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A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

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LYSANDER
What! should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I'll not harm her so.

HERMIA
What! can you do me greater harm than hate?
Hate me! wherefore? O me! what news, my love?
Am not I Hermia? Are not you Lysander?
I am as fair now as I was erewhile.
Since night you lov'd me; yet since night you left me:
Why then, you left me,--O, the gods forbid!--
In earnest, shall I say?

LYSANDER
Ay, by my life;
And never did desire to see thee more.
Therefore be out of hope, of question, doubt,
Be certain, nothing truer; 'tis no jest
That I do hate thee and love Helena.

HERMIA
O me! you juggler! you cankerblossom!
You thief of love! What! have you come by night,
And stol'n my love's heart from him?

HELENA
Fine, i' faith!
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness? What! will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet, you!

HERMIA
Puppet! why so? Ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures; she hath urg'd her height;
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail'd with him.--
And are you grown so high in his esteem
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? speak;
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.

HELENA
I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me. I was never curst;
I have no gift at all in shrewishness;
I am a right maid for my cowardice;
Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think,
Because she is something lower than myself,
That I can match her.

HERMIA
Lower! hark, again.

HELENA
Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia;
Did ever keep your counsels; never wrong'd you;
Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
I told him of your stealth unto this wood:
He follow'd you; for love I follow'd him;
But he hath chid me hence, and threaten'd me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too:
And now, so you will let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back,
And follow you no farther. Let me go:
You see how simple and how fond I am.

HERMIA
Why, get you gone: who is't that hinders you?

HELENA
A foolish heart that I leave here behind.

HERMIA
What! with Lysander?

HELENA
With Demetrius.

LYSANDER
Be not afraid; she shall not harm thee, Helena.

DEMETRIUS
No, sir, she shall not, though you take her part.

HELENA
O, when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd:
She was a vixen when she went to school;
And, though she be but little, she is fierce.

HERMIA
Little again! nothing but low and little!--
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
Let me come to her.

LYSANDER
Get you gone, you dwarf;
You minimus, of hind'ring knot-grass made;
You bead, you acorn.

DEMETRIUS
You are too officious
In her behalf that scorns your services.
Let her alone: speak not of Helena;
Take not her part; for if thou dost intend
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it.

LYSANDER
Now she holds me not;
Now follow, if thou dar'st, to try whose right,
Of thine or mine, is most in Helena.

DEMETRIUS
Follow! nay, I'll go with thee, cheek by jole.

[Exeunt LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS.]

HERMIA
You, mistress, all this coil is 'long of you:
Nay, go not back.

HELENA
I will not trust you, I;
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray;
My legs are longer though, to run away.

[Exit.]

HERMIA
I am amaz'd, and know not what to say.

[Exit, pursuing HELENA.]

OBERON
This is thy negligence: still thou mistak'st,
Or else commit'st thy knaveries willfully.

PUCK
Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
Did not you tell me I should know the man
By the Athenian garments he had on?
And so far blameless proves my enterprise
That I have 'nointed an Athenian's eyes:
And so far am I glad it so did sort,
As this their jangling I esteem a sport.

OBERON
Thou seest these lovers seek a place to fight;
Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night;
The starry welkin cover thou anon
With drooping fog, as black as Acheron,
And lead these testy rivals so astray
As one come not within another's way.
Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue,
Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong;
And sometime rail thou like Demetrius;
And from each other look thou lead them thus,
Till o'er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep:
Then crush this herb into Lysander's eye;
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
To take from thence all error with his might
And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight.
When they next wake, all this derision
Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision;
And back to Athens shall the lovers wend
With league whose date till death shall never end.
Whiles I in this affair do thee employ,
I'll to my queen, and beg her Indian boy;
And then I will her charmed eye release
From monster's view, and all things shall be peace.

PUCK
My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast;
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger,
At whose approach ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards: damned spirits all,
That in cross-ways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone;
For fear lest day should look their shames upon
They wilfully exile themselves from light,
And must for aye consort with black-brow'd night.

OBERON
But we are spirits of another sort:
I with the morning's love have oft made sport;
And, like a forester, the groves may tread
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery-red,
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
Turns into yellow gold his salt-green streams.
But, notwithstanding, haste; make no delay:
We may effect this business yet ere day.

