A line-by-line translation

King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 4, Scene 6

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Enter GLOUCESTER, and EDGAR disguised in peasant clothing

GLOUCESTER

When shall we come to th' top of that same hill?

GLOUCESTER

When will we come to the top of that cliff?

EDGAR

You do climb up it now. Look how we labor.

EDGAR

You're climbing up it now. See how we sweat and pant?

GLOUCESTER

Methinks the ground is even.

GLOUCESTER

The ground seems flat to me.

EDGAR

Horrible steep.Hark, do you hear the sea?

EDGAR

It's horribly steep. Listen, do you hear the sea?

GLOUCESTER

No, truly.

GLOUCESTER

No, to be honest.

EDGAR

Why then, your other senses grow imperfectBy your eyes' anguish.

EDGAR

Well then, your other senses must have been injured by the trauma of losing your eyes.

GLOUCESTER

So may it be indeed.Methinks thy voice is altered, and thou speak’stIn better phrase and matter than thou didst.

GLOUCESTER

It might be so. It seems that your voice has changed, and you speak more eloquently than you did before.

EDGAR

You’re much deceived. In nothing am I changedBut in my garments.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

Methinks you’re better spoken.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

Come on, sir. Here’s the place. Stand still. How fearful And dizzy ’tis to cast one’s eyes so low! The crows and choughs that wing the midway air Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down Hangs one that gathers samphire—dreadful trade! Methinks he seems no bigger than his head. The fishermen that walk upon the beach Appear like mice. And yon tall anchoring bark, Diminished to her cock, her cock a buoy Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge That on th' unnumbered idle pebbles chafes Cannot be heard so high. I’ll look no more Lest my brain turn and the deficient sight Topple down headlong.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

Set me where you stand.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

Give me your hand. You are now within a footOf th' extreme verge. For all beneath the moonWould I not leap upright.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

Let go my hand. [gives EDGAR another purse] Here, friend, ’s another purse, in it a jewel Well worth a poor man’s taking. Fairies and gods Prosper it with thee! Go thou farther off. Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

Now fare you well, good sir.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

With all my heart.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR moves aside

EDGAR

[aside] Why I do trifle thus with his despairIs done to cure it.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

O you mighty gods, [kneels] This world I do renounce, and in your sights Shake patiently my great affliction off. If I could bear it longer and not fall To quarrel with your great opposeless wills, My snuff and loathèd part of nature should Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!— Now, fellow, fare thee well. (falls)

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

Gone, sir. Farewell. [aside] And yet I know not how conceit may rob The treasury of life when life itself Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought, By this had thought been past. Alive or dead?— Ho you, sir, friend! Hear you, sir? Speak.— Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.— What are you, sir?

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

Away, and let me die.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air, So many fathom down precipitating, Thou’dst shivered like an egg. But thou dost breathe, Hast heavy substance, bleed’st not, speak’st, art sound. Ten masts at each make not the altitude Which thou hast perpendicularly fell. Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

But have I fall'n, or no?

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.Look up a-height. The shrill-gorged lark so farCannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

Alack, I have no eyes. Is wretchedness deprived that benefit, To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort When misery could beguile the tyrant’s rage And frustrate his proud will.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

Give me your arm. Up—so. How is ’t? Feel you your legs? You stand.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

Too well, too well.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

This is above all strangeness.Upon the crown o' th' cliff, what thing was thatWhich parted from you?

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

A poor unfortunate beggar.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

As I stood here below, methought his eyes Were two full moons. He had a thousand noses, Horns whelked and waved like the enragèd sea. It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father, Think that the clearest gods, who make them honors Of men’s impossibilities, have preserved thee.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

I do remember now. Henceforth I’ll bear Affliction till it do cry out itself, “Enough, enough,” and die. That thing you speak of, I took it for a man. Often ’twould say, “The fiend, the fiend!” He led me to that place.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

Bear free and patient thoughts.

EDGAR

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Enter LEAR, mad

But who comes here?The safer sense will ne'er accommodateHis master thus.

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LEAR

No, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the king himself.

LEAR

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EDGAR

[aside] O thou side-piercing sight!

