King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Enter in conquest with drum and colors EDMUND, with LEAR and CORDELIA as prisoners, and FIRST CAPTAIN with soldiers
EDMUND enters, victorious, with drums and banners. LEAR and CORDELIA enter as prisoners, led by the FIRST CAPTAIN and soldiers.
Some officers take them away. Good guard
Until their greater pleasures first be known
That are to censure them.
Officers, take them away. Guard them carefully until we decide how to punish them.
(to LEAR)
   We are not the first
5Who 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?
(to LEAR) At least we’re not the first ones in our position. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But I’m worried about you, my poor King. If it were only me, I would just wait out my bad luck. Should we meet with my sisters?
No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison.
10We 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
15Talk 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
20That ebb and flow by the moon.
No, no, no, no! Come on, let’s go to prison. The two of us together will sing like birds in a cage. We will be good to each other. When you ask for my blessing, I’ll get down on my knees and ask you to forgive me. That’s how we’ll live—we’ll pray, we’ll sing, we’ll tell old stories, we’ll laugh at pretentious courtiers, we’ll listen to nasty court gossip, we’ll find out who’s losing and who’s winning, who’s in and who’s out. We’ll think about the mysteries of the universe as if we were God’s spies. In prison we’ll outlast hordes of rulers that will come and go as their fortunes change.
     Take them away.
Take them away.
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.
My Cordelia, even the gods admire how much you’ve sacrificed for me. Have I hugged you yet? Anyone who wants to separate us will have to smoke us out of the cave of our togetherness like foxes. Wipe your eyes.