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"A Midsummer-Night's Dream"

Act 3

A Midsummer-Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

A Midsummer-Night's Dream

Act 3

Dramatis Personae

THESEUS, Duke of Athens.
HIPPOLYTA, Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus.
EGEUS, Father to Hermia.
LYSANDER, In love with Hermia.
HERMIA, Daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander, but betrothed to Demetrius.
DEMETRIUS, In love with Hermia, but loved by Helena.
HELENA, In love with Demetrius.
PHILOSTRATE, Master of the revels to Theseus.
QUINCE, a carpenter.
BOTTOM, a weaver.
SNUG, a joiner.
FLUTE, a bellows-mender.
SNOUT, a tinker.
STARVELING, a tailor.
OBERON, King of the fairies.
TITANIA, Queen of the fairies.
PUCK, Or Robin Goodfellow.
COBWEB, fairy
MOTH, fairy
Other fairies attending their King and Queen.
Attendants on Theseus and Hippolyta.

The wood. TITANIA lying asleep

Titania lying asleep

BOTTOM. Are we all met?
QUINCE. Pat, pat; and here's a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn brake our tiring-house; and we will do it in action, as we will do it before the Duke.
BOTTOM. Peter Quince!
QUINCE. What sayest thou, bully Bottom?
BOTTOM. There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisby that will never please. First, Pyramus must draw a sword to kill himself; which the ladies cannot abide. How answer you that?
SNOUT. By'r lakin, a parlous fear.
STARVELING. I believe we must leave the killing out, when all is done.
BOTTOM. Not a whit; I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue; and let the prologue seem to say we will do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus is not kill'd indeed; and for the more better assurance, tell them that I Pyramus am not Pyramus but Bottom the weaver. This will put them out of fear.
QUINCE. Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall be written in eight and six.
BOTTOM. No, make it two more; let it be written in eight and eight.
SNOUT. Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?
STARVELING. I fear it, I promise you.
BOTTOM. Masters, you ought to consider with yourself to bring in- God shield us!- a lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing; for there is not a more fearful wild-fowl than your lion living; and we ought to look to't.
SNOUT. Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a lion.
BOTTOM. Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be seen through the lion's neck; and he himself must speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect: 'Ladies,' or 'Fair ladies, I would wish you' or 'I would request you' or 'I would entreat you not to fear, not to tremble. My life for yours! If you think I come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life. No, I am no such thing; I am a man as other men are.' And there, indeed, let him name his name, and tell them plainly he is Snug the joiner.
QUINCE. Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things- that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber; for, you know, Pyramus and Thisby meet by moonlight.
SNOUT. Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?
BOTTOM. A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanack; find out moonshine, find out moonshine.
QUINCE. Yes, it doth shine that night.
BOTTOM. Why, then may you leave a casement of the great chamber window, where we play, open; and the moon may shine in at the casement.
QUINCE. Ay; or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern, and say he comes to disfigure or to present the person of Moonshine. Then there is another thing: we must have a wall in the great chamber; for Pyramus and Thisby, says the story, did talk through the chink of a wall.
SNOUT. You can never bring in a wall. What say you, Bottom?
BOTTOM. Some man or other must present Wall; and let him have some plaster, or some loam, or some rough-cast about him, to signify wall; and let him hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisby whisper.
QUINCE. If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down, every mother's son, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you begin; when you have spoken your speech, enter into that brake; and so every one according to his cue.

[Enter PUCK behind ]

PUCK. What hempen homespuns have we swagg'ring here, So near the cradle of the Fairy Queen? What, a play toward! I'll be an auditor; An actor too perhaps, if I see cause.
QUINCE. Speak, Pyramus. Thisby, stand forth.
BOTTOM. Thisby, the flowers of odious savours sweet-
QUINCE. 'Odious'- odorous!
BOTTOM. -odours savours sweet; So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisby dear. But hark, a voice! Stay thou but here awhile, And by and by I will to thee appear.


