William Shakespeare's King Lear teaches the lesson to never believe everything you hear.
William Shakespeare's plays, sonnets and poems at AbsoluteShakespeare.com
Home Plays Sonnets Poems Quotes Summaries Essays Glossary Links Help

HOME > Plays > King Lear > Act IV. Scene I.

King Lear

Study Guides
Julius Caesar
King Henry IV
King Lear
Merchant of Venice
Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
Twelfth Night

Bard Facts
Globe Theatre

Act IV. Scene I.

Act IV. Scene I.—The Heath.

Enter EDGAR.

Edg. Yet better thus, and known to be con-
Than still contemn'd and flatter'd. To be worst
The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune,
Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear:
The lamentable change is from the best;
The worst returns to laughter. Welcome, then;
Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace:
The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
Owes nothing to thy blasts. But who come

Enter GLOUCESTER, led by an old Man.
My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!
But that thy strange mutations make us hate
Life would not yield to age.
Old Man. O my good lord!
I have been your tenant, and your father's
These fourscore years.
Glo. Away, get thee away; good friend, be
Thy comforts can do me no good at all;
Thee they may hurt.
Old Man. You cannot see your way.
Glo. I have no way, and therefore want no
I stumbled when I saw. Full oft 'tis seen,
Our means secure us, and our mere defects
Prove our commodities. Ah! dear son Edgar,
The food of thy abused father's wrath;
Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
I'd say I had eyes again.
Old Man. How now! Who's there?
Edg. [Aside.] O gods! Who is't can say, 'I
am at the worst?'
I am worse than e'er I was.
Old Man. 'Tis poor mad Tom.
Edg. [Aside.] And worse I may be yet; the
worst is not,
So long as we can say, 'This is the worst.'
Old Man. Fellow, where goest?
Glo. Is it a beggar-man?
Old Man. Madman and beggar too.
Glo. He has some reason, else he could not beg
I' the last night's storm I such a fellow saw,
Which made me think a man a worm: my son
Came then into my mind; and yet my mind
Was then scarce friends with him: I have heard
more since.
As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods;
They kill us for their sport.
Edg. [Aside.] How should this be?
Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
Angering itself and others.—[To GLOUCESTER.]
Bless thee, master!
Glo. Is that the naked fellow?
Old Man. Ay, my lord.
Glo. Then, prithee, get thee gone. If, for my
Thou wilt o'ertake us, hence a mile or twain,
I' the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;
And bring some covering for this naked soul
Who I'll entreat to lead me.
Old Man. Alack, sir! he is mad.
Glo. 'Tis the times' plague, when madmen
lead the blind.
Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure;
Above the rest, be gone.
Old Man. I'll bring him the best 'parel that I
Come on't what will. [Exit.
Glo. Sirrah, naked fellow,—
Edg. Poor Tom's a-cold. [Aside.] I cannot
daub it further.
Glo. Come hither, fellow.
Edg. [Aside.] And yet I must. Bless thy
sweet eyes, they bleed.
Glo. Know'st thou the way to Dover?
Edg. Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-
path. Poor Tom hath been scared out of his
good wits: bless thee, good man's son, from the
foul fiend! Five fiends have been in poor Tom
at once; of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididance,
prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo,
of murder; and Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and
mowing; who since possesses chambermaids and
waiting-women. So, bless thee, master!
Glo. Here, take this purse, thou whom the
heavens' plagues
Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched
Makes thee the happier: heavens, deal so still!
Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;
So distribution should undo excess,
And each man have enough. Dost thou know
Edg. Ay, master.
Glo. There is a cliff, whose high and bending
Looks fearfully in the confined deep;
Bring me but to the very brim of it,
And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear;
With something rich about me; from that place
I shall no leading need.
Edg. Give me thy arm:
Poor Tom shall lead thee. [Exeunt.
Copyright 2000-2005 AbsoluteShakespeare.com. All rights reserved.  Contact Us  Privacy  Awards