A Midsummer Night's Dream Text and Translation - Act I

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Act I

Scene I

Original Text Modern Translation

[The Palace of Theseus in Athens]

Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, [with Philostrate, and Attendants]

THESEUS:
Now, fair Hippolyta, 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,(5)
Long withering out a young man's revenue.
THESEUS:
Now, fair Hippolyta, the time for our wedding is very close;
Just four more happy days until the new moon.
However, oh, I think time passes way too slowly!
My desires must be put on hold,
As if I were an old lady or old widow,
Wearing out my youthful patience.
HIPPOLYTA:
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(10)
Of our solemnities.
HIPPOLYTA:
Four days will quickly dissolve into four nights;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like a silver slice in the heavens,
Will light the night of our wedding solemnities.
THESEUS:
Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
Turn melancholy forth to funerals;(15)
The pale companion is not for our pomp.

[Exit Philostrate]

Hippolyta, 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.(20)

Enter Egeus, and his daughter Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius

THESEUS:
Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the young people of Athens to start swinging;
Get the party spirit going;
Turn sadness back to the funerals —
No sadness at our parties. — Hippolyta, I got you by waging war with you,
And made you love me by doing you injuries;
But I will marry you in a different way,
With pomp, with triumph, and with partying!
EGEUS:
Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!
EGEUS:
Regards to Theseus, our renowned duke!
THESEUS:
Thanks, good Egeus; what's the news with thee?
THESEUS:
Thanks, good Egeus. What's new with you?
EGEUS:
Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,(25)
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;(30)
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(35)
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(40)
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(45)
Immediately provided in that case.
EGEUS:
I’m full of fury and complaints
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.—
Stand up here, Demetrius.—My noble lord,
This man has my consent to marry her.—
Stand here, Lysander;—and, my gracious duke,
This man has cast a spell over my child.
You, you, Lysander, you have sent her love poetry,
And swapped love-tokens with my child.
You have sung at her window by moonlight,
With a high-pitched voice, fake love poetry;
And made her love you
With bracelets of your hair, rings, gaudy gems, clever gifts,
Knick-knacks, sweet nothings, flowers, candies,
— all very convincing to an inexperienced girl;—
You have stolen my daughter's heart by being cunning;
You have turned her obedience, which she owes me,
To stubborn disobedience.—And, my gracious duke,
If she will not consent to marry Demetrius,
Here before your grace,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens.
Since she belongs to me, I may dispose of her,
Which shall be either to this gentleman
Or to her death, according to our law
Which is fit to these circumstances.
THESEUS:
What say you, Hermia? Be advis'd, 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,(50)
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure, or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
THESEUS:
What do you say, Hermia? Be careful, fair maid.
To you your father should be as a god,
A god that created your beauty, yes, and a god
Who sees you as a piece of wax that he has imprinted,
And it is within his power to leave the wax as it is,
Or to disfigure it. Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
HERMIA:
So is Lysander.
HERMIA:
So is Lysander.
THESEUS:
In himself he is;(55)
But in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
The other must be held the worthier.
THESEUS:
In any other case, he is.
But, in this case, with Lysander lacking your father's approval,
Demetrius must be considered the best choice.
HERMIA:
I would my father look'd but with my eyes.
HERMIA:
I wish my father could see with my eyes.
THESEUS:
Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.
THESEUS:
No, you must see with your father’s eyes.
HERMIA:
I do entreat your Grace to pardon me.(60)
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,(65)
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
HERMIA:
I beg your grace to pardon me.
I don’t know what power has made me bold,
Nor how it is that I put aside my modesty
In such a presence here to plead my thoughts.
But I beseech your grace that I may know
The worst that can happen to me in this case
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
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,(70)
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.(75)
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.(80)
THESEUS:
Either to die or to swear to avoid
The society of men forever.
Therefore, fair Hermia, think about what you’re doing,
Think about how young you are, examine your choices well,
Whether, if you don’t take your father's choice,
You can endure life in a convent,
To be shut up in a cloister,
To live a childless nun all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold, fruitless moon.
Those who can discipline themselves to undertake
Such a heavenly path for piety are blessed three times;
But those who are in a convent to avoid marriage
Grow, live, and die, in single blessedness.
HERMIA:
So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.
HERMIA:
Well, that’s how I will grow, live, and die, my lord,
Before I will give up my virginity
To his lordship. I will not consent to yield to any man
Because of a bond I didn’t wish for.
THESEUS:
Take time to pause; and by the next new moon—(85)
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,(90)
Or on Diana's altar to protest
For aye austerity and single life.
THESEUS:
Take time to think about it; and, by the next new moon,—
The wedding day of my love and me,
For the everlasting bond of fellowship,—
On that day either prepare to die
Because you have disobeyed your father's will;
Or else marry Demetrius, as your father wants you to;
Or accept the austerity and single life of a nun.
DEMETRIUS:
Relent, sweet Hermia; and, Lysander, yield
Thy crazed title to my certain right.
DEMETRIUS:
Give in, sweet Hermia;—and, Lysander, give up
Your crazy claim to my future bride.
LYSANDER:
You have her father's love, Demetrius;(95)
Let me have Hermia's; do you marry him.
LYSANDER:
You have her father's love, Demetrius;
Let me have Hermia's. You marry him!
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.(100)
EGEUS:
Scornful Lysander! Yes, Demetrius has my approval;
And everything I own I will leave to him;
And she is mine; and all my rights concerning her,
I leave to Demetrius.
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,(105)
I am belov'd 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,(110)
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
Upon this spotted and inconstant man.
LYSANDER:
I am, my lord, as well born as he is,
As rich; my love is better than his;
My fortunes, no matter which way you look at it,
Are as good as Demetrius';
And, furthermore, which is more important than all these qualities,
Hermia loves me too!
Why shouldn’t I pursue Hermia?
Demetrius, I'll swear it on his head,
Pursued Nedar's daughter, Helena, the same way,
And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, loves,
Devoutly loves, loves to the point of divine worship,
This spotted and inconstant man.
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,(115)
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,(120)
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 Hippolyta; what cheer, my love?
Demetrius and Egeus, go along;(125)
I must employ you in some business
Against our nuptial, and confer with you
Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.
THESEUS:
I must confess that I have heard that story too,
And thought I would talk to Demetrius about it;
But, absorbed in my own affairs,
I forgot to.—But, Demetrius, come;
And come, Egeus; you shall go with me;
I have some private advice for you both.—
For you, fair Hermia, figure out a way that
You can accept your father's will,
Or else the law of Athens will be enforced,—
Which I cannot change, even if I wanted to,—
To death, or to a single life in a convent.—
Come, my Hippolyta. are you okay, my love?
Demetrius and Egeus, go ahead;
I must ask you to do a few things about the wedding,
And meet with you about some issues that affect you.
EGEUS:
With duty and desire we follow you.
EGEUS:
We follow you, because we should and because we want to.

