A line-by-line translation

King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 5, Scene 3

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Enter in conquest with drum and colors EDMUND, with LEAR and CORDELIA as prisoners, and FIRST CAPTAIN with soldiers

EDMUND

Some officers take them away. Good guardUntil their greater pleasures first be knownThat are to censure them.

EDMUND

Have some officers take them away. Guard them carefully until we know what punishment has been decided for them.

CORDELIA

[to LEAR ] We are not the first Who with best meaning have incurred the worst. For thee, oppressèd King, I am cast down. Myself could else outfrown false fortune’s frown. Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?

CORDELIA

[To LEAR] We're not the first ones to have made things worse with only the best of intentions. I'm unhappy for your sake, poor, oppressed King. If it were me alone in this situation, I could be defiant in the face of bad luck. Should we see your daughters, my sisters?

LEAR

No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison. We two alone will sing like birds i' th' cage. When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live, And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues Talk of court news, and we’ll talk with them too— Who loses and who wins, who’s in, who’s out— And take upon ’s the mystery of things As if we were God’s spies. And we’ll wear out In a walled prison packs and sects of great ones That ebb and flow by the moon.

LEAR

No, no, no, no! Come, let's go to prison. We two will sing like birds in a cage. When you ask me for my blessing, I'll kneel down and ask you for your forgiveness. So we'll live, and pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh at trivial matters, and listen to courtiers gossiping, and talk to them too—we'll find out who's winning and who's losing, who's in and who's out. And we'll ponder the mysteries of life as if we were God's spies sent to observe the world. And in our walled prison we'll outlast all the politicians and rulers whose power comes and goes like the tide.

EDMUND

Take them away.

EDMUND

Take them away.

LEAR

Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee? He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes. The good years shall devour them, flesh and fell, Ere they shall make us weep. We’ll see 'em starve first. Come.

LEAR

Even the gods should celebrate the sacrifices you've made for me, my Cordelia. Are we really together again? Now it would take divine lightning bolt to separate us, like a fire to drive foxes out of their den. Wipe your eyes. Our enemies will waste away with age before they can make us cry again. We'll watch them starve before that. Come.

Exeunt LEAR and CORDELIA, led by soldiers

EDMUND

Come hither, captain. Hark. [gives FIRST CAPTAIN a document] Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison. One step I have advanced thee. If thou dost As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way To noble fortunes. Know thou this: that men Are as the time is. To be tender-minded Does not become a sword. Thy great employment Will not bear question. Either say thou'lt do ’t, Or thrive by other means.

EDMUND

Come here, captain. Listen. [He gives the FIRST CAPTAIN a document] Take this note. Follow them to prison. I've already gotten you promoted once. If you follow these instructions, you'll be well rewarded. Know this: we must adapt ourselves to these harsh times. A soldier can't afford to be tender-hearted. There can be no discussion about this assignment. Say you'll do it, or else you can find a different job.

FIRST CAPTAIN

I’ll do ’t, my lord.

FIRST CAPTAIN

I'll do it, my lord.

EDMUND

About it, and write “happy” when thou’st done.Mark, I say, instantly, and carry it soAs I have set it down.

EDMUND

Then go to it, and feel fortunate that you've been given such a high-paying task. Go immediately, I say, and do exactly what I've written.

FIRST CAPTAIN

I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats. If it be man’s work, I’ll do ’t.

FIRST CAPTAIN

I can't do a horse's work, pulling a cart or eating dried oats. But if it's man's work, then I'll do it.

Exit FIRST CAPTAIN

Flourish. Enter the Duke of ALBANY, the two ladies GONERIL and REGAN, a SECOND CAPTAIN, and soldiers

ALBANY

[to EDMUND] Sir, you have shown today your valiant strain, And fortune led you well. You have the captives That were the opposites of this day’s strife. I do require them of you, so to use them As we shall find their merits and our safety May equally determine.

ALBANY

[To EDMUND] Sir, today you've shown your courageous lineage, and luck has been on your side. You've captured the leaders of our opposition. I need to take custody of them now, to treat them according to their honor and do what is best for our kingdom's safety.

