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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 King of Fairies [Oberon] solus.
    I wonder if Titania be awaked;
    Then what it was that next came in her eye,
    Which she must dote on in extremity.
    1025Enter Puck.
    Here comes my messenger. How now, mad spirit?
    What night rule now about this haunted grove?
    My mistress with a monster is in love!
    Near to her close and consecrated bower,
    1030While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,
    A crew of patches, rude mechanicals
    That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
    Were met together to rehearse a play
    Intended for great Theseus' nuptial day.
    1035The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,
    Who Pyramus presented, in their sport,
    Forsook his scene, and entered in a brake.
    When I did him at this advantage take,
    An ass' nole I fixed on his head.
    1040Anon his Thisby must be answered,
    And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,
    As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
    Or russet-pated coughs, many in sort
    Rising and cawing at the gun's report,
    1045Sever themselves, and madly sweep the sky,
    So, at his sight, away his fellows fly,
    And, at our stamp, here o'er and o'er one falls;
    He "murder," cries, and help from Athens calls.
    Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong,
    1050Made senseless things begin to do them wrong.
    For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch,
    Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things catch.
    I led them on in this distracted fear
    And left sweet Pyramus translated there.
    1055When, in that moment (so it came to pass),
    Titania waked, and straightway loved an ass.
    This falls out better then I could devise!
    But hast thou yet latched the Athenian's eyes,
    With the love juice, as I bid thee do?
    I took him sleeping. That is finished too.
    And the Athenian woman by his side,
    That when he waked, of force she must be eyed.
    Enter Demetrius and Hermia.
    Stand close. This is the same Athenian.
    This is the woman, but not this the man.
    O why rebuke you him that loves you so?
    Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.
    Now I but chide, but I should use thee worse.
    For thou, I fear, hast given me cause to curse.
    1070If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep,
    Being o'er shoes in blood, plunge in the deep and kill me too.
    The sun was not so true unto the day
    As he to me. Would he have stolen away
    1075From sleeping Hermia? I'll believe as soon
    This whole earth may be bored, and that the moon
    May through the center creep, and so displease
    Her brother's noontide with the antipodes.
    It cannot be but thou hast murdered him!
    1080So should a murderer look -- so dead, so grim.
    So should the murderer look, and so should I,
    Pierced through the heart with your stern cruelty.
    Yet you, the murderer, looks as bright, as clear,
    As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere.
    What's this to my Lysander? Where is he?
    Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?
    I'd rather give his carcass to my hounds.
    Out dog! Out cur! Thou drivest me past the bounds
    Of maiden's patience. Hast thou slain him then?
    1090Henceforth be never numbered among men.
    Oh, once tell true, even for my sake.
    Durst thou a look upon him, being awake?
    And hast thou killed him sleeping? O brave touch!
    Could not a worm, an adder, do so much?
    1095An adder did it; for with doubler tongue
    Than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.
    You spend your passion on a misprised mood.
    I am not guilty of Lysander's blood.
    Nor is he dead, for ought that I can tell.
    I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.
    And if I could, what should I get therefore?
    A privilege never to see me more;
    And from thy hated presence part I: see me no more,
    Whether he be dead or no.
    Exit [Hermia].
    There is no following her in this fierce vein.
    Here, therefore, for a while I will remain.
    So sorrow's heaviness doth heavier grow,
    For debt that bankrout sleep doth sorrow owe,
    Which now in some slight measure it will pay,
    1110If for his tender here I make some stay.
    [Demetrius] lies down.
    What hast thou done? Thou hast mistaken quite
    And laid the love juice on some true love's sight.
    Of thy misprision must perforce ensue
    Some true love turned, and not a false turned true.
    Then fate o'er rules, that one man holding troth,
    A million fail, confounding oath on oath.
    About the wood, go swifter then the wind,
    And Helena of Athens look thou find.
    All fancy sick she is and pale of cheer,
    1120With sighs of love that costs the fresh blood dear.
    By some illusion see thou bring her here.
    I'll charm his eyes against she doth appear.
    I go, I go, look how I go,
    Swifter then arrow from the Tartar's bow.
    Exit [Puck].
    Flower of this purple dye,
    Hit with Cupid's archery,
    Sink in apple of his eye,
    When his love he doth espy,
    Let her shine as gloriously
    1130As the Venus of the sky.
    When thou wak'st if she be by,
    Beg of her for remedy.
    Enter Puck.
    Captain of our fairy band,
    1135Helena is here at hand,
    And the youth, mistook by me,
    Pleading for a lover's fee.