[Exit OBERON.]

PUCK
Up and down, up and down;
I will lead them up and down:
I am fear'd in field and town.
Goblin, lead them up and down.
Here comes one.

[Enter LYSANDER.]

LYSANDER
Where art thou, proud Demetrius? speak thou now.

PUCK
Here, villain; drawn and ready. Where art thou?

LYSANDER
I will be with thee straight.

PUCK
Follow me, then,
To plainer ground.

[Exit LYSANDER as following the voice.]

[Enter DEMETRIUS.]

DEMETRIUS
Lysander! speak again.
Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?
Speak. In some bush? where dost thou hide thy head?

PUCK
Thou coward, art thou bragging to the stars,
Telling the bushes that thou look'st for wars,
And wilt not come? Come, recreant; come, thou child;
I'll whip thee with a rod: he is defiled
That draws a sword on thee.

DEMETRIUS
Yea, art thou there?

PUCK
Follow my voice; we'll try no manhood here.

[Exeunt.]

[Re-enter LYSANDER.]

LYSANDER
He goes before me, and still dares me on;
When I come where he calls, then he is gone.
The villain is much lighter heeled than I:
I follow'd fast, but faster he did fly;
That fallen am I in dark uneven way,
And here will rest me. Come, thou gentle day!
[Lies down.]
For if but once thou show me thy grey light,
I'll find Demetrius, and revenge this spite.

[Sleeps.]

[Re-enter PUCK and DEMETRIUS.]

PUCK
Ho, ho, ho, ho! Coward, why com'st thou not?

DEMETRIUS
Abide me, if thou dar'st; for well I wot
Thou runn'st before me, shifting every place;
And dar'st not stand, nor look me in the face.
Where art thou?

PUCK
Come hither; I am here.

DEMETRIUS
Nay, then, thou mock'st me.
Thou shalt buy this dear,
If ever I thy face by daylight see:
Now, go thy way. Faintness constraineth me
To measure out my length on this cold bed.--
By day's approach look to be visited.

[Lies down and sleeps.]

[Enter HELENA.]

HELENA
O weary night, O long and tedious night,
Abate thy hours! Shine comforts from the east,
That I may back to Athens by daylight,
From these that my poor company detest:--
And sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow's eye,
Steal me awhile from mine own company.

[Sleeps.]

PUCK
Yet but three? Come one more;
Two of both kinds makes up four.
Here she comes, curst and sad:--
Cupid is a knavish lad,
Thus to make poor females mad.

[Enter HERMIA.]

HERMIA
Never so weary, never so in woe,
Bedabbled with the dew, and torn with briers;
I can no further crawl, no further go;
My legs can keep no pace with my desires.
Here will I rest me till the break of day.
Heavens shield Lysander, if they mean a fray!

[Lies down.]

PUCK
On the ground
Sleep sound:
I'll apply
To your eye,
Gentle lover, remedy.

[Squeezing the juice on LYSANDER'S eye.]

When thou wak'st,
Thou tak'st
True delight
In the sight
Of thy former lady's eye:
And the country proverb known,
That every man should take his own,
In your waking shall be shown:
Jack shall have Jill;
Nought shall go ill;
The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.

[Exit PUCK.--DEMETRIUS, HELENA &c, sleep.]

ACT IV

SCENE I. The Wood.

[Enter TITANIA and BOTTOM; PEASBLOSSOM, COBWEB, MOTH,
MUSTARDSEED, and other FAIRIES attending; OBERON behind, unseen.]

TITANIA
Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.

BOTTOM
Where's Peasblossom?

PEASBLOSSOM
Ready.

BOTTOM
Scratch my head, Peasblossom.--
Where's Monsieur Cobweb?

COBWEB
Ready.

BOTTOM
Monsieur Cobweb; good monsieur, get you your weapons in
your hand and kill me a red-hipped humble-bee on the top of a
thistle; and, good monsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not
fret yourself too much in the action, monsieur; and, good
monsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not; I would be
loath to have you overflown with a honey-bag, signior.--
Where's Monsieur Mustardseed?

MUSTARDSEED
Ready.

BOTTOM
Give me your neif, Monsieur Mustardseed.
Pray you, leave your curtsy, good monsieur.

MUSTARDSEED
What's your will?