EDMUND

Sir, I thought it fit To send the old and miserable king To some retention and appointed guard— Whose age has charms in it, whose title more— To pluck the common bosom on his side, An turn our impressed lances in our eyes Which do command them. With him I sent the queen, My reason all the same, and they are ready Tomorrow or at further space t' appear Where you shall hold your session. At this time We sweat and bleed. The friend hath lost his friend, And the best quarrels, in the heat, are cursed By those that feel their sharpness. The question of Cordelia and her father Requires a fitter place.

EDMUND

Sir, I thought it would be best if I sent the old, miserable king to a prison cell with a guard. Lear's old age and his title have the power to make common folk take his side, and he could even make our drafted soldiers turn against us. I sent his daughter Queen Cordelia along with him, for the same reason. They're ready to appear whenever you want to hold your trial for them, tomorrow or at some future point. Right now we are all sweating and bleeding. Friends have lost friends, and soldiers will curse even the best of causes in the heat of battle. We need to find a more appropriate place where we can make sure Cordelia and her father have a fair trial.

ALBANY

Sir, by your patience,I hold you but a subject of this war,Not as a brother.

ALBANY

By your leave, sir: you are my subordinate in waging this war, not my equal.

REGAN

That’s as we list to grace him. Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers, Bore the commission of my place and person— The which immediacy may well stand up And call itself your brother.

REGAN

That's for me to decide. I think you should have asked for my opinion before speaking to him like that. He led our armies, and acted as my proxy in battle. His close connection to me means that he might as well consider himself your equal.

GONERIL

Not so hot.In his own grace he doth exalt himselfMore than in your addition.

GONERIL

Not so fast. He has distinguished himself with his own merits more than any honors you've conferred upon him.

REGAN

In my rights, By me invested, he compeers the best.

REGAN

I'm the one who invested my authority in him, and with it he proved his merit.

ALBANY

That were the most if he should husband you.

ALBANY

If he married you, that investment would be complete.

REGAN

Jesters do oft prove prophets.

REGAN

You joke, but it might come true.

GONERIL

Holla, holla!That eye that told you so looked but asquint.

GONERIL

Hey, hey! You're squinting with jealousy and can't see straight.

REGAN

Lady, I am not well, else I should answer From a full-flowing stomach. [to EDMUND ] General, Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony. Dispose of them, of me. The walls is thine. Witness the world that I create thee here My lord and master.

REGAN

Lady, I'm not feeling well, or else I would answer you with my full temper. 

[To EDMUND] General, take my soldiers, my prisoners, and my inheritance. Do whatever you want with them, and with me. You have conquered the fortress of my heart. Let the world be my witness that I hereby make you my lord and master.

GONERIL

Mean you to enjoy him then?

GONERIL

Are you going to sleep with him right now?

ALBANY

The let-alone lies not in your good will.

ALBANY

[To GONERIL] It's not in your power to prevent it.

EDMUND

Nor in thine, lord.

EDMUND

Nor is it in yours, lord.

ALBANY

Half-blooded fellow, yes.

ALBANY

Yes it is, you illegitimate fellow.

REGAN

[to EDMUND] Let the drum strike and prove my title thine.

REGAN

[To EDMUND] Let the drums beat, and fight anyone who challenges your right to me.

ALBANY

Stay yet. Hear reason.—Edmund, I arrest thee On capital treason, and in thine attaint This gilded serpent. [indicates GONERIL ] [to REGAN ] For your claim, fair sister, I bar it in the interest of my wife. 'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord. And I, her husband, contradict your banns. If you will marry, make your loves to me, My lady is bespoke.

ALBANY

Wait, and listen to reason.—Edmund, I now arrest you for capital treason, and as an accessory to your treason I arrest this snake of a woman. [He points to GONERIL] 

[To REGAN] But, my fair sister-in-law, as for your claim to him, I veto your engagement on my wife's behalf. She's the one who is already engaged to Edmund. If you want to get married, then start wooing me. My lady is already spoken for.

GONERIL

An interlude!

GONERIL

What a ridiculous story!

ALBANY

Thou art armed, Gloucester. Let the trumpet sound. If none appear to prove upon thy person Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons, There is my pledge. [throws down his glove] I’ll make it on thy heart, Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less Than I have here proclaimed thee.

ALBANY

You have a sword, Gloucester. Let the trumpets sound. If no one appears to challenge you and prove that you are a hideous traitor, then I'll do it myself. [He throws down his glove as a challenge] I make this promise on your life: I won't eat again until I prove that you're just as guilty as I say you are.

REGAN

Sick, oh, sick!

