King Lear :  Act 3, Scene 6




           Enter KENT (disguised as Caius]
           and GLOUCESTER.

      GLOUCESTER
Here A farmhouse?
  1   Here is better than the open air; take it
  2   thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what
  3   addition I can: I will not be long from you.

      KENT
  4   All the power of his wits have given way to his
impatience rage; inability to bear more suffering
the gods reward may the gods reward
  5   impatience: the gods reward your kindness!

           Exit [GLOUCESTER].

           Enter LEAR, EDGAR [disguised as
           "Poor Tom"], and Fool.

      EDGAR
Frateretto a devil | Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness In Chaucer's A Monk's Tale the infamously cruel Roman Emperor Nero is found fishing in hell.
Pray, innocent Edgar addresses the Fool, who is an "innocent."
  6   Frateretto calls me; and tells me Nero
  7   is an angler in the lake of darkness.
  8   Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.

      Fool
  9   Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman
yeoman a free landowner, but not a member of the gentry
 10   be a gentleman or a yeoman?

      KING LEAR
 11   A king, a king!

      Fool
 12   No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman
 13   to his son; for he's a mad yeoman that
sees his son a gentleman before him i.e., allows or enables his son to be a gentleman before he himself is a gentleman
 14   sees his son a gentleman before him.

      KING LEAR
 15   To have a thousand with red burning spits
'em them. Perhaps Lear is imagining the torture of Goneril and Regan.
 16   Come hizzing in upon 'em,

      EDGAR
 17   The foul fiend bites my back.

      Fool
 18   He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf,
 19   a horse's health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.

      KING LEAR
arraign them Lear now imagines a trial of his daughters Goneril and Regan.
 20   It shall be done; I will arraign them straight.

           [To EDGAR.]

justicer judge
 21   Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer;

           [To the Fool.]

sapient wise
 22   Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she foxes

      EDGAR
he May be a devil which Edgar pretends to see.
 23   Look, where he stands and glares!
eyes at trial spectators at your trial
 24   Want'st thou eyes at trial, madam?

           [Sings.]

"Come ... me" A line from an old song.
bourn brook
 25   "Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me"

      Fool [Sings.]
 26        Her boat hath a leak,
 27        And she must not speak
 28   Why she dares not come over to thee.

      EDGAR
 29   The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice
Hopdance a devil whose cries are the "Croak" or rumbling of Tom's empty stomach
two white herring i.e., a cheap snack
 30   of a nightingale. Hopdance cries in Tom's belly
 31   for two white herring. Croak not, black angel;
 32   I have no food for thee.

      KENT
amazed bewildered
 33   How do you, sir? Stand you not so amazed:
 34   Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?

      KING LEAR
their evidence the witnesses against them
 35   I'll see their trial first. Bring in their evidence.

           [To EDGAR.]

robed man of justice i.e., judge —His tattered blanket is the only robe of "Poor Tom."
 36   Thou robed man of justice, take thy place;

           [To the Fool.]

yoke-fellow partner
 37   And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity,
 38   Bench by his side:

           [To KENT.]

o' the commission appointed one of the judges
 38                           You are o' the commission,
 39   Sit you too.

      EDGAR
 40             Let us deal justly.
 41        Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?
for one blast ... harm i.e., to keep your sheep from harm you only need to blow your horn with your sweet mouth
 42             Thy sheep be in the corn;
 43        And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,
 44             Thy sheep shall take no harm.
Purr the cat a devil? a witch's familiar?
 45        Purr the cat is gray.

      KING LEAR
 46   Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril. I here take
 47   my oath before this honourable assembly,
 48   she kicked the poor king her father.

      Fool
 49   Come hither, mistress. Is your name
 50   Goneril?

joint-stool
"Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool" was a joking way of apologizing for not noticing the presence of another person.
      KING LEAR
 51   She cannot deny it.

      Fool
 52   Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.

      KING LEAR
another Regan
 53   And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim
store material | on of
 54   What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
Corruption in the place! Bribery in the court!
 55   Arms, arms, sword, fire! Corruption in the place!
justicer judge
 56   False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape?

      EDGAR
 57   Bless thy five wits!

      KENT
 58   O pity! Sir, where is the patience now,
 59   That thou so oft have boasted to retain?

