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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 the Clowns [Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, and Starveling].
    Are we all met?
    Pat, pat. And here's a marvelous 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.
    Peter Quince?
    What sayest thou bully 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?
    By'r lakin, a parlous fear.
    I believe we must leave the killing out, when all is done.
    Not a whit. I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue, and let the prologue seem to say, 830we will do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus is not killed 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.
    Well, we will have such a prologue, and it shall 835be written in eight and six.
    No, make it two more. Let it be written in eight and eight.
    Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?
    I fear it, I promise you.
    Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves, 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 Lyon living, and we ought to look to it.
    Therefore, another prologue must tell he is not a lion.
    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: 850"Ladies," or "faire 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 855him name his name, and tell him plainly he is Snug the joiner.
    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 860moonlight.
    Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?
    A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanac. Find out moonshine, find out moonshine!
    865Enter Puck.
    Yes, it doth shine that night.
    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.
    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 875chink of a wall.
    You can never bring in a wall. What say you, Bottom?
    Some man or other must present wall, and let him have some plaster, or some loam, or some rough 880cast about him, to signify wall; or let him hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisby whisper.
    If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down every mother's son, and rehearse your parts. 885Pyramus, you begin. When you have spoken your speech, enter into that brake, and so every one according to his cue.
    Enter Robin [Puck].
    What hempen homespuns have we 890swaggering 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.
    Speak Pyramus. Thisby, stand forth.
    Thisby, the flowers of odious savors sweet --
    Odors, odors.
    Odors savors sweet; So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisby dear.
    But hark, a voice! Stay thou but here a while,
    900And by and by I will to thee appear.
    Exit. Pyr[amus].
    A stranger Pyramus, then e're played here.
    Must I speak now?
    Ay, marry must you. For you must understand he goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come 905again.
    Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue, Of color like the red rose on triumphant brier.
    Most brisky juvenile, and eke most lovely Jew,
    As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.
    910I'll meet thee Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb.
    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."
    O, as true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.
    [Enter Puck and Bottom with the ass' head.]
    If I were fair, Thisby, I were only thine.
    Oh monstrous! Oh strange! We are haunted! Pray
    masters, fly masters! Help!
    920 The clowns all exit.
    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;
    925And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,
    Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.
    Exit [Puck].
    Enter Pyramus with the ass' head.
    Why do they run away? This is a knavery of
    them to make me afeard.
    Enter Snout.
    O Bottom, thou art changed! What doe I see on thee?
    What do you see? You see an ass-head of your own, do you?
    Enter Quince.
    Bless thee Bottom, bless thee! Thou art translated.
    Exit [Quince].
    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 940here, and I will sing that they shall hear I am not afraid.
    [Bottom sings.]
    The ouzel cock, so black of hew,
    With orange-tawny bill.
    The throstle, with his note so true,
    945The wren with little quill.
    What Angel wakes me from my flowery bed?
    The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
    The plainsong cuckoo gray,
    Whose note full many a man doth mark,
    950And dares not answer nay.
    For indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird? Who would give a bird the lie, though he cry cuckoo, never so?
    I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again.
    955Mine ear is much enamored of thy note;
    On the first view to say -- to swear -- I love thee!
    So is mine eye enthrallèd to thy shape.
    And thy fair virtue's force perforce doth move me.
    Methinks, mistress, you should have little
    960reason for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together, nowadays. The more the pity, that some honest neighbors will not make them friends. Nay, I can gleek, upon occasion.
    Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.
    Not so, neither; but if I had wit enough to get
    out of this wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn.
    Out of this wood, do not desire to go.
    970Thou 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,
    975And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
    And sing, while thou on pressèd flowers dost sleep.
    And I will purge thy mortal grossness so
    That thou shalt like an airy spirit go.
    Enter Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, 980Mustardseed, and four fairies.
    Ready; and I, and I, and I. Where shall we go?
    Be kind and courteous to this gentleman.
    Hop in his walks, and gambol in his eyes;
    Feed him with apricots, and dewberries,
    985With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries.
    The honeybags steal from the humble bees,
    And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs,
    And light them at the fiery glowworm's eyes,
    To have my love to bed, and to arise;
    990And pluck the wings from painted butterflies
    To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes.
    Nod to him elves, and do him courtesies.
    1 Fairy
    Hail, mortal, hail.
    2 Fairy
    995 3 Fairy
    I cry your worships' mercy heartily! I beseech your worship's name?
    I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good 1000Master Cobweb. If I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you. Your name, honest gentleman?
    I pray you, commend me to mistress Squash, 1005your mother, and to master Peascod, your father. Good master Peaseblossom, I shall desire of you more acquaintance too. Your name, I beseech you sir?
    Good master Mustardseede, I know your patience well. That same cowardly giant-like ox beef hath devoured many a gentleman of your house. I promise you, your kindred hath made my eyes water ere now. I desire you more acquaintance, good Master 1015Mustardseed.
    Come wait upon him; lead him to my bower. The moon, methinks, looks with a watery eye,
    And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,
    Lamenting some enforced chastity.
    1020Tie up my lover's tongue, bring him silently.
    Exit [all].