BOTTOM
Nothing, good monsieur, but to help Cavalero Cobweb to
scratch. I must to the barber's, monsieur; for methinks I am
marvellous hairy about the face; and I am such a tender ass,
if my hair do but tickle me I must scratch.

TITANIA
What, wilt thou hear some music, my sweet love?

BOTTOM
I have a reasonable good ear in music; let us have the
tongs and the bones.

TITANIA
Or say, sweet love, what thou desirest to eat.

BOTTOM
Truly, a peck of provender; I could munch your good dry
oats. Methinks I have a great desire to a bottle of hay: good
hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.

TITANIA
I have a venturous fairy that shall seek
The squirrel's hoard, and fetch thee new nuts.

BOTTOM
I had rather have a handful or two of dried peas. But,
I pray you, let none of your people stir me; I have an
exposition of sleep come upon me.

TITANIA
Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.
Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away.
So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist,--the female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee!

[They sleep.]

[OBERON advances. Enter PUCK.]

OBERON
Welcome, good Robin. Seest thou this sweet sight?
Her dotage now I do begin to pity.
For, meeting her of late behind the wood,
Seeking sweet favours for this hateful fool,
I did upbraid her and fall out with her:
For she his hairy temples then had rounded
With coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers;
And that same dew, which sometime on the buds
Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls,
Stood now within the pretty flow'rets' eyes,
Like tears that did their own disgrace bewail.
When I had, at my pleasure, taunted her,
And she, in mild terms, begg'd my patience,
I then did ask of her her changeling child;
Which straight she gave me, and her fairy sent
To bear him to my bower in fairy-land.
And now I have the boy, I will undo
This hateful imperfection of her eyes.
And, gentle Puck, take this transformed scalp
From off the head of this Athenian swain,
That he awaking when the other do,
May all to Athens back again repair,
And think no more of this night's accidents
But as the fierce vexation of a dream.
But first I will release the fairy queen.
Be as thou wast wont to be;
[Touching her eyes with an herb.]
See as thou was wont to see.
Dian's bud o'er Cupid's flower
Hath such force and blessed power.
Now, my Titania; wake you, my sweet queen.

TITANIA
My Oberon! what visions have I seen!
Methought I was enamour'd of an ass.

OBERON
There lies your love.

TITANIA
How came these things to pass?
O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now!

OBERON
Silence awhile.--Robin, take off this head.
Titania, music call; and strike more dead
Than common sleep, of all these five, the sense.

TITANIA
Music, ho! music; such as charmeth sleep.

PUCK
Now when thou wak'st, with thine own fool's eyes peep.

OBERON
Sound, music. [Still music.] Come, my queen, take hands with me,
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.
Now thou and I are new in amity,
And will to-morrow midnight solemnly
Dance in Duke Theseus' house triumphantly,
And bless it to all fair prosperity:
There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be
Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.

PUCK
Fairy king, attend and mark;
I do hear the morning lark.

OBERON
Then, my queen, in silence sad,
Trip we after night's shade.
We the globe can compass soon,
Swifter than the wand'ring moon.

TITANIA
Come, my lord; and in our flight,
Tell me how it came this night
That I sleeping here was found
With these mortals on the ground.

[Exeunt. Horns sound within.]

[Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEUS, and Train.]

THESEUS
Go, one of you, find out the forester;--
For now our observation is perform'd;
And since we have the vaward of the day,
My love shall hear the music of my hounds,--
Uncouple in the western valley; go:--
Despatch, I say, and find the forester.--

[Exit an ATTENDANT.]

We will, fair queen, up to the mountain's top,
And mark the musical confusion
Of hounds and echo in conjunction.

HIPPOLYTA
I was with Hercules and Cadmus once
When in a wood of Crete they bay'd the bear
With hounds of Sparta: never did I hear
Such gallant chiding; for, besides the groves,
The skies, the fountains, every region near
Seem'd all one mutual cry: I never heard
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.

THESEUS
My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flew'd, so sanded; and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee'd and dew-lap'd like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match'd in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tuneable
Was never holla'd to, nor cheer'd with horn,
In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly.
Judge when you hear.--But, soft, what nymphs are these?

EGEUS
My lord, this is my daughter here asleep;
And this Lysander; this Demetrius is;
This Helena, old Nedar's Helena:
I wonder of their being here together.

