King Lear
Background on King Lear: King Leir the Play: Scene 16

The Gallian King asks Cordella when her good humor will return.  She lays her state to nature and the ill will of her father.  He asks her to consider herself renewed in his natural order (trees are the metaphor of choice), to consider those who forsake her dead, but she appeals to nature once again, that nothing can be done (all of this in dripping poetry). To make some progress, he offers to send an embassy to Cornwall to entreat Leir to visit, for which he would offer half his land.  Should that fail, they will all go visit Leir, to effect a reconciliation.  Cordella thanks him profusely, he replies in romantic kind (nothing is too good for you, and so on).

Scene 15 . . . Directory . . . Scene 17

Scene 16

Enter the Gallian King, and Cordella.

KING: When will these clouds of sorrow once disperse,
And smiling joy triumph upon thy brow?
When will this Scene of sadness have an end,
And pleasant acts ensue, to move delight?
When will my lovely Queen cease to lament,
And take some comfort to her grieved thoughts?
If of thyself thou deignest to have no care
Yet pity me, whom thy grief makes despair.

CORDELLA: O, grieve not you, my Lord, you have no cause:
Let not my passions move your mind a whit: … [16.10]
For I am bound by nature, to lament
For his ill will, that life to me first lent.
If so the stock be dried with disdain,
Withered and sere the branch must needs remain.

KING: But thou art now graft in another stock;
I am the stock, and thou the lovely branch:
And from my root continual sap shall flow,
To make thee flourish with perpetual spring.
Forget thy father and thy kindred now,
Since they forsake thee like inhuman beasts, … [16.20]
Think they are dead, since all their kindness dies,
And bury them, where black oblivion lies.
Think not thou art the daughter of old Leir,
Who did unkindly disinherit thee:
But think thou art the noble Gallian Queen,
And wife to him that dearly loveth thee:
Embrace the joys that present with thee dwell,
Let sorrow pack and hide herself in hell.

CORDELLA: Not that I miss my country or my kin,
My old acquaintance or my ancient friends, … [16.30]
Doth any whit distemperate my mind,
Knowing you, which are more dear to me,
Than Country, kind, and all the things else can be.
Yet pardon me, my gracious Lord, in this:
For what can stop the course of nature’s power?
As easy is it for four-footed beasts,
To stay themselves upon the liquid air,
And mount aloft into the element,
And overstrip the feathered Fowls in flight:
As easy is it for the slimy Fish, … [16.40]
To live and thrive without the help of water:
As easy is it for the Blackamoor,
To wash the tawny color from his skin,
Which all oppose against the course of nature,
As I am able to forget my father.

KING: Mirror of virtue, Phoenix of our age!
Too kind a daughter for an unkind father,
Be of good comfort; for I will dispatch
Ambassadors immediately for Britain,
Unto the King of Cornwall’s Court, whereas … [16.50]
Your father keepeth now his residence,
And in the kindest manner him entreat,
That setting former grievances apart,
He will be pleased to come and visit us.
If no entreaty will suffice the turn,
I’ll offer him the the half of all my Crown:
If that moves not, we’ll furnish out a Fleet,
And sail to Cornwall for to visit him;
And there you shall be firmly reconciled
In perfect love, as erst you were before. … [16.60]

CORDELLA: Where tongue cannot sufficient thanks afford,
The King of heaven remunerate my Lord.

KING: Only be blithe, and frolic (sweet) with me:
This and much more I’ll do to comfort thee.


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