A Midsummer Night's Dream

Select or Print the text

Original text
Act I, Scene I
Enter Theseus, Hippolita,
with others.

Theseus.
NOw faire Hippolita, our nuptiall houre
Drawes on apace: foure happy daies bring in
Another Moon: but oh, me thinkes, how slow
This old Moon wanes; She lingers my desires
Like to a Step-dame, or a Dowager,
Long withering out a yong mans reuennew.

Hip.
Foure daies wil quickly steep thẽselues in nights
Foure nights wil quickly dreame away the time:
And then the Moone, like to a siluer bow,
Now bent in heauen, shal behold the night
Of our solemnities.

The.
Go Philostrate,
Stirre vp the Athenian youth to merriments,
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth,
Turne melancholy forth to Funerals:
The pale companion is not for our pompe,
Hippolita, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And wonne thy loue, doing thee iniuries:
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pompe, with triumph, and with reuelling.
Enter Egeus and his daughter Hermia, Lysander,
and Demetrius.

Ege.
Happy be Theseus, our renowned Duke.

The.
Thanks good Egeus: what's the news with thee?

Ege.
Full of vexation, come I, with complaint
Against my childe, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth Demetrius. / My Noble Lord,
This man hath my consent to marrie her.
Stand forth Lysander. / And my gracious Duke,
This man hath bewitch'd the bosome of my childe:
Thou, thou Lysander, thou hast giuen her rimes,
And interchang'd loue-tokens with my childe:
Thou hast by Moone-light at her window sung,
With faining voice, verses of faining loue,
And stolne the impression of her fantasie,
With bracelets of thy haire, rings, gawdes, conceits,
Knackes, trifles, Nose-gaies, sweet meats (messengers
Of strong preuailment in vnhardned youth)
With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughters heart,
Turn'd her obedience (which is due to me)
To stubborne harshnesse. And my gracious Duke,
Be it so she will not heere before your Grace,
Consent to marrie with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient priuiledge of Athens;
As she is mine, I may dispose of her;
Which shall be either to this Gentleman,
Or to her death, according to our Law,
Immediately prouided in that case.

The.
What say you Hermia? be aduis'd faire Maide,
To you your Father should be as a God;
One that compos'd your beauties; yea and one
To whom you are but as a forme in waxe
By him imprinted: and within his power,
To leaue the figure, or disfigure it:
Demetrius is a worthy Gentleman.

Her.
So is Lysander.

The.
In himselfe he is.
But in this kinde, wanting your fathers voyce.
The other must be held the worthier.

Her.
I would my father look'd but with my eyes.

The.
Rather your eies must with his iudgment looke.

Her.
I do entreat your Grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold,
Nor how it may concerne my modestie
In such a presence heere to pleade my thoughts:
But I beseech your Grace, that I may know
The worst that may befall me in this case,
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

The.
Either to dye the death, or to abiure
For euer the society of men.
Therefore faire Hermia question your desires,
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether (if you yeeld not to your fathers choice)
You can endure the liuerie of a Nunne,
For aye to be in shady Cloister mew'd,
To liue a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymnes to the cold fruitlesse Moone,
Thrice blessed they that master so their blood,
To vndergo such maiden pilgrimage,
But earthlier happie is the Rose distil'd,
Then that which withering on the virgin thorne,
Growes, liues, and dies, in single blessednesse.

Her.
So will I grow, so liue, so die my Lord,
Ere I will yeeld my virgin Patent vp
Vnto his Lordship, whose vnwished yoake,
My soule consents not to giue soueraignty.

The.
Take time to pause, and by the next new Moon
The sealing day betwixt my loue and me,
For euerlasting bond of fellowship:
Vpon that day either prepare to dye,
For disobedience to your fathers will,
Or else to wed Demetrius as hee would,
Or on Dianaes Altar to protest
For aie, austerity, and single life.

Dem.
Relent sweet Hermia, and Lysander, yeelde
Thy crazed title to my certaine right.

Lys.
You haue her fathers loue, Demetrius:
Let me haue Hermiaes: do you marry him.

Egeus.
Scornfull Lysander, true, he hath my Loue;
And what is mine, my loue shall render him.
And she is mine, and all my right of her,
I do estate vnto Demetrius.

