Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Nahum Tate
Editor: Lynne Bradley
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Adapted by Nahum Tate) (Modern)

Inconstancy, the reigning sin of the age,
Will scarce endure true lovers on the stage.
You hardly even in plays with such dispense,
And poets kill them in their own defense.
2530Yet one bold proof I was resolved to give,
That I could three hours' constancy outlive.
You fear, perhaps, whilst on the stage we are made
Such saints, we shall indeed take up the trade.
Sometimes we threaten -- but our virtue may
2535For truth I fear with your pit-valor weigh.
For (not to flatter either) I much doubt
When we are off the stage, and you are out,
We are not quite so coy, nor you so stout.
We talk of nunneries -- but to be sincere,
2540Whoever lives to see us cloistered there,
May hope to meet our critics at Tangier.
For shame, give over this inglorious trade
Of worrying poets, and go maul the Alcade.
Well -- since you are all for blustering in the pit,
2545This play's reviver humbly does admit
Your absolute power to damn his part of it.
But still so many master-touches shine
Of that vast hand that first laid this design,
That in great Shakespeare's right, he's bold to say
2550If you like nothing you have seen today
The play your judgment damns, not you the play.