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  • Title: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Modern)
  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Modern)

    Enter a Fairy at one door, and Robin Goodfellow [Puck] at another.
    375Puck How now spirit! Whither wander you?
    Fairy Over hill, over dale, through bush, through briar,
    Over park, over pale, through flood, through fire,
    I do wander everywhere, swifter then the moon's sphere;
    And I serve the fairy queen, to dew her orbs upon the green.
    380The cowslips tall her pensioners be,
    In their gold coats spots you see,
    Those be rubies, fairy favors;
    In those freckles live their savors.
    I must go seek some dewdrops here,
    385And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
    Farewell thou lob of spirits! I'll be gone;
    Our queen and all her elves come here anon.
    Puck The king doth keep his revels here tonight.
    Take heed the queen come not within his sight.
    390For Oberon is passing fell and wrath
    Because that she, as her attendant, hath
    A lovely boy stolen from an Indian king;
    She never had so sweet a changeling.
    And jealous Oberon would have the child
    395Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild.
    But she perforce withholds the loved boy,
    Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy.
    And now they never meet in grove, or green,
    By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
    400But they do square, that all their elves for fear
    Creep into acorn cups and hide them there.
    Fairy Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
    Or else you are that shrewd and knavish spirit
    Called Robin Goodfellow. Are you not he,
    405That frights the maidens of the villagery,
    Skim milk, and sometimes labor in the quern,
    And bootless make the breathless housewife churn,
    And sometime make the drink to bear no barm,
    Mislead night wanderers, laughing at their harm?
    410Those that hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
    You do their work, and they shall have good luck.
    Are not you he?
    Puck Thou speakest aright;
    I am that merry wanderer of the night.
    415I jest to Oberon, and make him smile
    When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
    Neighing in likeness of a silly foal.
    And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
    In very likeness of a roasted crab,
    420And when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
    And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
    The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale
    Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me.
    Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
    425And "tailor" cries, and falls into a cough.
    And then the whole quire hold their hips, and laugh,
    And waxen in their mirth, and sneeze, and swear.
    A merrier hour was never wasted there!
    But room, fairy. Here comes Oberon.
    430Fairy And here my mistress!
    Would that he were gone.
    Enter [Oberon] the King of Fairies at one door with his train, and [Titania] the Queen at another with hers.
    Oberon Ill met by moonlight,
    435Proud Titania.
    Titania What, jealous Oberon? Fairy skip hence.
    I have forsworn his bed and company.
    Oberon Tarry rash wanton! Am not I thy lord?
    Titania Then I must be thy lady; but I know
    440When thou wast stolen away from fairyland,
    And in the shape of Corin sat all day
    Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love
    To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
    Come from the farthest steep of India,
    445But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
    Your buskined mistress and your warrior love,
    To Theseus must be wedded, and you come,
    To give their bed joy and prosperity?
    Oberon How canst thou thus, for shame Titania,
    450Glance at my credit with Hippolita,
    Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?
    Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night
    From Peregenia, whom he ravished?
    And make him with fair Eagles break his faith?
    455With Ariadne, and Atiopa?
    Titania These are the forgeries of jealousy,
    And never, since the middle summer's spring
    Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
    By pavèd fountain, or by rushy brook,
    460Or in the beachèd margent of the sea,
    To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
    But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.
    Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
    As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea
    465Contagious fogs, which, falling in the land,
    Hath every petty river made so proud
    That they have overborne their continents.
    The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,
    The plowman lost his sweat, and the green corn
    470Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard;
    The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
    And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
    The nine-men's morris is filled up with mud,
    And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
    475For lack of tread are undistinguishable.
    The human mortals want their winter here;
    No night is now with hymn or carol blest.
    Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
    Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
    480That rheumatic diseases do abound.
    And through this distemperature we see
    The seasons alter; hoar-headed frosts
    Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
    And on old Hyems' chin and icy crown
    485An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
    Is as in mockery set. The spring, the summer,
    The childing autumn, angry winter change
    Their wonted liveries; and the 'mazed world,
    By their increase, now knows not which is which.
    490And this same progeny of evils
    Comes from our debate, from our dissention;
    We are their parents and original.
    Oberon Do you amend it then; it lies in you.
    Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
    495I do but beg a little changeling boy
    To be my henchman.
    Titania Set your heart at rest.
    The fairyland buys not the child of me.
    His mother was a votress of my order,
    500And in the spicèd Indian air, by night
    Full often hath she gossiped by my side,
    And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
    Marking the embarkèd traders on the flood,
    When we have laughed to see the sails conceive
    505And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind,
    Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
    Following (her womb then rich with my young squire),
    Would imitate, and sail upon the land
    To fetch me trifles and return again,
    510As from a voyage rich with merchandise.
    But she, being mortal, of that boy did die,
    And for her sake I do rear up her boy,
    And for her sake I will not part with him.
