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The Tragedy of King Lear

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Act II, Scene 3

The open country.


Enter Edgar.

  • Edgar. I heard myself proclaim'd,
    And by the happy hollow of a tree
    Escap'd the hunt. No port is free, no place
    That guard and most unusual vigilance 1255
    Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may scape,
    I will preserve myself; and am bethought
    To take the basest and most poorest shape
    That ever penury, in contempt of man,
    Brought near to beast. My face I'll grime with filth, 1260
    Blanket my loins, elf all my hair in knots,
    And with presented nakedness outface
    The winds and persecutions of the sky.
    The country gives me proof and precedent
    Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices, 1265
    Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
    Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
    And with this horrible object, from low farms,
    Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills,
    Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers, 1270
    Enforce their charity. 'Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!'
    That's something yet! Edgar I nothing am. Exit.