REGAN

Oh, I feel sick, sick!

GONERIL

[aside] If not, I’ll ne'er trust medicine.

GONERIL

[To herself] If she's not sick, I'll never trust poison again.

EDMUND

[throwing down his glove] There’s my exchange. What in the world he is That names me traitor, villainlike he lies. Call by thy trumpet. He that dares approach, On him—on you, who not?—I will maintain My truth and honor firmly.

EDMUND

[Throwing down his glove] I accept your challenge. Whoever calls me a traitor is a villainous liar. Blow your trumpet. I'll fight to firmly prove my truth and honor to anyone who dares approach—you, or anyone else.

ALBANY

A herald, ho!

ALBANY

Hey, a herald!

EDMUND

A herald, ho, a herald!

EDMUND

A herald, hey, a herald!

Enter a HERALD

ALBANY

[to EDMUND] Trust to thy single virtue, for thy soldiers, All levied in my name, have in my nameTook their discharge.

ALBANY

[To EDMUND] Trust in your own unaided strength now, for your soldiers were all drafted in my name. And in my name they have been discharged.

REGAN

My sickness grows upon me.

REGAN

I can feel my sickness growing.

ALBANY

She is not well. Convey her to my tent.

ALBANY

She is not well. Take her to my tent.

Exit REGAN, led

Come hither, herald.—Let the trumpet sound,—And read out this. [gives the HERALD a document]

Come here, herald.—Let the trumpet sound!—Read this. [He gives the HERALD a document]

SECOND CAPTAIN

Sound, trumpet!

SECOND CAPTAIN

Blow the trumpet!

A trumpet sounds

HERALD

[reads] “If any man of quality or degree within the lists of the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloucester, that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear by the third sound of the trumpet. He is bold in his defense.”

HERALD

[Reading] "If any honorable man of the army will accuse Edmund, the supposed Earl of Gloucester, of being a traitor, then let him appear by the  third sound of the trumpet. Edmund is willing to fight in his own defense."

First trumpet

HERALD

Again!

HERALD

Again!

Second trumpet

HERALD

Again!

HERALD

Again!

Third trumpet Trumpet answers within Enter EDGAR, at the third sound, armed, a trumpet before him

ALBANY

[to HERALD] Ask him his purposes, why he appearsUpon this call o' th' trumpet.

ALBANY

[To the HERALD] Ask him what he wants, and why he's stepping forward at this call of the trumpet.

HERALD

What are you?Your name, your quality, and why you answerThis present summons?

HERALD

Who are you? What is your name and your rank? And why do you step forward now?

EDGAR

O, know, my name is lost. By treason’s tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit. Yet am I noble as the adversary I come to cope withal.

EDGAR

Know this: my name has been lost to a traitorous worm. But I am as noble as the opponent I've come to fight.

ALBANY

Which is that adversary?

ALBANY

And which opponent is that?

EDGAR

What’s he that speaks for Edmund, Earl of Gloucester?

EDGAR

Who speaks for Edmund, Earl of Gloucester?

EDMUND

Himself. What sayst thou to him?

EDMUND

I speak for myself. What do you have to say to me?

EDGAR

Draw thy sword, That if my speech offend a noble heart Thy arm may do thee justice. [draws his sword] Here is mine. Behold: it is the privilege of mine honors, My oath, and my profession. I protest— Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence, Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune, Thy valor and thy heart—thou art a traitor, False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father, Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince, And from th' extremest upward of thy head To the descent and dust below thy foot A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou “No,” This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak, Thou liest.

EDGAR

Draw your sword. If I offend your noble heart with my words, then you can take your revenge with your sword. Here is mine. [He draws his sword] Look: it is the symbol of my honor, my vows, and my privilege as a knight. I now solemnly declare that—despite your strength, youth, rank, and power; and despite your recent victory, newly-minted fortune, courage, and bravery—you are a traitor. You have betrayed your gods, your brother, and your father, and you've conspired against this noble, glorious duke. From the top of your head to the soles of your feet you are a filthy, tainted traitor. If you disagree with me, then I'm ready to use my sword, my arm, and my courage to prove that you are a liar.

EDMUND

In wisdom I should ask thy name. But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike, And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes, What safe and nicely I might well delay By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn. Back do I toss these treasons to thy head, With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart— Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise, This sword of mine shall give them instant way, Where they shall rest for ever.—Trumpets, speak!