Lys.
I am my Lord, as well deriu'd as he,
As well possest: my loue is more then his:
My fortunes euery way as fairely ranck'd
(If not with vantage) as Demetrius:
And (which is more then all these boasts can be)
I am belou'd of beauteous Hermia.
Why should not I then prosecute my right?
Demetrius, Ile auouch it to his head,
Made loue to Nedars daughter, Helena,
And won her soule: and she (sweet Ladie) dotes,
Deuoutly dotes, dotes in Idolatry,
Vpon this spotted and inconstant man.

The.
I must confesse, that I haue heard so much,
And with Demetrius thought to haue spoke thereof:
But being ouer-full of selfe-affaires,
My minde did lose it. But Demetrius come,
And come Egeus, you shall go with me,
I haue some priuate schooling for you both.
For you faire Hermia, looke you arme your selfe,
To fit your fancies to your Fathers will;
Or else the Law of Athens yeelds you vp
(Which by no meanes we may extenuate)
To death, or to a vow of single life.
Come my Hippolita, what cheare my loue?
Demetrius and Egeus go along:
I must imploy you in some businesse
Against our nuptiall, and conferre with you
Of something, neerely that concernes your selues.

Ege.
With dutie and desire we follow you.
Exeunt / Manet Lysander and Hermia.

Lys.
How now my loue? Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the Roses there do fade so fast?

Her.
Belike for want of raine, which I could well
Beteeme them, from the tempest of mine eyes.

Lys.
For ought that euer I could reade,
Could euer heare by tale or historie,
The course of true loue neuer did run smooth,
But either it was different in blood.

Her.
O crosse! too high to be enthral'd to loue.

Lys.
Or else misgraffed, in respect of yeares.

Her.
O spight! too old to be ingag'd to yong.

Lys.
Or else it stood vpon the choise of merit.

Her.
O hell! to choose loue by anothers eie.

Lys.
Or if there were a simpathie in choise,
Warre, death, or sicknesse, did lay siege to it;
Making it momentarie, as a sound:
Swift as a shadow, short as any dreame,
Briefe as the lightning in the collied night,
That (in a spleene) vnfolds both heauen and earth;
And ere a man hath power to say, behold,
The iawes of darkness do deuoure it vp:
So quicke bright things come to confusion.

Her.
If then true Louers haue beene euer crost,
It stands as an edict in destinie:
Then let vs teach our triall patience,
Because it is a customarie crosse,
As due to loue, as thoughts, and dreames, and sighes,
Wishes and teares; poore Fancies followers.

Lys.
A good perswasion; therefore heare me Hermia,
I haue a Widdow Aunt, a dowager,
Of great reuennew, and she hath no childe,
From Athens is her house remou'd seuen leagues,
And she respects me, as her onely sonne:
There gentle Hermia, may I marrie thee,
And to that place, the sharpe Athenian Law
Cannot pursue vs. If thou lou'st me, then
Steale forth thy fathers house to morrow night:
And in the wood, a league without the towne,
(Where I did meete thee once with Helena,
To do obseruance for a morne of May)
There will I stay for thee.

Her.
My good Lysander,
I sweare to thee, by Cupids strongest bow,
By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicitie of Venus Doues,
By that which knitteth soules, and prospers loue,
And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage Queene,
When the false Troyan vnder saile was seene,
By all the vowes that euer men haue broke,
(In number more then euer women spoke)
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
To morrow truly will I meete with thee.

Lys.
Keepe promise loue: looke here comes Helena.
Enter Helena.

Her.
God speede faire Helena, whither away?

Hel.
Cal you me faire? that faire againe vnsay,
Demetrius loues you faire: O happie faire!
Your eyes are loadstarres, and your tongues sweet ayre
More tuneable then Larke to shepheards eare,
When wheate is greene, when hauthorne buds appeare,
Sicknesse is catching: O were fauor so,
Your words I catch, faire Hermia ere I go,
My eare should catch your voice, my eye, your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongues sweet melodie,
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest Ile giue to be to you translated.
O teach me how you looke, and with what art
you sway the motion of Demetrius hart.

Her.
I frowne vpon him, yet he loues me still.

Hel.
O that your frownes would teach my smiles such skil.

Her.
I giue him curses, yet he giues me loue.

Hel.
O that my prayers could such affection mooue.

Her.
The more I hate, the more he followes me.

Hel.
The more I loue, the more he hateth me.

Her.
His folly Helena is none of mine.

Hel.
None but your beauty, wold that fault wer mine

Her.
Take comfort: he no more shall see my face,
Lysander and my selfe will flie this place.
Before the time I did Lysander see,
Seem'd Athens like a Paradise to mee.
O then, what graces in my Loue do dwell,
That he hath turn'd a heauen into hell.