Exeunt [all but] Lysander and Hermia

LYSANDER:
How now, my love! Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?
LYSANDER:
What’s the matter, my love! Why do you look so pale?
Why do the roses in your cheeks fade so fast?
HERMIA:
Belike for want of rain, which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.
HERMIA:
The “roses” fade because of no rain. I could water them well
From the tempest of my eyes.
LYSANDER:
Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,(135)
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But, either it was different in blood—
LYSANDER:
Oh dear! From anything that I have ever read,
or any tale or history that I might have heard,
The course of true love never did run smooth.
But either it was different in blood,—
HERMIA:
O cross! too high to be enthrall'd to low.
HERMIA:
Damn! I am too good to be in love with someone so low!
LYSANDER:
Or else misgraffed in respect of years—
LYSANDER:
Or else mismatched in terms of years;—
HERMIA:
O spite! too old to be engag'd to young.(140)
HERMIA:
Oh spite! I am too old to be engaged to someone so young!
LYSANDER:
Or else it stood upon the choice of friends—
LYSANDER:
Or else love depended upon the choice of friends.
HERMIA:
O hell! to choose love by another's eyes.
HERMIA:
Oh hell! to choose love by what another person sees!
LYSANDER:
Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness, did lay siege to it,
Making it momentany as a sound,(145)
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;(150)
So quick bright things come to confusion.
LYSANDER:
Or, if there were a sadness in choice,
War, death, or sickness, attacked it,
Making the choice as impossible to hold onto as a sound,
Passing as swiftly as a shadow, as short as any dream;
As brief as the lightning in the coal-black night
That, in a fit, covers both heaven and earth,
And before a man has power to say, “Look!”
The jaws of darkness swallow it up.
So quickly, bright things get confused.
HERMIA:
If then true lovers have ever cross'd,
It stands as an edict in destiny.
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross,(155)
As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,
Wishes and tears, poor fancy's followers.
HERMIA:
If then true lovers have ever crossed,
It must be that that love is destined to be;
Then let’s have patience during this trial,
Because this is the way things go;
Just as needed by love as thoughts, and dreams, and sighs,
Wishes and tears, poor love’s expressions are.
LYSANDER:
A good persuasion; therefore, hear me, Hermia.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great revenue, and she hath no child:(160)
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,(165)
Steal forth thy father's house tomorrow 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.(170)
LYSANDER:
A good argument; therefore, listen to me, Hermia.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great wealth, and she has no child.
Her house is about twenty-one miles from Athens;
And she considers me her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, I may marry you;
And the sharp Athenian law cannot follow us
To that place. If you love me then,
Sneaker away from your father's house tomorrow night;
And, in the forest, three miles outside town,
Where I met you once, with Helena,
To celebrate a May Day morning party,
I will wait for you there.
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,(175)
And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage Queen,
When the false Trojan 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,(180)
Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee.
HERMIA:
My good Lysander!
I swear to you by Cupid's strongest bow,
By his best arrow, the one with the golden head,
By the simplicity of Venus' doves,
By that which knits souls and favors lovers,
And by that fire which burned Dido, the Carthage queen,
When the false Trojan, Aeneas, was seen sailing away,—
By all the vows that men have forever broken,
In greater numbers than women have ever spoken,—
In that same place you have described to me,
I will meet you tomorrow, truly.
LYSANDER:
Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.
LYSANDER:
Keep that promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.

