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King Lear
by William Shakespeare

Act 5, Scene 3 Easiest-to-Read Edition

The British camp near Dover

 

 

 

 



King Lear Act 5, Scene 3


 

King Lear Act 5 Scene 3

Enter in conquest with drum and colorsEDMUND, with LEAR and CORDELIA as prisoners, and FIRST CAPTAIN with soldiers

Enter in conquest with drum and colorsEDMUND, with LEAR and CORDELIA as prisoners, and FIRST CAPTAIN with soldiers

EDMUND

Some officers take them away. Good guard,

officers=subordinates

good guard=keep good guard of them

Until their greater pleasures first be known

That are to censure them.

greater pleasures=commands of those higher-ranking (greater) persons who are to judge them

 

EDMUND

Some officers take them away. Good guard,

Until their greater pleasures first be known

That are to censure them.

 

CORDELIA

(to LEAR)

   We are not the first

Who with best meaning have incurred the worst.

For thee, oppressèd King, I am cast down.

Myself could else outfrown false fortune’s frown.

Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?

 

CORDELIA

(to LEAR)

   We are not the first

Who with best meaning have incurred the worst.

For thee, oppressèd King, I am cast down.

Myself could else outfrown false fortune’s frown.

Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?

 

LEAR

No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison.

We two alone will sing like birds i' th' cage.

When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down

And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live,

And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh

At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues

gilded butterflies=fashionable people

Talk of court news, and we’ll talk with them, too—

Who loses and who wins, who’s in, who’s out—

And take upon ’s the mystery of things

As if we were God’s spies. And we’ll wear out,

In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones

wear out packs and sects=outlast many political machinations

That ebb and flow by the moon.

 

LEAR

No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison.

We two alone will sing like birds i' th' cage.

When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down

And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live,

And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh

At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues

Talk of court news, and we’ll talk with them, too—

Who loses and who wins, who’s in, who’s out—

And take upon ’s the mystery of things

As if we were God’s spies. And we’ll wear out,

In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones

That ebb and flow by the moon.

 

EDMUND

     Take them away.

 

EDMUND

     Take them away.

 

LEAR

Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,

sacrifices – such as animal sacrifices

The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?

caught thee=hugged thee

He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven

brand=flaming torch

And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.

fire us=drive us/smoke us out of our hiding place

The good years shall devour them, flesh and fell,

fell=hide

Ere they shall make us weep. We’ll see 'em starve first.

Come.

 

LEAR

Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,

The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?

He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven

And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.

The good years shall devour them, flesh and fell,

Ere they shall make us weep. We’ll see 'em starve first.

Come.

 

 

Exeunt LEAR and CORDELIA, led by soldiers

Exeunt LEAR and CORDELIA, led by soldiers

EDMUND

Come hither, captain. Hark.

(gives FIRST CAPTAIN a document)

Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison.

One step I have advanced thee. If thou dost

one step I have advanced=one rank I have promoted

dost=do

As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way

To noble fortunes. Know thou this: that men

Are as the time is. To be tender-minded

Does not become a sword. Thy great employment

Will not bear question. Either say thou'lt do ’t,

Or thrive by other means.

 

EDMUND

Come hither, captain. Hark.

(gives FIRST CAPTAIN a document)

Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison.

One step I have advanced thee. If thou dost

As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way

To noble fortunes. Know thou this: that men

Are as the time is. To be tender-minded

Does not become a sword. Thy great employment

Will not bear question. Either say thou'lt do ’t,

Or thrive by other means.

 

FIRST CAPTAIN

   I’ll do ’t, my lord.

 

FIRST CAPTAIN

   I’ll do ’t, my lord.

 

EDMUND

About it, and write “happy” when thou’st done.

about it=go about it

Mark, I say, instantly, and carry it so

carry it=carry it out

As I have set it down.

 

EDMUND

About it, and write “happy” when thou’st done.

Mark, I say, instantly, and carry it so

As I have set it down.

 

FIRST CAPTAIN

I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats.

(such as a work horse)

If it be man’s work, I’ll do ’t.

 

FIRST CAPTAIN

I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats.

If it be man’s work, I’ll do ’t.

