A line-by-line translation

King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 3, Scene 4

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Enter LEAR, KENT disguised, and FOOL

KENT

Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.The tyranny of the open night’s too roughFor nature to endure.

KENT

Here's the place, my lord. Please go in, my lord. Tonight's storm is too rough for human nature to endure.

Storm still

LEAR

Let me alone.

LEAR

Leave me alone.

KENT

Good my lord, enter here.

KENT

My good lord, please enter the shed.

LEAR

Wilt break my heart?

LEAR

Do you want to break my heart?

KENT

I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.

KENT

I would rather break my own than yours. My good lord, please go in.

LEAR

Thou think’st ’tis much that this contentious storm Invades us to the skin. So ’tis to thee. But where the greater malady is fixed The lesser is scarce felt. Thou’dst shun a bear, But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea Thou’dst meet the bear i' th' mouth. When the mind’s free, The body’s delicate. The tempest in my mind Doth from my senses take all feeling else Save what beats there—filial ingratitude. Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand For lifting food to ’t? But I will punish home. No, I will weep no more. In such a night To shut me out! Pour on, I will endure. In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril, Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all— Oh, that way madness lies. Let me shun that. No more of that.

LEAR

You think it's bad that this angry storm soaks us to the skin. So it seems to you. But a large pain makes a small pain feel insignificant. You would run from a bear, but if the only way to run was into the raging sea, then you'd turn and face the bear head-on. When the mind is untroubled, the body is sensitive. The storm in my mind keeps me from noticing anything but the thing that tortures me—my ungrateful children. Isn't their ingratitude like the mouth biting the hand that feeds it? I will punish them thoroughly. No, I won't weep anymore. To shut me out on a night like this! But pour on, rain, I will endure. On a night like this! Oh Regan, Goneril, your kind old father, whose generous heart gave you everything . . . But no, that path leads to insanity. Let me avoid such thoughts. No more of that.

KENT

Good my lord, enter here.

KENT

My good lord, please go inside.

LEAR

Prithee, go in thyself. Seek thine own ease. This tempest will not give me leave to ponder On things would hurt me more. But I’ll go in. [to FOOL] In, boy. Go first. You houseless poverty— Nay, get thee in. I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep.

LEAR

Please, go in yourself. Seek your own comfort. This storm keeps me from thinking thoughts that would hurt me even more. But I'll go in. 

[To the FOOL] Go in, boy. You go first. Oh, you poor homeless people . . . No, you go in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.

Exit FOOL

Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta'en Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp. Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, That thou mayst shake the superflux to them And show the heavens more just.

Poor homeless wretches, wherever you are, suffering through this pitiless storm—with no roof over your heads, no fat on your ribs, and only rags for clothing: how will you defend yourselves against such weather? Oh, when I was king I should have done more for you! Cure yourself, men who live in luxury. Expose yourself to feel what the poor and homeless feel, so you can give them the surplus wealth you don't need, and make the world a more just place.

EDGAR

[within] Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom!

EDGAR

[From inside the cow shed] The water's nine feet deep, nine feet deep! Poor Tom!

Enter FOOL

FOOL

Come not in here, nuncle. Here’s a spirit. Help me, help me!

FOOL

Don't come in here, uncle—there's a ghost in here. Help me, help me!

KENT

Give me thy hand. Who’s there?

KENT

Give me your hand. Who's there?

FOOL

A spirit, a spirit. He says his name’s Poor Tom.

FOOL

A ghost, a ghost. He says his name's Poor Tom.

KENT

What art thou that dost grumble there i' th' straw? Come forth.

KENT

Who are you, grumbling in the straw in there? Come out.

Enter EDGAR disguised

EDGAR

Away! The foul fiend follows me! Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Hum! Go to thy cold bed and warm thee.

EDGAR

Keep away! The devil follows me! The cold wind blows through the sharp hawthorn trees. Hum! Go to your cold beds and warm yourselves up.

LEAR

Didst thou give all to thy two daughters, and art thoucome to this?

LEAR

Did you give everything to your two daughters, and end up like this?

EDGAR

Who gives any thing to Poor Tom, whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlipool, o'er bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge, made him proud of heart to ride on a bay trotting-horse over four-inched bridges tocourse his own shadow for a traitor? Bless thy five wits. Tom’s a-cold. Oh, do-de, do-de, do-de. Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do Poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now—and there—and there again—and there.

EDGAR

Who gives anything to Poor Tom? The devil has led him through fire and through flame, through rivers and whirlpools, over bogs and swamps. The devil's put knives under his pillow and nooses in his church pew, set rat poison near his soup and made him race his horse over narrow bridges to hunt his shadow like a traitor—all in an effort to get Poor Tom to kill himself. Bless your five senses. Tom's cold. Oh, do-de, do-de, do-de. May God protect you from whirlwinds, evil fates, and bewitchment! Be kind to Poor Tom, who is tormented by the devil. I could catch him there now—and there—and there again—and there!

Storm still

LEAR

What, has his daughters brought him to this pass?—Couldst thou save nothing? Wouldst thou give 'em all?

LEAR

What, have his daughters reduced him to this miserable state? 

