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King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 2, Scene 1

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Enter EDMUND the bastard and CURAN, severally

EDMUND

Save thee, Curan.

EDMUND

Hello, Curan. God bless you.

CURAN

And you, sir. I have been with your father and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his duchess will be here with him this night.

CURAN

And you, sir. I've seen your father recently, and I told him that the Duke of Cornwall and the Duchess Regan will be staying here with him tonight.

EDMUND

How comes that?

EDMUND

Why is that?

CURAN

Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad?—I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments.

CURAN

I don't know. Have you heard the news from abroad? I mean the whispered rumors, since that's all they are right now.

EDMUND

Not I. Pray you, what are they?

EDMUND

No, but please tell me. What are they?

CURAN

Have you heard of no likely wars toward ’twixt the twoDukes of Cornwall and Albany?

CURAN

You haven't heard that there might be a war soon between the Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?

EDMUND

Not a word.

EDMUND

Not at all.

CURAN

You may do then in time. Fare you well, sir.

CURAN

You may soon. Farewell, sir.

Exit CURAN

EDMUND

The duke be here tonight? The better—best! This weaves itself perforce into my business. My father hath set guard to take my brother. And I have one thing, of a queasy question, Which I must act. Briefness and fortune, work!— Brother, a word. Descend, brother, I say.

EDMUND

The duke will be here tonight? This is even better—in fact, it's the very best! This can be woven into my plan. My father is waiting to catch Edgar in the act of plotting against him, and I still have one risky action to take. May swift action and good fortune make me succeed! Brother, could I have a word with you? Come down, brother, I say.

Enter EDGAR

My father watches. O sir, fly this place. Intelligence is given where you are hid. You have now the good advantage of the night. Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall aught? He’s coming hither—now, i' th' night, i' th' haste, And Regan with him. Have you nothing said Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany? Advise yourself.

My father is looking for you. Oh, sir, flee this place. Someone has spied out your hiding place. Leave now, while you have the cover of darkness. Have you said anything criticizing the Duke of Cornwall? He's coming here—rushing here tonight, and Regan is with him. Have you said anything against the Duke of Albany, his enemy? Consider carefully.

EDGAR

I am sure on ’t, not a word.

EDGAR

I'm sure of it, not a word.

EDMUND

I hear my father coming. Pardon me. In cunning I must draw my sword upon you. Draw. Seem to defend yourself. Now quit you well.— [loudly] Yield! Come before my father. Light, ho! Here! [aside to EDGAR ] Fly, brother, fly. [loudly] Torches, torches! [aside to EDGAR ] So, farewell.

EDMUND

I hear my father coming. Pardon me. We must pretend to fight now. Draw your sword. Pretend to defend yourself. Now play your role convincingly. [Loudly] Give up! I'll bring you before my father. Hey, bring in some light! Here!

[To EDGAR so that so only he can hear]
Run, brother, run. 

[Loudly] Torches, bring torches! 

[To EDGAR, so that only he can hear] Farewell, then.

Exit EDGAR

Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion Of my more fierce endeavor. [cuts his own arm] I have seen drunkards Do more than this in sport.— Father, father!— Stop, stop!—No help?

[To himself] Some blood on me would give the impression that I fought more fiercely. [He cuts his own arm] I've seen drunkards do more than this as a joke.

[To GLOUCESTER]
Father, father! Stop, stop! Will no one help me?

Enter GLOUCESTER and servants with torches

GLOUCESTER

Now Edmund, where’s the villain?

GLOUCESTER

Now, Edmund, where's the villain?

EDMUND

Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moonTo stand ’s auspicious mistress—

EDMUND

He was standing here in the dark with his sharp sword out, mumbling some wicked spells, asking the moon to give him good luck in his dark deeds—

GLOUCESTER

But where is he?

GLOUCESTER

But where is he?

EDMUND

Look, sir, I bleed.

EDMUND

Look, sir, I'm bleeding.

GLOUCESTER

Where is the villain, Edmund?