Lys.
Helen, to you our mindes we will vnfold,
To morrow night, when Phoebe doth behold
Her siluer visage, in the watry glasse,
Decking with liquid pearle, the bladed grasse
(A time that Louers flights doth still conceale)
Through Athens gates, haue we deuis'd to steale.

Her.
And in the wood, where often you and I,
Vpon faint Primrose beds, were wont to lye,
Emptying our bosomes, of their counsell sweld:
There my Lysander, and my selfe shall meete,
And thence from Athens turne away our eyes
To seeke new friends and strange companions,
Farwell sweet play-fellow, pray thou for vs,
And good lucke grant thee thy Demetrius.
Keepe word Lysander we must starue our sight,
From louers foode, till morrow deepe midnight.

Lys.
I will my Hermia.
Exit Hermia.
Helena adieu,
As you on him, Demetrius dotes on you.
Exit Lysander.

Hele.
How happy some, ore othersome can be?
Through Athens I am thought as faire as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinkes not so:
He will not know, what all, but he doth know,
And as hee erres, doting on Hermias eyes;
So I, admiring of his qualities:
Things base and vilde, holding no quantity,
Loue can transpose to forme and dignity,
Loue lookes not with the eyes, but with the minde,
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blinde.
Nor hath loues minde of any iudgement taste:
Wings and no eyes, figure, vnheedy haste.
And therefore is Loue said to be a childe,
Because in choise he is often beguil'd,
As waggish boyes in game themselues forsweare;
So the boy Loue is periur'd euery where.
For ere Demetrius lookt on Hermias eyne,
He hail'd downe oathes that he was onely mine.
And when this Haile some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolu'd, and showres of oathes did melt,
I will goe tell him of faire Hermias flight:
Then to the wood will he, to morrow night
Pursue her; and for his intelligence,
If I haue thankes, it is a deere expence:
But heerein meane I to enrich my paine,
To haue his sight thither, and backe againe.
Exit.
Original text
Act I, Scene II
Enter Quince the Carpenter, Snug the Ioyner,
Bottome the Weauer, Flute the bellowes-mender,
Snout the Tinker, and Starueling the Taylor.

Quin.
Is all our company heere?

Bot.
You were best to call them generally, man by
man according to the scrip.

Qui.
Here is the scrowle of euery mans name, which is
thought fit through all Athens, to play in our Enterlude
before the Duke and the Dutches, on his wedding day at
night.

Bot.
First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
on: then read the names of the Actors: and so grow on to a
point.

Quin.
Marry our play is the most lamentable Comedy,
and most cruell death of Pyramus and Thisbie.

Bot.
A very good peece of worke I assure you, and a
merry. Now good Peter Quince, call forth your Actors
by the scrowle. Masters spread your selues.

Quince.
Answere as I call you. Nick Bottome the Weauer.

Bottome.
Ready; name what part I am for, and
proceed.

Quince.
You Nicke Bottome are set downe for Pyramus.

Bot.
What is Pyramus, a louer, or a tyrant?

Quin.
A Louer that kills himselfe most gallantly for loue.

Bot.
That will aske some teares in the true performing
of it: if I do it, let the audience looke to their eies: I will
mooue stormes; I will condole in some measure. To the
rest yet, my chiefe humour is for a tyrant. I could play
Ercles rarely, or a part to teare a Cat in, to make all split
the raging Rocks;
and shiuering shocks
shall break the locks
of prison gates,
and Phibbus carre
shall shine from farre,
and make and marre
the foolish Fates.
This was lofty. Now name the rest of the Players.
This is Ercles vaine, a tyrants vaine: a louer is more
condoling.

Quin.
Francis Flute the Bellowes-mender.

Flu.
Heere Peter Quince.

Quin.
You must take Thisbie on you.

Flut.
What is Thisbie, a wandring Knight?

Quin.
It is the Lady that Pyramus must loue.

Flut.
Nay faith, let not mee play a woman, I haue a
beard comming.

Qui.
That's all one, you shall play it in a Maske, and
you may speake as small as you will.

Bot.
And I may hide my face, let me play Thisbie too:
Ile speake in a monstrous little voyce; Thisne, Thisne,
ah Pyramus my louer deare, thy Thisbie deare, and Lady
deare.

Quin.
No no, you must play Pyramus, and Flute, you
Thisby.