[To EDGAR] Could you keep nothing for yourself? Did you give them everything?

FOOL

Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all shamed.

FOOL

No, he kept a blanket for himself, or else he'd be naked and we'd be ashamed to look at him.

LEAR

Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air Hang fated o'er men’s faults light on thy daughters!

LEAR

Then may your daughters be struck by all the plagues that hover in the air, controlling the fates of sinners!

KENT

He hath no daughters, sir.

KENT

He doesn't have any daughters, sir.

LEAR

Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature To such a lowness but his unkind daughters. Is it the fashion that discarded fathers Should have thus little mercy on their flesh? Judicious punishment! 'Twas this flesh begot Those pelican daughters.

LEAR

Death to you—you're a traitor for saying that! Nothing could have degraded him like this except for unkind daughters. Is this the current style, that the bodies of neglected fathers should get so little pity ? That's a fitting punishment! Because it was from my body that I fathered those bloodsucking daughters.

EDGAR

Pillicock sat on Pillicock hill. Alow, alow, loo, loo!

EDGAR

Pillicock sat on Pillicock hill. Alow, alow, loo, loo!

FOOL

This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.

FOOL

This cold night will turn us all into fools and madmen.

EDGAR

Take heed o' th' foul fiend. Obey thy parents, keep thyword’s justice, swear not, commit not with man’s sworn spouse, set not thy sweet heart on proud array. Tom’s a-cold.

EDGAR

Beware the devil. Obey your parents; keep your word; don't use God's name in vain; don't commit adultery; and don't covet luxurious clothing. Tom's cold.

LEAR

What hast thou been?

LEAR

What were you before you became like this?

EDGAR

A servingman, proud in heart and mind, that curled my hair, wore gloves in my cap, served the lust of my mistress' heart and did the act of darkness with her, swore as many oaths as I spake words and broke them in the sweet face of heaven—one that slept in the contriving of lust and waked to do it. Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly, and in woman outparamoured the Turk. False of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand—hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the creaking of shoes northe rustling of silks betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets,thy pen from lenders' books, and defy the foul fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind, says, “Suum, mun, nonny.” Dauphin my boy, my boy, cessez. Let him trot by.

EDGAR

I was a servant, proud in my heart and my mind. I curled my hair; carried tokens of my lovers; served my mistress's lust and slept with her; swore as many oaths as I spoke words; and broke them all without shame. I went to sleep planning lustful acts and woke up to do them. I loved wine deeply and gambling dearly, and I had more lovers than a sultan has in his harem. My heart was false, my ears were quick to hear gossip, and my hands were violent. I was as lazy as a hog, as stealthy as a fox, as greedy as a wolf, as crazy as a dog, and as violent as a lion. Don't ever let your heart be seduced by a woman. Keep your feet out of brothels and your hands away from skirts, stay out of debt, and defy the devil. The cold wind still blows through the hawthorne trees, saying "Suum, mun, nonny." The devil my boy, my boy, stop that. Let him trot on by.

Storm still

LEAR

Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.—Is man no more than this? Consider him well.— Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! Here’s three on ’s are sophisticated. Thou art the thing itself. Unaccommodatedman is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art.—Off, off, you lendings! Come. Unbutton here. [tears at his clothes]

LEAR

Why, you'd be better off dead than to face this violent storm with only your naked body. Is this all a man is? Look at him. 

[To EDGAR] You don't owe the silkworm for silk, the cow for leather, the sheep for wool, or the civet cat for perfume. Ha! The three of us are fake and shallow compared to you. You are the thing itself. A man without the trappings of civilization is just a poor, naked, two-legged animal like you. Off, off with my clothing. Come, let me unbutton this. [He tears at his own clothes]

FOOL

Prithee, nuncle, be contented. 'Tis a naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher’s heart—a small spark, all the rest on ’s body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.

FOOL

Please, uncle, calm down. It's a bad night for swimming. On a night like this a little fire in a barren field would be like the heart of a lustful old man—a small spark in a cold body. [GLOUCESTER enters with a torch] Look, here comes a walking fire.

EDGAR

This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins at curfew and walks till the first cock. He gives the web and the pin, squints the eye and makes the harelip, mildews the white wheat and hurts the poor creature of earth. St. Withold footed thrice the 'old. He met the nightmare and her ninefold, Bid her alight, And her troth plight. And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!

EDGAR

That is the devil Flibbertigibbet. He wakes up at nightfall and walks around until midnight. He makes eyes squint from cataracts, makes cleft lips, rots the ripe wheat, and hurts the poor creatures of the earth. Saint Withold walked the field three times. He met a demon and her nine offspring, told her to fly away, and made her swear to never return. And begone, witch, begone!

KENT

How fares your grace?

KENT

How are you feeling, your Grace?

LEAR

[indicating GLOUCESTER] What’s he?

LEAR

[Pointing to GLOUCESTER] Who's he?

KENT

Who’s there? What is ’t you seek?

KENT

Who's there? What is it you want?

GLOUCESTER

What are you there? Your names?

GLOUCESTER

Who are you? What are your names?

