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King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 4, Scene 7

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Enter CORDELIA, KENT disguised, GENTLEMAN, and DOCTOR

CORDELIA

O thou good Kent, how shall I live and workTo match thy goodness? My life will be too short,And every measure fail me.

CORDELIA

Oh, good Kent, what can I do that will ever live up to your goodness? I won't live long enough to succeed, and all my attempts will fail.

KENT

To be acknowledged, madam, is o'erpaid. All my reports go with the modest truth,Nor more, nor clipped, but so.

KENT

Madam, to be thanked by you is too much payment. All that I've reported about the king is the truth—not exaggerated or understated, but just as it happened.

CORDELIA

Be better suited.These weeds are memories of those worser hours.I prithee, put them off.

CORDELIA

Change into better clothes. These rags are memories of bad times that are now in the past. Please, take them off.

KENT

Pardon, dear madam. Yet to be known shortens my made intent. My boon I make it that you know me not Till time and I think meet.

KENT

I'm sorry, dear madam, but revealing myself now would ruin my plans. The favor I beg of you is that you pretend not to know me until the time is right.

CORDELIA

Then be ’t so, my good lord.—How does the king?

CORDELIA

Then I'll do that, my good lord. 

[To the DOCTOR] How is the king doing?

DOCTOR

Madam, sleeps still.

DOCTOR

Madam, he's still sleeping.

CORDELIA

O you kind gods, Cure this great breach in his abusèd nature, Th' untuned and jarring senses, O, wind up, Of this child-changèd father!

CORDELIA

Oh, you kind gods: heal the great wound in his suffering mind, and re-tune his discordant senses! Heal this father driven crazy by his children!

DOCTOR

So please your majestyThat we may wake the king? He hath slept long.

DOCTOR

Would it please your Majesty if we woke up the king? He's slept a long time.

CORDELIA

Be governed by your knowledge, and proceed I' th' sway of your own will. Is he arrayed?

CORDELIA

Do whatever your medical expertise tells you to, and go ahead as you see fit. Is he dressed?

Enter LEAR asleep in a chair carried by servants

GENTLEMAN

Ay, madam. In the heaviness of his sleepWe put fresh garments on him.

GENTLEMAN

Yes, madam. We put fresh clothes on him while he was sleeping deeply.

DOCTOR

Be by, good madam, when we do awake him.I doubt not of his temperance.

DOCTOR

Good madam, stay close by when we wake him up. I'm sure he'll stay calm.

CORDELIA

Very well.

CORDELIA

Very well.

DOCTOR

Please you, draw near.—Louder the music there!

DOCTOR

Please, come closer. Play the music louder!

CORDELIA

[kisses LEAR] O my dear father, restoration hang Thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss Repair those violent harms that my two sisters Have in thy reverence made!

CORDELIA

[She kisses LEAR] Oh, my dear father, may my lips heal and restore you, and may this kiss repair those violent wounds that my two sisters have inflicted on your revered spirit!

KENT

Kind and dear princess!

KENT

Kind and dear princess!

CORDELIA

Had you not been their father, these white flakes Did challenge pity of them. Was this a face To be opposed against the warring winds? To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder In the most terrible and nimble stroke Of quick cross lightning? To watch—poor perdu!— With this thin helm? Mine enemy’s meanest dog, Though he had bit me, should have stood that night Against my fire. And wast thou fain, poor father, To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn In short and musty straw? Alack, alack! 'Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once Had not concluded all.—He wakes. Speak to him.

CORDELIA

Even if you hadn't been their father, these white locks of hair should have made them pity you. Is this a face that ought to endure the violent winds, or stand against the dreadful thunder and the terrible, zigzagged lightning? To stand guard all night—poor lonely sentry!—with only your thinning hair as a helmet? Even if my enemy's meanest dog had bit me, I still would have let it stay inside by my fireplace on that night. And, poor father, were you glad to find shelter with pigs and beggars on a bed of musty straw? Alas, alas! It's a wonder that your life and your sanity didn't end all at once. He's waking up. Speak to him.

DOCTOR

Madam, do you. 'Tis fittest.

DOCTOR

Madam, you speak first. That's most appropriate.

CORDELIA

How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?

CORDELIA

How are you, my royal lord? How is your Majesty doing?

LEAR

You do me wrong to take me out o' th' grave. Thou art a soul in bliss, but I am bound Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears Do scald like molten lead.

LEAR

You do me wrong to take me out of the grave. You are a soul in heaven, but I am chained to a wheel of fire, tormented endlessly, and even my tears burn me like molten lead.

