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King Lear
by William Shakespeare

Act 4, Scene 1 Easiest-to-Read Edition

The heath

 

 

 

 



King Lear Act 4, Scene 1


 

King Lear Act 4 Scene 1

Enter EDGAR disguised

Enter EDGAR disguised

EDGAR

Yet better thus and known to be contemned

thus – in his present low state

contemned=despised

Than still contemned and flattered. To be worst,

than still contemned=than as before in his higher state

The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune

Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear.

esperance=hope

The lamentable change is from the best;

(lamentable change happens to the best)

The worst returns to laughter. Welcome, then,

returns=changes

Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!

The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst

Owes nothing to thy blasts.

(the wretch owes nothing)

 

EDGAR

Yet better thus and known to be contemned

Than still contemned and flattered. To be worst,

The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune

Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear.

The lamentable change is from the best;

The worst returns to laughter. Welcome, then,

Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!

The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst

Owes nothing to thy blasts.

 

Enter GLOUCESTER led by an OLD MAN

Enter GLOUCESTER led by an OLD MAN

But who comes here?

My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!

poorly led=led by a poor person

But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,

Life would not yield to age.

(if it weren’t for accumulating hate we would stay young)

 

But who comes here?

My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!

But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,

Life would not yield to age.

 

OLD MAN

(to GLOUCESTER)    O my good lord,

I have been your tenant and your father’s tenant these fourscore years.

 

OLD MAN

(to GLOUCESTER)    O my good lord,

I have been your tenant and your father’s tenant these fourscore years.

 

GLOUCESTER

Away, get thee away. Good friend, be gone.

Thy comforts can do me no good at all.

Thee they may hurt.

(people might harm you for befriending me)

 

GLOUCESTER

Away, get thee away. Good friend, be gone.

Thy comforts can do me no good at all.

Thee they may hurt.

 

OLD MAN

Alack, sir, you cannot see your way.

 

OLD MAN

Alack, sir, you cannot see your way.

 

GLOUCESTER

I have no way, and therefore want no eyes.

I stumbled when I saw. Full oft ’tis seen,

Our means secure us and our mere defects

secure us=make us overconfident

mere=absolute

Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,

prove our commodities=prove to be our resources

The food of thy abusèd father’s wrath,

food=firewood

abused=deceived

Might I but live to see thee in my touch

I’d say I had eyes again!

 

GLOUCESTER

I have no way, and therefore want no eyes.

I stumbled when I saw. Full oft ’tis seen,

Our means secure us and our mere defects

Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,

The food of thy abusèd father’s wrath,

Might I but live to see thee in my touch

I’d say I had eyes again!

 

OLD MAN

   How now? Who’s there?

 

OLD MAN

   How now? Who’s there?

 

EDGAR

(aside) O gods! Who is ’t can say “I am at the worst”?

I am worse than e'er I was.

 

EDGAR

(aside) O gods! Who is ’t can say “I am at the worst”?

I am worse than e'er I was.

 

OLD MAN

(to GLOUCESTER)

     'Tis poor mad Tom.

 

OLD MAN

(to GLOUCESTER)

     'Tis poor mad Tom.

 

EDGAR

(aside) And worse I may be yet. The worst is not

So long as we can say, “This is the worst.”

 

EDGAR

(aside) And worse I may be yet. The worst is not

So long as we can say, “This is the worst.”

 

OLD MAN

(to EDGAR) Fellow, where goest?

 

OLD MAN

(to EDGAR) Fellow, where goest?

 

GLOUCESTER

Is it a beggarman?

 

GLOUCESTER

Is it a beggarman?

 

OLD MAN

Madman and beggar too.

 

OLD MAN

Madman and beggar too.

 

GLOUCESTER

He has some reason, else he could not beg.

I' th' last night’s storm I such a fellow saw,

Which made me think a man a worm. My son

Came then into my mind, and yet my mind

Was then scarce friends with him. I have heard more since.

heard=learned

As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods.

wanton=mischievous

They kill us for their sport.

 

GLOUCESTER

He has some reason, else he could not beg.

