King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

REGAN

     And false.

REGAN

Clever lies.

CORNWALL

Where hast thou sent the king?

CORNWALL

Where have you sent the king?

GLOUCESTER

     To Dover.

GLOUCESTER

To Dover.

REGAN

50Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charged at peril—

REGAN

Why Dover? Weren’t you ordered, on penalty of—

CORNWALL

Wherefore to Dover?—Let him first answer that.

CORNWALL

Why Dover?—Let him answer that question first.

GLOUCESTER

I am tied to th' stake, and I must stand the course.

GLOUCESTER

I’m backed into a corner with nowhere to run.

REGAN

Wherefore to Dover, sir?

REGAN

Why Dover?

GLOUCESTER

Because I would not see thy cruèl nails
55Pluck out his poor old eyes, nor thy fierce sister
In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
In hell-black night endured, would have buoyed up,
And quenched the stellèd fires.
60Yet poor old heart, he holp the heavens to rain.
If wolves had at thy gate howled that stern time,
Thou shouldst have said, “Good porter, turn the key,”
All cruèls else subscribed. But I shall see
The wingèd vengeance overtake such children.

GLOUCESTER

Because I didn’t want to watch while you gouged out his poor old eyes with your cruel fingernails, or while your vicious sister sank her fangs into his sacred flesh. You left him out in the storm in the black night, bareheaded, a storm so terrible that if it had happened at sea, the waters would have risen up and extinguished the fire burning in the stars. And the poor old man just wept, mixing his tears with the rain. If wolves had been howling outside your gate at the heart of that storm, you would’ve told your doorman to let them in, despite all the cruelties you inflict on the world. But soon I’ll see the gods punish you for your lack of respect to your father.

CORNWALL

65“See” ’t shalt thou never.—Fellows, hold the chair.—
Upon these eyes of thine I’ll set my foot.

CORNWALL

You won’t be seeing anything.—Hold his chair still, men.—I’m going to put my foot on his eyes.

GLOUCESTER

He that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help!

GLOUCESTER

Oh, help me, anyone who wants to live long!
CORNWALL plucks out one of GLOUCESTER’s eyes and stamps on it
CORNWALL gouges out one of GLOUCESTER’s eyes and steps on it.