PUCK. A stranger Pyramus than e'er played here!


FLUTE. Must I speak now?
QUINCE. Ay, marry, must you; for you must understand he goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again.
FLUTE. Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue, Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier, Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew, As true as truest horse, that would never tire, I'll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb.
QUINCE. 'Ninus' tomb,' man! Why, you must not speak that yet; that you answer to Pyramus. You speak all your part at once, cues, and all. Pyramus enter: your cue is past; it is 'never tire.'
FLUTE. O- As true as truest horse, that y et would never tire.

[Re-enter PUCK, and BOTTOM with an ass's head]

BOTTOM. If I were fair, Thisby, I were only thine.
QUINCE. O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted. Pray, masters! fly, masters! Help!

O monstrous! O strange! we are haunted

[Exeunt all but BOTTOM and PUCK]

PUCK. I'll follow you; I'll lead you about a round, Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier; Sometime a horse I'll be, sometime a hound, A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire; And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn, Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.


BOTTOM. Why do they run away? This is a knavery of them to make me afeard.

[Re-enter SNOUT]

SNOUT. O Bottom, thou art chang'd! What do I see on thee?

"O Bottom, thou art changed!"

BOTTOM. What do you see? You see an ass-head of your own, do you?

[Exit SNOUT ]
[Re-enter QUINCE ]

QUINCE. Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee! Thou art translated.
[Exit ]

BOTTOM. I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can; I will walk up and down here, and will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid.

I will sing,that they shall hear I am not afraid


The ousel cock, so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill,
The throstle with his note so true,
The wren with little quill.

TITANIA. What angel wakes me from my flow'ry bed?

What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?


The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
The plain-song cuckoo grey,
Whose note full many a man doth mark,
And dares not answer nay-
for, indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird?
Who would give a bird the he, though he cry 'cuckoo' never so?

TITANIA. I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again. Mine ear is much enamoured of thy note; So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape; And thy fair virtue's force perforce doth move me, On the first view, to say, to swear, I love thee.
BOTTOM. Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together now-a-days. The more the pity that some honest neighbours will not make them friends. Nay, I can gleek upon occasion.
TITANIA. Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.
BOTTOM. Not so, neither; but if I had wit enough to get out of this wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn.
TITANIA. Out of this wood do not desire to go; Thou shalt remain here whether thou wilt or no. I am a spirit of no common rate; The summer still doth tend upon my state; And I do love thee; therefore, go with me. I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee; And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep, And sing, while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep; And I will purge thy mortal grossness so That thou shalt like an airy spirit go. Peaseblossom! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustardseed!


Enter Peaseblossom,Cobweb,Moth,and Mustardseed

MOTH. And I.
ALL. Where shall we go?
TITANIA. Be kind and courteous to this gentleman; Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes; Feed him with apricocks and dewberries, With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries; The honey bags steal from the humble-bees, And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs, And light them at the fiery glow-worm's eyes, To have my love to bed and to arise; And pluck the wings from painted butterflies, To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes. Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.
PEASEBLOSSOM. Hail, mortal!
MOTH. Hail!
BOTTOM. I cry your worships mercy, heartily; I beseech your worship's name.
COBWEB. Cobweb.
BOTTOM. I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good Master Cobweb. If I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you. Your name, honest gentleman?
PEASEBLOSSOM. Peaseblossom.
BOTTOM. I pray you, commend me to Mistress Squash, your mother, and to Master Peascod, your father. Good Master Peaseblossom, I shall desire you of more acquaintance too. Your name, I beseech you, sir?
MUSTARDSEED. Mustardseed.
BOTTOM. Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience well. That same cowardly giant-like ox-beef hath devour'd many a gentleman of your house. I promise you your kindred hath made my eyes water ere now. I desire you of more acquaintance, good Master Mustardseed.
TITANIA. Come, wait upon him; lead him to my bower. The moon, methinks, looks with a wat'ry eye; And when she weeps, weeps every little flower; Lamenting some enforced chastity. Tie up my love's tongue, bring him silently.