EDGAR

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LEAR

Nature’s above art in that respect. There’s your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a crowkeeper. Draw me a clothier’s yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace, this piece of toasted cheese will do ’t. There’s my gauntlet. I’ll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird. I' th' clout, i' th' clout. Hewgh! Give the word.

LEAR

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EDGAR

Sweet marjoram.

EDGAR

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LEAR

Pass.

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

I know that voice.

GLOUCESTER

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LEAR

Ha! Goneril with a white beard? Ha, Regan? They flattered me like a dog and told me I had white hairs inmy beard ere the black ones were there. To say “Ay” and“No” to everything that I said “Ay” and “No” to was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bidding—there I found 'em, there I smelt 'emout. Go to, they are not men o' their words. They told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie, I am not ague-proof.

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

The trick of that voice I do well remember.Is ’t not the king?

GLOUCESTER

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LEAR

Ay, every inch a king! When I do stare, see how the subject quakes. I pardon that man’s life. What was thy cause? Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No. The wren goes to ’t, and the small gilded fly Does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive, for Gloucester’s bastard son Was kinder to his father than my daughters Got ’tween the lawful sheets. To ’t, luxury, pell-mell! For I lack soldiers. Behold yond simpering dame, Whose face between her forks presages snow; That minces virtue and does shake the head To hear of pleasure’s name. The fitchew, nor the soiled horse, goes to ’t With a more riotous appetite. Down from the waist they are centaurs, Though women all above. But to the girdle do the gods inherit. Beneath is all the fiends'; there’s hell, there’s darkness, There’s the sulphurous pit— burning, scalding, Stench, consumption! Fie, fie, fie, pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, To sweeten my imagination. There’s money for thee.

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

O, let me kiss that hand!

GLOUCESTER

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LEAR

Let me wipe it first. It smells of mortality.

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

O ruined piece of nature! This great worldShall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?

GLOUCESTER

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LEAR

I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid. I’ll not love. Read thou this challenge. Mark but the penning of it.

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

Were all thy letters suns, I could not see one.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

[aside] I would not take this from report. It is,And my heart breaks at it.

EDGAR

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LEAR

Read.

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

What, with the case of eyes?

GLOUCESTER

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LEAR

Oh ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, norno money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light. Yet you see how this world goes.

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

I see it feelingly.

GLOUCESTER

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LEAR

What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how yon justice railsupon yon simple thief. Hark in thine ear: change placesand, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar?

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

Ay, sir.

GLOUCESTER

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LEAR

And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog’s obeyed in office. Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand. Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back. Thou hotly lust’st to use her in that kind For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the cozener. Through tattered clothes great vices do appear; Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks. Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it. None does offend—none, I say, none. I’ll able 'em. Take that of me, my friend, who have the power To seal th' accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes, And like a scurvy politician seem To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now, Pull off my boots. Harder, harder. So.

LEAR

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EDGAR

[aside] O matter and impertinency mixed! Reason in madness!

EDGAR

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LEAR

If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes. I know thee well enough. Thy name is Gloucester. Thou must be patient. We came crying hither. Thou know’st the first time that we smell the air We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark me.

LEAR

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GLOUCESTER

Alack, alack the day!

GLOUCESTER

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LEAR

When we are born, we cry that we are come To this great stage of fools. This a good block. It were a delicate stratagem to shoe A troop of horse with felt. I’ll put ’t in proof. And when I have stol'n upon these sons-in-law, Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

LEAR

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Enter GENTLEMAN with two others

GENTLEMAN

Oh, here he is. Lay hand upon him.—Sir,Your most dear daughter—

GENTLEMAN

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LEAR

No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even The natural fool of fortune. Use me well. You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons. I am cut to th' brains.

LEAR

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GENTLEMAN

You shall have anything.

GENTLEMAN

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LEAR

No seconds? All myself? Why, this would make a man a man of salt, To use his eyes for garden water-pots, Ay, and laying autumn’s dust.

LEAR

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GENTLEMAN

Good sir—

GENTLEMAN

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LEAR

I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom.What, I will be jovial. Come, come.I am a king, my masters, know you that?

LEAR

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GENTLEMAN

You are a royal one, and we obey you.

