Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Suzanne Westfall
Not Peer Reviewed

A Midsummer Night's Dream (Modern)


[5.1]
Enter Theseus, Hippolita, Egeus and his lords.
Hippolita 'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.
Theseus More strange then true. I never may believe
1795These 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
1800Are of imagination all compact.
One sees more devils then 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
1805From 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,
1810That 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?
Hippolita But all the story of the night told over,
1815And all their minds transfigured so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images
And grows to something of great constancy;
But howsoever, strange and admirable.
Enter lovers Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, 1820and 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 then to us wait in your royal walks,
1825your board, your bed.
Theseus Come now, what masks, what dances shall we have,
To wear away this long age of three hours,
Between our after-supper and bed-time?
1830Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
Call Egeus.
Egeus Here mighty Theseus.
1835Theseus Say, what abridgement have you for this
evening?
What mask? What music? How shall we beguile
The lazy time if not with some delight?
Egeus There is a brief how many sports are rife.
1840Make choice of which your highness will see first.
Theseus "The Battle with the Centaurs," to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.
Theseus We'll none of that. That have I told my love
In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
1845"The Riot of the Tipsy Bacchanals
Tearing the Thracian Singer in their Rage."
That is an old device, and it was played
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
"The Thrice Three Muses Mourning for the Death
1850of Learning, late Deceased 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 Thisby; very tragical mirth."
1855Merry and tragical? Tedious and brief? That
Is hot ice and wondrous strange snow. How shall we
Find the concord of this discord?
Egeus A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
Which is as brief as I have known a play;
1860But 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
1865Rehearsed, 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?
Egeus Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,
1870Which never labored in their minds till now;
And now have toiled their unbreathed memories
With this same play, against your nuptial.
Theseus And we will hear it.
Egeus No, my noble lord, it is not for you. I have heard
1875It over, and it is nothing, nothing in the world;
Unless you can find sport in their intents,
Extremely stretched and conned with cruel pain,
To do you service.
Theseus I will hear that play. For never any thing
1880Can be amiss when simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in, and take your places ladies.
Hippolita I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharged,
And duty in his service perishing.
Theseus Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
1885Hippolita 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.
1890Where 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 practiced accent in their fears,
1895And, in conclusion, dumbly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I picked a welcome;
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rat'ling tongue
1900Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most, to my capacity.
Egeus So please your grace, the prologue is addressed.
Theseus Let him approach.
Flourish [of trumpets]. 1905Enter the Prologue Quince.
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.
1910Consider 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,
1915You 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.
1920Hippolita Indeed, he hath played on his 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?
Tawyer with a trumpet before them. sounds.
1925Enter Pyramus and Thisby, Wall, Moonshine, and Lion.
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.
1930This man, with lime and roughcast, 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 lantern, dog, and bush of thorn,
1935Presenteth moonshine. For, if you will know,
By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
This grizzly beast, which lion hight by name,
The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,
1940Did 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 Thisby's mantle slain;
1945Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely broached 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
1950At large discourse, while here they do remain.
Exit all but Wall.
Theseus I wonder if the lion be to speak?
Demetrius No wonder, my lord. One lion may when many asses do.
1955
Exit Lion, Thisby, and Moonshine.
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,
1960Through 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,
1965Through 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.
1970Theseus Pyramus draws near the wall. Silence!
Enter Pyramus.
Pyramus
O grim-looked night, O night with hue so black,
O night, which ever art when day is not.
O night, O night, alack, alack, alack.
1975I fear my Thisby's promise is forgot.
And thou, O wall, thou sweet and lovely wall,
That stands 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.
1980Thanks, courteous wall. Jove shield thee well for this.
But what see I? No Thisby do I see.
O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss,
Curst be thy stones for thus deceiving me!
Theseus The wall, methinks, being sensible, should 1985curse again.
Pyramus No, in truth, sir, he should not. "Deceiving me" Is Thisby's cue. She is to enter, and I am to spy her through the wall. You shall see it will fall
Enter Thisby.
1990Pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.
Thisby
O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans
For parting my fair Pyramus and me.
My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones,
Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.
1995Pyramus I see a voice! Now will I to the chink
To spy and I can hear my Thisby's face. Thisby?
Thisby 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.
2000Thisby And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.
Pyramus Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.
Thisby As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.
Pyramus O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.
Thisby I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.
2005Pyramus Wilt thou at Ninnies tomb meet me straight way?
Thisby '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.
Exit Clown [Wall].
2010Theseus Now is the moral down between the two neighbors.
Demetrius No remedy, my lord, when walls are so willful to hear without warning.