 

Exit FIRST CAPTAIN

Exit FIRST CAPTAIN

Flourish Enter the Duke of ALBANY, the two ladies GONERIL and REGAN, a SECOND CAPTAIN, and soldiers

Flourish Enter the Duke of ALBANY, the two ladies GONERIL and REGAN, a SECOND CAPTAIN, and soldiers

ALBANY

(to EDMUND) Sir, you have shown today your valiant strain,

And fortune led you well. You have the captives

That were the opposites of this day’s strife.

I do require them of you, so to use them

require them of you=require you to give them up

As we shall find their merits and our safety

May equally determine.

 

ALBANY

(to EDMUND) Sir, you have shown today your valiant strain,

And fortune led you well. You have the captives

That were the opposites of this day’s strife.

I do require them of you, so to use them

As we shall find their merits and our safety

May equally determine.

 

EDMUND

   Sir, I thought it fit

To send the old and miserable king

To some retention and appointed guard—

retention=confinement

Whose age has charms in it, whose title more.

To pluck the common bosom on his side,

(to win the common people to his side)

And turn our impressed lances in our eyes

turn=turn against us

impressed lances=hired horse soldiers

Which do command them. With him I sent the queen,

My reason all the same, and they are ready

Tomorrow or at further space t' appear

space=time

Where you shall hold your session. At this time

We sweat and bleed. The friend hath lost his friend,

And the best quarrels, in the heat, are cursed

best quarrels=most righteous quarrels

By those that feel their sharpness.

sharpness=harshness

The question of Cordelia and her father

Requires a fitter place.

 

EDMUND

   Sir, I thought it fit

To send the old and miserable king

To some retention and appointed guard—

Whose age has charms in it, whose title more.

To pluck the common bosom on his side,

And turn our impressed lances in our eyes

Which do command them. With him I sent the queen,

My reason all the same, and they are ready

Tomorrow or at further space t' appear

Where you shall hold your session. At this time

We sweat and bleed. The friend hath lost his friend,

And the best quarrels, in the heat, are cursed

By those that feel their sharpness.

The question of Cordelia and her father

Requires a fitter place.

 

ALBANY

I hold you but a subject of this war,

Not as a brother.

 

ALBANY

I hold you but a subject of this war,

Not as a brother.

 

REGAN

   (to Albany) That’s as we list to grace him.

(that’s up to me as to how I choose to honor him)

Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded

our pleasure=my wishes

demanded=asked for

Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers,

Bore the commission of my place and person—

bore the commission=took charge

The which immediacy may well stand up

immediacy=direct connection

And call itself your brother.

 

REGAN

   That’s as we list to grace him.

Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded

Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers,

Bore the commission of my place and person—

The which immediacy may well stand up

And call itself your brother.

 

GONERIL

   (to Albany) Not so hot.

In his own grace he doth exalt himself

exalt=distinguish

More than in your addition.

your addition=Albany’s award to him

 

GONERIL

     Not so hot.

In his own grace he doth exalt himself

More than in your addition.

 

REGAN

     In my rights,

By me invested, he compeers the best.

invested=uniformed

compeers=equals

 

REGAN

     In my rights,

By me invested, he compeers the best.

 

ALBANY

     That were the most if he should

  husband you.

(he’d get that much if he married you)

 

ALBANY

     That were the most if he should

  husband you.

 

REGAN

Jesters do oft prove prophets.

 

REGAN

Jesters do oft prove prophets.

 

GONERIL

     Holla, holla!

That eye that told you so looked but asquint.

(the eye that thought you could get him was hallucinating)

 

GONERIL

     Holla, holla!

That eye that told you so looked but asquint.

 

REGAN

Lady, I am not well, else I should answer

From a full-flowing stomach.

full-flowing stomach=strong emotion

(to EDMUND)     General,

Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony.

Dispose of them, of me. The walls is thine.

walls=castle walls (Regan herself)

Witness the world that I create thee here

My lord and master.

 

REGAN

Lady, I am not well, else I should answer

From a full-flowing stomach.

(to EDMUND)     General,

Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony.

Dispose of them, of me. The walls is thine.

Witness the world that I create thee here

My lord and master.

 

GONERIL

   Mean you to enjoy him then?

 

GONERIL

   Mean you to enjoy him then?

 

ALBANY

The let-alone lies not in your good will.

let-alone=power to interfere

good will=choosing

 

ALBANY

The let-alone lies not in your good will.

 

EDMUND

Nor in thine, lord.

 

EDMUND

Nor in thine, lord.

