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

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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

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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

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FIRST CAPTAIN

I’ll do ’t, my lord.

FIRST CAPTAIN

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EDMUND

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

EDMUND

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FIRST CAPTAIN

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

FIRST CAPTAIN

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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

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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

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ALBANY

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

ALBANY

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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

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GONERIL

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

GONERIL

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REGAN

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

REGAN

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ALBANY

That were the most if he should husband you.

ALBANY

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REGAN

Jesters do oft prove prophets.

REGAN

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GONERIL

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

GONERIL

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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

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GONERIL

Mean you to enjoy him then?

GONERIL

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ALBANY

The let-alone lies not in your good will.

ALBANY

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EDMUND

Nor in thine, lord.

EDMUND

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ALBANY

Half-blooded fellow, yes.

ALBANY

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REGAN

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

REGAN

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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

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GONERIL

An interlude!

GONERIL

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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

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REGAN

Sick, oh, sick!

REGAN

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GONERIL

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

GONERIL

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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

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ALBANY

A herald, ho!

ALBANY

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EDMUND

A herald, ho, a herald!

EDMUND

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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

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REGAN

My sickness grows upon me.

REGAN

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ALBANY

She is not well. Convey her to my tent.

ALBANY

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Exit REGAN, led

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

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SECOND CAPTAIN

Sound, trumpet!

SECOND CAPTAIN

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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

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First trumpet

HERALD

Again!

HERALD

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Second trumpet

HERALD

Again!

HERALD

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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

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HERALD

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

HERALD

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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

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ALBANY

Which is that adversary?

ALBANY

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EDGAR

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

EDGAR

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EDMUND

Himself. What sayst thou to him?

EDMUND

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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

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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

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Alarums EDMUND and EDGAR fight EDMUND falls

ALBANY

Save him, save him!

ALBANY

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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

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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

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GONERIL

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

GONERIL

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ALBANY

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

ALBANY

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EDMUND

Ask me not what I know.

EDMUND

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Exit GONERIL

ALBANY

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

ALBANY

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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

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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

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EDMUND

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

EDMUND

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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

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EDGAR

Worthy prince, I know ’t.

EDGAR

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ALBANY

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

ALBANY

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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

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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

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ALBANY

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

ALBANY

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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

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ALBANY

But who was this?

ALBANY

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EDGAR

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

EDGAR

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Enter SECOND KNIGHT with a bloody knife

SECOND KNIGHT

Help, help, O, help!

SECOND KNIGHT

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EDGAR

What kind of help?

EDGAR

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ALBANY

Speak, man.

ALBANY

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EDGAR

What means that bloody knife?

EDGAR

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SECOND KNIGHT

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

SECOND KNIGHT

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ALBANY

Who dead? Speak, man.

ALBANY

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SECOND KNIGHT

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

SECOND KNIGHT

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EDMUND

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

EDMUND

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EDGAR

Here comes Kent.

EDGAR

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ALBANY

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

ALBANY

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Exit SECOND KNIGHT

Enter KENT

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

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KENT

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

KENT

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ALBANY

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

ALBANY

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REGAN’s and GONERIL’s corpses are brought out

Seest thou this object, Kent?

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KENT

Alack, why thus?

KENT

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EDMUND

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

EDMUND

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ALBANY

Even so.—Cover their faces.

ALBANY

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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

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ALBANY

Run, run, O, run!

ALBANY

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EDGAR

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

EDGAR

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Edmund

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

Edmund

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ALBANY

Haste thee for thy life.

ALBANY

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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

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ALBANY

The gods defend her!—bear him hence awhile.

ALBANY

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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

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KENT

Is this the promised end?

KENT

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EDGAR

Or image of that horror?

EDGAR

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ALBANY

Fall and cease.

ALBANY

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LEAR

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

LEAR

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KENT

O my good master!

KENT

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LEAR

Prithee, away.

LEAR

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EDGAR

'Tis noble Kent, your friend.

EDGAR

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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

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THIRD KNIGHT

'Tis true, my lords, he did.

THIRD KNIGHT

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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

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KENT

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

KENT

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LEAR

This a dull sight.Are you not Kent?

LEAR

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KENT

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

KENT

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LEAR

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

LEAR

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KENT

No, my good lord. I am the very man—

KENT

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LEAR

I’ll see that straight.

LEAR

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KENT

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

KENT

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LEAR

You’re welcome hither.

LEAR

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KENT

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

KENT

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LEAR

Ay, so I think.

LEAR

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ALBANY

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

ALBANY

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Enter THIRD MESSENGER

EDGAR

Very bootless.

EDGAR

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THIRD MESSENGER

Edmund is dead, my lord.

THIRD MESSENGER

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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

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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

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EDGAR

He faints!—My lord, my lord!

EDGAR

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KENT

Break, heart. I prithee, break!

KENT

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EDGAR

[to LEAR] Look up, my lord.

EDGAR

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KENT

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

KENT

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EDGAR

Oh, he is gone indeed.

EDGAR

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KENT

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

KENT

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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

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KENT

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

KENT

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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

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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.