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About this text

  • Title: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Suzanne Westfall
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-465-3

    Copyright Suzanne Westfall. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Suzanne Westfall
    Not Peer Reviewed

    A Midsummer Night's Dream (Folio 1, 1623)

    A Midsommer nights Dreame.
    This. If he come not, then the play is mar'd. It goes
    not forward, doth it?
    Quin. It is not possible: you haue not a man in all
    Athens, able to discharge Piramus but he.
    1755This. No, hee hath simply the best wit of any handy-
    craft man in Athens.
    Quin. Yea, and the best person too, and hee is a very
    Paramour, for a sweet voyce.
    This. You must say, Paragon. A Paramour is (God
    1760blesse vs) a thing of nought.

    Enter Snug the Ioyner.
    Snug. Masters, the Duke is comming from the Tem-
    ple, and there is two or three Lords & Ladies more mar-
    ried. If our sport had gone forward, we had all bin made
    This. O sweet bully Bottome: thus hath he lost sixe-
    pence a day, during his life; he could not haue scaped six-
    pence a day. And the Duke had not giuen him sixpence
    a day for playing Piramus, Ile be hang'd. He would haue
    1770deserued it. Sixpence a day in Piramus, or nothing.
    Enter Bottome.
    Bot. Where are these Lads? Where are these hearts?
    Quin. Bottome, ô most couragious day! O most hap-
    pie houre!
    1775Bot. Masters, I am to discourse wonders; but ask me
    not what. For if I tell you, I am no true Athenian. I
    will tell you euery thing as it fell out.
    Qu. Let vs heare, sweet Bottome.
    Bot. Not a word of me: all that I will tell you, is, that
    1780the Duke hath dined. Get your apparell together, good
    strings to your beards, new ribbands to your pumps,
    meete presently at the Palace, euery man looke ore his
    part: for the short and the long is, our play is preferred:
    In any case let Thisby haue cleane linnen: and let not him
    1785that playes the Lion, paire his nailes, for they shall hang
    out for the Lions clawes. And most deare Actors, eate
    no Onions, nor Garlicke; for wee are to vtter sweete
    breath, and I doe not doubt but to heare them say, it is a
    sweet Comedy. No more words: away, go away.

    Actus Quintus.

    Enter Theseus, Hippolita, Egeus and his Lords.

    Hip. 'Tis strange my Theseus, y these louers speake of.
    The. More strange then true. I neuer may beleeue
    1795These anticke fables, nor these Fairy toyes,
    Louers and mad men haue such seething braines,
    Such shaping phantasies, that apprehend more
    Then coole reason euer comprehends.
    The Lunaticke, the Louer, and the Poet,
    1800Are of imagination all compact.
    One sees more diuels then vaste hell can hold;
    That is the mad man. The Louer, all as franticke,
    Sees Helens beauty in a brow of Egipt.
    The Poets eye in a fine frenzy rolling, doth glance
    1805From heauen to earth, from earth to heauen.
    And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things
    Vnknowne; the Poets pen turnes them to shapes,
    And giues to aire nothing, a locall habitation,
    And a name. Such tricks hath strong imagination,
    1810That if it would but apprehend some ioy,
    It comprehends some bringer of that ioy.
    Or in the night, imagining some feare,
    Howe easie is a bush suppos'd a Beare?
    Hip. But all the storie of the night told ouer,
    1815And all their minds transfigur'd so together,
    More witnesseth than fancies images,
    And growes to something of great constancie;
    But howsoeuer, strange, and admirable.

    Enter louers, Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia,
    1820and Helena.
    The. Heere come the louers, full of ioy and mirth:
    Ioy, gentle friends, ioy and fresh dayes
    Of loue accompany your hearts.
    Lys. More then to vs, waite in your royall walkes,
    1825your boord, your bed.
    The. Come now, what maskes, what dances shall
    we haue,
    To weare away this long age of three houres,
    Between our after supper, and bed-time?
    1830Where is our vsuall manager of mirth?
    What Reuels are in hand? Is there no play,
    To ease the anguish of a torturing houre?
    Call Egeus.
    Ege. Heere mighty Theseus.
    1835The. Say, what abridgement haue you for this eue-
    What maske? What musicke? How shall we beguile
    The lazie time, if not with some delight?
    Ege. There is a breefe how many sports are rife:
    1840Make choise of which your Highnesse will see first.
    Lis. The battell with the Centaurs to be sung
    By an Athenian Eunuch, to the Harpe.
    The. Wee'l none of that. That haue I told my Loue
    In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
    1845Lis. The riot of the tipsie Bachanals,
    Tearing the Thracian singer, in their rage?
    The. That is an old deuice, and it was plaid
    When I from Thebes came last a Conqueror.
    Lis. The thrice three Muses, mourning for the death
    1850of learning, late deceast in beggerie.
    The. That is some Satire keene and criticall,
    Not sorting with a nuptiall ceremonie.
    Lis. A tedious breefe Scene of yong Piramus,
    And his loue Thisby; very tragicall mirth.
    1855The. Merry and tragicall? Tedious, and briefe? That
    is, hot ice, and wondrous strange snow. How shall wee
    finde the concord of this discord?
    Ege. A play there is, my Lord, some ten words long,
    Which is as breefe, as I haue knowne 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 tragicall my noble Lord it is: for Piramus
    Therein doth kill himselfe. Which when I saw
    1865Rehearst, I must confesse, made mine eyes water:
    But more merrie teares, the passion of loud laughter
    Neuer shed.
    Thes. What are they that do play it?
    Ege. Hard handed men, that worke in Athens heere,
    1870Which neuer labour'd in their mindes till now;
    And now haue toyled their vnbreathed memories
    With this same play, against your nuptiall.
    The. And we will heare it.