A line-by-line translation

King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 4, Scene 2

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Enter GONERIL and EDMUND the bastard

GONERIL

Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husbandNot met us on the way.

GONERIL

Welcome, my lord. I'm surprised that my bland husband hasn't met us on the way.

Enter OSWALD

Now, where’s your master?

[To OSWALD] Now, where's your master?

OSWALD

Madam, within—but never man so changed. I told him of the army that was landed. He smiled at it. I told him you were coming. His answer was “The worse.” Of Gloucester’s treachery And of the loyal service of his son, When I informed him, then he called me “sot,” And told me I had turned the wrong side out. What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him; What like, offensive.

OSWALD

He's inside, madam. But you've never seen a man so changed. I told him that the French army had landed, and he smiled at the news. I told him that you were coming, and he answered with "too bad." When I told him about Gloucester's treachery and his son Edmund's loyal service, he called me "fool," and told me I had it backwards. The things he ought to dislike seem pleasant to him, and what should be good news offends him.

GONERIL

[to EDMUND ] Then shall you go no further. It is the cowish terror of his spirit That dares not undertake. He’ll not feel wrongs Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother. Hasten his musters and conduct his powers. I must change names at home, and give the distaff Into my husband’s hands. This trusty servant Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear— If you dare venture in your own behalf— A mistress’s command. Wear this. Spare speech. Decline your head. This kiss, if it durst speak, Would stretch thy spirits up into the air. [kisses EDMUND] Conceive, and fare thee well.

GONERIL

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EDMUND

Yours in the ranks of death.

EDMUND

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GONERIL

My most dear Gloucester!

GONERIL

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Exit EDMUND

Oh, the difference of man and man!To thee a woman’s services are due.My fool usurps my body.

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OSWALD

Madam, here comes my lord.

OSWALD

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Exit OSWALD

Enter ALBANY

GONERIL

I have been worth the whistle.

GONERIL

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ALBANY

O Goneril, You are not worth the dust which the rude wind Blows in your face. I fear your disposition. That nature, which contemns its origin Cannot be bordered certain in itself. She that herself will sliver and disbranch From her material sap perforce must wither And come to deadly use.

ALBANY

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GONERIL

No more. The text is foolish.

GONERIL

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ALBANY

Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile. Filths savor but themselves. What have you done? Tigers, not daughters, what have you performed? A father, and a gracious agèd man, Whose reverence even the head-lugged bear would lick, Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you madded. Could my good brother suffer you to do it— A man, a prince by him so benefited? If that the heavens do not their visible spirits Send quickly down to tame these vile offenses, It will come: Humanity must perforce prey on itself Like monsters of the deep.

ALBANY

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GONERIL

Milk-livered man That bear’st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs— Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning Thine honor from thy suffering; that not know’st Fools do those villains pity who are punished Ere they have done their mischief. Where’s thy drum? France spreads his banners in our noiseless land, With plumèd helm thy state begins to threat, Whiles thou, a moral fool, sits still and cries, “Alack, why does he so?”

GONERIL

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ALBANY

See thyself, devil!Proper deformity shows not in the fiendSo horrid as in woman.

ALBANY

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GONERIL

O vain fool!

GONERIL

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ALBANY

Thou changèd and self-covered thing, for shame! Bemonster not thy feature. Were ’t my fitness To let these hands obey my blood, They are apt enough to dislocate and tear Thy flesh and bones. Howe'er thou art a fiend, A woman’s shape doth shield thee.

ALBANY

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GONERIL

Marry, your manhood, mew!

GONERIL

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Enter FIRST MESSENGER

ALBANY

What news?

ALBANY

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FIRST MESSENGER

O my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall’s dead,Slain by his servant, going to put outThe other eye of Gloucester.

FIRST MESSENGER

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ALBANY

Gloucester’s eyes?

ALBANY

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FIRST MESSENGER

A servant that he bred, thrilled with remorse, Opposed against the act, bending his sword To his great master; who thereat enraged Flew on him and amongst them felled him dead— But not without that harmful stroke, which since Hath plucked him after.

FIRST MESSENGER

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ALBANY

This shows you are above, You justicers, that these our nether crimes So speedily can venge! But oh, poor Gloucester— Lost he his other eye?

ALBANY

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FIRST MESSENGER

Both, both, my lord.—This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.'Tis from your sister.

FIRST MESSENGER

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GONERIL

[aside] One way I like this well. But being widow, and my Gloucester with her, May all the building in my fancy pluck Upon my hateful life. Another way The news is not so tart.— I’ll read and answer.

GONERIL

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Exit GONERIL

ALBANY

Where was his son when they did take his eyes?

ALBANY

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FIRST MESSENGER

Come with my lady hither.

FIRST MESSENGER

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ALBANY

He is not here.

ALBANY

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FIRST MESSENGER

No, my good lord. I met him back again.

FIRST MESSENGER

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ALBANY

Knows he the wickedness?

ALBANY

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FIRST MESSENGER

Ay, my good lord. 'Twas he informed against him, And quit the house on purpose that their punishmentMight have the freer course.

FIRST MESSENGER

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ALBANY

Gloucester, I live To thank thee for the love thou showed’st the king, And to revenge thine eyes.— Come hither, friend. Tell me what more thou know’st.

ALBANY

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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.