EDMUND

Prudence would suggest that I ask your name first. But since you look so noble and knightly—and since your speech implies that you are of a high rank—I will disdain the rules of knighthood that say I can refuse to fight a man I don't know. I toss your accusations of treason back at your own head, and your hateful lies back at your heart. They hardly hurt you now, but I'll follow them with my sword and embed the word "traitor" in your heart forever. Trumpets, blow!

Alarums EDMUND and EDGAR fight EDMUND falls

ALBANY

Save him, save him!

ALBANY

Save him, save him!

GONERIL

This is practice, Gloucester. By th' law of arms thou wast not bound to answer An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquished, But cozened and beguiled.

GONERIL

This was trickery, Gloucester. By the laws of dueling you didn't have to fight an unknown opponent. You haven't been conquered—only cheated and deceived.

ALBANY

Shut your mouth, dame, Or with this paper shall I stop it.—Hold, sir, [gives the letter to EDMUND ] Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.— [to GONERIL] Nay, no tearing, lady. I perceive you knowit.

ALBANY

Shut your mouth, woman, or I'll plug it up with this paper. Look, sir. [He gives the letter to EDMUND] Read your own evil, you who are worse than any words could describe. 

[To GONERIL] No, don't tear it, lady. I think you know what it says.

GONERIL

Say, if I do? The laws are mine, not thine.Who can arraign me for ’t?

GONERIL

And what if I do? I make the laws, not you. Who can prosecute me for it?

ALBANY

Most monstrous, oh! [to EDMUND] Know’st thou this paper?

ALBANY

Oh, how monstrous! 

[To EDMUND] Do you know what this letter is?

EDMUND

Ask me not what I know.

EDMUND

Do not ask me what I know.

Exit GONERIL

ALBANY

Go after her. She’s desperate. Govern her.

ALBANY

Go after her. She's desperate. Restrain her.

Exit a soldier

EDMUND

What you have charged me with, that have I done— And more, much more. The time will bring it out. 'Tis past, and so am I. [to EDGAR ] But what art thou That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble, I do forgive thee.

EDMUND

I have done all the things you've accused me of—and more, much more. You'll find out the rest in due time. But now it's over, and so am I. 

[To EDGAR] But who are you who defeated me? If you're a nobleman, I forgive you.

EDGAR

Let’s exchange charity. I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund. If more, the more thou’st wronged me. My name is Edgar, and thy father’s son. The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices Make instruments to plague us. The dark and vicious place where thee he got Cost him his eyes.

EDGAR

Let's exchange forgiveness. I am no less noble than you are, Edmund. And if I'm more noble, then you've wronged me all the more. My name is Edgar, and I'm your father's son. The gods are just, and use the sins we commit in giving ourselves pleasure as a means of making instruments to torment us. The adultery he committed created you, and cost him his eyes.

EDMUND

Thou’st spoken right. 'Tis true.The wheel is come full circle. I am here.

EDMUND

You've spoken rightly. It's true. The wheel of fortune has come full circle. Here I am on the bottom again.

ALBANY

Methought thy very gait did prophesy A royal nobleness. I must embrace thee. Let sorrow split my heart if ever I Did hate thee or thy father.

ALBANY

I could tell that you were noble even by the way you walked. Let me hug you. I swear that I never hated you or your father.

EDGAR

Worthy prince, I know ’t.

EDGAR

Worthy prince, I know.

ALBANY

Where have you hid yourself?How have you known the miseries of your father?

ALBANY

Where have you been hiding yourself? How do you know about your father's suffering?

EDGAR

By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale, And when ’tis told, oh, that my heart would burst! The bloody proclamation to escape, That followed me so near— O our lives' sweetness, That we the pain of death would hourly die Rather than die at once!— taught me to shift Into a madman’s rags, t' assume a semblance That very dogs disdained. And in this habit Met I my father with his bleeding rings, Their precious stones new lost, became his guide, Led him, begged for him, saved him from despair. Never—O fault!—revealed myself unto him Until some half-hour past, when I was armed. Not sure, though hoping of this good success, I asked his blessing, and from first to last Told him my pilgrimage. But his flawed heart— Alack, too weak the conflict to support— 'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief, Burst smilingly.