Bot.
Well, proceed.

Qu.
Robin Starueling the Taylor.

Star.
Heere Peter Quince.

Quince.
Robin Starueling, you must play Thisbies
mother? Tom Snowt, the Tinker.

Snowt.
Heere Peter Quince.

Quin.
You, Pyramus father; my self, Thisbies father;
Snugge the Ioyner, you the Lyons part: and I hope there is
a play fitted.

Snug.
Haue you the Lions part written? pray you if be,
giue it me, for I am slow of studie.

Quin.
You may doe it extemporie, for it is nothing but
roaring.

Bot.
Let mee play the Lyon too, I will roare that I will
doe any mans heart good to heare me. I will roare, that I
will make the Duke say, Let him roare againe, let him
roare againe.

Quin.
If you should doe it too terribly, you would fright
the Dutchesse and the Ladies, that they would shrike, and
that were enough to hang vs all.

All.
That would hang vs euery mothers sonne.

Bottome.
I graunt you friends, if that you should fright the
Ladies out of their Wittes, they would haue no more discretion
but to hang vs: but I will aggrauate my voyce so,
that I will roare you as gently as any sucking Doue; I will
roare and 'twere any Nightingale.

Quin.
You can play no part but Piramus, for Piramus
is a sweet-fac'd man, a proper man as one shall see in a
summers day; a most louely Gentleman-like man, therfore
you must needs play Piramus.

Bot.
Well, I will vndertake it. What beard were I
best to play it in?

Quin.
Why, what you will.

Bot.
I will discharge it, in either your straw-colour
beard, your orange tawnie beard, your purple in graine
beard, or your French-crowne colour'd beard, your perfect
yellow.

Quin.
Some of your French Crownes haue no haire at all,
and then you will play bare-fac'd. But masters here
are your parts, and I am to intreat you, request you, and
desire you, to con them by too morrow night: and meet me
in the palace wood, a mile without the Towne, by Moone-light,
there we will rehearse: for if we meete in the Citie,
we shalbe dog'd with company, and our deuises
knowne. In the meane time, I wil draw a bil of properties,
such as our play wants. I pray you faile me not.

Bottom.
We will meete, and there we may rehearse more
obscenely and couragiously. Take paines, be perfect,
adieu.

Quin.
At the Dukes oake we meete.

Bot.
Enough, hold or cut bow-strings.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act I, Scene I
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate
and Attendants

THESEUS
Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace. Four happy days bring in
Another moon – but O, methinks how slow
This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires,
Like to a stepdame or a dowager
Long withering out a young man's revenue.

HIPPOLYTA
Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time:
And then the moon – like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven – shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.

THESEUS
Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments.
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth.
Turn melancholy forth to funerals:
The pale companion is not for our pomp.
Exit Philostrate
Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword,
And won thy love doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key:
With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.
Enter Egeus and his daughter Hermia, and Lysander,
and Demetrius

EGEUS
Happy be Theseus, our renowned Duke.

THESEUS
Thanks, good Egeus. What's the news with thee?

EGEUS
Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth, Demetrius! My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander! – And, my gracious Duke,
This man hath bewitched the bosom of my child.
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
And interchanged love-tokens with my child.
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung
With feigning voice verses of feigning love,
And stolen the impression of her fantasy.
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats – messengers
Of strong prevailment in unhardened youth –
With cunning hast thou filched my daughter's heart,
Turned her obedience which is due to me
To stubborn harshness. And, my gracious Duke,
Be it so she will not here before your grace
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens:
As she is mine, I may dispose of her;
Which shall be either to this gentleman
Or to her death, according to our law
Immediately provided in that case.

THESEUS
What say you, Hermia? Be advised, fair maid:
To you your father should be as a god;
One that composed your beauties – yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.

HERMIA
So is Lysander.

THESEUS
In himself he is;
But in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
The other must be held the worthier.

HERMIA
I would my father looked but with my eyes.

THESEUS
Rather your eyes must with his judgement look.

HERMIA
I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold,
Nor how it may concern my modesty
In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;
But I beseech your grace that I may know
The worst that may befall me in this case
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

THESEUS
Either to die the death, or to abjure
For ever the society of men.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun,
For aye to be in shady cloister mewed,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Thrice blessed they that master so their blood
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;
But earthlier happy is the rose distilled,
Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.

HERMIA
So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship whose unwished yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.