      EDGAR [Aside.]
 60   My tears begin to take his part so much,
 61   They'll mar my counterfeiting.

      KING LEAR
The little dogs and all Even the little dogs
 62   The little dogs and all, Tray, Blanch, and
 63   Sweet-heart, see, they bark at me.

      EDGAR
throw his head at them threaten them | Avaunt Begone
 64   Tom will throw his head at them. Avaunt,
 65   you curs!
or black or white either black or whites
Tooth that poisons i.e., rabid
 66        Be thy mouth or black or white,
 67        Tooth that poisons if it bite;
 68        Mastiff, grey-hound, mongrel grim,
 69        Hound or spaniel, brach or lym,
bobtail tike short-tailed mongrel
trundle-tail
long-tail
 70        Or bobtail tike or trundle-tail,
 71        Tom will make them weep and wail:
 72        For, with throwing thus my head,
hatch the lower half of a divided door
 73        Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.
wakes parish festivals
 74   Do de, de, de. Sessa! Come, march to wakes and
thy horn is dry i.e., my begging-bowl is empty
 75   fairs and market-towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.

      KING LEAR
anatomize dissect
 76   Then let them anatomize Regan; see what breeds
 77   about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that
 78   makes these hard hearts?

           [To EDGAR.]

entertain retain
 79   You, sir, I entertain for one of my hundred; only I
 80   do not like the fashion of your garments: you will
Persian Lear madly mistakes Edgar's wretched blanket for rich, ornamental fabric.
 81   say they are Persian attire: but let them be changed.

      KENT
 82   Now, good my lord, lie here and rest awhile.

      KING LEAR
draw the curtains close the bed curtains
supper the evening meal
 83   Make no noise, make no noise, draw the curtains.
 84   So, so. We'll go to supper i' th' morning. So, so, so.

      Fool
 85   And I'll go to bed at noon.

           Enter GLOUCESTER.

      GLOUCESTER
 86   Come hither, friend: where is the king my master?

      KENT
 87   Here, sir; but trouble him not, his wits are gone.

      GLOUCESTER
 88   Good friend, I prithee, take him in thy arms;
upon against
 89   I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him:
 90   There is a litter ready; lay him in 't,
 91   And drive towards Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet
 92   Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master:
his life ... Stand in assured loss his life will surely be taken
 93   If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
 94   With thine, and all that offer to defend him,
 95   Stand in assured loss: take up, take up;
me ... conduct me, who will quickly guide you to a place where there are provisions (such as food and clothes)
 96   And follow me, that will to some provision
 97   Give thee quick conduct.

      KENT
 97                                            Oppressed nature sleeps:
balm'd soothed | sinews nerves
 98   This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken sinews,
convenience circumstances
 99   Which, if convenience will not allow,
Stand in hard cure will be very difficult to cure
100   Stand in hard cure.

           [To the Fool.]

100                                 Come, help to bear thy master;
101   Thou must not stay behind.

      GLOUCESTER
101                                             Come, come, away.

           Exeunt [all but EDGAR].

      EDGAR
bearing our woes suffering the same woes we suffer
102   When we our betters see bearing our woes,
103   We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
104   Who alone suffers suffers most i' the mind,
105   Leaving free things and happy shows behind:
But ... mates only when grief is shared is the mind able rise above its suffering
bearing fellowship suffering (has) company | portable bearable | He childed as I father'd! i.e., he (Lear) found the same cruelty in his children that I found in my father (Gloucester)
high noises rumors of great events | thyself bewray reveal your true identity
When false ... reconciles thee i.e., when public opinion, which now mistakenly defiles you, finds you proved guiltless and recalls you to your rightful place in society
What ... king! i.e., No matter what else chances tonight, I hope that the king will safely escape.
106   But then the mind much sufferance doth o'er skip,
107   When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.
108   How light and portable my pain seems now,
109   When that which makes me bend makes the king bow,
110   He childed as I father'd! Tom, away!
111   Mark the high noises; and thyself bewray,
112   When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,
113   In thy just proof, repeals and reconciles thee.
114   What will hap more tonight, safe 'scape the king!
115   Lurk, lurk.

           Exit.