 

ALBANY

   Half-blooded fellow, yes.

half-blooded=aristocratic father, commoner mother

 

ALBANY

   Half-blooded fellow, yes.

 

REGAN

(to EDMUND) Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.

strike=announce

prove=get in a fight with Albany

REGAN

(to EDMUND) Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.

 

ALBANY

Stay yet. Hear reason.—Edmund, I arrest thee

On capital treason, and in thine attaint

attaint=disgrace include

This gilded serpent. (indicates GONERIL)

(to REGAN) For your claim, fair sister,

I bar it in the interest of my wife.

'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord.

subcontracted=engaged

And I, her husband, contradict your banns.

banns=marriage announcement

If you will marry, make your loves to me,

My lady is bespoke.

bespoke=already spoken for

 

ALBANY

Stay yet. Hear reason.—Edmund, I arrest thee

On capital treason, and in thine attaint

This gilded serpent. (indicates GONERIL)

(to REGAN) For your claim, fair sister,

I bar it in the interest of my wife.

'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord.

And I, her husband, contradict your banns.

If you will marry, make your loves to me,

My lady is bespoke.

 

GONERIL

   An interlude!

interlude=farce

 

GONERIL

   An interlude!

 

ALBANY

Thou art armed, Gloucester. Let the trumpet sound.

If none appear to prove upon thy person

prove upon thy person=fight you

Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,

There is my pledge. (throws down his glove)

pledge=promise to fight

I’ll make it on thy heart,

Ere I taste bread, thou art -in nothing- less

Than I have here proclaimed thee.

 

ALBANY

Thou art armed, Gloucester. Let the trumpet sound.

If none appear to prove upon thy person

Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,

There is my pledge. (throws down his glove)

I’ll make it on thy heart,

Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less

Than I have here proclaimed thee.

 

REGAN

Sick, oh, sick!

I am sick

 

REGAN

Sick, oh, sick!

 

GONERIL

(aside) If not, I’ll ne'er trust medicine.

(Goneril has poisoned her)

 

GONERIL

(aside) If not, I’ll ne'er trust medicine.

 

EDMUND

(throwing down his glove)

There’s my exchange. What in the world he is

what=whatever

That names me traitor, villainlike he lies.

Call by thy trumpet. He that dares approach,

On him—on you, who not?—I will maintain

on you, who not?=on anyone and everyone (by fighting)

My truth and honor firmly.

 

EDMUND

(throwing down his glove)

There’s my exchange. What in the world he is

That names me traitor, villainlike he lies.

Call by thy trumpet. He that dares approach,

On him—on you, who not?—I will maintain

My truth and honor firmly.

 

ALBANY

A herald, ho!

 

ALBANY

A herald, ho!

 

EDMUND

A herald, ho, a herald!

 

EDMUND

A herald, ho, a herald!

 

Enter a HERALD

Enter a HERALD

ALBANY

(to EDMUND) Trust to thy single virtue, for thy soldiers,

single virtue=solitary power

All levied in my name, have in my name

Took their discharge.

 

ALBANY

(to EDMUND) Trust to thy single virtue, for thy soldiers,

All levied in my name, have in my name

Took their discharge.

 

REGAN

   My sickness grows upon me.

 

REGAN

   My sickness grows upon me.

 

ALBANY

She is not well. Convey her to my tent.

 

ALBANY

She is not well. Convey her to my tent.

 

Exit REGAN, led

Exit REGAN, led

Come hither, herald.—Let the trumpet sound,—

And read out this. (gives the HERALD a document)

 

Come hither, herald.—Let the trumpet sound,—

And read out this. (gives the HERALD a document)

 

SECOND CAPTAIN

Sound, trumpet!

 

SECOND CAPTAIN

Sound, trumpet!

 

A trumpet sounds

A trumpet sounds

HERALD

(reads)

“If any man of quality or degree (rank) within the lists of the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloucester, that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear by the third sound of the trumpet. He (Edmund) is bold in his (own) defense.”

 

HERALD

(reads)

“If any man of quality or degree within the lists of the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloucester, that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear by the third sound of the trumpet. He is bold in his defense.”

 

EDMUND

Sound!

 

EDMUND

Sound!

 

First trumpet

First trumpet

HERALD

Again!

 

HERALD

Again!

 

Second trumpet

Second trumpet

HERALD

Again!