Hippolita This is the silliest stuff that e're I heard.
2015Theseus The best in this kind are but shadows, and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them.
Hippolita It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.
Theseus If we imagine no worse of them then they of themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here come 2020two noble beasts, in a man 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,
2025When 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 of my life!
2030Theseus A very gentle beast, and of good conscience.
Demetrius The very best at a beast, my lord, that e're I saw.
Lysander This lion is a very fox for his valor.
Theseus True, and a goose for his discretion.
Demetrius Not so, my lord, for his valor cannot carry 2035his discretion, and the fox carries the goose.
Theseus His discretion, I am sure cannot carry his valor, for the goose carries not the fox. It is well. Leave it to his discretion, and let us hearken to the moon.
Moon
This lantern doth the horned moon 2040present --
Demetrius He should have worn the horns on his head.
Theseus He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the circumference.
Moon
This lantern doth the horned moon present.
2045 Myself the man in the moon doth 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 in the moon?
Demetrius He dares not come there for the candle. 2050For you see, it is already in snuff.
Hippolita I am weary 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 2055must 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 in the moon; this thorn bush, my thorn bush; and this dog, my dog.
2060Demetrius Why all these should be in the lantern, for they are in the moon. But silence, here comes Thisby.
Enter Thisby.
Thisby This is old Ninnies tomb: where is my love?
Lion Oh.
2065
The Lion roars, [and] Thisby runs off.
Demetrius Well roared, lion.
Theseus Well run, Thisby.
Hippolita Well shone, moon. Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.
[Lion mauls Thisby's mantle and runs off.]
2070Theseus Well moused, Lion.
Demetrius And then came Pyramus.
Lysander And so the lion vanished.
Enter Pyramus.
Pyramus
Sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams.
2075I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright,
For by thy gracious, golden, glittering beams
I trust to taste of truest Thisby's sight.
But stay: O spite! But mark, poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here?
2080Eyes, do you see? How can it be?
O dainty duck, O dear!
Thy mantle good, what, stained with blood?
Approach you Furies fell!
O Fates, come, come! Cut thread and thrum,
2085Quail, crush, conclude, and quell.
Theseus This passion, and the death of a dear friend,
Would go near to make a man look sad.
Hippolita Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
Pyramus O, wherefore, Nature, did'st thou lions frame?
2090Since lion vile hath here deflowered my dear;
Which is -- no, no -- which was the fairest dame
That lived, that loved, that liked, that looked with cheer.
Come tears, confound. Out sword, and wound
The pap of Pyramus:
2095Aye, 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,
Exit Moon.
2100Now die, die, die, die, die.
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.
2105Hippolita How chance moonshine is gone before? Thisby comes back, and finds her lover.
Enter Thisby.
Theseus She will find him by starlight. Here she comes, and her passion ends the play.
2110Hippolita Methinks she should not use a long one for such a Pyramus; I hope she will be brief.
Demetrius A moth will turn the balance, which Pyramus which Thisby is the better.
Lysander She hath spied him already, with those sweet eyes.
2115Demetrius And thus she means, videlicit:
Thisby
Asleep my love? What, dead my dove? O Pyramus, arise!
Speak, speak! Quite dumb? Dead, dead? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
2120These 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,
2125With 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.
2130And, farewell friends. Thus Thisby ends.
Adieu, adieu, adieu.
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 2135their 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 2140dead, there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus, and hung himself in Thisby's garter, it would have been a fine tragedy; and so it is truly, and very notably discharged. But come, your Burgomaske, let your epilogue alone.
2145The 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 over-watched.
This palpable gross play hath well beguiled
2150The heavy gate of night. Sweet friends, to bed.
A fortnight hold we this solemnity
In nightly revels and new jollity.
Exeunt.
Enter Puck.
Puck Now the hungry lion's roars,
2155And the wolf beholds the moon,
Whilst the heavy plowman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whil'st the screech owl, screeching loud,
2160Puts 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 his sprite,
2165In the churchway 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,
2170Now are frolic; not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallowed house.
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.
Enter king [Oberon] and queen[Titania] of fairies with their train.
2175Oberon 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.
2180Titania First rehearse this song by rote,
To each word a warbling note.
Hand in hand with fairy grace
Will we sing and bless this place.
The Song.
2185Oberon
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
2190Ever 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.
2195Never mole, harelip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity
Shall upon their children be.
With this field dew consecrate
2200Every fairy take his gait,
And each several chamber bless
Through this palace with sweet peace.
Ever shall in safety rest,
And the owner of it blest.
2205Trip away, make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.