GLOUCESTER

Where is the villain, Edmund?

EDMUND

Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could—

EDMUND

He fled that way, sir, when he couldn't—

GLOUCESTER

Pursue him, ho! Go after.

GLOUCESTER

After him, now! Go.

Exeunt some servants

“By no means” what?

"When he couldn't" what?

EDMUND

Persuade me to the murder of your lordship, But that I told him the revenging gods 'Gainst parricides did all the thunder bend, Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond The child was bound to th' father. Sir, in fine, Seeing how loathly opposite I stood To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion, With his preparèd sword he charges home My unprovided body, latched mine arm. And when he saw my best alarumed spirits, Bold in the quarrel’s right, roused to the encounter, Or whether ghasted by the noise I made, Full suddenly he fled.

EDMUND

When he couldn't persuade me to murder you, my lord. I told him that the angry gods unleash all their thunder on those who kill their fathers, and reminded him of the strong, sacred bond between a child and his father. Sir, in the end he saw how firmly opposed I was to his monstrous plan, and with a deadly thrust of his sword, he lunged at my unprotected body and pierced my arm. But when he saw my spirits rally and, as I prepared to fight, my boldness in defending my righteous cause, he suddenly ran away. Otherwise he was scared off by my shouting.

GLOUCESTER

Let him fly far. Not in this land shall he remain uncaught. And found—dispatch. The noble duke my master, My worthy arch and patron, comes tonight. By his authority I will proclaim it That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks, Bringing the murderous coward to the stake. He that conceals him, death.

GLOUCESTER

Let him run far. He won't escape for long in this country. And once he's found, he'll be executed. The Duke of Cornwall, my noble master and patron, is coming tonight. I'll proclaim this by his authority: that whoever finds Edgar and helps bring the murderous coward to justice will be rewarded. And if anyone conceals Edgar, they will die.

EDMUND

When I dissuaded him from his intent, And found him pight to do it, with cursed speech I threatened to discover him. He replied, “Thou unpossessing bastard! Dost thou think If I would stand against thee, would the reposal Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee Make thy words faithed? No. What I should deny— As this I would, ay, though thou didst produce My very character—I’d turn it all To thy suggestion, plot, and damnèd practice. And thou must make a dullard of the world, If they not thought the profits of my death Were very pregnant and potential spirits To make thee seek it.”

EDMUND

When I tried to persuade him not to kill you, and found him still determined to do it, I angrily threatened to expose him. He replied, "You penniless bastard! Do you think that if I were to testify against you, anyone would put any trust, value, or worth in your words? You think they'd take your word over mine? No. I'd deny everything—yes, even if you produced evidence in my own handwriting—I'd turn it all against you, making it into evidence of your malice and treachery. And you must think people are stupid if you think they wouldn't realize everything you would gain if I were to die, and thereby realize that you have motive to try to frame me." 

Tucket within

GLOUCESTER

O strange and fastened villain! Would he deny his letter, said he? I never got him.— Hark, the duke’s trumpets. I know not why he comes. All ports I’ll bar. The villain shall not ’scape. The duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture I will send far and near, that all the kingdom May have the due note of him.— And of my land, Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means To make thee capable.

GLOUCESTER

Oh, that monstrous, incurable villain! He would deny his letter, he said? Surely I never fathered him. Listen, there are the duke's trumpets. I don't know why he's come here. I'll shut the town gates and keep any ships from leaving our ports. The villain won't escape. The duke must agree with me about that. I'll also send his picture near and far, so that all the kingdom will be able to look for him. And about my lands, you loyal and loving boy, I'll find a way to make you my legitimate heir.

Enter the Duke of CORNWALL, REGAN, and attendants

CORNWALL

How now, my noble friend? Since I came hither,Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.

CORNWALL

How are you, my noble friend? Ever since I came here—which was only just recently—I've been hearing strange news.

REGAN

If it be true, all vengeance comes too short Which can pursue th' offender. How dost, my lord?

