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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    146A Midsommer nights Dreame.
    Her. So will I grow, so liue, so die my Lord,
    Ere I will yeeld my virgin Patent vp
    90Vnto his Lordship, whose vnwished yoake,
    My soule consents not to giue soueraignty.
    The. Take time to pause, and by the next new Moon
    The sealing day betwixt my loue and me,
    For euerlasting bond of fellowship:
    95Vpon that day either prepare to dye,
    For disobedience to your fathers will,
    Or else to wed Demetrius as hee would,
    Or on Dianaes Altar to protest
    For aie, austerity, and single life.
    100Dem. Relent sweet Hermia, and Lysander, yeelde
    Thy crazed title to my certaine right.
    Lys. You haue her fathers loue, Demetrius:
    Let me haue Hermiaes: do you marry him.
    Egeus. Scornfull Lysander, true, he hath my Loue;
    105And what is mine, my loue shall render him.
    And she is mine, and all my right of her,
    I do estate vnto Demetrius.
    Lys. I am my Lord, as well deriu'd as he,
    As well possest: my loue is more then his:
    110My fortunes euery way as fairely ranck'd
    (If not with vantage) as Demetrius:
    And (which is more then all these boasts can be)
    I am belou'd of beauteous Hermia.
    Why should not I then prosecute my right?
    115Demetrius, Ile auouch it to his head,
    Made loue to Nedars daughter, Helena,
    And won her soule: and she (sweet Ladie) dotes,
    Deuoutly dotes, dotes in Idolatry,
    Vpon this spotted and inconstant man.
    120The. I must confesse, that I haue heard so much,
    And with Demetrius thought to haue spoke thereof:
    But being ouer-full of selfe-affaires,
    My minde did lose it. But Demetrius come,
    And come Egeus, you shall go with me,
    125I haue some priuate schooling for you both.
    For you faire Hermia, looke you arme your selfe,
    To fit your fancies to your Fathers will;
    Or else the Law of Athens yeelds you vp
    (Which by no meanes we may extenuate)
    130To death, or to a vow of single life.
    Come my Hippolita, what cheare my loue?
    Demetrius and Egeus go along:
    I must imploy you in some businesse
    Against our nuptiall, and conferre with you
    135Of something, neerely that concernes your selues.
    Ege. With dutie and desire we follow you.Exeunt
    Manet Lysander and Hermia.
    Lys. How now my loue? Why is your cheek so pale?
    How chance the Roses there do fade so fast?
    140Her. Belike for want of raine, which I could well
    Beteeme them, from the tempest of mine eyes.
    Lys. For ought that euer I could reade,
    Could euer heare by tale or historie,
    The course of true loue neuer did run smooth,
    145But either it was different in blood.
    Her. O crosse! too high to be enthral'd to loue.
    Lys. Or else misgraffed, in respect of yeares.
    Her. O spight! too old to be ingag'd to yong.
    Lys. Or else it stood vpon the choise of merit.
    150Her. O hell! to choose loue by anothers eie.
    Lys. Or if there were a simpathie in choise,
    Warre, death, or sicknesse, did lay siege to it;
    Making it momentarie, as a sound:
    Swift as a shadow, short as any dreame,
    155Briefe as the lightning in the collied night,
    That (in a spleene) vnfolds both heauen and earth;
    And ere a man hath power to say, behold,
    The iawes of darkness do deuoure it vp:
    So quicke bright things come to confusion.
    160Her. If then true Louers haue beene euer crost,
    It stands as an edict in destinie:
    Then let vs teach our triall patience,
    Because it is a customarie crosse,
    As due to loue, as thoughts, and dreames, and sighes,
    165Wishes and teares; poore Fancies followers.
    Lys. A good perswasion; therefore heare me Hermia,
    I haue a Widdow Aunt, a dowager,
    Of great reuennew, and she hath no childe,
    From Athens is her house remou'd seuen leagues,
    170And she respects me, as her onely sonne:
    There gentle Hermia, may I marrie thee,
    And to that place, the sharpe Athenian Law
    Cannot pursue vs. If thou lou'st me, then
    Steale forth thy fathers house to morrow night:
    175And in the wood, a league without the towne,
    (Where I did meete thee once with Helena,
    To do obseruance for a morne of May)
    There will I stay for thee.
    Her. My good Lysander,
    180I sweare to thee, by Cupids strongest bow,
    By his best arrow with the golden head,
    By the simplicitie of Venus Doues,
    By that which knitteth soules, and prospers loue,
    And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage Queene,
    185When the false Troyan vnder saile was seene,
    By all the vowes that euer men haue broke,
    (In number more then euer women spoke)
    In that same place thou hast appointed me,
    To morrow truly will I meete with thee.
    190Lys. Keepe promise loue: looke here comes Helena.

    Enter Helena.
    Her. God speede faire Helena, whither away?
    Hel. Cal you me faire? that faire againe vnsay,
    Demetrius loues you faire: O happie faire!
    195Your eyes are loadstarres, and your tongues sweet ayre
    More tuneable then Larke to shepheards eare,
    When wheate is greene, when hauthorne buds appeare,
    Sicknesse is catching: O were fauor so,
    Your words I catch, faire Hermia ere I go,
    200My eare should catch your voice, my eye, your eye,
    My tongue should catch your tongues sweet melodie,
    Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
    The rest Ile giue to be to you translated.
    O teach me how you looke, and with what art
    205you sway the motion of Demetrius hart.
    Her. I frowne vpon him, yet he loues me still.
    Hel. O that your frownes would teach my smiles
    such skil.
    Her. I giue him curses, yet he giues me loue.
    210Hel. O that my prayers could such affection mooue.
    Her. The more I hate, the more he followes me.
    Hel. The more I loue, the more he hateth me.
    Her. His folly Helena is none of mine.
    Hel. None but your beauty, wold that fault wer mine
    215Her. Take comfort: he no more shall see my face,
    Lysander and my selfe will flie this place.
    Before the time I did Lysander see,
    Seem'd Athens like a Paradise to mee.