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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Midsomer nights Dreame.
    On the danke and durty ground.
    Pretty soule, she durst not lye
    730Neere this lacke-loue, this kill-curtesie.
    Churle, vpon thy eyes I throw
    All the power this charme doth owe:
    When thou wak'st, let loue forbid
    Sleepe his seate on thy eye-lid.
    735So awake when I am gone:
    For I must now to Oberon.

    Enter Demetrius and Helena running.

    Hel. Stay, though thou kill me, sweete Demetrius.
    De. I charge thee hence, and do not haunt me thus.
    740Hel. O wilt thou darkling leaue me? do not so.
    De. Stay on thy perill, I alone will goe.
    Exit Demetrius.
    Hel. O I am out of breath, in this fond chace,
    The more my prayer, the lesser is my grace,
    745Happy is Hermia, wheresoere she lies;
    For she hath blessed and attractiue eyes.
    How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt teares.
    If so, my eyes are oftner washt then hers.
    No, no, I am as vgly as a Beare;
    750For beasts that meete me, runne away for feare,
    Therefore no maruaile, though Demetrius
    Doe as a monster, flie my presence thus.
    What wicked and dissembling glasse of mine,
    Made me compare with Hermias sphery eyne?
    755But who is here? Lysander on the ground;
    Deade or asleepe? I see no bloud, no wound,
    Lysander, if you liue, good sir awake.
    Lys. And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake.
    Transparent Helena, nature her shewes art,
    760That through thy bosome makes me see thy heart.
    Where is Demetrius? oh how fit a word
    Is that vile name, to perish on my sword!
    Hel. Do not say so Lysander, say not so:
    What though he loue your Hermia? Lord, what though?
    765Yet Hermia still loues you; then be content.
    Lys. Content with Hermia? No, I do repent
    The tedious minutes I with her haue spent.
    Not Hermia, but Helena now I loue;
    Who will not change a Rauen for a Doue?
    770The will of man is by his reason sway'd:
    And reason saies you are the worthier Maide.
    Things growing are not ripe vntill their season;
    So I being yong, till now ripe not to reason,
    And touching now the point of humane skill,
    775Reason becomes the Marshall to my will,
    And leades me to your eyes, where I orelooke
    Loues stories, written in Loues richest booke.
    Hel. Wherefore was I to this keene mockery borne?
    When at your hands did I deserue this scorne?
    780Ist not enough, ist not enough, yong man,
    That I did neuer, no nor neuer can,
    Deserue a sweete looke from Demetrius eye,
    But you must flout my insufficiency?
    Good troth you do me wrong (good-sooth you do)
    785In such disdainfull manner, me to wooe.
    But fare you well; perforce I must confesse,
    I thought you Lord of more true gentlenesse.
    Oh, that a Lady of one man refus'd,
    Should of another therefore be abus'd.
    790Lys. She sees not Hermia: Hermia sleepe thou there,
    And neuer maist thou come Lysander neere;
    For as a surfeit of the sweetest things
    The deepest loathing to the stomacke brings:
    Or as the heresies that men do leaue,
    795Are hated most of those that did deceiue:
    So thou, my surfeit, and my heresie,
    Of all be hated; but the most of me;
    And all my powers addresse your loue and might,
    To honour Helen, and to be her Knight.
    800Her. Helpe me Lysander, helpe me; do thy best
    To plucke this crawling serpent from my brest.
    Aye me, for pitty; what a dreame was here?
    Lysander looke, how I do quake with feare:
    Me-thought a serpent eate my heart away,
    805And yet sat smiling at his cruell prey.
    Lysander, what remoou'd? Lysander, Lord,
    What, out of hearing, gone? No sound, no word?
    Alacke where are you? speake and if you heare:
    Speake of all loues; I sound almost with feare.
    810No, then I well perceiue you are not nye,
    Either death or you Ile finde immediately.

    Actus Tertius.

    Enter the Clownes.

    Bot. Are we all met?
    815Quin. Pat, pat, and here's a maruailous conuenient
    place for our rehearsall. This greene plot shall be our
    stage, this hauthorne brake our tyring house, and we will
    do it in action, as we will do it before the Duke.
    Bot. Peter quince?
    820Peter. What saist thou, bully Bottome?
    Bot. There are things in this Comedy of Piramus and
    Thisby, that will neuer please. First, Piramus must draw a
    sword to kill himselfe; which the Ladies cannot abide.
    How answere you that?
    825Snout. Berlaken, a parlous feare.
    Star. I beleeue we must leaue the killing out, when
    all is done.
    Bot. Not a whit, I haue a deuice to make all well.
    Write me a Prologue, and let the Prologue seeme to say,
    830we will do no harme with our swords, and that Pyramus
    is not kill'd indeede: and for the more better assurance,
    tell them, that I Piramus am not Piramus, but Bottome the
    Weauer; this will put them out of feare.
    Quin. Well, we will haue such a Prologue, and it shall
    835be written in eight and sixe.
    Bot. No, make it two more, let it be written in eight
    and eight.
    Snout. Will not the Ladies be afear'd of the Lyon?
    Star. I feare it, I promise you.
    840Bot. Masters, you ought to consider with your selues, to
    bring in (God shield vs) a Lyon among Ladies, is a most
    dreadfull thing. For there is not a more fearefull wilde
    foule then your Lyon liuing: and wee ought to looke
    to it.
    845Snout. Therefore another Prologue must tell he is not
    a Lyon.
    Bot. Nay, you must name his name, and halfe his face
    must be seene through the Lyons necke, and he himselfe
    must speake through, saying thus, or to the same defect;
    850Ladies, or faire Ladies, I would wish you, or I would