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ACT I


Scene I Edit

Englisc Shakespeare
Sceaw I: Athena. Þeseuses heall. Scene I
Athens. The palace of Theseus
Cumaþ in Þeseus, Ippolite, Filostrat, and Ambihtmenn Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate, and Attendants
Þeseus Theseus

Nu fægre Ippolite, up æwnungatid

Cymþ hraðe; feower bliþe dagas bringaþ

Oðer mon: ac ic þence, hu longsum

Wanieþ þes ealda mon! Mine lustas macað he abidan,

Swa swa steapmodor oððe widewemoder

Lang spilling cnihtes feoh ut.

Now, fair Hyppolyta, our nuptial hour

Draws on apace; four happy days bring in

Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow

This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,

Like to a step-dame or a dowager

Long withering out a young man revenue.

Ippolite Hyppolyta

Feower dagas willan hraðe hie bedelfan in nihte;

Feoer nihta willan hraða aswefan seo tid;

And þa se mon, swa swa seolforna boga

Niwa gebugan in heofna, sceall geseon seo niht

Hwærin blissieþ ur geheald.

Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;

Four nights will quickly dream away the time;

And then the moon, like to a silver bow

New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night

Of our solemnities.

Þeseus Theseus

Ga Philostrate, astyre Athenan geoguþ

Wece þone glædne dreamgast and hrorne;

Adrife slæcmodness forþ to licleoþ;

Swylc æhiwe gefera nis for urum getete.

Go, Philostrate, Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;

Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;

Turn melancholy forth to funerals;

The pale companion is not for our pomp.

Gæþ ut Filostrat Exit Philostrate

Ippolite, mid minum ecge wogode ic þec,

And gewann þin lufe, geweorcend þe daru;

Ac ic wille biweddian þec in ellhleoþre,

Mid getete, mid triumphan and mid gieminge.

Hyppolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,

And won thy love, doing thee injuries;

But I will wed thee in another key,

With pomp, with triumph and with revelling.

Cumaþ in Egeus, Erme, Lysander, and Demetrius Enter Egeus, Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius
Egeus Egeus

Blið beo Þeseus ure foremære Brego!

Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!

Þeseus Theseus

Ic þance þe, god Egeus. Hwæt beoþ þine tidunge?

Thanks, good Egeus: what's the news with thee?

Egeus Egeus

Drecced cyme ic, mid þissum incan

Wiþ min bearn, mine dohtor Erme,

Stand forþ Demetrius. Æþlost hlaford,

Þes wer hæfþ mine est to æwnienne hie.

Stand forþ Lysander, and leof heretoga,

Þes wer hæfþ besang min cildes bosm;

Þu, þu, Lysander, þu hæfst gegiefen hiere leodas,

And gewrixled lufutæcnas mid min cilde:

Þu hæfst be monaleoht æt hiere eagþyrle gesungen,

Mid liccetendum stefn-fersum of liccetendre lufe,

And gestolen hiere wenan biliþ

Mind earmbeagum of þine feaxe, hringum, glengum, wrættum,

Brægdum, frætwednessum, blostmcropum, swetmetum, bodum

Of strangum munde in ungeheardnedum geoguðe:

Mid liste hæfst þu oþfered min dehter heort,

Awendod hiere hirsumnesse, seo belimpeþ me,

To gemagum heardnesse: and leof heretoga,

Beo hit swylce þe heo nylle her fore þe, leofe,

Þafian Demetrius mægrædenne,

Ic bidde þone gamlan riht in Athene,

Forþæm þe heo is min, ic mot hie ateon:

Þe sceal beon to þissum secge

Oþþe hiere deaþe, swa swa spricþ ur lagu

Eftson gedon in swylcum þinge.

Full of vexation come I, with complaint

Against my child, my daughter Hermia.

Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,

This man hath my consent to marry her.

Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke,

This man hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child;

Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,

And interchanged love-tokens with my child:

Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,

With feigning voice verses of feigning love,

And stolen the impression of her fantasy

With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits,

Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats, messengers

Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth:

With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart,

Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me,

To stubborn harshness: and, my gracious duke,

Be it so she; will not here before your grace

Consent to marry with Demetrius,

I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,

As she is mine, I may dispose of her:

Which shall be either to this gentleman

Or to her death, according to our law

Immediately provided in that case.

Þeseus Theseus

What say you, Hermia? be advised fair maid:

To you your father should be as a god;

One that composed your beauties, yea, and one

To whom you are but as a form in wax

By him imprinted and within his power

To leave the figure or disfigure it.

Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.

Erme Hermia

So is Lysander.

Þeseus Theseus

In himself he is;

But in this kind, wanting your father's voice,

The other must be held the worthier.

Erme Hermia

I would my father look'd but with my eyes.

Þeseus Theseus

Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.

Erme Hermia

I do entreat your grace to pardon me.

