A line-by-line translation

King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND

KENT

I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albanythan Cornwall.

KENT

I thought the king liked the Duke of Albany more than the Duke of Cornwall.

GLOUCESTER

It did always seem so to us. But now in the division ofthe kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most, for equalities are so weighed that curiosity in neither can make choice of either’s moiety.

GLOUCESTER

It always seemed like that to me, too. But now that he has divided the kingdom, no one can tell which duke he prefers the most. He's divided the kingdom so evenly that not even the closest scrutiny reveals any favoritism to either one.

KENT

[indicating EDMUND ] Is not this your son, my lord?

KENT

[Pointing to EDMUND] Isn't this your son, my lord?

GLOUCESTER

His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed toit.

GLOUCESTER

Well, his education has certainly been at my expense. I used to be embarrassed to acknowledge him as my son, but I've done it so many times now that I can do it without blushing.

KENT

I cannot conceive you.

KENT

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GLOUCESTER

Sir, this young fellow’s mother could, whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell afault?

GLOUCESTER

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KENT

I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.

KENT

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GLOUCESTER

But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year olderthan this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Though this knave came something saucily to the world before hewas sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.— Do you know this noble gentleman, Edmund?

GLOUCESTER

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EDMUND

No, my lord.

EDMUND

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GLOUCESTER

My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honorable friend.

GLOUCESTER

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EDMUND

My services to your lordship.

EDMUND

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KENT

I must love you and sue to know you better.

KENT

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EDMUND

Sir, I shall study deserving.

EDMUND

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GLOUCESTER

He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again.

GLOUCESTER

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Sennet.

The king is coming.

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Enter one bearing a coronet, then King LEAR, then the Dukes of CORNWALL and ALBANY, next GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and attendants

LEAR

Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

I shall, my lord.

GLOUCESTER

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Exit GLOUCESTER

LEAR

Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.— Give me the map there.— Know that we have divided In three our kingdom, and ’tis our fast intent To shake all cares and business from our age, Conferring them on younger strengths while we Unburdened crawl toward death.— Our son of Cornwall, And you, our no less loving son of Albany, We have this hour a constant will to publish Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife May be prevented now. The two great princes, France and Burgundy, Great rivals in our youngest daughter’s love, Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn, And here are to be answered.— Tell me, my daughters, (Since now we will divest us both of rule, Interest of territory, cares of state) Which of you shall we say doth love us most That we our largest bounty may extend Where nature doth with merit challenge?— G oneril, Our eldest born, speak first.

LEAR

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GONERIL

Sir, I do love you more than words can wield the matter, Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty, Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare, No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor, As much as child e'er loved or father found— A love that makes breath poor and speech unable. Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

GONERIL

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CORDELIA

[Aside] What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.

CORDELIA

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LEAR

Of all these bounds, even from this line to this, With shadowy forests and with champains riched, With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads, We make thee lady. To thine and Albany’s issue Be this perpetual.—What says our second daughter, Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall? Speak.

LEAR

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REGAN

Sir, I am made of that self mettle as my sister, And prize me at her worth. In my true heart, I find she names my very deed of love— Only she comes too short, that I profess Myself an enemy to all other joys, Which the most precious square of sense possesses. And find I am alone felicitate In your dear highness' love.

REGAN

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CORDELIA

[Aside] Then poor Cordelia!And yet not so, since I am sure my love’sMore ponderous than my tongue.

CORDELIA

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LEAR

To thee and thine hereditary ever Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom, No less in space, validity, and pleasure Than that conferred on Goneril.— But now, our joy, Although our last and least, to whose young love The vines of France and milk of Burgundy Strive to be interessed. What can you say to draw A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.

LEAR

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CORDELIA

Nothing, my lord.

CORDELIA

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LEAR

Nothing?

LEAR

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CORDELIA

Nothing.

CORDELIA

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LEAR

How? Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.

LEAR

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CORDELIA

Unhappy that I am, I cannot heaveMy heart into my mouth. I love your majestyAccording to my bond, no more nor less.

CORDELIA

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LEAR

How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little,Lest you may mar your fortunes.

LEAR

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CORDELIA

Good my lord, You have begot me, bred me, loved me. I Return those duties back as are right fit— Obey you, love you, and most honor you. Why have my sisters husbands if they say They love you all? Haply when I shall wed That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry Half my love with him, half my care and duty. Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters, To love my father all.