    Shall we their fond pageant see?
    Lord, what fools these mortals be!
    Stand aside. The noise they make
    Will cause Demetrius to awake.
    Then will two at once woo one;
    That must needs be sport alone.
    And those things do best please me
    1145That befall preposterously.
    Enter Lysander and Helena.
    Why should you think that I should woo in scorn?
    Scorn and derision never comes in tears.
    Look, when I vow I weep; and vows so born,
    1150In their nativity all truth appears.
    How can these things in me seem scorn to you?
    Bearing the badge of faith to prove them true?
    You do advance your cunning more and more.
    When truth kills truth, Oh devilish holy fray!
    1155These vows are Hermia's. Will you give her o'er?
    Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh.
    Your vows to her and me, put in two scales,
    Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.
    I had no judgment when to her I swore.
    Nor none in my mind, now you give her o'er.
    Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.
    [Demetrius] awa[kens].
    O Helen! Goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!
    To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?
    Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show
    1165Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!
    That pure congealed white, high Taurus' snow,
    Fanned with the eastern wind, turns to a crow
    When thou hold'st up thy hand. O, let me kiss
    This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss.
    O spite! O hell! I see you are all bent
    To set against me for your merriment.
    If you were civil and knew courtesy
    You would not do me thus much injury.
    Can you not hate me, as I know you do,
    1175But you must join in souls to mock me too?
    If you are men, as men you are in show,
    You would not use a gentle lady so --
    To vow, and swear, and super-praise my parts,
    When I am sure you hate me with your hearts.
    1180You both are rivals, and love Hermia,
    And now both rivals to mock Helena.
    A trim exploit, a manly enterprise,
    To conjure tears up in a poor maid's eyes
    With your derision. None of noble sort
    1185Would so offend a virgin, and extort
    A poor soul's patience, all to make you sport.
    You are unkind Demetrius. Be not so!
    For you love Hermia, this you know I know.
    And here, with all good will, with all my heart,
    1190In Hermia's love I yield you up my part;
    And yours of Helena to me bequeath,
    Whom I do love, and will do to my death.
    Never did mockers waste more idle breath.
    Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none.
    1195If e're I loved her, all that love is gone.
    My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourned,
    And now to Helen it is home returned,
    There to remain.
    It is not so.
    Disparage not the faith thou dost not know,
    Lest, to thy peril, thou abide it dear.
    Look where thy love comes. Yonder is thy dear.
    Enter Hermia.
    Dark night, that from the eye his function takes,
    1205The ear more quick of apprehension makes.
    Wherein it doth impair the seeing sense,
    It pays the hearing double recompense.
    Thou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found;
    Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to that sound.
    1210But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?
    Why should he stay whom love doth press to go?
    What love could press Lysander from my side?
    Lysander's love, that would not let him bide.
    Fair Helena, who more engilds the night
    1215Then all yon fiery oes and eyes of light.
    Why seek'st thou me? Could not this make thee know,
    The hate I bare thee made me leave thee so?
    You speak not as you think; it cannot be.
    Lo, she is one of this confederacy!
    1220Now I perceive they have conjoined all three
    To fashion this false sport in spite of me.
    Injurious Hermia, most ungrateful maid,
    Have you conspired, have you with these contrived
    To bait me with this foul derision?
    1225Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
    The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent,
    When we have chid the hasty-footed time
    For parting us -- O, is all forgot?
    All schooldays friendship, childhood innocence?
    1230We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
    Have with our needles created both one flower,
    Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
    Both warbling of one song, both in one key;
    As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds
    1235Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
    Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
    But yet a union in partition,
    Two lovely berries molded on one stem.
    So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
    1240Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
    Due but to one, and crowned with one crest.
    And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
    To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
    It is not friendly, 'tis not maidenly.
    1245Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
    Though I alone do feel the injury.
    I am amazed at your passionate words!
    I scorn you not. It seems that you scorn me.
    Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,
    1250To follow me and praise my eyes and face?
    And made your other love, Demetrius
    (Who even but now did spurn me with his foot),
    To call me goddess, nymph, divine, and rare,
    Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this
    1255To her he hates? And wherefore doth Lysander
    Deny your love, so rich within his soul,
    And tender me, forsooth, affection,
    But by your setting on, by your consent?
    What though I be not so in grace as you,
    1260So hung upon with love, so fortunate?
    But miserable most, to love unloved?
    This you should pity rather then despise.
    I understand not what you mean by this.
    Ay, do. Persevere, counterfeit sad looks,
    1265Make mouths upon me when I turn my back,
    Wink each at other, hold the sweet jest up.