Act three, Scene two

Another part of the wood
[Enter OBERON ]

OBERON. I wonder if Titania be awak'd; Then, what it was that next came in her eye, Which she must dote on in extremity.

[Enter PUCK ]

Here comes my messenger. How now, mad spirit! What night-rule now about this haunted grove?
PUCK. My mistress with a monster is in love. Near to her close and consecrated bower, While she was in her dull and sleeping hour, A crew of patches, rude mechanicals, That work for bread upon Athenian stalls, Were met together to rehearse a play Intended for great Theseus' nuptial day. The shallowest thickskin of that barren sort, Who Pyramus presented, in their sport Forsook his scene and ent'red in a brake; When I did him at this advantage take, An ass's nole I fixed on his head. Anon his Thisby must be answered, And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy, As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye, Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort, Rising and cawing at the gun's report, Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky, So at his sight away his fellows fly; And at our stamp here, o'er and o'er one falls; He murder cries, and help from Athens calls. Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong, Made senseless things begin to do them wrong, For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch; Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things catch. I led them on in this distracted fear, And left sweet Pyramus translated there; When in that moment, so it came to pass, Titania wak'd, and straightway lov'd an ass.

...russet-pated coughs,many in sort,
Rising and cawing at the gun's report

OBERON. This falls out better than I could devise. But hast thou yet latch'd the Athenian's eyes With the love-juice, as I did bid thee do?
PUCK. I took him sleeping- that is finish'd too- And the Athenian woman by his side; That, when he wak'd, of force she must be ey'd.


OBERON. Stand close; this is the same Athenian.
PUCK. This is the woman, but not this the man.
DEMETRIUS. O, why rebuke you him that loves you so? Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.
HERMIA. Now I but chide, but I should use thee worse, For thou, I fear, hast given me cause to curse. If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep, Being o'er shoes in blood, plunge in the deep, And kill me too. The sun was not so true unto the day As he to me. Would he have stolen away From sleeping Hermia? I'll believe as soon This whole earth may be bor'd, and that the moon May through the centre creep and so displease Her brother's noontide with th' Antipodes. It cannot be but thou hast murd'red him; So should a murderer look- so dead, so grim.
DEMETRIUS. So should the murdered look; and so should I, Pierc'd through the heart with your stern cruelty; Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear, As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere.
HERMIA. What's this to my Lysander? Where is he? Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?
DEMETRIUS. I had rather give his carcass to my hounds.
HERMIA. Out, dog! out, cur! Thou driv'st me past the bounds Of maiden's patience. Hast thou slain him, then? Henceforth be never numb'red among men! O, once tell true; tell true, even for my sake! Durst thou have look'd upon him being awake, And hast thou kill'd him sleeping? O brave touch! Could not a worm, an adder, do so much? An adder did it; for with doubler tongue Than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.
DEMETRIUS. You spend your passion on a mispris'd mood: I am not guilty of Lysander's blood; Nor is he dead, for aught that I can tell.
HERMIA. I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.
DEMETRIUS. An if I could, what should I get therefore?
HERMIA. A privilege never to see me more. And from thy hated presence part I so; See me no more whether he be dead or no.


DEMETRIUS. There is no following her in this fierce vein; Here, therefore, for a while I will remain. So sorrow's heaviness doth heavier grow For debt that bankrupt sleep doth sorrow owe; Which now in some slight measure it will pay, If for his tender here I make some stay.

[Lies down]

OBERON. What hast thou done? Thou hast mistaken quite, And laid the love-juice on some true-love's sight. Of thy misprision must perforce ensue Some true love turn'd, and not a false turn'd true.
PUCK. Then fate o'er-rules, that, one man holding troth, A million fail, confounding oath on oath.
OBERON. About the wood go swifter than the wind, And Helena of Athens look thou find; All fancy-sick she is and pale of cheer, With sighs of love that costs the fresh blood dear. By some illusion see thou bring her here; I'll charm his eyes against she do appear.
PUCK. I go, I go; look how I go, Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow.