    Oberon How long within this wood intend you stay?
    515Titania Perchance till after Theseus' wedding day.
    If you will patiently dance in our round
    And see our moonlight revels, go with us;
    If not, shun me and I will spare your haunts.
    Oberon Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.
    520Titania Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies away!
    We shall chide downright if I longer stay.
    Exeunt [Titania and her train. Oberon and Puck remain].
    Oberon Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this grove
    Till I torment thee for this injury.
    My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememb'rest
    525Since once I sat upon a promontory,
    And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back
    Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
    That the rude sea grew civil at her song,
    And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
    530To hear the sea-maid's music?
    Puck I remember.
    Oberon That very time I saw (but thou couldst not),
    Flying between the cold moon and the earth
    Cupid all armed; a certain aim he took
    535At a fair vestal, thronèd by the west,
    And loosed his love shaft smartly from his bow,
    As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts.
    But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
    Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
    540And the imperial votress passed on,
    In maiden meditation, fancy free.
    Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell.
    It fell upon a little western flower,
    Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound,
    545And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
    Fetch me that flower, the herb I showed thee once.
    The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid
    Will make or man or woman madly dote
    Upon the next live creature that it sees.
    550Fetch me this herb, and be thou here again
    Ere the leviathan can swim a league.
    Puck I'll put a girdle about the earth in forty minutes.
    [Exit Puck]
    Oberon Having once this juice,
    555I'll watch Titania when she is asleep,
    And drop the liquor of it in her eyes.
    The next thing when she waking looks upon --
    Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
    On meddling monkey, or on busy ape --
    560She shall pursue it with the soul of love.
    And ere I take this charm off from her sight
    (As I can take it with another herb),
    I'll make her render up her page to me.
    But who comes here? I am invisible,
    565And I will overhear their conference.
    Enter Demetrius, Helena following him.
    Demetrius I love thee not, therefore pursue me not!
    Where is Lysander and fair Hermia?
    The one I'll stay, the other stayeth me.
    570Thou toldest me they were stolen into this wood,
    And here am I, and wood within this wood
    Because I cannot meet my Hermia.
    Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more!
    Helena You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant.
    575But yet you draw not iron, for my heart
    Is true as steel. Leave you your power to draw
    And I shall have no power to follow you.
    Demetrius Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair?
    Or rather do I not in plainest truth
    580Tell you I do not nor I cannot love you?
    Helena And even for that do I love thee the more.
    I am your spaniel, and Demetrius,
    The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.
    Use me but as your spaniel; spurn me, strike me,
    585Neglect me, lose me -- only give me leave,
    Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
    What worser place can I beg in your love,
    And yet a place of high respect with me,
    Then to be used as you do your dog?
    590Demetrius Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit,
    For I am sick when I do look on thee.
    Helena And I am sick when I look not on you.
    Demetrius You do impeach your modesty too much,
    To leave the city and commit yourself
    595Into the hands of one that loves you not,
    To trust the opportunity of night
    And the ill counsel of a desert place
    With the rich worth of your virginity.
    Helena Your virtue is my privilege. For that
    600It is not night when I do see your face.
    Therefore, I think I am not in the night,
    Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
    For you in my respect are all the world.
    Then how can it be said I am alone
    605When all the world is here to look on me?
    Demetrius I'll run from thee and hide me in the brakes,
    And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.
    Helena The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
    Run when you will. The story shall be changed:
    610Apollo flies and Daphne holds the chase;
    The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
    Makes speed to catch the tiger, bootless speed,
    When cowardice pursues, and valor flies.
    Demetrius I will not stay thy questions. Let me go!
    615Or, if thou follow me, do not believe
    But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.
    Helena Aye, in the temple, in the town and field
    You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
    Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex.
    620We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
    We should be wooed, and were not made to woo.
    I follow thee, and make a heaven of hell,
    To die upon the hand I love so well.
    Exit [Demetrius, pursued by Helena].
    Oberon Fare thee well, nymph. Ere he do leave this grove,
    625Thou shalt fly him and he shall seek thy love.
    Hast thou the flower there? Welcome wanderer.
    Enter Puck.
    Puck Aye, there it is.
    Oberon I pray thee give it me.
    630I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
    Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
    Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
    With sweet musk roses, and with eglantine.
    There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
    635Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight.
    And there the snake throws her enameled skin,
    Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.
    And with the juice of this I'll streak her eyes,
    And make her full of hateful fantasies.
    640Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove.
    A sweet Athenian lady is in love
    With a disdainful youth. Anoint his eyes,
    But do it when the next thing he espies
    May be the lady. Thou shalt know the man
    645By the Athenian garments he hath on.
    Effect it with some care, that he may prove
    More fond on her then she upon her love;
    And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.
    Puck Fear not, my lord; your servant shall do so.
    Exit [Puck].