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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 queen of fairies [Titania], and clown [Bottom], and fairies and the king [Oberon] behind them.
    Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,
    While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
    And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
    And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.
    Where's Peaseblossom?
    Scratch my head, Peaseblossom. Where's Mounsieur Cobweb?
    Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsier, get your weapons in your hand and kill me a red-hipped humblebee on the top of a thistle; and, good mounsieur, bring me the honey bag. Do not fret yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and, good mounsieur, have a care the 1525honey bag break not. I would be loath to have you overflowen with a honey bag signor. Where's Mounsieur Mustardseed?
    Give me your neaf, Mounsieur Mustardseed. 1530Pray you, leave your courtesy good mounsieur.
    What's your will?
    Nothing, good mounsieur, but to help Cavalery Cobweb to scratch. I must to the barber's, mounsieur, for methinks I am marvelous hairy about the face. And I 1535am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch.
    What, wilt thou hear some music, my sweet love?
    I have a reasonable good ear in music. Let 1540us have the tongs and the bones.
    Music tongs. Rural music.
    Or say, sweet Love, what thou desirest to eat.
    Truly, a peck of provender. I could munch your good dry oats. Methinks I have a great desire 1545to a bottle of hay. Good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.
    I have a venturous fairy That shall seek the squirrel's hoard
    And fetch thee new nuts.
    I had rather have a handful or two of dried
    peas. But, I pray you, let none of your people stir me. I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.
    Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.
    Fairies, be gone, and be always away.
    1555So doth the woodbine, the sweet honeysuckle,
    Gently entwist; the female ivy so
    Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
    O how I love thee! How I dote on thee!
    [Titania and Bottom sleep.] Enter Robin Goodfellow [Puck] and Oberon.
    Welcome good Robin.
    Seest thou this sweet sight?
    Her dotage now I do begin to pity.
    For, meeting her of late behind the wood,
    Seeking sweet savors for this hateful fool,
    1565I did upbraid her, and fall out with her.
    For she his hairy temples then had rounded,
    With coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers.
    And that same dew, which sometime on the buds
    Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls,
    1570Stood now within the pretty floweret's eyes,
    Like tears that did their own disgrace bewail.
    When I had at my pleasure taunted her,
    And she in mild terms begged my patience,
    I then did ask of her her changeling child,
    1575Which straight she gave me, and her fairy sent
    To bear him to my bower in fairyland.
    And now I have the boy, I will undo
    This hateful imperfection of her eyes.
    And, gentle Puck, take this transformed scalp,
    1580From off the head of this Athenian swain,
    That he, awaking when the other do,
    May all to Athens back again repair,
    And think no more of this night's accidents,
    But as the fierce vexation of a dream.
    1585But first I will release the fairy queen.
    Be thou as thou wast wont to be;
    See as thou wast wont to see.
    Diane's bud, or Cupid's flower,
    Hath such force and blessed power.
    1590Now, my Titania, wake you my sweet queen.
    My Oberon, what visions have I seen!
    Methought I was enamored of an ass.
    There lies your love.
    How came these things to pass?
    1595Oh, how mine eyes do loath this visage now!
    Silence a while. Robin take off his head.
    Titania, music call, and strike more dead
    Than common sleep of all these five the sense.
    Music, ho music! Such as charmeth sleep.
    1600Music still.
    When thou wak'st, with thine own fool's eyes peep.
    Sound music! Come, my queen, take hands with me.
    And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.
    1605Now thou and I are new in amity,
    And will tomorrow midnight solemnly
    Dance in Duke Theseus' house triumphantly,
    And bless it to all fair posterity.
    There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be
    1610Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.
    Fairy king attend and mark,
    I do hear the morning lark.
    Then, my queen, in silence sad,
    Trip we after the night's shade.
    1615We the globe can compass soon,
    Swifter then the wandering moon.
    Come, my lord, and in our flight,
    Tell me how it came this night
    That I sleeping here was found
    1620Sleepers lie still.
    With these mortals on the ground.
    Wind horns.
    Enter Theseus, Egeus, Hippolita and all his train.
    Go, one of you, find out the forester,
    1625For now our observation is performed;
    And since we have the vaward of the day,
    My love shall hear the music of my hounds.
    Uncouple in the western valley; let them go.
    Dispatch, I say, and find the forester.
