• Enter EDGAR

    EDGAR

    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
    5Does 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,
    10Blanket 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
    15Strike 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,
    20Enforce their charity. “Poor Turlygod!” “Poor Tom!”—
    That’s something yet. Edgar I nothing am.
    Exit
  • EDGAR enters.

    EDGAR

    I heard myself declared an outlaw and escaped capture by hiding in the trunk of a hollow tree. Every town and port is crawling with henchmen on the lookout, waiting to capture me. But I’ll survive while I can. I’ve decided to disguise myself as the lowliest and rattiest beggar that mankind has ever seen. I’ll smear my face with filth, put on a loincloth, make my hair matted and tangled, and face the bad weather wearing almost nothing. I’ve seen beggars out of insane asylums who stick pins and nails into their numb arms. They pray or roar lunatic curses, horrifying farmers and villagers into giving them alms. “Poor crazy Tom!” they call themselves. Well, at least that’s something. As Edgar, I’m nothing at all.
    He exits.