GENTLEMAN

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LEAR

Then there’s life in ’t. Come, an if you get it, you shall get it by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.

LEAR

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Exit LEAR running, followed by two gentlemen

GENTLEMAN

A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch, Past speaking of in a king. Thou hast a daughter Who redeems nature from the general curse Which twain have brought her to.

GENTLEMAN

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EDGAR

Hail, gentle sir.

EDGAR

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GENTLEMAN

Sir, speed you. What’s your will?

GENTLEMAN

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EDGAR

Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?

EDGAR

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GENTLEMAN

Most sure and vulgar. Everyone hears thatThat can distinguish sound.

GENTLEMAN

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EDGAR

But, by your favor,How near’s the other army?

EDGAR

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GENTLEMAN

Near and on speedy foot. The main descryStands in the hourly thought.

GENTLEMAN

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EDGAR

I thank you, sir. That’s all.

EDGAR

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GENTLEMAN

Though that the queen on special cause is here,Her army is moved on.

GENTLEMAN

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EDGAR

I thank you, sir.

EDGAR

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Exit GENTLEMAN

GLOUCESTER

You ever gentle gods, take my breath from me.Let not my worser spirit tempt me againTo die before you please.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

Well pray you, father.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

Now, good sir, what are you?

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

A most poor man made tame to fortune’s blows, Who by the art of known and feeling sorrows Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand, I’ll lead you to some biding.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

Hearty thanks. The bounty and the benison of heavenTo boot and boot.

GLOUCESTER

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Enter OSWALD the steward

OSWALD

A proclaimed prize! Most happy! That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor, Briefly thyself remember. The sword is out That must destroy thee.

OSWALD

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GLOUCESTER

Now let thy friendly handPut strength enough to ’t.

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR interferes

OSWALD

Wherefore, bold peasant, Darest thou support a published traitor? Hence, Lest that th' infection of his fortune take Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.

OSWALD

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EDGAR

'Chill not let go, zir, without vurther 'casion.

EDGAR

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OSWALD

Let go, slave, or thou diest!

OSWALD

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EDGAR

Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor volk pass. An 'chud ha' bin zwaggered out of my life, ’twould not ha' bin zo long as ’tis by a vortnight. Nay, come not near th' old man. Keep out, che vor' ye, or I’se try whether your costard or my ballow be the harder. 'Chill be plain with you.

EDGAR

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OSWALD

Out, dunghill!

OSWALD

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EDGAR

'Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come, no matter vor your foins.

EDGAR

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EDGAR and OSWALD fight

OSWALD

[falling] Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse. If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body. And give the letters which thou find’st about me To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out Upon the British party. O untimely death! [ dies]

OSWALD

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EDGAR

I know thee well—a serviceable villain,As duteous to the vices of thy mistressAs badness would desire.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

What, is he dead?

GLOUCESTER

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EDGAR

Sit you down, father. Rest you. Let’s see these pockets. The letters that he speaks of May be my friends. He’s dead. I am only sorry He had no other death’s-man. Let us see. [takes letters out of OSWALD’s pocket and opens them] Leave, gentle wax, and, manners, blame us not. To know our enemies' minds, we rip their hearts. Their papers is more lawful. [reads] “Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have many opportunities to cut him off. If your will want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered. There is nothing done if he return the conqueror. Then am I the prisoner and his bed my gaol, from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the place for your labor. Your—wife, so I would say—affectionate servant, Goneril.” O indistinguished space of woman’s will! A plot upon her virtuous husband’s life, And the exchange my brother!— Here in the sands Thee I’ll rake up, the post unsanctified Of murderous lechers. And in the mature time With this ungracious paper strike the sight Of the death-practiced duke. For him ’tis well That of thy death and business I can tell.

EDGAR

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GLOUCESTER

The king is mad. How stiff is my vile sense, That I stand up and have ingenious feeling Of my huge sorrows. Better I were distract— So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs, And woes by wrong imaginations lose The knowledge of themselves.

GLOUCESTER

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Drum afar off

EDGAR

Give me your hand. Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.Come, father, I’ll bestow you with a friend.

EDGAR

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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.