Home  »  The Oxford Shakespeare  »  King Lear

William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act III. Scene II.

King Lear

Another Part of the Heath.Storm still.

Enter LEAR and Fool.

Lear.Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!

You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,

Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!

Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once

That make ingrateful man!

Fool.O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than this rain-water out o’ door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters’ blessing; here’s a night pities neither wise man nor fool.

Lear.Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!

Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:

I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;

I never gave you kingdom, call’d you children,

You owe me no subscription: then, let fall

Your horrible pleasure; here I stand, your slave,

A poor, infirm, weak, and despis’d old man.

But yet I call you servile ministers,

That have with two pernicious daughters join’d

Your high-engender’d battles ’gainst a head

So old and white as this. O! O! ’tis foul.

Fool.He that has a house to put his head in has a good head-piece.

  • The cod-piece that will house
  • Before the head has any,
  • The head and he shall louse;
  • So beggars marry many.
  • The man that makes his toe
  • What he his heart should make,
  • Shall of a corn cry woe,
  • And turn his sleep to wake.
  • For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass.

    Enter KENT.

    Lear.No, I will be the pattern of all patience;

    I will say nothing.

    Kent.Who’s there?

    Fool.Marry, here’s grace and a cod-piece; that’s a wise man and a fool.

    Kent.Alas! sir, are you here? things that love night

    Love not such nights as these; the wrathful skies

    Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,

    And make them keep their caves. Since I was man

    Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,

    Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never

    Remember to have heard; man’s nature cannot carry

    The affliction nor the fear.

    Lear.Let the great gods,

    That keep this dreadful pother o’er our heads,

    Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,

    That hast within thee undivulged crimes,

    Unwhipp’d of justice; hide thee, thou bloody hand;

    Thou perjur’d, and thou simular of virtue

    That art incestuous; caitiff, to pieces shake,

    That under covert and convenient seeming

    Hast practis’d on man’s life; close pent-up guilts,

    Rive your concealing continents, and cry

    These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man

    More sinn’d against than sinning.

    Kent.Alack! bare-headed!

    Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;

    Some friendship will it lend you ’gainst the tempest;

    Repose you there while I to this hard house,—

    More harder than the stone whereof ’tis rais’d,—

    Which even but now, demanding after you,

    Denied me to come in, return and force

    Their scanted courtesy.

    Lear.My wits begin to turn.

    Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?

    I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?

    The art of our necessities is strange,

    That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.

    Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart

    That’s sorry yet for thee.


  • He that has a little tiny wit,
  • With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
  • Must make content with his fortunes fit,
  • Though the rain it raineth every day.
  • Lear.True, my good boy. Come, bring us to this hovel.[Exeunt LEAR and KENT.

    Fool.This is a brave night to cool a courtezan.

    I’ll speak a prophecy ere I go:

    When priests are more in word than matter;

    When brewers mar their malt with water;

    When nobles are their tailors’ tutors;

    No heretics burn’d, but wenches’ suitors;

    When every case in law is right;

    No squire in debt, nor no poor knight;

    When slanders do not live in tongues;

    Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;

    When usurers tell their gold i’ the field;

    And bawds and whores do churches build;

    Then shall the realm of Albion

    Come to great confusion:

    Then comes the time, who lives to see ’t,

    That going shall be us’d with feet.

    This prophecy Merlin shall make; for I live before his time.[Exit.