I' th' last night’s storm I such a fellow saw,

Which made me think a man a worm. My son

Came then into my mind, and yet my mind

Was then scarce friends with him. I have heard more since.

As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods.

They kill us for their sport.

 

EDGAR

(aside)

     How should this be?

Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,

trade=business

Angering itself and others.—Bless thee, master!

 

EDGAR

(aside)

     How should this be?

Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,

Angering itself and others.—Bless thee, master!

 

GLOUCESTER

Is that the naked fellow?

 

GLOUCESTER

Is that the naked fellow?

 

OLD MAN

   Ay, my lord.

 

OLD MAN

   Ay, my lord.

 

GLOUCESTER

Then prithee, get thee gone. If for my sake

thee=thee, old man

Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain

I' th' way toward Dover, do it for ancient love.

And bring some covering for this naked soul,

Which I’ll entreat to lead me.

 

GLOUCESTER

Then prithee, get thee gone. If for my sake

Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain

I' th' way toward Dover, do it for ancient love.

And bring some covering for this naked soul,

Which I’ll entreat to lead me.

 

OLD MAN

     Alack, sir, he is mad.

 

OLD MAN

     Alack, sir, he is mad.

 

GLOUCESTER

'Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.

Do as I bid thee. Or rather, do thy pleasure.

Above the rest, be gone.

 

GLOUCESTER

'Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.

Do as I bid thee. Or rather, do thy pleasure.

Above the rest, be gone.

 

OLD MAN

I’ll bring him the best 'parel that I have,

Come on ’t what will.

 

OLD MAN

I’ll bring him the best 'parel that I have,

Come on ’t what will.

 

Exit OLD MAN

Exit OLD MAN

GLOUCESTER

   Sirrah, naked fellow—

EDGAR

Poor Tom’s a-cold.

(aside) I cannot daub (fake) it further.

 

GLOUCESTER

   Sirrah, naked fellow—

EDGAR

Poor Tom’s a-cold.

(aside) I cannot daub it further.

 

GLOUCESTER

Come hither, fellow.

 

GLOUCESTER

Come hither, fellow.

 

EDGAR

(aside) And yet I must.—Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.

 

EDGAR

(aside) And yet I must.—Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.

 

GLOUCESTER

Know’st thou the way to Dover?

 

GLOUCESTER

Know’st thou the way to Dover?

 

EDGAR

Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. Poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits. Bless thee, goodman’s son, from the foul fiend! Five fiends (devils) have been in poor Tom at once: of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing, who since (currently) possesses (inhabits) chambermaids and waiting-women. So bless thee, master.

 

EDGAR

Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. Poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits. Bless thee, goodman’s son, from the foul fiend! Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once: of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing, who since possesses chambermaids and waiting-women. So bless thee, master.

 

GLOUCESTER

(giving EDGAR a purse)

Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues

Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched

Makes thee the happier. Heavens, deal so still.

Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,

superfluous and lust-dieted=over-supplied and pleasure-gorged

That slaves your ordinance, that will not see

slaves your ordinance=enslaves (by abusing it) your appointed place in nature

Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly.

power=the power of heaven

So distribution should undo excess,

distribution=sharing

And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?

 

GLOUCESTER

(giving EDGAR a purse)

Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues

Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched

Makes thee the happier. Heavens, deal so still.

Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,

That slaves your ordinance, that will not see

Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly.

So distribution should undo excess,

And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?

 

EDGAR

Ay, master.

 

EDGAR

Ay, master.

 

GLOUCESTER

There is a cliff, whose high and bending head

Looks fearfully in the confinèd deep.

fearfully in=frighteningly down on

Bring me but to the very brim of it,

And I’ll repair the misery thou dost bear

With something rich about me. From that place

I shall no leading need.

 

GLOUCESTER

There is a cliff, whose high and bending head

Looks fearfully in the confinèd deep.

Bring me but to the very brim of it,

And I’ll repair the misery thou dost bear

With something rich about me. From that place

I shall no leading need.

 

EDGAR

Give me thy arm.

Poor Tom shall lead thee.

 

EDGAR

Give me thy arm.

Poor Tom shall lead thee.

 

Exeunt

Exeunt

 

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