THESEUS
No doubt they rose up early to observe
The rite of May; and, hearing our intent,
Came here in grace of our solemnity.--
But speak, Egeus; is not this the day
That Hermia should give answer of her choice?

EGEUS
It is, my lord.

THESEUS
Go, bid the huntsmen wake them with their horns.

[Horns, and shout within. DEMETRIUS, LYSANDER,HERMIA, and HELENA
awake and start up.]

Good-morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past;
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?

LYSANDER
Pardon, my lord.

[He and the rest kneel to THESEUS.]

THESEUS
I pray you all, stand up.
I know you two are rival enemies;
How comes this gentle concord in the world,
That hatred is so far from jealousy
To sleep by hate, and fear no enmity?

LYSANDER
My lord, I shall reply amazedly,
Half 'sleep, half waking; but as yet, I swear,
I cannot truly say how I came here:
But, as I think,--for truly would I speak--
And now I do bethink me, so it is,--
I came with Hermia hither: our intent
Was to be gone from Athens, where we might be,
Without the peril of the Athenian law.

EGEUS
Enough, enough, my lord; you have enough;
I beg the law, the law upon his head.--
They would have stol'n away, they would, Demetrius,
Thereby to have defeated you and me:
You of your wife, and me of my consent,--
Of my consent that she should be your wife.

DEMETRIUS
My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,
Of this their purpose hither to this wood;
And I in fury hither follow'd them,
Fair Helena in fancy following me.
But, my good lord, I wot not by what power,--
But by some power it is,--my love to Hermia,
Melted as the snow--seems to me now
As the remembrance of an idle gawd
Which in my childhood I did dote upon:
And all the faith, the virtue of my heart,
The object and the pleasure of mine eye,
Is only Helena. To her, my lord,
Was I betroth'd ere I saw Hermia:
But, like a sickness, did I loathe this food;
But, as in health, come to my natural taste,
Now I do wish it, love it, long for it,
And will for evermore be true to it.

THESEUS
Fair lovers, you are fortunately met:
Of this discourse we more will hear anon.--
Egeus, I will overbear your will;
For in the temple, by and by with us,
These couples shall eternally be knit.
And, for the morning now is something worn,
Our purpos'd hunting shall be set aside.--
Away with us to Athens, three and three,
We'll hold a feast in great solemnity.--
Come, Hippolyta.

[Exeunt THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEUS, and Train.]

DEMETRIUS
These things seem small and undistinguishable,
Like far-off mountains turned into clouds.

HERMIA
Methinks I see these things with parted eye,
When every thing seems double.

HELENA
So methinks:
And I have found Demetrius like a jewel.
Mine own, and not mine own.

DEMETRIUS
It seems to me
That yet we sleep, we dream.--Do not you think
The duke was here, and bid us follow him?

HERMIA
Yea, and my father.

HELENA
And Hippolyta.

LYSANDER
And he did bid us follow to the temple.

DEMETRIUS
Why, then, we are awake: let's follow him;
And by the way let us recount our dreams.

[Exeunt.]

[As they go out, BOTTOM awakes.]

BOTTOM
When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer. My next is 'Most
fair Pyramus.'--Heigh-ho!--Peter Quince! Flute, the
bellows-mender! Snout, the tinker! Starveling! God's my life,
stol'n hence, and left me asleep! I have had a most rare
vision. I have had a dream--past the wit of man to say
what dream it was.--Man is but an ass if he go about
to expound this dream. Methought I was--there is no man can tell
what. Methought I was, and methought I had,--but man is but a
patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. The
eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen; man's
hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart
to report, what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a
ballad of this dream: it shall be called Bottom's Dream, because
it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the latter end of a
play, before the duke: peradventure, to make it the more
gracious, I shall sing it at her death.

[Exit.]

SCENE II. Athens. A Room in QUINCE'S House.

[Enter QUINCE, FLUTE, SNOUT, and STARVELING.]

QUINCE
Have you sent to Bottom's house? is he come home yet?

STARVELING
He cannot be heard of. Out of doubt, he is transported.

FLUTE
If he come not, then the play is marred; it goes not
forward, doth it?

QUINCE
It is not possible: you have not a man in all Athens
able to discharge Pyramus but he.

FLUTE
No; he hath simply the best wit of any handicraft man in
Athens.

