Read King Lear’s ‘Blow, winds and cracks your cheeks’ monologue below with modern English translation and analysis.
Spoken by Lear, King Lear, Act 3, Scene 2
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 sulph’rous 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’ th’ world,
Crack Nature’s moulds, all germains spill at once,
That makes ingrateful man!
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 will with two pernicious daughters join
Your high-engender’d battles ‘gainst a head
So old and white as this! O! O! ’tis foul!
‘Blow, winds and cracks your cheeks’ Monologue Translation
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks. Rage! Blow you cataracts and hurricanes; spout till you have drenched our steeples and drowned their weathercocks! You sulphurous and mind-blowing lightning flashes, heralds of oak-splitting thunderbolts! Singe my white head! And you, all shaking thunder: flatten the roundness of the world. Crack Nature’s moulds, spill in an instant the seeds from which ungrateful man grows!’
‘Rumble your bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout, rain! Neither rain, wind, thunder or fire are my daughters, I don’t accuse you, you natural elements, of cruelty! I never gave you a kingdom or called you my children. You owe me nothing. So vent your pleasure. Here I stand, your slave, a poor, infirm, weak and despised old man. Nevertheless, you’re still servile lackeys if you want to join up with two pernicious daughters to use your celestial forces against a head as old and white as this. Oh, it’s detestable!
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