 

HERALD

Again!

 

Third trumpet Trumpet answers within. Enter EDGAR, at the third sound, armed, a trumpet before him.

Third trumpet Trumpet answers within. Enter EDGAR, at the third sound, armed, a trumpet before him.

ALBANY

(to HERALD) Ask him his purposes, why he appears

Upon this call o' th' trumpet.

 

ALBANY

(to HERALD) Ask him his purposes, why he appears

Upon this call o' th' trumpet.

 

HERALD

What are you?

Your name, your quality, and why you answer

This present summons?

 

HERALD

What are you?

Your name, your quality, and why you answer

This present summons?

 

EDGAR

   O, know, my name is lost,

By treason’s tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.

Yet am I noble as the adversary

I come to cope withal.

cope=fight

 

EDGAR

   O, know, my name is lost,

By treason’s tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.

Yet am I noble as the adversary

I come to cope withal.

 

ALBANY

   Which is that adversary?

 

ALBANY

   Which is that adversary?

 

EDGAR

What’s he that speaks for Edmund, Earl of Gloucester?

 

EDGAR

What’s he that speaks for Edmund, Earl of Gloucester?

 

EDMUND

Himself. What sayst thou to him?

 

EDMUND

Himself. What sayst thou to him?

 

EDGAR

     Draw thy sword,

That if my speech offend a noble heart

Thy arm may do thee justice. (draws his sword) Here is mine.

Behold: it is the privilege of mine honors,

behold=behold this sword

My oath, and my profession. I protest—

profession – four syllables – profession as a knight

Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,

maugre=despite

Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune,

fire-new=newly forged

Thy valor and thy heart—thou art a traitor,

False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father,

Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince,

prince=Albany

And from th' extremest upward of thy head

To the descent and dust below thy foot

from tip to toe

A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou “No,”

This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent

To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,

whereto=to which

Thou liest.

 

EDGAR

     Draw thy sword,

That if my speech offend a noble heart

Thy arm may do thee justice. (draws his sword) Here is mine.

Behold: it is the privilege of mine honors,

My oath, and my profession. I protest—

Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,

Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune,

Thy valor and thy heart—thou art a traitor,

False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father,

Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince,

And from th' extremest upward of thy head

To the descent and dust below thy foot

A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou “No,”

This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent

To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,

Thou liest.

 

EDMUND

   In wisdom I should ask thy name.

But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,

And that thy tongue, some say, of breeding breathes,

What safe and nicely I might well delay

By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.

Back do I toss these treasons to thy head

With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart—

with=along with

o’erwhelm=in order to overwhelm

Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,

they=treasons and lies

This sword of mine shall give them instant way,

way=pathway to the heart

Where they shall rest forever.—Trumpets, speak!

they=Edmund’s treasons and lies

 

EDMUND

   In wisdom I should ask thy name.

But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,

And that thy tongue, some say, of breeding breathes,

What safe and nicely I might well delay

By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.

Back do I toss these treasons to thy head

With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart—

Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,

This sword of mine shall give them instant way,

Where they shall rest forever.—Trumpets, speak!

 

 

Alarums. EDMUND and EDGAR fight. EDMUND falls.

Alarums. EDMUND and EDGAR fight. EDMUND falls.

ALBANY

(to Edgar) Save him, save him!

 

ALBANY

Save him, save him!

 

GONERIL

This is practice, Gloucester.

By th' law of arms thou wast not bound to answer

An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquished,

But cozened and beguiled.

 

GONERIL

This is practice, Gloucester.

By th' law of arms thou wast not bound to answer

An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquished,

But cozened and beguiled.

 

ALBANY

   Shut your mouth, dame,

Or with this paper shall I stop it.—Hold, sir,

(gives the letter to EDMUND)

Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.—

(to GONERIL) Nay, no tearing, lady. I perceive you know it.

tearing=tearing up the paper

 

ALBANY

   Shut your mouth, dame,

Or with this paper shall I stop it.—Hold, sir,

(gives the letter to EDMUND)

Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.—

(to GONERIL) Nay, no tearing, lady. I perceive you know it.

 

GONERIL

Say, if I do? The laws are mine, not thine.

(since she rules, she is the law)

Who can arraign me for ’t?

 

GONERIL

Say, if I do? The laws are mine, not thine.

Who can arraign me for ’t?