CORDELIA

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LEAR

But goes thy heart with this?

LEAR

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CORDELIA

Ay, good my lord.

CORDELIA

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LEAR

So young and so untender?

LEAR

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CORDELIA

So young, my lord, and true.

CORDELIA

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LEAR

Let it be so. Thy truth then be thy dower. For by the sacred radiance of the sun, The mysteries of Hecate and the night, By all the operation of the orbs From whom we do exist and cease to be— Here I disclaim all my paternal care, Propinquity, and property of blood, And as a stranger to my heart and me Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian, Or he that makes his generation messes To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved As thou my sometime daughter.

LEAR

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KENT

Good my liege—

KENT

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LEAR

Peace, Kent. Come not between the dragon and his wrath. I loved her most and thought to set my rest On her kind nursery. [To CORDELIA] Hence, and avoid my sight!— So be my grave my peace as here I give Her father’s heart from her.— Call France. Who stirs? Call Burgundy.—

LEAR

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Exeunt several attendants

Cornwall and Albany, With my two daughters' dowers digest this third. Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her. I do invest you jointly with my power, Preeminence, and all the large effects That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course, With reservation of an hundred knights By you to be sustained, shall our abode Make with you by due turns. Only shall we retain The name, and all th' additions to a king. The sway, revenue, execution of the rest, Belovèd sons, be yours; which to confirm, This coronet part between you. [Gives CORNWALL and ALBANY the coronet]

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KENT

Royal Lear, Whom I have ever honored as my king, Loved as my father, as my master followed, As my great patron thought on in my prayers—

KENT

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LEAR

The bow is bent and drawn. Make from the shaft.

LEAR

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KENT

Let it fall rather, though the fork invade The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man? Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor’s bound When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state, And in thy best consideration check This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment, Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least, Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound Reverbs no hollowness.

KENT

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LEAR

Kent, on thy life, no more.

LEAR

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KENT

My life I never held but as a pawn To wage against thy enemies , nor fear to lose it, Thy safety being motive.

KENT

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LEAR

Out of my sight!

LEAR

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KENT

See better, Lear, and let me still remainThe true blank of thine eye.

KENT

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LEAR

Now, by Apollo—

LEAR

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KENT

Now, by Apollo, King,Thou swear’st thy gods in vain.

KENT

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LEAR

O vassal! Miscreant!

LEAR

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ALBANY, CORNWALL

Dear sir, forbear!

ALBANY, CORNWALL

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KENT

Do, kill thy physician, and the fee bestow Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy gift, Or whilst I can vent clamor from my throat, I’ll tell thee thou dost evil.

KENT

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LEAR

Hear me, recreant! On thine allegiance hear me. That thou hast sought to make us break our vows, Which we durst never yet, and with strained pride To come betwixt our sentence and our power, Which nor our nature nor our place can bear, Our potency made good, take thy reward: Five days we do allot thee for provision To shield thee from diseases of the world. And on the sixth to turn thy hated back Upon our kingdom. If on the next day following Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions, The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter, This shall not be revoked.

LEAR

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KENT

Why, fare thee well, King. Sith thus thou wilt appear, Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here. [To CORDELIA] The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid, That justly think’st and hast most rightly said! [To REGAN and GONERIL] And your large speeches may your deeds approve, That good effects may spring from words of love.— Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu. He’ll shape his old course in a country new.

KENT

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Exit KENT

Flourish. Enter GLOUCESTER with the King of FRANCE, the Duke of BURGUNDY, and attendants

GLOUCESTER

Here’s France and Burgundy, my noble lord.

GLOUCESTER

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LEAR

My lord of Burgundy. We first address towards you, who with this king Hath rivaled for our daughter. What in the least Will you require in present dower with her Or cease your quest of love?

LEAR

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BURGUNDY

Most royal majesty, I crave no more than hath your highness offered.Nor will you tender less.

BURGUNDY

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LEAR

Right noble Burgundy, When she was dear to us we did hold her so, But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands. If aught within that little seeming substance, Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced And nothing more, may fitly like your grace, She’s there, and she is yours.

LEAR

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BURGUNDY

I know no answer.

