King Lear : Act 3, Scene 2

| You ... fires i.e., sheet lightning, as quick as thought (Video)
vaunt-couriers forerunners | hurricanoes waterspouts | drench'd submerged | cocks weathercocks
           Enter KING LEAR and Fool.

  1   Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
  2   You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
  3   Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
  4   You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
  5   Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
  6   Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
  7   Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
germens seeds | spill destroy
  8   Crack nature's moulds, all germens spill at once,
  9   That make ingrateful man!

court holy-water sprinkled blessings of a courtier; flattery
 10   O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than
 11   this rain-water out o' door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy
 12   daughters' blessing: here's a night pities neither wise man
 13   nor fool.

 14   Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
 15   Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
tax blame
 16   I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
 17   I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
subscription allegiance; obedience
 18   You owe me no subscription: then let fall
 19   Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,
 20   A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:
you the elements | servile ministers agents
 21   But yet I call you servile ministers,
 22   That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
high engender'd battles heaven-bred forces
 23   Your high engender'd battles 'gainst a head
 24   So old and white as this. O! O! 'tis foul!

 25   He that has a house to put's head in has a good
head-piece hat; brain
 26   head-piece.
 27                  The cod-piece that will house

 28                     Before the head has any,
 29                  The head and he shall louse;
 30                     So beggars marry many.
The man ... cry woe: i.e., he who values the body more than the spirit will always be plagued by the most minor bodily discomfort.
 31                  The man that makes his toe
 32                     What he his heart should make
 33                  Shall of a corn cry woe,
 34                     And turn his sleep to wake.
 35   For there was never yet fair woman but she made

 36   mouths in a glass.

           Enter KENT [disguised as Caius].

 37   No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
 38   I will say nothing.

 39   Who's there?

here's  . . .  fool
 40   Marry, here's grace and a cod-piece—that's a wise
 41   man and a fool.

 42   Alas, sir, are you here? things that love night
 43   Love not such nights as these; the wrathful skies
gallow frighten wanderers of the dark: bats? keep their caves keep inside their caves
 44   Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,
 45   And make them keep their caves: since I was man,
 46   Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
 47   Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never
carry bear
 48   Remember to have heard: man's nature cannot carry
 49   The affliction nor the fear.

 49                                               Let the great gods,
pother commotion
 50   That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,
 51   Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
 52   That hast within thee undivulged crimes,
unwhipp'd of justice unpunished by justice
simular simulator; pretender | caitiff wretch | seeming hypocrisy
 53   Unwhipp'd of justice: hide thee, thou bloody hand;
 54   Thou perjured, and thou simular of virtue
 55   That art incestuous! Caitiff, to pieces shake,
 56   That under covert and convenient seeming
practised on plotted against | close secret
rive split open | continents coverings
cry / These dreadful summoners grace pray for mercy from these elements which bring you to justice. (Summoners were the officers who cited offenders to appear before ecclesiastical court.)

hard by here very close to here hovel cow shed; tool shed
 57   Hast practised on man's life! Close pent-up guilts,
 58   Rive your concealing continents, and cry
 59   These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
 60   More sinn'd against than sinning.

 60                                                           Alack, bare-headed!
 61   Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;
 62   Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest:
hard house cruel house; i.e., Gloucester's house, now controlled by Regan and Cornwall Which ... come in Which just a moment ago, when I asked about you, denied me permission to come in scanted close-fisted
 63   Repose you there; while I to this hard house—
 64   More harder than the stones whereof 'tis raised;
 65   Which even but now, demanding after you,
 66   Denied me to come in—return, and force
 67   Their scanted courtesy.

My wits begin to turn. i.e., I'm beginning to see things differently.
 67                                           My wits begin to turn.
 68   Come on, my boy: how dost, my boy? art cold?
 69   I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?
art alchemy
 70   The art of our necessities is strange,
 71   That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.
 72   Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
 73   That's sorry yet for thee.

      Fool  [Singing]
and even | wit sense
 74             He that has and a little tiny wit—
 75                With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,—
Must ... fit i.e., must learn to be content with what he has
 76             Must make content with his fortunes fit,
 77                For the rain it raineth every day.

 78   True, my good boy. Come, bring us to this hovel.

           Exit [KING LEAR with KENT].

brave i.e., perfect | to cool a courtezan to cool even the hot lusts of a prostitute I'll speak a prophecy ere I go: matter real virtue
 79   This is a brave night to cool a courtezan.
 80   I'll speak a prophecy ere I go:
 81      When priests are more in word than matter;
 82      When brewers mar their malt with water;
When ... tutors when noblemen follow fashion more closely than their tailors do
No heretics ... suitors when the only heretics burned are faithless lovers, who burn from venereal disease Albion Britain confusion decay right just

cutpurses pickpockets
 83      When nobles are their tailors' tutors;
 84      No heretics burn'd, but wenches' suitors;
 85      Then shall the realm of Albion
 86      Come to great confusion:
 87      When every case in law is right;
 88      No squire in debt, nor no poor knight;
 89      When slanders do not live in tongues;
 90      Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;
When usurers ... field When usurers can count their profits openly (because they have no shady dealings to hide)
going ... feet See the note to line 80.
 91      When usurers tell their gold i' the field;
 92      And bawds and whores do churches build;
 93      Then comes the time, who lives to see't,
 94      That going shall be used with feet.
This prophecy Merlin ... before his time Merlin was the great wizard at the legendary court of King Arthur. Lear's Britain is set in an even more distant past.
 95   This prophecy Merlin shall make; for I live before
 96   his time.