King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Enter, with drum and colors, CORDELIA, DOCTOR, and soldiers
CORDELIA enters with a DOCTOR and soldiers carrying drums and banners.
Alack, ’tis he. Why, he was met even now
As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud,
Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds,
With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,
5Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn.—A century send forth.
Search every acre in the high-grown field,
And bring him to our eye.
Sadly, it’s the king that’s missing. They saw him just now as mad and deranged as the stormy sea, singing loudly, wearing a crown of nettles, thorns, hemlock, and all the other weeds that grow in our cornfields.—Send out a hundred soldiers to find him. Search high and low, in every acre of the fields, and bring him here for me to see him.
Exit some soldiers
Some soldiers exit.
   What can man’s wisdom
In the restoring his bereavèd sense?
10He that helps him take all my outward worth.
What can human knowledge do to make him sane again? I’d give all my wealth to whoever can help him.
There is means, madam.
Our foster nurse of nature is repose,
The which he lacks—that to provoke in him
Are many simples operative, whose power
15Will close the eye of anguish.
There is a way, ma'am. Nature heals people with rest, which Lear hasn’t had. But there are many herbs that will help him rest and take his mind off his anguish for a while.
   All blessed secrets,
All you unpublished virtues of the earth,
Spring with my tears. Be aidant and remediate
In the good man’s distress. Seek, seek for him,
Lest his ungoverned rage dissolve the life
20That wants the means to lead it.
Then I’ll water all those precious herbs with my tears to make them grow. May they relieve a sick old man’s suffering. Go find those herbs for him, before his madness puts his life in danger.
     News, madam.
The British powers are marching hitherward.
I have news, ma'am. The British forces are on their way here.