 

ALBANY

   Most monstrous, oh!

(to EDMUND) Know’st thou this paper?

 

ALBANY

   Most monstrous, oh!

(to EDMUND) Know’st thou this paper?

 

EDMUND

Ask me not what I know.

 

EDMUND

Ask me not what I know.

 

Exit GONERIL

Exit GONERIL

ALBANY

Go after her. She’s desperate. Govern her.

 

ALBANY

Go after her. She’s desperate. Govern her.

 

Exit a soldier

Exit a soldier

EDMUND

What you have charged me with, that have I done—

And more, much more. The time will bring it out.

'Tis past, and so am I.

(to EDGAR)

   But what art thou

That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble,

hast this fortune=have pressed this bad luck

I do forgive thee.

 

EDMUND

What you have charged me with, that have I done—

And more, much more. The time will bring it out.

'Tis past, and so am I.

(to EDGAR)

   But what art thou

That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble,

I do forgive thee.

 

EDGAR

   Let’s exchange charity.

I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund.

If more, the more thou’st wronged me.

if more=if not more

My name is Edgar, and thy father’s son.

The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices

Make instruments to plague us.

The dark and vicious place where thee he got

vicious=immoral

got=begot

Cost him his eyes.

 

EDGAR

   Let’s exchange charity.

I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund.

If more, the more thou’st wronged me.

My name is Edgar, and thy father’s son.

The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices

Make instruments to plague us.

The dark and vicious place where thee he got

Cost him his eyes.

 

EDMUND

   Thou’st spoken right. 'Tis true.

The wheel is come full circle. I am here.

 

EDMUND

   Thou’st spoken right. 'Tis true.

The wheel is come full circle. I am here.

 

ALBANY

Methought thy very gait did prophesy

A royal nobleness. I must embrace thee.

Let sorrow split my heart if ever I

Did hate thee or thy father.

 

ALBANY

Methought thy very gait did prophesy

A royal nobleness. I must embrace thee.

Let sorrow split my heart if ever I

Did hate thee or thy father.

 

EDGAR

Worthy prince, I know ’t.

 

EDGAR

Worthy prince, I know ’t.

 

ALBANY

Where have you hid yourself?

How have you known the miseries of your father?

 

ALBANY

Where have you hid yourself?

How have you known the miseries of your father?

 

EDGAR

By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale,

list=listen to

And when ’tis told, oh, that my heart would burst!

The bloody proclamation to escape,

(to escape the bloody proclamation)

That followed me so near—O our lives' sweetness,

That we the pain of death would hourly die

Rather than die at once!—taught me to shift

Into a madman’s rags, t' assume a semblance

That very dogs disdained. And in this habit

that very dogs=that the very dogs

Met I my father with his bleeding rings,

rings=eye sockets

Their precious stones new lost, became his guide,

Led him, begged for him, saved him from despair.

Never—O fault!—revealed myself unto him

Until some half-hour past, when I was armed.

Not sure, though hoping of this good success,

I asked his blessing, and from first to last

Told him my pilgrimage. But his flawed heart—

Alack, too weak the conflict to support—

'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,

Burst smilingly.

 

 

EDGAR

By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale,

And when ’tis told, oh, that my heart would burst!

The bloody proclamation to escape,

That followed me so near—O our lives' sweetness,

That we the pain of death would hourly die

Rather than die at once!—taught me to shift

Into a madman’s rags, t' assume a semblance

That very dogs disdained. And in this habit

Met I my father with his bleeding rings,

Their precious stones new lost, became his guide,

Led him, begged for him, saved him from despair.

Never—O fault!—revealed myself unto him

Until some half-hour past, when I was armed.

Not sure, though hoping of this good success,

I asked his blessing, and from first to last

Told him my pilgrimage. But his flawed heart—

Alack, too weak the conflict to support—

'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,

Burst smilingly.

 

 

EDMUND

   This speech of yours hath moved me,

And shall perchance do good. But speak you on.

You look as you had something more to say

 

EDMUND

   This speech of yours hath moved me,

And shall perchance do good. But speak you on.

You look as you had something more to say

 

ALBANY

If there be more, more woeful, hold it in.

For I am almost ready to dissolve,

(dissolve into tears)

Hearing of this.

 

ALBANY

If there be more, more woeful, hold it in.

For I am almost ready to dissolve,

Hearing of this.

