A line-by-line translation

King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 2, Scene 3

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Enter EDGAR

EDGAR

I heard myself proclaimed, And by the happy hollow of a tree Escaped the hunt. No port is free, no place That guard and most unusual vigilance Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may ’scape, I will preserve myself, and am bethought To take the basest and most poorest shape That ever penury in contempt of man Brought near to beast. My face I’ll grime with filth, Blanket my loins, elf all my hair in knots, And with presented nakedness outface The winds and persecutions of the sky. The country gives me proof and precedent Of Bedlam beggars, who with roaring voices Strike in their numbed and mortified bare arms Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary, And with this horrible object from low farms, Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills, Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers, Enforce their charity. “Poor Turlygod!” “Poor Tom!”— That’s something yet. Edgar I nothing am.

EDGAR

I heard myself declared an outlaw, and I was lucky to escape those hunting me by hiding in the trunk of a tree. No port or road is safe for me, and everywhere people are watching and waiting to arrest me. But I'll survive as long as I can avoid being captured. I've decided to disguise myself as the filthiest, lowliest beggar that was ever hated by man. I'll smear my face with dirt, wear a loincloth, make my hair tangled and knotted, and face the wind and bad weather almost naked. I've seen in this country beggars who come from insane asylums, who shriek and stab pins, skewers, nails, and sprigs of rosemary into their numb and deadened arms. With this horrible spectacle, along with their insane curses and occasional prayers, they force lowly farmers and poor villagers to give them alms. "Poor Turylgood!" "Poor Tom!" they call themselves. That's at least something to be. I'm nothing when I'm known as Edgar.

Exit

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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.