Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > King Lear
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of King Lear.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act IV
Scene IV
[The same. A tent]
Enter, with drum and colours, CORDELIA, Doctor, and Soldiers

  Cor.  Alack, ’tis he! Why, he was met even now
As mad as the vex’d sea, singing aloud,
Crown’d with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds,
With hardocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,        4
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn. A sentry send forth;
Search every acre in the high-grown field,
And bring him to our eye. [Exit an Officer.] What can man’s wisdom        8
In the restoring his bereaved sense?
He that helps him take all my outward worth.
  Doct.  There is means, madam.
Our foster-nurse of nature is repose,        12
The which he lacks; that to provoke in him,
Are many simples 1 operative, whose power
Will close the eye of anguish.
  Cor.        All blest secrets,        16
All you unpublish’d virtues of the earth,
Spring with my tears! be aidant and remediate 2
In the good man’s distress! Seek, seek for him,
Lest his ungovern’d rage dissolve the life        20
That wants the means to lead it.
Enter a Messenger

  Mess.        News, madam!
The British powers are marching hitherward.
  Cor.  ’Tis known before; our preparation stands        24
In expectation of them. O dear father,
It is thy business that I go about;
Therefore great France
My mourning and importune 3 tears hath pitied.        28
No blown 4 ambition doth our arms incite,
But love, dear love, and our ag’d father’s right.
Soon may I hear and see him!  Exeunt.
Note 1. Medicinal herbs. [back]
Note 2. Helpful and curative. [back]
Note 3. Importunate, persistent. [back]
Note 4. Puffed up. [back]


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