CORDELIA

Sir, do you know me?

CORDELIA

Sir, do you know me?

LEAR

You are a spirit, I know. Where did you die?

LEAR

You are a spirit, I know. Where did you die?

CORDELIA

[aside to DOCTOR] Still, still far wide!

CORDELIA

[To the DOCTOR so that only he can hear] He's still far from sanity!

DOCTOR

He’s scarce awake. Let him alone awhile.

DOCTOR

He's barely awake. Let's leave him alone for a while.

LEAR

Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight? I am mightily abused. I should ev'n die with pity To see another thus. I know not what to say. I will not swear these are my hands. Let’s see. I feel this pinprick. Would I were assured Of my condition.

LEAR

Where have I been? Where am I? Is it daytime? I have been greatly deceived. I would even die of pity to see someone else in my situation. I don't know what to say. I can't even promise that these are my hands. Let's see. I feel this pinprick. I wish I could be sure of my condition.

CORDELIA

[kneels] O, look upon me, sir,And hold your hands in benediction o'er me.No, sir, you must not kneel.

CORDELIA

[Kneeling] Oh, look at me, sir. Hold your hands over me, and give me your blessing. No, sir, you must not kneel.

LEAR

Pray, do not mock me. I am a very foolish fond old man, Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less. And to deal plainly I fear I am not in my perfect mind. Methinks I should know you, and know this man. Yet I am doubtful, for I am mainly ignorant What place this is, and all the skill I have Remembers not these garments. Nor I know not Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me, For as I am a man, I think this lady To be my child Cordelia.

LEAR

Please do not mock me. I am a very foolish, silly old man, more than eighty years old, not an hour more or less. And to put it plainly, I fear that I'm not in my right mind. I think I should recognize you, and this man too. [He points at KENT] But I'm still doubtful, for I have no idea where I am, and I can't remember where I got these clothes. I don't know where I slept last night either. Do not laugh at me, but I swear I think this lady is my child, Cordelia.

CORDELIA

And so I am, I am.

CORDELIA

And so I am, I am.

LEAR

Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray, weep not. If you have poison for me, I will drink it. I know you do not love me, for your sisters Have, as I do remember, done me wrong. You have some cause; they have not.

LEAR

Are your tears real? Yes, it's really happening. Please, don't cry. If you have poison for me, I'll drink it. I know you don't love me, for your sisters have done me wrong, if I remember correctly. And they don't even have a good reason to hate me, but you do.

CORDELIA

No cause, no cause.

CORDELIA

No reason, no reason.

LEAR

Am I in France?

LEAR

Am I in France?

KENT

In your own kingdom, sir.

KENT

You're in your own kingdom, sir.

LEAR

Do not abuse me.

LEAR

Don't trick me.

DOCTOR

Be comforted, good madam. The great rage, You see, is killed in him. And yet it is danger To make him even o'er the time he has lost. Desire him to go in. Trouble him no more Till further settling.

DOCTOR

Be comforted, good madam. You see how his great frenzy is now over. But it's dangerous to make him try to fill in the blank spaces of his memory. Ask him to go inside. Don't trouble him further until his mind is more settled.

CORDELIA

Will ’t please your highness walk?

CORDELIA

Would it please your Highness to walk?

LEAR

You must bear with me. Pray you now, forget and forgive.I am old and foolish.

LEAR

You must bear with me. Please, forget and forgive. I am old and foolish.

Exeunt. Manent KENT and GENTLEMAN.

GENTLEMAN

Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was soslain?

GENTLEMAN

Sir, is it true that the Duke of Cornwall was killed?

KENT

Most certain, sir.

KENT

Very true, sir.

GENTLEMAN

Who is conductor of his people?

GENTLEMAN

Who is leading his men now?

KENT

As ’tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.

KENT

They say it's Gloucester's bastard son.

GENTLEMAN

They say Edgar, his banished son, is with the Earl of Kent in Germany.

GENTLEMAN

I've heard that Edgar, Gloucester's banished son, is with the Earl of Kent in Germany.

KENT

Report is changeable. Tis time to look about. The powers of the kingdom approach apace.

KENT

Rumors are unreliable. It's time to be on our guard. The British army is approaching.

GENTLEMAN

The arbitrement is like to be bloody. Fare you well, sir.

GENTLEMAN

The battle will most likely be a bloody one. Farewell, sir.

Exit GENTLEMAN

KENT

My point and period will be throughly wrought,Or well or ill, as this day’s battle’s fought.

KENT

For better or for worse, my life and my plans completely depend on how today's battle ends.

Exit

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.