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Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: King Lear (Modern, Folio)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • Textual editors: James D. Mardock, Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • Research assistants: Quinn MacDonald, Michelle Spelay
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-463-9

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Modern, Folio)

    Enter Lear, Kent [disguised], and Fool.
    Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
    The tyranny of the open night's too rough
    1780For nature to endure.
    Storm still
    Lear
    Let me alone.
    Good my lord, enter here.
    Lear
    Wilt break my heart?
    I had rather break mine own. 1785Good my lord, enter.
    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,
    1790But if thy flight lay toward the roaring 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!
    1795Is 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,
    1800Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all!--
    Oh, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
    No more of that.
    Good my lord, enter here.
    Prithee go in thyself, seek thine own ease.
    1805This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
    On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.
    [To the Fool] In boy, go first. You houseless poverty--
    Nay get thee in.
    Exit [the Fool].
    I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.
    Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are
    1810That 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.
    1815Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel
    That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
    And show the heavens more just.
    Enter Edgar [as Poor Tom, behind,] and [the] Fool.
    Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom.
    Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!
    Give me thy hand. Who's there?
    A spirit, a spirit. He says his name's Poor Tom.
    What art thou that dost grumble there i'th'straw? Come forth.
    [Edgar comes forward.]
    Away, the foul fiend follows me. Through the sharp hawthorn blow the winds. Humh, go to thy bed and warm thee.
    Did'st thou give all to thy daughters? And art thou come to this?
    Who gives anything to poor Tom, whom the foul fiend hath led though fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o'er bog and 1835quagmire; 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. O do, de, do, de, do de. 1840Bless 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
    Have his daughters brought him to this pass? 1845Couldst thou save nothing? Wouldst thou give 'em all?
    Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all shamed.
    Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
    Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters.
    He hath no daughters, sir.
    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?
    1855Judicious punishment. 'Twas this flesh begot
    Those pelican daughters.
    Pillicock sat on Pillicock hill. Alow, alow, loo, loo.
    This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
    Take heed o'th'foul fiend, obey thy parents, keep thy word's justice, swear not, commit not with man's sworn spouse, set not thy sweetheart on proud array. Tom's a-cold.
    What hast thou been?
    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 1870contriving of lust and waked to do it. Wine loved I dearly, dice dearly, and in woman out-paramoured 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 1875nor 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, dolphin my boy, 1880boy sesey. Let him trot by.
    Storm still
    Thou wert better in a 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 1885wool, the cat no perfume. Ha? Here's three on's are sophisticated; thou art the thing itself. Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. Off, off you lendings. [Attempts to take off his clothes] Come, unbutton here.
    Prithee nuncle be contented. 'Tis a naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old letcher's heart, a small spark, all the rest on's body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.
    1890Enter Gloucester with a torch.
    This is the foul Flibbertigibet. He begins at curfew and walks at 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.
    [Sings.]
    1900Swithold footed thrice the wold,
    He met the nightmare and her ninefold,
    Bid her alight
    And her troth plight,
    And aroint thee witch, aroint thee.
    How fares your grace?
    What's he?
    Who's there? What is't you seek?
    Gloucester
    What are you there? Your names?
    Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water; that 1910in 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 three suits 1915to 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, Smolking, peace thou fiend!
    1920Gloucester
    What, hath your grace no better company?
    The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo, he's called, and Mahu.
    Gloucester
    Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so
    Vile that it doth hate what gets it.
    Poor Tom's a-cold.
    Gloucester
    [To Lear] Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer
    T'obey in all your daughters' hard commands.
    Though their injunction be to bar my doors
    And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
    1930Yet have I ventured to come seek you out
    And bring you where both fire and food is ready.
    First let me talk with this philosopher.
    What is the cause of thunder?
    Good my lord, take his offer. 1935Go into th'house.
    I'll talk a word with this same learnèd Theban.
    What is your study?
    How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.
    Let me ask you one word in private.
    [To Gloucester] Importune him once more to go, my lord.
    His wits begin t'unsettle.
    Gloucester
    Canst thou blame him?
    Storm still
    His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent,
    He said it would be thus, poor banished man.
    1945Thou 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. True to tell thee
    1950The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night's this?
    [To Lear] I do beseech your grace--
    Lear
    Oh, cry you mercy, sir.
    Noble philosopher, your company.
    Tom's a-cold.
    1955Gloucester
    In fellow. There, into th'hovel; keep thee warm.
    Come, let's in all.
    Kent
    This way, my lord.
    Lear
    With him.
    I will keep still with my philosopher.
    [To Gloucester] Good my lord, soothe him. Let him take the fellow.
    Gloucester
    Take him you on.
    Sirrah, come on. Go along with us.
    Come, good Athenian.
    1965Gloucester
    No words, no words, hush.
    Childe Rowland to the dark tower came,
    His word was still "Fie, foh, and fum,
    I smell the blood of a British man."