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King Lear

(Line differences from Q1 are in brackets, lines in F1 only are in italics)


Act 4 Scene 4

 A tent
Enter, with drum and colours, CORDELIA, Doctor, and Soldiers

Alack, ’tis he: why, he was met even now
As mad as the vexed [vent] sea, singing aloud,
Crowned with rank fenitar and furrow-weeds,
With hardocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn. A century send forth;
Search every acre in the high-grown field
And bring him to our eye.
What can man’s wisdom
In the restoring his bereaved sense?
He that helps him take all my outward worth.

There is means, madam:
Our foster-nurse of nature is repose,
The which he lacks; that to provoke in him
Are many simples operative, whose power
Will close the eye of anguish.

All blest secrets,
All you unpublished virtues of the earth,
Spring with my tears! Be aidant and remediate
In the good man’s desires [distress]. Seek, seek for him;
Lest his ungoverned rage dissolve the life
That wants the means to lead it.

News, madam;
The British powers are marching hitherward.

‘Tis known before; our preparation stands
In expectation of them. O dear father,
It is thy business that I go about.
Therefore great France
My mourning and important tears hath pitied.
No blown ambition doth our arms incite [in fight],
But love, dear love, and our aged father’s right:
Soon may I hear and see him!



fenitar: begins a list of different kinds of weeds and wild herbs

century: sentry

wisdom: medical knowledge

repose: rest

simples operative: medicinal herbs to induce sleep

unpublished: secret

spring: grow

wants: lacks

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