REGAN

If it's true, no punishment could be harsh enough for the offender. How are you doing, my lord?

GLOUCESTER

O madam, my old heart is cracked, it’s cracked.

GLOUCESTER

Oh, madam, my old heart is broken, it's broken.

REGAN

What, did my father’s godson seek your life?—He whom my father named, your Edgar?

REGAN

What, did my father's godson really try to kill you? The one whom my father named—your son, Edgar?

GLOUCESTER

O, lady, lady, shame would have it hid.

GLOUCESTER

Oh, lady, lady, it's so shameful that I wish I could hide it

REGAN

Was he not companion with the riotous knightsThat tend upon my father?

REGAN

Wasn't he a companion of those unruly knights who tend to my father?

GLOUCESTER

I know not, madam. 'Tis too bad, too bad.

GLOUCESTER

I don't know, madam. It's too bad, too bad.

EDMUND

Yes, madam, he was of that consort.

EDMUND

Yes, madam, he was friendly with those knights.

REGAN

No marvel then, though he were ill affected. 'Tis they have put him on the old man’s death, To have th' expense and spoil of his revenues. I have this present evening from my sister Been well informed of them—and with such cautions That if they come to sojourn at my house I’ll not be there.

REGAN

It's no surprise then that they had a bad influence on him. They must have put him up to killing his father, so they could loot the estate once Edgar inherited it. Just tonight I got a letter from my sister, telling me all about them—and warning me that if they should come to stay at my house, I shouldn't be there.

CORNWALL

Nor I, assure thee, Regan.—Edmund, I hear that you have shown your fatherA childlike office.

CORNWALL

I won't be there either, Regan, I assure you. Edmund, I hear that you have been a true and loving son to your father.

EDMUND

It was my duty, sir.

EDMUND

It was my duty, sir.

GLOUCESTER

He did bewray his practice, and receivedThis hurt you see striving to apprehend him.

GLOUCESTER

He exposed Edgar's plans, and got this wound trying to stop him.

CORNWALL

Is he pursued?

CORNWALL

Is Edgar being pursued?

GLOUCESTER

Ay, my good lord.

GLOUCESTER

Yes, my good lord.

CORNWALL

If he be taken, he shall never more Be feared of doing harm. Make your own purpose How in my strength you please.— For you, Edmund, Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant So much commend itself, you shall be ours. Natures of such deep trust we shall much need. You we first seize on.

CORNWALL

If he's caught, we won't have to worry about him ever causing trouble again. Use my power and authority however you like in order to help your cause. As for you, Edmund, your virtue and obedience have been clear throughout this whole affair, so you will serve me from now on. I need people as trustworthy as you are. You are the first one I'll employ.

EDMUND

I shall serve you, sir,Truly, however else.

EDMUND

I will serve you truly and faithfully sir, if nothing else.

GLOUCESTER

[to CORNWALL] For him I thank your grace.

GLOUCESTER

[To CORNWALL] Your Grace, I thank you for honoring him like this.

CORNWALL

You know not why we came to visit you—

CORNWALL

You don't know why we came to visit you—

REGAN

Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night. Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise, Wherein we must have use of your advice: Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister, Of differences, which I least thought it fit To answer from our home. The several messengers From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend, Lay comforts to your bosom, and bestow Your needful counsel to our business, Which craves the instant use.

REGAN

And why we came in this way, unexpectedly and traveling through the dark-eyed night. Noble Gloucester, there are some weighty matters that we could use your advice about. My father has written to me, and so has my sister, both of them describing an argument between them. I thought it would be best if I dealt with this away from my home, as the king might be on his way there. The messengers from Goneril and the king are here, waiting to be sent with a response. So, our good old friend, give us some badly needed advice about this business. We need to act immediately.

GLOUCESTER

I serve you, madam. Your graces are right welcome.

GLOUCESTER

I'm at your service, madam. Your Graces are welcome here.

Flourish. Exeunt

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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.