunder?

 

KENT

(to LEAR) Good my lord, take his offer. Go into the house.

 

KENT

(to LEAR) Good my lord, take his offer. Go into the house.

 

LEAR

I’ll talk a word with this same learnèd Theban (Greek philosopher).—

What is your study?

 

LEAR

I’ll talk a word with this same learnèd Theban.—

What is your study?

 

EDGAR

How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.

 

EDGAR

How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.

 

LEAR

Let me ask you one word in private.

 

LEAR

Let me ask you one word in private.

 

LEAR and EDGAR talk aside

LEAR and EDGAR talk aside

KENT

(aside to GLOUCESTER) Importune him once more to go, my lord.

His wits begin t' unsettle.

 

KENT

(aside to GLOUCESTER) Importune him once more to go, my lord.

His wits begin t' unsettle.

 

GLOUCESTER

     Canst thou blame him?

 

GLOUCESTER

     Canst thou blame him?

 

Storm still

Storm still

His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent—

He (Kent) said it would be thus, poor banished man.

Thou say’st the king grows mad. I’ll tell thee, friend,

I am almost mad myself. I had a son,

Now outlawed from my blood. He sought my life

But lately, very late. I loved him, friend—

But=just

No father his son dearer. Truth to tell thee,

The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night’s this!

(to LEAR) I do beseech your grace—

 

His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent—

He said it would be thus, poor banished man.

Thou say’st the king grows mad. I’ll tell thee, friend,

I am almost mad myself. I had a son,

Now outlawed from my blood. He sought my life

But lately, very late. I loved him, friend—

No father his son dearer. Truth to tell thee,

The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night’s this!

(to LEAR) I do beseech your grace—

 

 

LEAR

   O, cry your mercy (I beg your pardon), sir.—

(to EDGAR) Noble philosopher, your company.

 

LEAR

   O, cry your mercy, sir.—

(to EDGAR) Noble philosopher, your company.

 

EDGAR

     Tom’s a-cold.

 

EDGAR

     Tom’s a-cold.

 

GLOUCESTER

In, fellow. There, into th' hovel. Keep thee warm.

 

GLOUCESTER

In, fellow. There, into th' hovel. Keep thee warm.

 

LEAR

Come let’s in all.

 

LEAR

Come let’s in all.

 

KENT

   This way, my lord.

 

KENT

   This way, my lord.

 

LEAR

(indicating EDGAR)

      With him!

I will keep still (always) with my philosopher.

 

LEAR

(indicating EDGAR)

      With him!

I will keep still with my philosopher.

 

KENT

(to GLOUCESTER)

Good my lord, soothe him. Let him take the fellow.

 

KENT

(to GLOUCESTER)

Good my lord, soothe him. Let him take the fellow.

 

GLOUCESTER

Take him you on (you bring him in).

 

GLOUCESTER

Take him you on.

 

KENT

(to EDGAR) Sirrah, come on. Go along with us.

 

KENT

(to EDGAR) Sirrah, come on. Go along with us.

 

LEAR

Come, good Athenian.

 

LEAR

Come, good Athenian.

 

GLOUCESTER

   No words, no words. Hush.

 

GLOUCESTER

   No words, no words. Hush.

 

EDGAR

Child (title for a candidate for knighthood) Roland to the dark tower came,

His word was still (what he said was always) “Fie, foh, and fum,

I smell the blood of a British man.”

 

EDGAR

Child Roland to the dark tower came,

His word was still “Fie, foh, and fum,

I smell the blood of a British man.”

 

Exeunt

Exeunt

 

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