Poem of the Day: King Lear, Act 5, Scene 3 by William Shakespeare

Act 5, Scene 3

SCENE III. The British camp near Dover.

Enter, in conquest, with drum and colours, EDMUND, KING LEAR and CORDELIA, prisoners; Captain, Soldiers, & c


Some officers take them away: good guard,
Until their greater pleasures first be known
That are to censure them.


We are not the first
Who, with best meaning, have incurr’d the worst.
For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
Myself could else out-frown false fortune’s frown.
Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?


No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison: 
    We two alone will sing like birds i’ the cage: 
    When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down, 
    And ask of thee forgiveness: so we’ll live, 
    And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh 
    At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues 
    Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too, 
    Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out; 
    And take upon’s the mystery of things, 
    As if we were God’s spies: and we’ll wear out, 
    In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones, 
    That ebb and flow by the moon. 


Take them away.


Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes;
The good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep: we’ll see ’em starve
first. Come.

Exeunt KING LEAR and CORDELIA, guarded

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