 

EDGAR

   This would have seemed a period

To such as love not sorrow, but another

but another=but at another time

To amplify too much would make much more

much more=much more sorrow

And top extremity.

Whilst I was big in clamor came there in a man

big in clamor=sobbing loudly

Who, having seen me in my worst estate,

Shunned my abhorred society, but then, finding

Who ’twas that so endured, with his strong arms

He fastened on my neck, and bellowed out

As he’d burst heaven, threw him on my father,

threw=threw himself

Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him

That ever ear received—which in recounting

His grief grew puissant and the strings of life

puissant=overpowering

Began to crack. Twice then the trumpets sounded,

trumpets=announcements of the upcoming fight

And there I left him tranced.

 

EDGAR

   This would have seemed a period

To such as love not sorrow, but another

To amplify too much would make much more

And top extremity.

Whilst I was big in clamor came there in a man

Who, having seen me in my worst estate,

Shunned my abhorred society, but then, finding

Who ’twas that so endured, with his strong arms

He fastened on my neck, and bellowed out

As he’d burst heaven, threw him on my father,

Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him

That ever ear received—which in recounting

His grief grew puissant and the strings of life

Began to crack. Twice then the trumpets sounded,

And there I left him tranced.

 

 

ALBANY

     But who was this?

 

ALBANY

     But who was this?

 

EDGAR

Kent, sir, the banished Kent, who in disguise

Followed his enemy king and did him service

Improper for a slave.

 

EDGAR

Kent, sir, the banished Kent, who in disguise

Followed his enemy king and did him service

Improper for a slave.

 

Enter SECOND KNIGHT with a bloody knife

Enter SECOND KNIGHT with a bloody knife

SECOND KNIGHT

   Help, help, O, help!

 

SECOND KNIGHT

   Help, help, O, help!

 

EDGAR

     What kind of help?

 

EDGAR

     What kind of help?

 

ALBANY

Speak, man.

 

ALBANY

Speak, man.

 

EDGAR

What means that bloody knife?

 

EDGAR

What means that bloody knife?

 

SECOND KNIGHT

'Tis hot, it smokes.

It came even from the heart of—oh, she’s dead!

 

SECOND KNIGHT

'Tis hot, it smokes.

It came even from the heart of—oh, she’s dead!

 

ALBANY

Who dead? Speak, man.

 

ALBANY

Who dead? Speak, man.

 

SECOND KNIGHT

Your lady, sir, your lady. And her sister

By her is poisoned. She confesses it.

 

SECOND KNIGHT

Your lady, sir, your lady. And her sister

By her is poisoned. She confesses it.

 

EDMUND

I was contracted to them both. All three

three=three of us

Now marry in an instant.

(unite in death)

 

EDMUND

I was contracted to them both. All three

Now marry in an instant.

 

EDGAR

   Here comes Kent.

 

EDGAR

   Here comes Kent.

 

ALBANY

Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead.

This judgment of the heavens that makes us tremble

Touches us not with pity.

 

ALBANY

Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead.

This judgment of the heavens that makes us tremble

Touches us not with pity.

 

Exit SECOND KNIGHT

Exit SECOND KNIGHT

Enter KENT

Enter KENT

Oh, is this he?

(Kent is still in disguise)

The time will not allow the compliment

Which very manners urges.

 

Oh, is this he?

The time will not allow the compliment

Which very manners urges.

 

KENT

   I am come

To bid my king and master aye good night.

Is he not here?

 

KENT

   I am come

To bid my king and master aye good night.

Is he not here?

 

ALBANY

   Great thing of us forgot!—

great thing=important person

Speak, Edmund, where’s the king? And where’s Cordelia?—

 

ALBANY

   Great thing of us forgot!—

Speak, Edmund, where’s the king? And where’s Cordelia?—

 

REGAN’s and GONERIL’s corpses are brought out

REGAN’s and GONERIL’s corpses are brought out

Seest thou this object, Kent?

Seest thou this object, Kent?

Kent

Alack, why thus?

 

Kent

Alack, why thus?

 

EDMUND

Yet Edmund was beloved.

The one the other poisoned for my sake,

And after slew herself.

 

EDMUND

Yet Edmund was beloved.

The one the other poisoned for my sake,

And after slew herself.

 

ALBANY

   Even so.—Cover their faces.