EDGAR

By nursing him through it, my lord. Listen to my brief tale, and when it's over, oh, may my heart burst! To escape the proclamation condemning me to death, I disguised myself in the rags of a crazy beggar, making myself a creature scorned even by dogs. Oh, how sweet life must be, that we prefer the pain of slowly dying to death itself! In this disguise I met my father with his bloody eye sockets—his precious eyes recently lost—and I became his guide. I led him, begged for him, and saved him from despair. I never—oh, what a mistake!—revealed myself to him until just half an hour ago, when I was in my armor. I hoped for a successful outcome to the battle, but I still decided to ask for my father's blessing, and I told him the whole story of my journey. But his cracked heart was too weak to support such extremes of joy and grief at once, and it gave out.

EDMUND

This speech of yours hath moved me,And shall perchance do good. But speak you on. You look as you had something more to say.

EDMUND

Your words have moved me, and may end up doing some good. But continue. You look like you have something more to say.

ALBANY

If there be more, more woeful, hold it in.For I am almost ready to dissolve,Hearing of this.

ALBANY

If there's anything more sorrowful to add, then keep it to yourself. I'm already about to lose myself to tears from hearing this much.

EDGAR

This would have seemed a period To such as love not sorrow, but another To amplify too much would make much more And top extremity. Whilst I was big in clamor came there in a man Who, having seen me in my worst estate, Shunned my abhorred society, but then, finding Who ’twas that so endured, with his strong arms He fastened on my neck, and bellowed out As he’d burst heaven, threw him on my father, Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him That ever ear received— which in recounting His grief grew puissant and the strings of life Began to crack. Twice then the trumpets sounded, And there I left him tranced.

EDGAR

This might have seemed like a fitting end for a sad story. But if I go on I must add to what is already too much, and reach a new extremity of sorrow. While I was crying loudly over my father, a man came in. He had seen me in my beggar's clothes and shunned me earlier, but when he found out who I was, he wrapped his strong arms around my neck and cried as if he was trying to burst heaven. He then threw himself on my father and told the saddest story that was ever heard about Lear and him. And as he told the story his grief overcame him and his heart-strings began to break. Then I heard the trumpets blow twice, and I left him in a trance.

ALBANY

But who was this?

ALBANY

But who was this man?

EDGAR

Kent, sir, the banished Kent, who in disguiseFollowed his enemy king and did him service Improper for a slave.

EDGAR

Kent, sir. It was the banished Kent, who disguised himself and followed his hostile king—serving him with tasks too menial for even a slave.

Enter SECOND KNIGHT with a bloody knife

SECOND KNIGHT

Help, help, O, help!

SECOND KNIGHT

Help, help, oh, help!

EDGAR

What kind of help?

EDGAR

What kind of help?

ALBANY

Speak, man.

ALBANY

Speak, man!

EDGAR

What means that bloody knife?

EDGAR

What does that bloody knife mean?

SECOND KNIGHT

'Tis hot, it smokes.It came even from the heart of—oh, she’s dead!

SECOND KNIGHT

It's hot, it's still smoking with life blood. It was just removed from the heart of—oh, she's dead!

ALBANY

Who dead? Speak, man.

ALBANY

Who's dead? Speak, man.

SECOND KNIGHT

Your lady, sir, your lady. And her sisterBy her is poisoned. She confesses it.

SECOND KNIGHT

Your wife Goneril, sir, your wife. And she poisoned her sister Regan, who's now dead too. She confessed it.

EDMUND

I was contracted to them both. All threeNow marry in an instant.

EDMUND

I was engaged to them both. We three will now be united in death.

EDGAR

Here comes Kent.

EDGAR

Here comes Kent.

ALBANY

Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead. This judgment of the heavens that makes us trembleTouches us not with pity.

ALBANY

Bring the bodies here, whether they're alive or dead. The judgment of the gods makes us tremble, but it doesn't make us pity these deaths.

Exit SECOND KNIGHT

Enter KENT

Oh, is this he?The time will not allow the complimentWhich very manners urges.

Oh, is this him? There's no time for the greetings that good manners require.

KENT

I am comeTo bid my king and master aye good night.Is he not here?

KENT

I am here to say goodnight forever to my king and master. Is he not here?

ALBANY

Great thing of us forgot!—Speak, Edmund, where’s the king? And where’s Cordelia?—

ALBANY

What a thing for us to forget! Speak, Edmund, where's the king? And where's Cordelia?

REGAN’s and GONERIL’s corpses are brought out

Seest thou this object, Kent?