OBERON. Flower of this purple dye, Hit with Cupid's archery, Sink in apple of his eye. When his love he doth espy, Let her shine as gloriously As the Venus of the sky. When thou wak'st, if she be by, Beg of her for remedy.

[Re-enter PUCK ]

PUCK. Captain of our fairy band, Helena is here at hand, And the youth mistook by me Pleading for a lover's fee; Shall we their fond pageant see? Lord, what fools these mortals be!
OBERON. Stand aside. The noise they make Will cause Demetrius to awake.
PUCK. Then will two at once woo one. That must needs be sport alone; And those things do best please me That befall prepost'rously.

Lord, what fools these mortals be!


LYSANDER. Why should you think that I should woo in scorn? Scorn and derision never come in tears. Look when I vow, I weep; and vows so born, In their nativity all truth appears. How can these things in me seem scorn to you, Bearing the badge of faith, to prove them true?
HELENA. You do advance your cunning more and more. When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray! These vows are Hermia's. Will you give her o'er? Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh: Your vows to her and me, put in two scales, Will even weigh; and both as light as tales.
LYSANDER. I hod no judgment when to her I swore.
HELENA. Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o'er.
LYSANDER. Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.
DEMETRIUS. [Awaking] O Helen, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine! To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne? Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow! That pure congealed white, high Taurus' snow, Fann'd with the eastern wind, turns to a crow When thou hold'st up thy hand. O, let me kiss This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!
HELENA. O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent To set against me for your merriment. If you were civil and knew courtesy, You would not do me thus much injury. Can you not hate me, as I know you do, But you must join in souls to mock me too? If you were men, as men you are in show, You would not use a gentle lady so: To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts, When I am sure you hate me with your hearts. You both are rivals, and love Hermia; And now both rivals, to mock Helena. A trim exploit, a manly enterprise, To conjure tears up in a poor maid's eyes With your derision! None of noble sort Would so offend a virgin, and extort A poor soul's patience, all to make you sport.
LYSANDER. You are unkind, Demetrius; be not so; For you love Hermia. This you know I know; And here, with all good will, with all my heart, In Hermia's love I yield you up my part; And yours of Helena to me bequeath, Whom I do love and will do till my death.
HELENA. Never did mockers waste more idle breath.
DEMETRIUS. Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none. If e'er I lov'd her, all that love is gone. My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourn'd, And now to Helen is it home return'd, There to remain.
LYSANDER. Helen, it is not so.
DEMETRIUS. Disparage not the faith thou dost not know, Lest, to thy peril, thou aby it dear. Look where thy love comes; yonder is thy dear.

[Enter HERMIA ]

HERMIA. Dark night, that from the eye his function takes, The ear more quick of apprehension makes; Wherein it doth impair the seeing sense, It pays the hearing double recompense. Thou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found; Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound. But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?
LYSANDER. Why should he stay whom love doth press to go?
HERMIA. What love could press Lysander from my side?
LYSANDER. Lysander's love, that would not let him bide- Fair Helena, who more engilds the night Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light. Why seek'st thou me? Could not this make thee know The hate I bare thee made me leave thee so?

Fair Helena,who more engilds the night
Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light

