We came crying hither
If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
I know thee well enough, thy name is Gloucester;
Thou must be patient; we came crying hither:
Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air
We wawl and cry.
Well after first meeting the Duke of Gloucester in this scene [see EVERY INCH A KING], the distracted Lear finally recognizes the old man, who is now blind. Lear offers the duke his own eyes in return for tears of pity—the king, like Gloucester, has been turned out by ungrateful children. Half ashamed of weeping, the king begs patience, pointing out with a non sequitur that we enter this cruel world crying, as is only natural. The infant's tears are an instinctive response to being wrenched from the womb into an uncaring universe. By likening his tears to a baby's, Lear begins to accept the humility of being, beyond his role as king, merely a man like any other.