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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    1655Storm still. Enter Lear and Fool.
    Blow winds and crack your cheeks. Rage, blow
    You cataracts, and hurricanoes spout,
    Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks.
    You sulfurous and thought-executing fires,
    1660Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
    Singe my white head, and thou all-shaking thunder,
    Strike flat the thick rotundity o'th'world,
    Crack nature's molds; all germens spill at once
    That makes ingrateful man.
    O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than this rainwater out o'door. Good nuncle, in; ask thy daughters' blessing. Here's a night pities neither wise men, nor fools.
    Rumble thy bellyful. Spit fire, spout rain.
    1670Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters.
    I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness.
    I never gave you kingdom, called you children.
    You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
    Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
    1675A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.
    But yet I call you servile ministers,
    That will with two pernicious daughters join
    Your high-engendered battles 'gainst a head
    So old and white as this. Oh ho, 'tis foul.
    He that has a house to put's head in, has a good headpiece.
    The codpiece that will house
    Before the head has any,
    The head and he shall louse,
    So beggars marry many.
    The man that makes his toe
    What he his heart should make,
    1685Shall of a corn cry woe,
    And turn his sleep to wake.
    For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass.
    Enter Kent [disguised].
    No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
    1690I will say nothing.
    [He sits.]
    Who's there?
    Marry here's grace, and a codpiece, that's a wise man and a fool.
    Alas, sir, are you here? Things that love night
    1695Love not such nights as these. The wrathful skies
    Gallow the very wanderers of the dark
    And make them keep their caves. Since I was man
    Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
    Such groans of roaring wind and rain I never
    1700Remember to have heard. Man's nature cannot carry
    Th'affliction, nor the fear.
    Let the great gods
    That keep this dreadful pudder o'er our heads
    Find out their enemies now. Tremble thou wretch
    1705That hast within thee undivulgèd crimes
    Unwhipped of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand,
    Thou perjured, and thou simular of virtue
    That art incestuous; caitiff, to pieces shake,
    That under covert and convenient seeming
    1710Has practised on man's life; close pent-up guilts,
    Rive your concealing continents and cry
    These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
    More sinned against than sinning.
    Alack, bare-headed?
    1715Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel.
    Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest.
    Repose you there while I to this hard house--
    More harder than the stones whereof 'tis raised--
    Which even but now, demanding after you,
    1720Denied me to come in, return and force
    Their scanted courtesy.
    My wits begin to turn.
    [To the Fool] Come on my boy. How dost my boy? Art cold?
    I am cold myself. [To Kent] Where is this straw, my fellow?
    1725The art of our necessities is strange,
    And can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.
    Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
    That's sorry yet for thee.
    He that has and a little tiny wit,
    1730 With heigh, ho, the wind and the rain,
    Must make content with his fortunes fit,
    Though the rain it raineth every day.
    True, boy. [To Kent] Come bring us to this hovel.
    Exeunt [all but the Fool].
    This is a brave night to cool a courtesan. 1735I'll speak a prophecy ere I go.
    When priests are more in word than matter,
    When brewers mar their malt with water,
    When nobles are their tailors' tutors,
    No heretics burned but wenches' suitors;
    1740When every case in law is right,
    No squire in debt, nor no poor knight;
    When slanders do not live in tongues,
    Nor cut-purses come not to throngs;
    When usurers tell their gold i'th'field,
    1745And bawds and whores do churches build;
    Then shall the realm of Albion
    Come to great confusion.
    Then comes the time, who lives to see't,
    That going shall be used with feet.
    This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time.