A line-by-line translation

King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 3, Scene 2

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Storm still. Enter LEAR and FOOL

LEAR

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks! You sulfurous and thought-executing fires, Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts, Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder, Smite flat the thick rotundity o' th' world, Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once That make ingrateful man!

LEAR

Blow, winds, until your cheeks crack! Rage on, storm! You whirlwinds and tornadoes, pour out water until you've drenched the steeples of our churches and drowned their weathervanes! You sulfurous and deadly lightning—herald of the mighty thunderbolts that split oak trees—singe the white hair on my head! And you, thunder that shakes everything, crush the spherical world flat, and crack open the molds from which nature forms humans, and spill all the seeds that grow up to become ungrateful mankind!

FOOL

O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than this rainwater out o' door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters blessing. Here’s a night pities neither wise man nor fool.

FOOL

Oh, uncle, encountering false holy water (like flattering courtier's speeches) in a dry house is better than being outside getting soaked by rainwater. Please, uncle, let’s go inside and ask your daughters to forgive you. This stormy night has no pity for either wise men or fools.

LEAR

Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout, rain! Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters. I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness. I never gave you kingdom, called you children. You owe me no subscription. Why then, let fall Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand, your slave— A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man. But yet I call you servile ministers, That will with two pernicious daughters joined Your high engendered battles 'gainst a head So old and white as this. Oh, ho! 'Tis foul.

LEAR

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FOOL

He that has a house to put ’s head in has a good headpiece. The codpiece that will house Before the head has any— The head and he shall louse. So beggars marry many. The man that makes his toe What he his heart should make Shall of a corn cry woe, And turn his sleep to wake. For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass.

FOOL

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Enter KENT disguised

LEAR

No, I will be the pattern of all patience.I will say nothing.

LEAR

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KENT

Who’s there?

KENT

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FOOL

Marry, here’s grace and a codpiece—that’s a wise man and a fool.

FOOL

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KENT

[to LEAR] Alas, sir, are you here? Things that love night Love not such nights as these. The wrathful skies Gallow the very wanderers of the dark And make them keep their caves. Since I was man, Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder, Such groans of roaring wind and rain I never Remember to have heard. Man’s nature cannot carry Th' affliction nor the fear.

KENT

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LEAR

Let the great gods That keep this dreadful pudder o'er our heads Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch That hast within thee undivulgèd crimes Unwhipped of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand, Thou perjured, and thou simular man of virtue That art incestuous. Caitiff, to pieces shake, That under covert and convenient seeming Hast practiced on man’s life. Close pent-up guilts, Rive your concealing continents and cry These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man More sinned against than sinning.

LEAR

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KENT

Alack, bareheaded? Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel. Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest. Repose you there, while I to this hard house— More harder than the stones whereof ’tis raised, Which even but now, demanding after you, Denied me to come in—return, and force Their scanted courtesy.

KENT

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LEAR

My wits begin to turn.— [to FOOL] Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?Iam cold myself. [to KENT] Where is this straw, my fellow? The art of our necessities is strange That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel. Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart That’s sorry yet for thee.

LEAR

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FOOL

[sings] He that has and a little tiny wit— With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain— Must make content with his fortunes fit, For the rain it raineth every day.

FOOL

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LEAR

True, my good boy.—Come, bring us to this hovel.

LEAR

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Exeunt LEAR and KENT

FOOL

This is a brave night to cool a courtesan. I’ll speak a prophecy ere I go. When priests are more in word than matter, When brewers mar their malt with water, When nobles are their tailors' tutors, No heretics burned but wenches' suitors, When every case in law is right, No squire in debt nor no poor knight, When slanders do not live in tongues, Nor cutpurses come not to throngs, When usurers tell their gold i' th' field, And bawds and whores do churches build— Then shall the realm of Albion Come to great confusion. Then comes the time, who lives to see ’t, That going shall be used with feet. This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time.

FOOL

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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.