QUINCE
Yea, and the best person too: and he is a very paramour
for a sweet voice.

FLUTE
You must say paragon: a paramour is, God bless us, a thing of
naught.

[Enter SNUG.]

SNUG
Masters, the duke is coming from the temple; and there is
two or three lords and ladies more married: if our sport had gone
forward, we had all been made men.

FLUTE
O sweet bully Bottom! Thus hath he lost sixpence a day
during his life; he could not have 'scaped sixpence a-day; an
the duke had not given him sixpence a-day for playing Pyramus,
I'll be hanged; he would have deserved it: sixpence a-day in
Pyramus, or nothing.

[Enter BOTTOM.]

BOTTOM
Where are these lads? where are these hearts?

QUINCE
Bottom!--O most courageous day! O most happy hour!

BOTTOM
Masters, I am to discourse wonders: but ask me not
what; for if I tell you, I am not true Athenian. I will tell you
everything, right as it fell out.

QUINCE
Let us hear, sweet Bottom.

BOTTOM
Not a word of me. All that I will tell you is, that the
duke hath dined. Get your apparel together; good strings to
your beards, new ribbons to your pumps; meet presently at the
palace; every man look over his part; for the short and the long
is, our play is preferred. In any case, let Thisby have clean
linen; and let not him that plays the lion pare his nails, for
they shall hang out for the lion's claws. And, most dear actors,
eat no onions nor garlick, for we are to utter sweet breath; and
I do not doubt but to hear them say it is a sweet comedy. No more
words: away! go; away!

[Exeunt.]

ACT V

SCENE I. Athens. An Apartment in the Palace of THESEUS.

[Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, Lords, and Attendants.]

HIPPOLYTA
'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.

THESEUS
More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold;
That is the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear?

HIPPOLYTA
But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigur'd so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.

[Enter LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HERMIA, and HELENA.]

THESEUS
Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.--
Joy, gentle friends! joy and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!

LYSANDER
More than to us
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!

THESEUS
Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have,
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after-supper and bed-time?
Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
Call Philostrate.

PHILOSTRATE
Here, mighty Theseus.

THESEUS
Say, what abridgment have you for this evening?
What masque? what music? How shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight?

PHILOSTRATE
There is a brief how many sports are ripe;
Make choice of which your highness will see first.

[Giving a paper.]

THESEUS
[Reads.]
'The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.'
We'll none of that: that have I told my love,
In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
'The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.'
That is an old device, and it was play'd
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
'The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, late deceas'd in beggary.'
That is some satire, keen and critical,
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.'
Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
That is hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
How shall we find the concord of this discord?

PHILOSTRATE
A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
Which is as brief as I have known a play;
But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
Which makes it tedious: for in all the play
There is not one word apt, one player fitted:
And tragical, my noble lord, it is;
For Pyramus therein doth kill himself:
Which when I saw rehears'd, I must confess,
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.

THESEUS
What are they that do play it?

PHILOSTRATE
Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
Which never labour'd in their minds till now;
And now have toil'd their unbreath'd memories
With this same play against your nuptial.

THESEUS
And we will hear it.

PHILOSTRATE
No, my noble lord,
It is not for you: I have heard it over,
And it is nothing, nothing in the world;
Unless you can find sport in their intents,
Extremely stretch'd and conn'd with cruel pain,
To do you service.

THESEUS
I will hear that play;
For never anything can be amiss
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in: and take your places, ladies.

[Exit PHILOSTRATE.]

HIPPOLYTA
I love not to see wretchedness o'er-charged,
And duty in his service perishing.

THESEUS
Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.

HIPPOLYTA
He says they can do nothing in this kind.

THESEUS
The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
Our sport shall be to take what they mistake:
And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practis'd accent in their fears,
And, in conclusion, dumbly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I pick'd a welcome;
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most to my capacity.

[Enter PHILOSTRATE.]

PHILOSTRATE
So please your grace, the prologue is address'd.

THESEUS
Let him approach.

[Flourish of trumpets. Enter PROLOGUE.]

PROLOGUE
'If we offend, it is with our good will.
That you should think, we come not to offend,
But with good will. To show our simple skill,
That is the true beginning of our end.
Consider then, we come but in despite.
We do not come, as minding to content you,
Our true intent is. All for your delight
We are not here. That you should here repent you,
The actors are at hand: and, by their show,
You shall know all that you are like to know,'

THESEUS
This fellow doth not stand upon points.