Do you see this spectacle, Kent?

KENT

Alack, why thus?

KENT

Alas, why has this happened?

EDMUND

Yet Edmund was beloved.The one the other poisoned for my sake, And after slew herself.

EDMUND

Despite everything, Edmund was beloved. One sister poisoned the other for my sake, and then killed herself.

ALBANY

Even so.—Cover their faces.

ALBANY

It seems so. Cover their faces.

EDMUND

I pant for life. Some good I mean to do Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send— Be brief in it—to th' castle, for my writ Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia. Nay, send in time!

EDMUND

These are my last breaths. I want to do a little good despite my nature. Go quickly—be speedy about it—to the castle. For I've ordered the executions of Lear and Cordelia. Hurry, send someone now!

ALBANY

Run, run, O, run!

ALBANY

Run, run, oh, run!

EDGAR

To who, my lord?—Who hath the office? SendThy token of reprieve.

EDGAR

Where should we run, my lord? Who has the orders to kill them? Send something to prove that you've changed your commands.

Edmund

Well thought on. Take my sword. The captain—Give it the captain.

Edmund

Good idea. Take my sword. The captain—give it to the captain.

ALBANY

Haste thee for thy life.

ALBANY

Run as if your life depended on it.

Exit a soldier

EDMU

He hath commission from thy wife and me To hang Cordelia in the prison and To lay the blame upon her own despair, That she fordid herself.

EDMUND

Your wife and I ordered the captain to hang Cordelia in the prison and lay the blame on her own despair, making it look like she killed herself.

ALBANY

The gods defend her!—bear him hence awhile.

ALBANY

May the gods protect her!

[To soldiers] Carry him away for now.

Exit soldiers with EDMUND

Enter LEAR with CORDELIA in his arms, a THIRD KNIGHT following

LEAR

Howl, howl, howl, howl! Oh, you are men of stones. Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone forever. I know when one is dead and when one lives. She’s dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass. If that her breath will mist or stain the stone, Why then, she lives.

LEAR

Howl, howl, howl, howl! Oh, you are men of stone! If I had your eyes to weep and your tongues to cry out, I'd use them until the sky itself cracked. She's gone forever. But I know how to tell when someone is dead and when they're alive. She's as dead as the senseless ground. Bring me a mirror. If her breath makes a mist on the glass, then she's still alive.

KENT

Is this the promised end?

KENT

Is this the end of the world?

EDGAR

Or image of that horror?

EDGAR

Or a reflection of that final horror?

ALBANY

Fall and cease.

ALBANY

Let the world collapse and end!

LEAR

This feather stirs. She lives. If it be so, It is a chance which does redeem all sorrowsThat ever I have felt.

LEAR

This feather moved with her breath. She lives. If it's true, then it will make up for all the sorrows I've ever felt.

KENT

O my good master!

KENT

Oh my good master!

LEAR

Prithee, away.

LEAR

Please, go away.

EDGAR

'Tis noble Kent, your friend.

EDGAR

It's noble Kent, your friend.

LEAR

A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all! I might have saved her. Now she’s gone for ever.— Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha? What is ’t thou say’st?— Her voice was ever soft, Gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.— I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee.

LEAR

A plague on you, you're all murderers and traitors! I could have saved her. Now she's gone forever.

[To CORDELIA's body] Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little while. What? What are you saying? 

[To the others] Her voice was always so soft, gentle, and low—an excellent thing in a woman. 

[To CORDELIA's body] I killed the scum who was hanging you.

THIRD KNIGHT

'Tis true, my lords, he did.

THIRD KNIGHT

It's true, my lords, he did.

LEAR

Did I not, fellow? I have seen the day with my good biting falchion I would have made them skip. I am old now, And these same crosses spoil me. [to KENT ] Who are you? Mine eyes are not o' th' best, I’ll tell you straight.

LEAR

Didn't I, man? In the old days I would've made them all dance with my sword. But I am old now, and my trials have worn me down. 

[To KENT] Who are you? My eyesight's not the best. I'll recognize you soon.

KENT

If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated, One of them we behold.

KENT

This man was the luckiest and then the unluckiest that ever lived.

LEAR

This a dull sight.Are you not Kent?

LEAR

My vision is failing. Are you not Kent?

KENT

The same. Your servant Kent.Where is your servant Caius?

