What treasure does the King hold close
To dole out daughters like his lands?
By asking which “doth love me most?”
He passes power to their hands.
Cordelia loves but by her bond,
No more or less, and holds her tongue,
For love rejects comparison
And gives and saves, remaining strong.
But he sees power as a means.
If nothing comes of nothing, this
Makes every father’s kiss a sting
Which in his heart plants loneliness.
Not glib, Cordelia speaks so plain
There is no need to speak again,
For though her dowry price declines,
She will not lie to stay with him.
When he cuts out his heart, she goes,
But only if he goes as well.
He must abandon all he knows
To find the truth in which he dwelt.
And though Cordelia seeks the King,
Against his loss no shield is truth.
For their low-spoken love we weep
To see their one heart break as two.