LYSANDER
He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he knows
not the stop. A good moral, my lord: it is not enough to speak,
but to speak true.

HIPPOLYTA
Indeed he hath played on this prologue like a child
on a recorder; a sound, but not in government.

THESEUS
His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all
disordered. Who is next?

[Enter PYRAMUS and THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, and LION, as in dumb
show.]

PROLOGUE
Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
This beauteous lady Thisby is certain.
This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;
And through Wall's chink, poor souls, they are content
To whisper, at the which let no man wonder.
This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,
Presenteth Moonshine: for, if you will know,
By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
This grisly beast, which by name Lion hight,
The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,
Did scare away, or rather did affright;
And as she fled, her mantle she did fall;
Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain:
Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth, and tall,
And finds his trusty Thisby's mantle slain;
Whereat with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast;
And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade,
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain,
At large discourse while here they do remain.

[Exeunt PROLOGUE, THISBE, LION, and MOONSHINE.]

THESEUS
I wonder if the lion be to speak.

DEMETRIUS
No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.

WALL
In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall:
And such a wall as I would have you think
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast, and this stone, doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.

THESEUS
Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?

DEMETRIUS
It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard
discourse, my lord.

THESEUS
Pyramus draws near the wall; silence.

[Enter PYRAMUS.]

PYRAMUS
O grim-look'd night! O night with hue so black!
O night, which ever art when day is not!
O night, O night, alack, alack, alack,
I fear my Thisby's promise is forgot!--
And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,
That stand'st between her father's ground and mine;
Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,
Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne.

[WALL holds up his fingers.]

Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for this!
But what see what see I? No Thisby do I see.
O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss,
Curs'd be thy stones for thus deceiving me!

THESEUS
The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.

PYRAMUS
No, in truth, sir, he should not. 'Deceiving me' is
Thisby's cue: she is to enter now, and I am to spy her through
the wall. You shall see it will fall pat as I told you.--Yonder
she comes.

[Enter THISBE.]

THISBE
O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,
For parting my fair Pyramus and me:
My cherry lips have often kiss'd thy stones:
Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.

PYRAMUS
I see a voice; now will I to the chink,
To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face.
Thisby!

THISBE
My love! thou art my love, I think.

PYRAMUS
Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace;
And like Limander am I trusty still.

THISBE
And I like Helen, till the fates me kill.

PYRAMUS
Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.

THISBE
As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.

PYRAMUS
O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.

THISBE
I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.

PYRAMUS
Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?

THISBE
'Tide life, 'tide death, I come without delay.

WALL
Thus have I, wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.

[Exeunt WALL, PYRAMUS and THISBE.]

THESEUS
Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.

DEMETRIUS
No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear
without warning.

HIPPOLYTA
This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.

THESEUS
The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst
are no worse, if imagination amend them.

HIPPOLYTA
It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.

THESEUS
If we imagine no worse of them than they of
themselves, they may pass for excellent men.
Here come two noble beasts in, a moon and a lion.

[Enter LION and MOONSHINE.]

LION
You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
May now, perchance, both quake and tremble here,
When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am
A lion fell, nor else no lion's dam:
For, if I should as lion come in strife
Into this place, 'twere pity on my life.

THESEUS
A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience.

DEMETRIUS
The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.

LYSANDER
This lion is a very fox for his valour.

THESEUS
True; and a goose for his discretion.

DEMETRIUS
Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his
discretion, and the fox carries the goose.

THESEUS
His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour;
for the goose carries not the fox. It is well; leave it to his
discretion, and let us listen to the moon.

MOONSHINE
This lanthorn doth the horned moon present:

DEMETRIUS
He should have worn the horns on his head.

THESEUS
He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within
the circumference.

MOONSHINE
This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;
Myself the man i' the moon do seem to be.

THESEUS
This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man should be
put into the lantern. How is it else the man i' the moon?

DEMETRIUS
He dares not come there for the candle: for, you
see, it is already in snuff.

HIPPOLYTA
I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!

THESEUS
It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he
is in the wane: but yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must
stay the time.

LYSANDER
Proceed, moon.