I know not by what power I am made bold,

Nor how it may concern my modesty,

In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;

But I beseech your grace that I may know

The worst that may befall me in this case,

If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

Þeseus Theseus

Either to die the death or to abjure

For ever the society of men.

Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires;

Know of your youth, examine well your blood,

Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,

You can endure the livery of a nun,

For aye to be in shady cloister mew'd,

To live a barren sister all your life,

Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.

Thrice-blessed they that master so their blood,

To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;

But earthlier happy is the rose distill'd,

Than that which withering on the virgin thorn

Grows, lives and dies in single blessedness.

Erme Hermia

So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,

Ere I will my virgin patent up

Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke

My soul consents not to give sovereignty.

Þeseus Theseus

Take time to pause; and, by the nest new moon -

The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,

For everlasting bond of fellowship -

Upon that day either prepare to die

For disobedience to your father's will,

Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;

Or on Diana's altar to protest For aye austerity and single life.

Demetrius Demetrius

Relent, sweet Hermia: and, Lysander, yield

Thy crazed title to my certain right.

Lysander Lysander

You have her father's love, Demetrius;

Let me have Hermia's: do you marry him.

Egeus Egeus

Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love,

And what is mine my love shall render him.

And she is mine, and all my right of her

I do estate unto Demetrius.

Lysander Lysander

I am, my lord, as well derived as he,

As well possess'd; my love is more than his;

My fortunes every way as fairly rank'd,

If not with vantage, as Demetrius';

And, which is more than all these boasts can be,

I am beloved of beauteous Hermia:

Why should not I then prosecute my right?

Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,

Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,

And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,

Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,

Upon this spotted and inconstant man.

Þeseus Theseus

I must confess that I have heard so much,

And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;

But, being over-full of self-affairs,

My mind did lose it. But, Demetrius, come;

And come, Egeus; you shall go with me,

I have some private schooling for you both.

For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself

To fit your fancies to your father's will;

Or else the law of Athens yields you up -

Which by no means we may extenuate -

To death, or to a vow of single life.

Come, my Hyppolyta: what cheer, my love?

Demetrius and Egeus, go along:

I must employ you in some business

Against our nuptial and confer with you

Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.

Egeus Egeus

With duty and desire we follow you.

Gaþ ut Eall buton Lysander and Erme Exeunt all but Lysander and Hermia
Lysander Lysander

How now, my love! why is your cheek so pale?

How chance the roses there do fade so fast?

Erme Hermia

Belike for want of rain, which I could well

Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.

Lysander Lysander

Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,

Could ever hear by tale or history,

The course of true love never did run smooth;

But, either it was different in blood, -

Erme Hermia

O cross! too high to be enthrall'd to low.

Lysander Lysander

Or else misgraffed in respect of years, -

Erme Hermia

O spite! too old to be engaged to young.

Lysander Lysander

Or else it stood upon the choice of friends, -

Erme Hermia

O hell! to choose love by another's eyes.

Lysander Lysander

Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,

War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,

Making it momentany as a sound,

Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;

Brief as the lightning in the collied night,

That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,

And ere a man hath power to say 'Behold!'

The jaws of darkness do devour it up:

So quick bright things come to confusion.

Erme Hermia

If then true lovers have been ever cross'd,

It stands as an edict in destiny:

Then let us teach our trial patience,

Because it is a customary cross,

As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,

Wishes and tears, poor fancy's followers.

Lysander Lysander

A good persuasion: therefore, hear me, Hermia.

I have a widow aunt, a dowager

Of great revenue, and she hath no child:

From Athens is her house remote seven leagues;

And she respects me as her only son.

There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;

And to that place the sharp Athenian law

Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me then,

Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night;

And in the wood, a league without the town,

Where I did meet thee once with Helena,

To do observance to a morn of May,

There will I stay for thee.

Erme Hermia

My good Lysander!

I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow,

By his best arrow with the golden head,

By the simplicity of Venus' doves,

By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,

And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage queen,

When the false Troyan under sail was seen,

By all the vows that ever men have broke,

In number more than ever women spoke,

In that same place thou hast appointed me,

To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.

Lysander Lysander

Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.

Cymþ in Elene Enter Helena
Erme Hermia

God speed fair Helena! whither away?

Elene Helena

Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.

Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!

Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue's sweet air

More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear,

When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.

Sickness is catching: O, were favour so,

Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;

My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,

My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.

Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,

The rest I'd give to be to you translated.

O, teach me how you look, and with what art

You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.

Erme Hermia

I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.

Elene Helena

O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!

Erme Hermia

I give him curses, yet he gives me love.

Elene Helena

O that my prayers could such affection move!

Erme Hermia

The more I hate, the more he follows me.

Elene Helena

The more I love, the more he hateth me.

Erme Hermia

His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.

Elene Helena

None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine!

Erme Hermia

Take comfort: he no more shall see my face;

Lysander and myself will fly this place.