    This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.
    If you have any pity, grace, or manners,
    You would not make me such an argument.
    1270But, fare ye well. 'Tis partly mine own fault,
    Which death or absence soon shall remedy.
    Stay, gentle Helena, hear my excuse,
    My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena.
    O excellent!
    Sweet, do not scorn her so.
    If she cannot entreat, I can compel.
    Thou canst compel no more than she entreat.
    Thy threats have no more strength then her weak praise.
    Helen, I love thee, by my life I do!
    1280I swear, by that which I will lose for thee,
    To prove him false, that says I love thee not.
    I say I love thee more then he can do.
    If thou say so, withdraw and prove it too.
    Quick, come!
    Lysander, whereto tends all this?
    Away, you Ethiope!
    No, no, sir, seem to break loose,
    Take on as you would follow,
    But yet come not. You are a tame man, go!
    Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! Vile thing, let loose
    Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.
    Why are you grown so rude?
    What change is this sweet love?
    Thy love? Out, tawny Tartar, out!
    1295Out, loathèd medicine! O hated poison, hence!
    Do you not jest?
    Yes, sooth, and so do you!
    Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
    I would I had your bond, for I perceive
    1300A weak bond holds you. I'll not trust your word.
    What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
    Although I hate her, I'll not harm her so.
    What, can you do me greater harm then hate?
    Hate me? Wherefore? O me, what news my Love?
    1305Am not I Hermia? Are not you Lysander?
    I am as fair now, as I was e're while.
    Since night you loved me, yet since night you left me.
    Why, then, you left me -- O the gods forbid --
    In earnest, shall I say?
    Ay, by my life!
    And never did desire to see thee more.
    Therefore be out of hope, of question, of doubt;
    Be certain, nothing truer. 'Tis no jest
    That I do hate thee, and love Helena.
    O me! You juggler, you canker blossom,
    You thief of love! What, have you come by night
    And stolen my love's heart from him?
    Fine, i'faith.
    Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
    1320No touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear
    Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
    Fie, fie, you counterfeit, you puppet you!
    Puppet? Why so? Ay, that way goes the game.
    Now I perceive that she hath made compare
    1325Between our statures; she hath urged her height,
    And with her personage, her tall personage,
    Her height, forsooth, she hath prevailed with him.
    And are you grown so high in his esteem,
    Because I am so dwarfish, and so low?
    1330How low am I, thou painted maypole? Speak!
    How low am I? I am not yet so low,
    But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes!
    I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
    Let her not hurt me. I was never curst.
    1335I have no gift at all in shrewishness.
    I am a right maid for my cowardice;
    Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think
    Because she is something lower then myself,
    That I can match her.
    Lower? Harke again!
    Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
    I evermore did love you, Hermia,
    Did ever keep your counsels, never wronged you,
    Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
    1345I told him of your stealth unto this wood.
    He followed you, for love I followed him.
    But he hath chid me hence, and threatened me
    To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too!
    And now, so you will let me quiet go,
    1350To Athens will I bear my folly back,
    And follow you no further. Let me go.
    You see how simple, and how fond I am.
    Why, get you gone! Who is't that hinders you?
    A foolish heart that I leave here behind.
    What, with Lysander?
    With Demetrius.
    Be not afraid. She shall not harm thee, Helena.
    No, sir, she shall not, though you take her part.
    O, when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd.
    1360She was a vixen when she went to school,
    And though she be but little, she is fierce.
    "Little" again? Nothing but "low" and "little?"
    Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
    Let me come to her!
    Get you gone, you dwarf,
    You minimus, of hind'ring knotgrass made!
    You bead, you acorn.
    You are too officious,
    In her behalf that scorns your services.
    1370Let her alone. Speak not of Helena,
    Take not her part. For if thou dost intend
    Never so little show of love to her,
    Thou shalt abide it.
    Now she holds me not.
    1375Now follow if thou dar'st, to try whose right,
    Of thine or mine, is most in Helena.
    Follow? Nay, I'll go with thee, cheek by jowl.
    Exit Lysander and Demetrius.
    You, mistress, all this coil is long of you.
    1380Nay, go not back.
    I will not trust you, I,
    Nor longer stay in your curst company.
    Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray;
    My legs are longer, though, to run away.
    1385 Enter Oberon and Puck [from the background. Exit Helena and Hermia].
    This is thy negligence. Still thou mistak'st,
    Or else committ'st thy knaveries willingly.
    Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
    Did not you tell me I should know the man
    1390By the Athenian garments he hath on?
