King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now.
The two great princes, France and Burgundy,
45Great rivals in our youngest daughter’s love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answered.—Tell me, my daughters,
(Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state)
50Which 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.
great princes of France and Burgundy, vying for the hand of my youngest Cordelia, have been at my court a long time and will soon have their answers.—My daughters, since I’m about to give up my throne and the worries that go along with it, tell me which one of you loves me most, so that I can give my largest gift to the one who deserves it most.—Goneril, my oldest daughter, you speak first.
Sir, I do love you more than words can wield the matter,
55Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor,
As much as child e'er loved or father found—
A love that makes breath poor and speech unable.
60Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
Sir, I love you more than words can say. I love you more than eyesight, space, and freedom, beyond wealth or anything of value. I love you as much as life itself, and as much as status, health, beauty, or honor. I love you as much as any child has ever loved her father, with a love too deep to be spoken of. I love you more than any answer to the question “How much?”
(aside) What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.
(to herself) What will I say? I can only love and be silent.
Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
With shadowy forests and with champains riched,
With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
65We make thee lady. To thine and Albany’s issue
Be this perpetual.—What says our second daughter,
Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall? Speak.
I give you all this land, from this line to that one—dense forests, fertile fields, rivers rich with fish, wide meadows. This land will belong to your and Albany’s children forever.—And now what does my second daughter Regan, the wife of Cornwall, have to say? Tell me.
Sir, I am made of that self mettle as my sister,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart,
70I find she names my very deed of love—
Only she comes too short, that I profess
Sir, I’m made of the same stuff as my sister and consider myself just as good as she is. She’s described my feelings of love for you precisely, but her description falls a little short of the truth. I reject completely any