KENT

I am. Your servant Kent. Where is your servant Caius?

LEAR

He’s a good fellow, I can tell you that.He’ll strike, and quickly too. He’s dead and rotten.

LEAR

He's a good fellow, I can tell you that. He'll strike when in a fight, and quickly too. But now he's dead and rotting.

KENT

No, my good lord. I am the very man—

KENT

No, my good lord. I am Caius, the man—

LEAR

I’ll see that straight.

LEAR

I'll deal with this soon.

KENT

That from your first of difference and decayHave followed your sad steps.

KENT

—who followed you from the very beginning of your suffering and decline.

LEAR

You’re welcome hither.

LEAR

You're welcome here.

KENT

Nor no man else. All’s cheerless, dark, and deadly. Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves,And desperately are dead.

KENT

No, I'm not welcome. No one is welcome. Everything is cheerless, dark, and dreadful. Your eldest daughters have killed themselves and died in despair. 

LEAR

Ay, so I think.

LEAR

Yes, I think that's true.

ALBANY

He knows not what he says, and vain it isThat we present us to him.

ALBANY

He doesn't know what he's saying. It's useless to try to explain it to him.

Enter THIRD MESSENGER

EDGAR

Very bootless.

EDGAR

It's pointless.

THIRD MESSENGER

Edmund is dead, my lord.

THIRD MESSENGER

Edmund is dead, my lord.

ALBANY

That’s but a trifle here.— You lords and noble friends, know our intent. What comfort to this great decay may come Shall be applied. For us, we will resign During the life of this old majesty To him our absolute power. [to EDGAR and KENT ] You, to your rights With boot, and such addition as your honors Have more than merited.— All friends shall taste The wages of their virtue, and all foes The cup of their deservings. O, see, see!

ALBANY

That's just a drop in this ocean of sorrow. You lords and noble friends, hear what I intend to do. We must try to bring as much comfort as we can amid this great destruction. And as for me, I will surrender my power to the old king, that he should have absolute authority for the rest of his life. 

[To EDGAR and KENT] And you will get back your rightful property and titles, along with rewards and distinctions that you have more than earned. All my friends will taste the rewards of their virtue, and all my enemies will drink from the cup of punishment that they deserve. Oh, look, look!

LEAR

And my poor fool is hanged.—No, no, no life? Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, And thou no breath at all? Oh, thou'lt come no more, Never, never, never, never, never.— Pray you, undo this button. Thank you, sir. Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips. Look there, look there. O, O, O, O. [dies]

LEAR

And my poor child was hanged. 

[To CORDELIA's body] No, no, no life left in you? Why should a dog, a horse, or a rat have life, but you have none at all? Oh, you'll never come to me again, never, never, never, never, never. 

[To the others] Please, undo this button. Thank you, sir. Do you see this? Look at her. Look, her lips. Look there, look there. Oh, oh, oh, oh. [He dies]

EDGAR

He faints!—My lord, my lord!

EDGAR

He faints! 

[To LEAR] My lord, my lord!

KENT

Break, heart. I prithee, break!

KENT

Break, heart. Please, break!

EDGAR

[to LEAR] Look up, my lord.

EDGAR

[To LEAR] Look up, my lord.

KENT

Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass. He hates himThat would upon the rack of this tough worldStretch him out longer.

KENT

Don't disturb his departing spirit. Oh, let him pass on. He would hate anyone who made him linger in this torturous world any longer.

EDGAR

Oh, he is gone indeed.

EDGAR

Oh, he is dead indeed.

KENT

The wonder is he hath endured so long.He but usurped his life.

KENT

It's a wonder that he endured for so long. He was only living on borrowed time.

ALBANY

Bear them from hence. Our present business Is to general woe. [to KENT and EDGAR] Friends of my soul, you twain Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.

ALBANY

Carry them away from here. Our business is now to grieve. 

[To KENT and EDGAR] My dear friends, you two should rule this kingdom and keep the wounded country alive.

KENT

I have a journey, sir, shortly to go.My master calls me. I must not say no.

KENT

I have a journey to make soon, sir. My master calls me on to following him to the next life, and I cannot say no.

EDGAR

The weight of this sad time we must obey. Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest hath borne most. We that are young Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

EDGAR

We must bear the weight of this sad day, and say what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest has suffered the most. We who are young will never see as much as he has seen, or live so long.

Exeunt with a dead march

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.