HERMIA. You speak not as you think; it cannot be.
HELENA. Lo, she is one of this confederacy! Now I perceive they have conjoin'd all three To fashion this false sport in spite of me. Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid! Have you conspir'd, have you with these contriv'd, To bait me with this foul derision? Is all the counsel that we two have shar'd, The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent, When we have chid the hasty-footed time For parting us- O, is all forgot? All school-days' friendship, childhood innocence? We, Hermia, like two artificial gods, Have with our needles created both one flower, Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion, Both warbling of one song, both in one key; As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds, Had been incorporate. So we grew together, Like to a double cherry, seeming parted, But yet an union in partition, Two lovely berries moulded on one stern; So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart; Two of the first, like coats in heraldry, Due but to one, and crowned with one crest. And will you rent our ancient love asunder, To join with men in scorning your poor friend? It is not friendly, 'tis not maidenly; Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it, Though I alone do feel the injury.
HERMIA. I am amazed at your passionate words; I scorn you not; it seems that you scorn me.
HELENA. Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn, To follow me and praise my eyes and face? And made your other love, Demetrius, Who even but now did spurn me with his foot, To call me goddess, nymph, divine, and rare, Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this To her he hates? And wherefore doth Lysander Deny your love, so rich within his soul, And tender me, forsooth, affection, But by your setting on, by your consent? What though I be not so in grace as you, So hung upon with love, so fortunate, But miserable most, to love unlov'd? This you should pity rather than despise.
HERMIA. I understand not what you mean by this.
HELENA. Ay, do- persever, counterfeit sad looks, Make mouths upon me when I turn my back, Wink each at other; hold the sweet jest up; This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled. If you have any pity, grace, or manners, You would not make me such an argument. But fare ye well; 'tis partly my own fault, Which death, or absence, soon shall remedy.
LYSANDER. Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse; My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena!
HELENA. O excellent!
HERMIA. Sweet, do not scorn her so.
DEMETRIUS. If she cannot entreat, I can compel.
LYSANDER. Thou canst compel no more than she entreat; Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers Helen, I love thee, by my life I do; I swear by that which I will lose for thee To prove him false that says I love thee not.
DEMETRIUS. I say I love thee more than he can do.
LYSANDER. If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.
DEMETRIUS. Quick, come.
HERMIA. Lysander, whereto tends all this?
LYSANDER. Away, you Ethiope!
DEMETRIUS. No, no, he will Seem to break loose- take on as you would follow, But yet come not. You are a tame man; go!
LYSANDER. Hang off, thou cat, thou burr; vile thing, let loose, Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.
HERMIA. Why are you grown so rude? What change is this, Sweet love?
LYSANDER. Thy love! Out, tawny Tartar, out! Out, loathed med'cine! O hated potion, hence!
HERMIA. Do you not jest?
HELENA. Yes, sooth; and so do you.
LYSANDER. Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
DEMETRIUS. I would I had your bond; for I perceive A weak bond holds you; I'll not trust your word.
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, of 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 followed you; for love I followed him; But he hath chid me hence, and threat'ned 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 further. 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 is angry, she is keen and shrewd; She was a vixen when she went to school; And, though she be but little, she is fierce.

She was a vixen when she went to school

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 jowl.


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.


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


OBERON. This is thy negligence. Still thou mistak'st, Or else committ'st thy knaveries wilfully.
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, wand'ring 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 themselves exil'd from light, And must for aye consort with black-brow'd night.

...ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards

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.

Up and down,up and down,
Goblin, lead them up and down


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]

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 defil'd That draws a sword on thee.
DEMETRIUS. Yea, art thou there?
PUCK. Follow my voice; we'll try no manhood here.

[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 heel'd than I. I followed fast, but faster he did fly, That fallen am I in dark uneven way, And here will rest me. [Lies down] Come, thou gentle day. For if but once thou show me thy grey light, I'll find Demetrius, and revenge this spite.

[Re-enter PUCK and DEMETRIUS ]

PUCK. Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why com'st thou not?
DEMETRIUS. Abide me, if thou dar'st; for well I wot Thou run'st before me, shifting every place, And dar'st not stand, nor look me in the face. Where art thou now?
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.


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 and sleeps]

PUCK. On the ground Sleep sound; I'll apply To your eye, Gentle lover, remedy. [Squeezing the juice on LYSANDER'S eyes] 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.


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A Midsummer-Night's Dream (first folio 1600), by William Shakespeare (1554 - 1616)

The illustrations are by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) first published 1908)