    And so far blameless proves my enterprise,
    That I have 'nointed an Athenian's eyes,
    And so far am I glad it so did sort,
    As this their jangling I esteem a sport.
    Thou seest these lovers seek a place to fight.
    Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night,
    The starry welkin cover thou anon
    With drooping fog as black as Acheron,
    And lead these testy rivals so astray
    1400As one come not within another's way.
    Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue,
    Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong;
    And sometime rail thou like Demetrius.
    And from each other look thou lead them thus,
    1405Till o're their brows, death-counterfeiting, sleep
    With leaden legs, and batty wings doth creep.
    Then crush this herb into Lysander's eye,
    Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
    To take from thence all error with his might,
    1410And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight.
    When they next wake, all this derision
    Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision,
    And back to Athens shall the lovers wend
    With league whose date till death shall never end.
    1415While I in this affaire do thee employ,
    I'll to my queen and beg her Indian boy;
    And then I will her charmèd eye release
    From monster's view, and all things shall be peace.
    My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
    1420For night-swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
    And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger,
    At whose approach ghosts wandering here and there
    Troop home to churchyards. Damnèd spirits all,
    That in crossways and floods have burial,
    1425Already to their wormy beds are gone
    For fear least day should look their shames upon;
    They willfully themselves exile from light
    And must for aye consort with black-browed night.
    But we are spirits of another sort.
    1430I with the Morning's love have oft made sport,
    And, like a forester, the groves may tread
    Even till the eastern gate, all fiery red,
    Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
    Turns into yellow gold his salt-green streams.
    1435But, notwithstanding, haste! Make no delay.
    We may effect this business yet ere day.
    Up and down, up and down,
    I will lead them up and down.
    1440I am feared in field and town.
    Goblin, lead them up and down.
    Here comes one.
    Enter Lysander.
    Where art thou, proud Demetrius? Speak thou now.
    Here villain, drawn and ready. Where art thou?
    I will be with thee straight.
    Follow me then to plainer ground.
    Enter Demetrius.
    Lysander, speak again!
    Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?
    Speak! In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy head?
    Thou coward, art thou bragging to the stars,
    Telling the bushes that thou look'st for wars,
    And wilt not come? Come recreant, come thou child!
    I'll whip thee with a rod. He is defiled
    That draws a sword on thee.
    Yea, art thou there?
    Follow my voice, we'll try no manhood here.
    Exit [Puck].
    He goes before me, and still dares me on.
    When I come where he calls, then he's gone.
    The villain is much lighter heeled than I.
    1460I followed fast, but faster he did fly,
    Shifting places.
    That fallen am I in dark uneven way,
    And here will rest me. Come thou gentle day.
    [Lysander] lies down.
    For if but once thou show me thy gray light,
    I'll find Demetrius, and revenge this spite.
    Lysander sleeps.
    1465Enter [Puck] and Demetrius.
    Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why com'st thou not?
    Abide me, if thou dar'st. For well I wot,
    Thou runn'st before me, shifting every place,
    And dar'st not stand nor look me in the face.
    1470Where art thou?
    Come hither! I am here.
    Nay then, thou mock'st me. Thou shalt buy this
    If ever I thy face by daylight see.
    1475Now go thy way. Faintness constraineth me
    To measure out my length on this cold bed.
    By day's approach look to be visited.
    [Demetrius sleeps.] Enter Helena.
    O weary night, O long and tedious night,
    1480Abate thy hours, shine comforts from the east,
    That I may back to Athens by daylight
    From these that my poor company detest;
    And sleep, that sometime shuts up sorrow's eye,
    Steal me awhile from mine own company.
    [Helena] sleeps.
    Yet but three? Come one more.
    Two of both kinds makes up four.
    Here she comes, curst and sad.
    Cupid is a knavish lad
    Enter Hermia.
    1490Thus to make poor females mad.
    Never so weary, never so in woe,
    Bedabbled with the dew, and torn with briars,
    I can no further crawl, no further go;
    My legs can keep no pace with my desires.
    1495Here will I rest me till the break of day.
    Heavens shield Lysander if they mean a fray.
    On the ground sleep sound,
    I'll apply to your eye, gentle lover, remedy.
    When thou wak'st, thou tak'st
    1500True delight in the sight
    Of thy former lady's eye.
    And the country proverb known,
    That every man should take his own,
    In your waking shall be shown.
    Jack shall have Jill,
    Naught shall go ill.
    1505The man shall have his mare again,
    And all shall be well.
    They sleep all the act. [Exit Puck].