    1630We will, faire queen, up to the mountain's top,
    And mark the musical confusion
    Of hounds and echo in conjunction.
    I was with Hercules and Cadmus once
    When in a wood of Crete they bayed the bear
    1635With hounds of Sparta. Never did I hear
    Such gallant chiding; for, besides the groves,
    The skies, the fountains, every region near
    Seemed all one mutual cry. I never heard
    So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.
    My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
    So flewed, so sanded, and their heads are hung
    With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
    Crook-kneed, and dewlapped, like Thessalian bulls,
    Slow in pursuit, but matched in mouth like bells,
    1645Each under each. A cry more tuneable
    Was never hallowed to nor cheered with horn
    In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly.
    Judge when you hear. But soft! What nymphs are these?
    My Lord, this is my daughter here asleep,
    1650And this Lysander, this Demetrius is,
    This Helena, old Nedar's Helena.
    I wonder of this being here together.
    No doubt they rose up early to observe
    The right of May, and hearing our intent,
    1655Came here in grace of our solemnity.
    But speak, Egeus. Is not this the day
    That Hermia should give answer of her choice?
    It is, my lord.
    Go, bid the huntsmen wake them with their
    Horns and they wake. Shout within; they all start up.
    Good morrow friends. Saint Valentine is past;
    Begin these wood birds but to couple now?
    Pardon, my lord.
    I pray you all stand up.
    I know you two are rival enemies.
    How comes this gentle concord in the world,
    That hatred is so far from jealousy
    1670To sleep by hate, and fear no enmity?
    My lord, I shall reply amazedly,
    Half asleep, half waking. But as yet, I swear,
    I cannot truly say how I came here.
    But as I think, for truly would I speak,
    1675And now I do bethink me, so it is,
    I came with Hermia hither. Our intent
    Was to be gone from Athens, where we might be
    Without the peril of the Athenian law.
    Enough, enough, my lord! You have enough.
    1680I beg the law, the law, upon his head.
    They would have stolen away, they would, Demetrius,
    Thereby to have defeated you and me --
    You of your wife, and me of my consent,
    Of my consent that she should be your wife.
    My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,
    Of this their purpose hither, to this wood,
    And I in fury hither followed them,
    Fair Helena, in fancy, followed me.
    But, my good lord, I wot not by what power,
    1690But by some power it is, my love
    To Hermia, melted as the snow,
    Seems to me now as the remembrance of an idle gaud,
    Which in my childhood I did dote upon.
    And all the faith, the virtue of my heart,
    1695The object and the pleasure of mine eye,
    Is only Helena. To her, my lord,
    Was I betrothèd ere I see Hermia.
    But, like a sickness, did I loath this food;
    But, as in health, come to my natural taste.
    1700Now do I wish it, love it, long for it,
    And will for evermore be true to it.
    Fair lovers, you are fortunately met;
    Of this discourse we shall hear more anon.
    Egeus, I will overbear your will;
    1705For in the temple, by and by, with us,
    These couples shall eternally be knit.
    And, for the morning now is something worn,
    Our purposed hunting shall be set aside.
    Away, with us to Athens. Three and three,
    1710We'll hold a feast in great solemnity.
    Come, Hippolita.
    Exit duke [Theseus, Hippolita, Egeus] and lords.
    These things seem small and undistinguishable,
    Like far off mountains turned into clouds.
    Methinks I see these things with parted eye,
    1715When every thing seems double.
    So methinks.
    And I have found Demetrius, like a jewel,
    Mine own, and not mine own.
    It seems to me,
    1720That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think
    The duke was here, and bid us follow him?
    Yea, and my father.
    And Hippolita.
    And he bid us follow to the temple.
    Why then, we are awake! Let's follow him,
    And by the way let us recount our dreams.
    Bottom wakes. Exit lovers.
    When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer.
    My next is, "most fair Pyramus." Hey ho. Peter Quince? 1730Flute the bellows mender? Snout the tinker? Starveling? God's my life! Stolen hence, and left me asleep? I have had a most rare vision. I had a dream, past the wit of man, to say, what dream it was. Man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I 1735was -- there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had -- but man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his 1740heart to report, what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballet of this dream. It shall be called "Bottom's Dream," because it hath no bottom. And I will sing it in the latter end of a play, before the duke. Peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it 1745at her death.
    Exit [Bottom].