THESEUS
Take time to pause, and by the next new moon –
The sealing day betwixt my love and me
For everlasting bond of fellowship –
Upon that day either prepare to die
For disobedience to your father's will,
Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would,
Or on Diana's altar to protest
For aye austerity and single life.

DEMETRIUS
Relent, sweet Hermia; and, Lysander, yield
Thy crazed title to my certain right.

LYSANDER
You have her father's love, Demetrius –
Let me have Hermia's. Do you marry him.

EGEUS
Scornful Lysander – true, he hath my love;
And what is mine my love shall render him;
And she is mine, and all my right of her
I do estate unto Demetrius.

LYSANDER
I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
As well possessed. My love is more than his,
My fortunes every way as fairly ranked –
If not with vantage – as Demetrius'.
And – which is more than all these boasts can be –
I am beloved of beauteous Hermia.
Why should not I then prosecute my right?
Demetrius – I'll avouch it to his head –
Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry
Upon this spotted and inconstant man.

THESEUS
I must confess that I have heard so much,
And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;
But, being overfull of self affairs,
My mind did lose it. But Demetrius, come;
And come, Egeus. You shall go with me.
I have some private schooling for you both.
For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
To fit your fancies to your father's will;
Or else the law of Athens yields you up –
Which by no means we may extenuate –
To death or to a vow of single life.
Come, my Hippolyta. What cheer, my love?
Demetrius and Egeus, go along;
I must employ you in some business
Against our nuptial, and confer with you
Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.

EGEUS
With duty and desire we follow you.
Exeunt all but Lysander and Hermia

LYSANDER
How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?

HERMIA
Belike for want of rain, which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.

LYSANDER
Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But either it was different in blood –

HERMIA
O cross! – too high to be enthralled to low.

LYSANDER
Or else misgraffed in respect of years –

HERMIA
O spite! – too old to be engaged to young.

LYSANDER
Or else it stood upon the choice of friends –

HERMIA
O hell! – to choose love by another's eyes.

LYSANDER
Or if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,
Making it momentany as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
That in a spleen unfolds both heaven and earth,
And – ere a man hath power to say ‘ Behold!’ –
The jaws of darkness do devour it up.
So quick bright things come to confusion.

HERMIA
If then true lovers have been ever crossed
It stands as an edict in destiny.
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross,
As due to love as thoughts, and dreams, and sighs,
Wishes, and tears – poor fancy's followers.

LYSANDER
A good persuasion. Therefore hear me, Hermia:
I have a widow aunt, a dowager,
Of great revenue; and she hath no child.
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues;
And she respects me as her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me, then
Steal forth thy father's house tomorrow night,
And in the wood, a league without the town –
Where I did meet thee once with Helena
To do observance to a morn of May –
There will I stay for thee.

HERMIA
My good Lysander,
I swear to thee by Cupid's strongest bow,
By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicity of Venus' doves,
By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen
When the false Trojan under sail was seen,
By all the vows that ever men have broke –
In number more than ever women spoke, –
In that same place thou hast appointed me
Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee.

LYSANDER
Keep promise, love. Look – here comes Helena.
Enter Helena

HERMIA
God speed, fair Helena! Whither away?

HELENA
Call you me fair? that ‘ fair ’ again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair. O happy fair!
Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue's sweet air
More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching. O, were favour so,
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go.
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I'd give to be to you translated.
O, teach me how you look, and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.

HERMIA
I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.

HELENA
O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!

HERMIA
I give him curses, yet he gives me love.

HELENA
O that my prayers could such affection move!

HERMIA
The more I hate, the more he follows me.

HELENA
The more I love, the more he hateth me.

HERMIA
His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.

HELENA
None but your beauty. Would that fault were mine!

HERMIA
Take comfort. He no more shall see my face.
Lysander and myself will fly this place.
Before the time I did Lysander see
Seemed Athens as a paradise to me.
O then, what graces in my love do dwell
That he hath turned a heaven unto a hell?

LYSANDER
Helen, to you our minds we will unfold.
Tomorrow night, when Phoebe doth behold
Her silver visage in the watery glass,
Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass –
A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal –
Through Athens gates have we devised to steal.

HERMIA
And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,
Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,
There my Lysander and myself shall meet,
And thence from Athens turn away our eyes
To seek new friends and stranger companies.
Farewell, sweet playfellow. Pray thou for us;
And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius.
Keep word, Lysander. We must starve our sight
From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight.

