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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Edgar [disguised as Poor Tom].
    Yet better thus, and known to be contemned,
    2180Than 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,
    2185Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace.
    The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
    Owes nothing to thy blasts.
    Enter Gloucester, and an Old Man.
    But who comes here?
    My father, poorly led? 2190World, world, O world!
    But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
    Life would not yield to age.
    [Edgar stands aside.]
    Old Man
    O my good lord, I have been your tenant,
    And your father's tenant, these fourscore years--
    Away, get thee away. Good friend, be gone.
    Thy comforts can do me no good at all,
    Thee they may hurt.
    Old Man
    You cannot see your way.
    I have no way and therefore want no eyes;
    2200I 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
    2205I'd say I had eyes again.
    Old Man
    How now, who's there?
    [Aside] O gods! Who is't can say "I am at the worst"?
    I am worse then ere I was.
    Old Man
    'Tis poor mad Tom.
    [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?
    Is it a beggar man?
    Old Man
    Madman, and beggar too.
    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. 2220I have heard more since.
    As flies to wanton boys are we to th'gods;
    They kill us for their sport.
    [Aside] How should this be?
    Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
    2225Angering itself and others. [Aloud] Bless thee master.
    Is that the naked fellow?
    Old Man
    Ay, my lord.
    Get thee away. If for my sake
    Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain
    2230I'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.
    'Tis the time's plague 2235when 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.
    Sirrah, naked fellow.
    Poor Tom's a cold. [Aside] I cannot daub it further.
    Come hither, fellow.
    [Aside] And yet I must. [Aloud] Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
    Know'st thou the way to Dover?
    Both stile, and gate, horse-way, and footpath, poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits. Bless thee, good man's son, from the foul fiend.
    Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
    2250Have 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 does not feel, feel your power quickly;
    2255So distribution should undo excess,
    And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
    Ay, master.
    There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
    Looks fearfully in the confinèd deep.
    2260Bring 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.
    Give me thy arm.
    2265Poor Tom shall lead thee.