King Lear
Play Summary and Full Text: Full Text with Clips: Act IV Scene 4

Cordelia appears in full military regalia, or at least in charge of the French military forces (we are led to assume). She describes what she has apparently heard of Lear’s condition, “mad as the vexed sea” and wearing a crown of weeds. She orders sentries to be sent forth to find and collect him. She is then advised that the British armies advance. She knows this already, and prepares for battle.

Act IV Scene 3 . . . Act IV Scene 5

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Enter, with drum and colors, Cordelia, Gentleman, and Soldiers

Alack, ’tis he. Why, he was met even now
As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud,
Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow weeds,
With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo flowers,
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow     [5]
In our sustaining corn. A century send forth.
Search every acre in the high-grown field,
And bring him to our eye.
What can man’s wisdom
In the restoring his bereaved sense?
He that helps him take all my outward worth. [Exit Officers] [10]

There is means, madam.
Our foster nurse of nature is repose,
The which he lacks. That to provoke in him
Are many simples operative, whose power
Will close the eye of anguish.    [15]

CORDELIA                               All blest secrets,
All you unpublished virtues of the earth,
Spring with my tears, be aidant and remediate
In the good man’s distress. Seek, seek for him,
Lest his ungoverned rage dissolve the life    [20]
That wants the means to lead it.

Enter Messenger

Messenger                                   News, madam.
The British powers are marching hitherward.

‘Tis known before. Our preparation stands
In expectation of them. O dear father,    [25]
It is thy business that I go about.
Therefore great France
My mourning and importuned tears hath pitied.
No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
But love, dear love, and our aged father’s right.    [30]
Soon may I hear and see him.


[McKellen film inserts here lines from above: “A century send forth;
Search every acre in the high-grown field,
And bring him to our eye.”]

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