LYSANDER
I will, my Hermia.
Exit Hermia
Helena, adieu!
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you.
Exit Lysander

HELENA
How happy some o'er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know.
And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath Love's mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is love said to be a child
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy love is perjured everywhere;
For ere Demetrius looked on Hermia's eyne
He hailed down oaths that he was only mine,
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight.
Then to the wood will he tomorrow night
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks it is a dear expense.
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither, and back again.
Exit
Modern text
Act I, Scene II
Enter Quince the carpenter, and Snug the joiner, and
Bottom the weaver, and Flute the bellows-mender,
and Snout the tinker, and Starveling the tailor

QUINCE
Is all our company here?

BOTTOM
You were best to call them generally, man by
man, according to the scrip.

QUINCE
Here is the scroll of every man's name which is
thought fit through all Athens to play in our interlude
before the Duke and the Duchess on his wedding day at
night.

BOTTOM
First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
on; then read the names of the actors; and so grow to a
point.

QUINCE
Marry, our play is The most lamentable comedy
and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.

BOTTOM
A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a
merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors
by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.

QUINCE
Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver?

BOTTOM
Ready! – Name what part I am for, and
proceed.

QUINCE
You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.

BOTTOM
What is Pyramus? – a lover or a tyrant?

QUINCE
A lover that kills himself, most gallant, for love.

BOTTOM
That will ask some tears in the true performing
of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes! I will
move storms. I will condole, in some measure. To the
rest. – Yet my chief humour is for a tyrant. I could play
Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split:
The raging rocks
And shivering shocks
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates,
And Phibbus' car
Shall shine from far
And make and mar
The foolish Fates.
This was lofty! – Now name the rest of the players. –
This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein. A lover is more
condoling.

QUINCE
Francis Flute, the bellows-mender?

FLUTE
Here, Peter Quince.

QUINCE
Flute, you must take Thisbe on you.

FLUTE
What is Thisbe? – a wandering knight?

QUINCE
It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

FLUTE
Nay, faith, let not me play a woman – I have a
beard coming.

QUINCE
That's all one: you shall play it in a mask, and
you may speak as small as you will.

BOTTOM
An I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too.
I'll speak in a monstrous little voice: ‘ Thisne, Thisne!’
‘ Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear; thy Thisbe dear, and lady
dear.’

QUINCE
No, no; you must play Pyramus; and Flute, you
Thisbe.

BOTTOM
Well, proceed.

QUINCE
Robin Starveling, the tailor?

STARVELING
Here, Peter Quince.

QUINCE
Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe's
mother. Tom Snout, the tinker?

SNOUT
Here, Peter Quince.

QUINCE
You, Pyramus' father; myself, Thisbe's father;
Snug, the joiner, you the lion's part; and I hope here is
a play fitted.

SNUG
Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if it be,
give it me; for I am slow of study.

QUINCE
You may do it extempore; for it is nothing but
roaring.

BOTTOM
Let me play the lion too. I will roar that I will
do any man's heart good to hear me. I will roar that I
will make the Duke say ‘ Let him roar again; let him
roar again!’

QUINCE
An you should do it too terribly you would fright
the Duchess and the ladies that they would shriek; and
that were enough to hang us all.

ALL Mechanicals
That would hang us, every mother's son.

BOTTOM
I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the
ladies out of their wits they would have no more discretion
but to hang us. But I will aggravate my voice so
that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove. I will
roar you an 'twere any nightingale.

QUINCE
You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus
is a sweet-faced man; a proper man as one shall see in a
summer's day; a most lovely, gentlemanlike man. Therefore
you must needs play Pyramus.

BOTTOM
Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I
best to play it in?

QUINCE
Why, what you will.

BOTTOM
I will discharge it in either your straw-colour
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain
beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect
yellow.

QUINCE
Some of your French crowns have no hair at all;
and then you will play bare-faced! But, masters, here
are your parts, and I am to entreat you, request you, and
desire you to con them by tomorrow night, and meet me
in the palace wood a mile without the town by moonlight.
There will we rehearse; for if we meet in the city
we shall be dogged with company, and our devices
known. In the meantime I will draw a bill of properties
such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not.

BOTTOM
We will meet, and there we may rehearse most
obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect.
Adieu!

QUINCE
At the Duke's oak we meet.

BOTTOM
Enough; hold, or cut bowstrings.
Exeunt Bottom and his fellows
SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS © 2018 DAVID CRYSTAL & BEN CRYSTAL