 

ALBANY

   Even so.—Cover their faces.

 

EDMUND

I pant for life. Some good I mean to do

Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send—

Be brief in it—to th' castle, for my writ

Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia.

Nay, send in time!

 

EDMUND

I pant for life. Some good I mean to do

Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send—

Be brief in it—to th' castle, for my writ

Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia.

Nay, send in time!

 

ALBANY

   Run, run, O, run!

 

ALBANY

   Run, run, O, run!

 

EDGAR

To who, my lord?—Who hath the office? Send

Thy token of reprieve.

 

EDGAR

To who, my lord?—Who hath the office? Send

Thy token of reprieve.

 

EDMUND

Well thought on. Take my sword. The captain—

Give it the captain.

 

EDMUND

Well thought on. Take my sword. The captain—

Give it the captain.

 

ALBANY

   Haste thee for thy life.

 

ALBANY

   Haste thee for thy life.

 

Exit a soldier

Exit a soldier

EDMUND

He hath commission from thy wife and me

To hang Cordelia in the prison and

To lay the blame upon her own despair,

That she fordid herself.

fordid=killed

 

EDMUND

He hath commission from thy wife and me

To hang Cordelia in the prison and

To lay the blame upon her own despair,

That she fordid herself.

 

ALBANY

The gods defend her!—bear him hence awhile.

 

ALBANY

The gods defend her!—bear him hence awhile.

 

Exit soldiers with EDMUND

Exit soldiers with EDMUND

Enter LEAR with CORDELIA in his arms, aTHIRD KNIGHT following

Enter LEAR with CORDELIA in his arms, aTHIRD KNIGHT following

LEAR

Howl, howl, howl, howl! Oh, you are men of stones.

Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so

That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone forever.

I know when one is dead and when one lives.

She’s dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass.

If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,

stone=polished stone used as a mirror

Why then, she lives.

 

LEAR

Howl, howl, howl, howl! Oh, you are men of stones.

Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so

That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone forever.

I know when one is dead and when one lives.

She’s dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass.

If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,

Why then, she lives.

 

KENT

   Is this the promised end?

end=Day of Doom

 

KENT

   Is this the promised end?

 

EDGAR

Or image of that horror?

 

EDGAR

Or image of that horror?

 

ALBANY

   Fall and cease.

(heavens fall, the world cease)

 

ALBANY

   Fall and cease.

 

LEAR

This feather stirs. She lives. If it be so,

It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows

That ever I have felt.

 

LEAR

This feather stirs. She lives. If it be so,

It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows

That ever I have felt.

 

KENT

   O my good master!

 

KENT

   O my good master!

 

LEAR

Prithee, away.

 

LEAR

Prithee, away.

 

EDGAR

   'Tis noble Kent, your friend.

 

EDGAR

   'Tis noble Kent, your friend.

 

LEAR

A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!

I might have saved her. Now she’s gone forever.—

Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha?

What is ’t thou say’st?—Her voice was ever soft,

Gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.—

I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee.

 

LEAR

A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!

I might have saved her. Now she’s gone forever.—

Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha?

What is ’t thou say’st?—Her voice was ever soft,

Gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.—

I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee.

 

THIRD KNIGHT

'Tis true, my lords, he did.

 

THIRD KNIGHT

'Tis true, my lords, he did.

 

LEAR

     Did I not, fellow?

I have seen the day with my good biting falchion

falchion=curved broadsword

I would have made them skip. I am old now,

And these same crosses spoil me. (to KENT) Who are you?

crosses spoil=afflictions weaken

Mine eyes are not o' th' best, I’ll tell you straight.

 

LEAR

     Did I not, fellow?

I have seen the day with my good biting falchion

I would have made them skip. I am old now,

And these same crosses spoil me. (to KENT) Who are you?

Mine eyes are not o' th' best, I’ll tell you straight.

 

KENT

If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated,

One of them we behold.

(Fortune loved and hated Lear)

 

KENT

If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated,

One of them we behold.

 

LEAR

   This a dull (dully perceived) sight.

Are you not Kent?

 

LEAR

   This a dull sight.

Are you not Kent?

 

KENT

The same. Your servant Kent.

Where is your servant Caius?

 

KENT

The same. Your servant Kent.

Where is your servant Caius?

 

LEAR

He’s a good fellow, I can tell you that.

