SCENE I. King Lear’s palace.
Sennet. Enter KENT, KING LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants
Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.
I shall, my liege.
Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EDMUND
Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
In three our kingdom: and ’tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age;
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburthen’d crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish
Our daughters’ several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter’s love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answer’d. Tell me, my daughters,–
Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,–
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.
Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
As much as child e’er loved, or father found;
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
[Aside] What shall Cordelia do?
Love, and be silent.
Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
With shadowy forests and with champains rich’d,
With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
We make thee lady: to thine and Albany’s issue
Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.
Sir, I am made
Of the self-same metal that my sister is,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
I find she names my very deed of love;
Only she comes too short: that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys,
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness’ love.
[Aside] Then poor Cordelia!
And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love’s
More richer than my tongue.
To thee and thine hereditary ever
Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom;
No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
Than that conferr’d on Goneril. Now, our joy,
Although the last, not least; to whose young love
The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
Strive to be interess’d; what can you say to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.
Nothing, my lord.
Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.
Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more nor less.
How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little,
Lest it may mar your fortunes.
Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
Return those duties back as are right fit,
Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
Half my love with him, half my care and duty:
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
To love my father all.
But goes thy heart with this?
Ay, good my lord.
So young, and so untender?
So young, my lord, and true.
Let it be so; thy truth, then, be thy dower:
For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecate, and the night;
By all the operation of the orbs
From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
Or he that makes his generation messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
Be as well neighbour’d, pitied, and relieved,
As thou my sometime daughter.
Good my liege,–
Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery. Hence, and avoid my sight!
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father’s heart from her! Call France; who stirs?
Call Burgundy. Cornwall and Albany,
With my two daughters’ dowers digest this third:
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
I do invest you jointly with my power,
Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course,
With reservation of an hundred knights,
By you to be sustain’d, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain
The name, and all the additions to a king;
The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,
Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
This coronet part betwixt you.
Giving the crown
Whom I have ever honour’d as my king,
Loved as my father, as my master follow’d,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers,–
The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.
Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly,
When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man?
Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak,
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour’s bound,
When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom;
And, in thy best consideration, cheque
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness.
Kent, on thy life, no more.
My life I never held but as a pawn
To wage against thy enemies; nor fear to lose it,
Thy safety being the motive.
Out of my sight!
See better, Lear; and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye.
Now, by Apollo!
A strange thunderbolt
Begun where neck cleaves chest and feeling’s born,
catastrophe of wind, of slapping willow limbs,
a child grows beyond fond father’s failing reach.
Dear God, please let a little light yet fall
into this withered king, no longer the man
to shake and shape the world, but still too proud
To bow as world, yet youthful, laughs him out.
Does she not refute us all? That is good,
much better rebuked by earth than by sky,
much luckier the lesson in time
than learnt too late in dark eternity.
Now, by Apollo, dear king,
by friendship, by sunlight, clasp my hands in yours!
No sight so dear as joyful strength within
bright human eyes.
Yes, Kent, ourr Kent, full faithful Kent—
What dizzy smash, strange fuzzy flutterings
converge from ev’ry vantage; close me in
and spin me down right round. I fear
a deep, a drowning eddy’s caught me fast.
Good lord, relieve thy feet their charge and loose
these royal robes. Do breathe but slow and count
Flourish. Re-enter GLOUCESTER, with KING OF FRANCE, BURGUNDY, and Attendants
Here’s France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
My lord, my lord of Burgundy. So glad.
We first address towards you, who with this king
Hath rivall’d for our daughter: what, in the least,
Will you require in present dower with her,
Or cease your quest of love?
Most royal majesty,
I crave no more than what your highness offer’d,
Nor will you tender less.
Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;
But now her price is fall’n. Sir, there she stands:
If aught within that little seeming substance,
Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced,
And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
She’s there, and she is yours.
A bunny sole in foxing woods does well
to keep completely narrow, list’ning wide.
But Burgundy, we wait upon your voice.
I know no answer.
Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
Dower’d with our curse, and stranger’d with our oath,
Take her, or leave her?
Pardon me, royal sir;
Election makes not up on such conditions.
Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me,
I tell you all her wealth.
To KING OF FRANCE
For you, great king,
I would not from your love make such a stray,
To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
To avert your liking a more worthier way
Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed
Almost to acknowledge hers.
KING OF FRANCE
This is most strange,
That she, that even but now was your best object,
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
So many folds of favour. Sure, her offence
Must be of such unnatural degree,
That monsters it, or your fore-vouch’d affection
Fall’n into taint: which to believe of her,
Must be a faith that reason without miracle
Could never plant in me.
KING OF FRANCE
My lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady? Love’s not love
When it is mingled with regards that stand
Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
She is herself a dowry.
Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy.
Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
That you must lose a husband.
Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respects of fortune are his love,
I shall not be his wife.
KING OF FRANCE
Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;
Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised!
Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon:
Be it lawful I take up what’s cast away.
Gods, gods! ’tis strange that from their cold’st neglect
My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France:
Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy
Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.
Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
Thou losest here, a better where to find.
Thank you, who’ve proved a friend when friendship lost
Her throne. I’ll love a man who’ll love me thus
Thou hast her, France: let her be thine; but we
must now confess a silliness, a jest
of sorts, but more a sorting machination
For finding truest heart and deepest love.
To thee and thine hereditary ever
Remain this amplest third of our fair kingdom.
Deserving France, you’ve won our hearts to yours.
Dissolve us this grand flow’ring foolery
whereby we sought and found your metal’s luster.
Oh father! Madness may atimes succeed,
but ’tis a dange’rous, frightful, wicked game.
I beg thee cool thy pace!
Lesson well learned and promise deep engraved.
We’ll fool no more with foolery!, ’tis sworn.
But yet answer, please, my new found France:
In times of joy, when households join in love,
how counsels then the strong and even hand
of wisdom?, Gift of Gods to mortal man,
who otherwise, un-ruddered, wanders ‘bout,
a ghost who floats on gusts of changing whim
Declare, fresh baptized son, a pace that fits
A mind who’s left behind its hollow bleats
and random squeaks, a gaze thus delivered
and wholly–ah most holy!–overwhelmed
by wisdom deep and wide, will portion fair:
With sorrows pairing quiet calm solace,
but placing joy atop a mountaintop
so mirthy light might echo, might resound,
and overflow all once firm boundary.
In times of joy, when households join in love,
the wise will feast and frolic sagaciously
Flourish. Exeunt all
Copyright: Mostly William Shakespeare, but his claim’s turned to dust; the innovations (the deviations!) belong to Andy Watson, who, yet longing to live off art and thought, requests that his fellows and their governments respect his still quick claim.