MOON
All that I have to say, is to tell you that the lantern
is the moon; I, the man i' the moon; this thorn-bush, my
thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.

DEMETRIUS
Why, all these should be in the lantern; for all
these are in the moon. But silence; here comes Thisbe.

[Enter THISBE.]

THISBE
This is old Ninny's tomb. Where is my love?

LION
Oh!

[The LION roars.--THISBE runs off.]

DEMETRIUS
Well roared, lion.

THESEUS
Well run, Thisbe.

HIPPOLYTA
Well shone, moon.--Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.

[The LION tears THISBE'S Mantle, and exit.]

THESEUS
Well moused, lion.

DEMETRIUS
And so comes Pyramus.

LYSANDER
And then the lion vanishes.

[Enter PYRAMUS.]

PYRAMUS
Sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright:
For, by thy gracious golden, glittering streams,
I trust to take of truest Thisby's sight.
But stay;--O spite!
But mark,--poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here!
Eyes, do you see?
How can it be?
O dainty duck! O dear!
Thy mantle good,
What! stained with blood?
Approach, ye furies fell!
O fates! come, come;
Cut thread and thrum;
Quail, rush, conclude, and quell!

THESEUS
This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go
near to make a man look sad.

HIPPOLYTA
Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.

PYRAMUS
O wherefore, nature, didst thou lions frame?
Since lion vile hath here deflower'd my dear;
Which is--no, no--which was the fairest dame
That liv'd, that lov'd, that lik'd, that look'd with cheer.
Come, tears, confound;
Out, sword, and wound
The pap of Pyramus:
Ay, that left pap,
Where heart doth hop:--
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
Now am I dead,
Now am I fled;
My soul is in the sky:
Tongue, lose thy light!
Moon, take thy flight!
Now die, die, die, die, die.

[Dies. Exit MOONSHINE.]

DEMETRIUS
No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.

LYSANDER
Less than an ace, man; for he is dead; he is nothing.

THESEUS
With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover and prove an ass.

HIPPOLYTA
How chance moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes
back and finds her lover?

THESEUS
She will find him by starlight.--Here she comes; and
her passion ends the play.

[Enter THISBE.]

HIPPOLYTA
Methinks she should not use a long one for such a
Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.

DEMETRIUS
A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which
Thisbe, is the better.

LYSANDER
She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.

DEMETRIUS
And thus she moans, videlicet.--

THISBE
Asleep, my love?
What, dead, my dove?
O Pyramus, arise,
Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
Dead, dead? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These lily lips,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,
Are gone, are gone:
Lovers, make moan!
His eyes were green as leeks.
O Sisters Three,
Come, come to me,
With hands as pale as milk;
Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore
With shears his thread of silk.
Tongue, not a word:--
Come, trusty sword;
Come, blade, my breast imbrue;
And farewell, friends:--
Thus Thisbe ends;
Adieu, adieu, adieu.

[Dies.]

THESEUS
Moonshine and lion are left to bury the dead.

DEMETRIUS
Ay, and wall too.

BOTTOM
No, I assure you; the wall is down that parted their fathers.
Will it please you to see the epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask
dance between two of our company?

THESEUS
No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no
excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all dead there
need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played
Pyramus, and hang'd himself in Thisbe's garter, it would have
been a fine tragedy: and so it is, truly; and very notably
discharged. But come, your Bergomask; let your epilogue alone.

[Here a dance of Clowns.]

The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve:--
Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn,
As much as we this night have overwatch'd.
This palpable-gross play hath well beguil'd
The heavy gait of night.--Sweet friends, to bed.--
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
In nightly revels and new jollity.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE II

[Enter PUCK.]

PUCK
Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the scritch-owl, scritching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth its sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic; not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.

[Enter OBERON and TITANIA, with their Train.]

OBERON
Through the house give glimmering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier:
And this ditty, after me,
Sing and dance it trippingly.

TITANIA
First, rehearse your song by rote,
To each word a warbling note;
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.

[Song and Dance.]

OBERON
Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray,
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand:
Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.--
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gate;
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
E'er shall it in safety rest,
And the owner of it blest.
Trip away:
Make no stay:
Meet me all by break of day.

[Exeunt OBERON, TITANIA, and Train.]

PUCK
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this,--and all is mended,--
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend;
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call:
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

[Exit.]

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