He’ll strike, and quickly, too. He’s dead and rotten.

dead and rotten=dead now

 

LEAR

He’s a good fellow, I can tell you that.

He’ll strike, and quickly, too. He’s dead and rotten.

 

KENT

No, my good lord. I am the very man—

 

KENT

No, my good lord. I am the very man—

 

LEAR

I’ll see that straight (in good time).

 

LEAR

I’ll see that straight.

 

KENT

That from your first of difference and decay

Have followed your sad steps.

 

KENT

That from your first of difference and decay

Have followed your sad steps.

 

LEAR

     You’re welcome hither.

 

LEAR

     You’re welcome hither.

 

KENT

Nor no man else. All’s cheerless, dark, and deadly.

Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves

And desperately are dead.

 

KENT

Nor no man else. All’s cheerless, dark, and deadly.

Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves

And desperately are dead.

 

LEAR

   Ay, so I think.

 

LEAR

   Ay, so I think.

 

ALBANY

He knows not what he says, and vain it is

That we present us to him.

 

ALBANY

He knows not what he says, and vain it is

That we present us to him.

 

Enter THIRD MESSENGER

Enter THIRD MESSENGER

EDGAR

     Very bootless.

 

EDGAR

     Very bootless.

 

THIRD MESSENGER

Edmund is dead, my lord.

 

THIRD MESSENGER

Edmund is dead, my lord.

 

ALBANY

   That’s but a trifle here.—

You lords and noble friends, know our intent.

What comfort to this great decay may come

decay=decay of Lear

Shall be applied. For us, we will resign

During the life of this old majesty

To him our absolute power.

(to EDGAR and KENT)

   You, to your rights

With boot, and such addition as your honors

boot=compensation

Have more than merited.—All friends shall taste

The wages of their virtue, and all foes

The cup of their deservings. O, see, see!

 

 

ALBANY

   That’s but a trifle here.—

You lords and noble friends, know our intent.

What comfort to this great decay may come

Shall be applied. For us, we will resign

During the life of this old majesty

To him our absolute power.

(to EDGAR and KENT)

   You, to your rights

With boot, and such addition as your honors

Have more than merited.—All friends shall taste

The wages of their virtue, and all foes

The cup of their deservings. O, see, see!

 

 

LEAR

And my poor fool is hanged.—No, no, no life?

fool=term of endearment for Cordelia

Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,

And thou no breath at all? Oh, thou'lt come no more,

Never, never, never, never, never.—

Pray you, undo this button. Thank you, sir.

Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.

Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.

 

LEAR

And my poor fool is hanged.—No, no, no life?

Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,

And thou no breath at all? Oh, thou'lt come no more,

Never, never, never, never, never.—

Pray you, undo this button. Thank you, sir.

Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.

Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.

 

(dies)

(dies)

EDGAR

He faints!—My lord, my lord!

 

EDGAR

He faints!—My lord, my lord!

 

KENT

Break, heart. I prithee, break!

 

KENT

Break, heart. I prithee, break!

 

EDGAR

(to LEAR) Look up, my lord.

 

EDGAR

(to LEAR) Look up, my lord.

 

KENT

Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass. He hates him

That would upon the rack of this tough world

Stretch him out longer.

 

KENT

Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass. He hates him

That would upon the rack of this tough world

Stretch him out longer.

 

EDGAR

   Oh, he is gone indeed.

 

EDGAR

   Oh, he is gone indeed.

 

KENT

The wonder is he hath endured so long.

He but usurped his life.

 

KENT

The wonder is he hath endured so long.

He but usurped his life.

 

ALBANY

Bear them from hence. Our present business

Is to general woe.

(to KENT and EDGAR) Friends of my soul, you twain

Rule in this realm and the gored state sustain.

 

ALBANY

Bear them from hence. Our present business

Is to general woe.

(to KENT and EDGAR) Friends of my soul, you twain

Rule in this realm and the gored state sustain.

 

KENT

I have a journey, sir, shortly to go.

My master calls me. I must not say no.

 

KENT

I have a journey, sir, shortly to go.

My master calls me. I must not say no.

 

EDGAR

The weight of this sad time we must obey.

Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

The oldest hath borne most. We that are young

Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

 

EDGAR

The weight of this sad time we must obey.

Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

The oldest hath borne most. We that are young

Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

 

Exeunt with a dead march

Exeunt with a dead march