BURGUNDY

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LEAR

Sir, will you, with those infirmities she owes— Unfriended, new adopted to our hate, Dowered with our curse and strangered with our oath— Take her or leave her?

LEAR

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BURGUNDY

Pardon me, royal sir.Election makes not up in such conditions.

BURGUNDY

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LEAR

Then leave her, sir, for by the power that made me, I tell you all her wealth. [To FRANCE] For you, great King, I would not from your love make such a stray To match you where I hate. Therefore beseech you T' avert your liking a more worthier way Than on a wretch whom Nature is ashamed Almost t' acknowledge hers.

LEAR

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FRANCE

This is most strange, That she that even but now was your best object— The argument of your praise, balm of your age, Most best, most dearest— should in this trice of time Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle So many folds of favor. Sure, her offense Must be of such unnatural degree That monsters it (or your fore-vouched affection Fall into taint), which to believe of her Must be a faith that reason without miracle Could never plant in me.

FRANCE

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CORDELIA

[To LEAR] I yet beseech your majesty, If for I want that glib and oily art To speak and purpose not— since what I well intend, I’ll do ’t before I speak— that you make known It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness, No unchaste action or dishonored step That hath deprived me of your grace and favor, But even for want of that for which I am richer: A still-soliciting eye and such a tongue As I am glad I have not, though not to have it Hath lost me in your liking.

CORDELIA

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LEAR

Go to, go to. Better thou Hadst not been born than not t' have pleased me better.

LEAR

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FRANCE

Is it no more but this—a tardiness in nature Which often leaves the history unspoke That it intends to do?— My lord of Burgundy, What say you to the lady? Love’s not love When it is mingled with regards that stands Aloof from th' entire point. Will you have her? She is herself a dowry.

FRANCE

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BURGUNDY

[To LEAR] Royal King, Give but that portion which yourself proposed, And here I take Cordelia by the hand, Duchess of Burgundy.

BURGUNDY

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LEAR

Nothing. I have sworn. I am firm.

LEAR

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BURGUNDY

[To CORDELIA] I am sorry then. You have so lost a fatherThat you must lose a husband.

BURGUNDY

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CORDELIA

Peace be with Burgundy.Since that respects and fortunes are his love, I shall not be his wife.

CORDELIA

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FRANCE

Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poor, Most choice forsaken, and most loved despised! Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon, Be it lawful I take up what’s cast away. Gods, gods! 'Tis strange that from their cold’st neglect My love should kindle to inflamed respect.— Thy dowerless daughter, King, thrown to my chance, Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France. Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.— Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind. Thou losest here, a better where to find.

FRANCE

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LEAR

Thou hast her, France. Let her be thine, for we Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see That face of hers again. [To CORDELIA] Therefore be gone Without our grace, our love, our benison.— Come, noble Burgundy.

LEAR

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Flourish

Exeunt all but FRANCE, GONERIL, REGAN, and CORDELIA

FRANCE

Bid farewell to your sisters.

FRANCE

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CORDELIA

The jewels of our father, with washed eyes Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are, And like a sister am most loath to call Your faults as they are named. Love well our father. To your professèd bosoms I commit him. But yet, alas, stood I within his grace, I would prefer him to a better place. So farewell to you both.

CORDELIA

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REGAN

Prescribe not us our duty.

REGAN

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GONERIL

Let your study Be to content your lord, who hath received you At fortune’s alms. You have obedience scanted, And well are worth the want that you have wanted.

GONERIL

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CORDELIA

Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides,Who covers faults at last with shame derides.Well may you prosper.

CORDELIA

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FRANCE

Come, my fair Cordelia.

FRANCE

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Exeunt FRANCE and CORDELIA

GONERIL

Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence tonight.

GONERIL

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REGAN

That’s most certain, and with you. Next month with us.

REGAN

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GONERIL

You see how full of changes his age is. The observationwe have made of it hath not been little. He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.

GONERIL

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REGAN

'Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.

REGAN

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GONERIL

The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash. Then must we look from his age to receive not alone the imperfections of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.

GONERIL

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REGAN

Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent’s banishment.

REGAN

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GONERIL

There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and him. Pray you, let’s sit together. If our father carry authority with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.

GONERIL

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REGAN

We shall further think on ’t.

REGAN

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GONERIL

We must do something, and i' th' heat.

GONERIL

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Exeunt

King lear
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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.