EDGAR

Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall newt, and the water; that in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow dung for salads, swallows the old rat and the ditch-dog, drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to tithing and stocked, punished and imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body, Horse to ride and weapon to wear. But mice and rats and such small deer Have been Tom’s food for seven long year. Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin. Peace, thou fiend!

EDGAR

Poor Tom, who eats frogs, toads, tadpoles, lizards, and newts. When his heart is furious and the devil rages, Tom eats cow dung for salads, swallows old rats and dead dogs, and drinks the green pond scum. Tom is whipped in every town and put in the stocks, punished and imprisoned, but Tom once was a servant with three suits and six shirts. And a horse to ride and a sword to wear. But mice and rats and deer have been Tom's food for seven long years. Beware the devil who follows me. Quiet, Smulkin. Quiet, you devil!

GLOUCESTER

[to LEAR] What, hath your grace no better company?

GLOUCESTER

[To LEAR] What, don't you have any better companions than this, your Grace?

EDGAR

The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo he’s called, and Mahu.

EDGAR

The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. He's called Modo and Mahu.

GLOUCESTER

[To LEAR] Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vileThat it doth hate what gets it.

GLOUCESTER

[To LEAR] My lord, our children have grown so wicked that they hate the parents who made them.

EDGAR

Poor Tom’s a-cold.

EDGAR

Poor Tom is cold.

GLOUCESTER

Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer To obey in all your daughters' hard commands. Though their injunction be to bar my doors And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you, Yet have I ventured to come seek you out And bring you where both fire and food is ready.

GLOUCESTER

Come back to my house with me. My duty to you wouldn't allow me to obey all your daughters' harsh commands. They ordered me to shut my doors and let this brutal night have its way with you. But instead I've come here to find you and bring you to a place where there's both food and fire.

LEAR

First let me talk with this philosopher.— [to EDGAR] What is the cause of thunder?

LEAR

First let me talk with this philosopher. 

[To EDGAR] What is the cause of thunder?

KENT

[to LEAR] Good my lord, take his offer. Go into the house.

KENT

[To LEAR] My good lord, take his offer and go back to the house with him.

LEAR

I’ll talk a word with this same learnèd Theban.—What is your study?

LEAR

First I'll talk with this Greek scholar here. 

[To EDGAR] What is your field of study?

EDGAR

How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.

EDGAR

How to resist the devil and kill rats.

LEAR

Let me ask you one word in private.

LEAR

Let me ask you something in private.

LEAR and EDGAR talk aside

KENT

[aside to GLOUCESTER] Importune him once more to go, mylord.His wits begin t' unsettle.

KENT

[To GLOUCESTER so that only he can hear] Ask him again to go with you, my lord. He's beginning to go crazy.

GLOUCESTER

Canst thou blame him?

GLOUCESTER

Can you blame him?

Storm still

His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent— He said it would be thus, poor banished man. Thou say’st the king grows mad. I’ll tell thee, friend, I am almost mad myself. I had a son, Now outlawed from my blood. He sought my life, But lately, very late. I loved him, friend— No father his son dearer. Truth to tell thee, The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night’s this! [to LEAR] I do beseech your grace—

His daughters want him dead. Ah, that good Kent—he predicted that it would be like this, the poor banished man. You say the king is going crazy. I'll tell you, friend, I have almost gone crazy myself. I had a son, but I've now disowned him. He tried to kill me just recently, very recently. I loved him, friend. No father ever loved his son more than I did. To tell you the truth, the grief has almost made me crazy. What a night this is! 

[To LEAR] Please, your Grace—

LEAR

O, cry your mercy, sir.— [to EDGAR] Noble philosopher, your company.

LEAR

Oh, I beg your pardon, sir. 

[To EDGAR] Noble philosopher, speak with me.

EDGAR

Tom’s a-cold.

EDGAR

Tom's cold.

GLOUCESTER

In, fellow. There, into th' hovel. Keep thee warm.

GLOUCESTER

Then go in, man. There, into the cow shed. Keep yourself warm.

LEAR

Come let’s in all.

LEAR

Let's all go in.

KENT

This way, my lord.

KENT

No, come this way, my lord.

LEAR

[indicating EDGAR] With him!I will keep still with my philosopher.

LEAR

[Pointing to EDGAR] I'll go with him! I want to stay with my philosopher.

KENT

[to GLOUCESTER] Good my lord, soothe him. Let him takethe fellow.

KENT

[To GLOUCESTER] My good lord, let's humor him. Let him take that man with him.

GLOUCESTER

Take him you on.

GLOUCESTER

Bring him with you, then.

KENT

[to EDGAR ] Sirrah, come on. Go along with us.

KENT

[To EDGAR] Sir, come on. Come along with us.

LEAR

Come, good Athenian.

LEAR

Come, good philosopher.

GLOUCESTER

No words, no words. Hush.

GLOUCESTER

Quiet, quiet. Hush.

EDGAR

Child Roland to the dark tower came,His word was still “Fie, foh, and fum,I smell the blood of a British man.”

EDGAR

The young knight Roland came to the dark tower. His motto was always "Fee, fie, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman."

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.