I heard myself proclaimed, And by the h...

King Lear

Edgar

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Text

I heard myself proclaimed,
And by the happy hollow of a tree Escaped the hunt. No port is free, no place That guard and most unusual vigilance 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, 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 Strike in their numbed 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, Enforce their charity. “Poor Turlygod!” “Poor Tom!”— That’s something yet. Edgar I nothing am.

Shakespeare, William, King Lear, Act 2, Scene 2, ll.164-184

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