Before the time I did Lysander see,

Seem'd Athens as a paradise to me:

O, then, what graces in my love do dwell,

That he hath turn'd a heaven unto a hell!

Lysander Lysander

Helen, to you our minds we will unfold:

To-morrow night, when Phoebe doth behold

Her silver visage in the watery glass,

Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass,

A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal,

Through Athens' gates have we devised to steal.

Erme Hermia

And in the wood, where often you and I

Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie,

Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,

There my Lysander and myself shall meet;

And thence from Athens turn away our eyes,

To seek new friends and stranger companies.

Farewell, sweet playfellow: pray thou for us;

And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius!

Keep word, Lysander: we must starve our sight

From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight.

Lysander Lysander

I will, my Hermia.

Gæþ ut Erme Exit Hermia

Helena, adieu:

As you on him, Demetrius dote on you!

Gæþ ut Exit
Elene Helena

How happy some o'er other some can be!

Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.

But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;

He will not know what all but he do know:

And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,

So I, admiring of his qualities:

Things base and vile, folding no quantity,

Love can transpose to form and dignity:

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;

And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind:

Nor hath Love's mind of any judgement taste;

Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste:

And therefore is Love said to be a child,

Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.

As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,

So the boy Love is perjured every where:

For ere Demetrius look'd on Hermia's eyne,

He hail'd down oaths that he was only mine;

And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,

So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.

I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight:

Then to the wood will he to-morrow night

Pursue her; and for this intelligence

If I have thanks, it is a dear expense:

But herein mean I to enrich my pain,

To have his sight thither and back again.

Gæþ ut Exit


Scene II Edit

Englisc Shakespeare
Sceaw II: Athena. Codæppeles house. Scene II
Athens. Quince’s house.
Cumaþ in Codæppel, Snug, Botm, Hwistla, Wrot, and Steorfling Enter Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, and Starveling
Codæppel Quince

Is all our company here?

Botm Bottom

You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip.

Codæppel Quince

Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his wedding-day at night.

Botm Bottom

First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point.

Codæppel Quince

Marry, our play is, The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.

Botm Bottom

A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.

Codæppel Quince

Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.

Botm Bottom

Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed.

Codæppel Quince

You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.

Botm Bottom

What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?

Codæppel Quince

A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.

Botm Bottom

That will ask some tears in the true performing of it: if I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some measure. To the rest: yet my chief humour is for a tyrant: I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split. The raging rocks And shivering shocks Shall break the locks Of prison gates; And Phibbus' car Shall shine from far And make and mar The foolish Fates. This was lofty! Now name the rest of the players. This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is more condoling.

Codæppel Quince

Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.

Hwistla Flute

Here, Peter Quince.

Codæppel Quince

Flute, you must take Thisby on you.

Hwistla Flute

What is Thisby? a wandering knight?

Codæppel Quince

It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

Hwistla Flute

Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.

Codæppel Quince

That's all one: you shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.

Botm Bottom

An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too, I'll speak in a monstrous little voice. 'Thisne, Thisne;' 'Ah, Pyramus, lover dear! thy Thisby dear, and lady dear!'

Codæppel Quince

No, no; you must play Pyramus: and, Flute, you Thisby.

Botm Bottom

Well, proceed.

Codæppel Quince

Robin Starveling, the tailor.

Steorfling Starveling

Here, Peter Quince.

Codæppel Quince

Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother.

Tom Snout, the tinker.

Wrot Snout

Here, Peter Quince.

Codæppel Quince

You, Pyramus' father: myself, Thisby's father:

Snug, the joiner; you, the lion's part: and, I hope, here is a play fitted.

Snug Snug

Have you the lion's part written? pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study.

Codæppel Quince

You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.

Botm Bottom

Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will make the duke say 'Let him roar again, let him roar again.'

Codæppel Quince

An you should do it too terribly, you would fright the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek; and that were enough to hang us all.

Eall All

That would hang us, every mother's son.

Botm Bottom

I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion but to hang us: but I will aggravate my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you an 'twere any nightingale.

Codæppel Quince

You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is a sweet-faced man; a proper man, as one shall see in a summer's day; a most lovely gentleman-like man: therefore you must needs play Pyramus.

Botm Bottom

Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in?

Codæppel Quince

Why, what you will.

Botm Bottom

I will discharge it in either your straw-colour beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow.

Codæppel Quince

Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-faced. But, masters, here are your parts: and I am to entreat you, request you and desire you, to con them by to-morrow night; and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by moonlight; there will we rehearse, for if we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with company, and our devices known. In the meantime I will draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not.

Botm Bottom

We will meet; and there we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect: adieu.

Codæppel Quince

At the duke's oak we meet.

Botm Bottom

Enough; hold or cut bow-strings.

Gaþ ut Exeunt

to Act II

Back to the Midsumor Nihte Swefn Heafodside

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