Enter Helena

HERMIA:
God speed fair Helena! Whither away?
HERMIA:
Hi, fair Helena! Where are you going?
HELENA:
Call you me fair? That fair again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair. O happy fair!(185)
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 favor so,
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go!(190)
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(195)
You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart!
HELENA:
Did you just call me “fair?” Take it back!
Demetrius loves your “fair.” Oh happy “fair!”
Your eyes are diamond stars, and your sweet voice is
More sweet than a lark’s song to a shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when sweet wedding flowers appear.
Sickness is catching. Oh, if I could make it so,
I would catch your “sickness,” fair Hermia, before I go;
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My voice should sing your voice's sweet melody.
If the world were mine, and Demetrius mine,
I would give everything else to you to be changed anyway you want.
Oh, teach me your look, and with what magic
You have stolen Demetrius' heart!
HERMIA:
I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
HERMIA:
I frown at him, but he still loves me.
HELENA:
O that your frowns would teach my smiles such
skill!
HELENA:
Oh I wish your frowns would teach my smiles to have that effect!
HERMIA:
I give him curses, yet he gives me love.(200)
HERMIA:
I give him curses, but he gives me love.
HELENA:
O that my prayers could such affection move!
HELENA:
Oh that my prayers could be answered with such affection!
HERMIA:
The more I hate, the more he follows me.
HERMIA:
The more I hate him, the more he follows me around.
HELENA:
The more I love, the more he hateth me.
HELENA:
The more I love him, the more he hates me.
HERMIA:
His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.
HERMIA:
His silly behavior, Helena, is not my fault.
HELENA:
None, but your beauty; would that fault were(205)
mine!
HELENA:
None, except for your beauty. I wish I had that fault!
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.(210)
O, then, what graces in my love do dwell,
That he hath turn'd a heaven unto a hell!
HERMIA:
Take it easy; he shall see my face no more;
Lysander and I are going to leave this place quickly.
Before I started seeing Lysander,
Athens seemed like a paradise to me.
Oh, so what graces, then, does he have,
That he has turned a heaven into hell!
LYSANDER:
Helen, to you our minds we will unfold:
Tomorrow night, when Phoebe doth behold
Her silver visage in the watery glass,(215)
Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass,
A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal,
Through Athens' gates have we devised to steal.
LYSANDER:
Helena, we will tell you what we have planned.
Tomorrow night, when the sun has just set,
Making the blades of grass look like liquid pearls,—
A time that still hides the flights of lovers,—
We have planned to sneaker through Athens' gates.
HERMIA:
And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie,(220)
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,(225)
And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius!
Keep word, Lysander; we must starve our sight
From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight.
HERMIA:
And in the forest, where you and I often used to lie
Upon sweet-smelling primrose beds,
Talking and trading our secrets as best friends do,
There my Lysander and I will meet.
And then, we will turn our eyes away from Athens,
To look for new friends and new companions.
Farewell, sweet, playtime companion. pray for us,
And may good luck get you your Demetrius!—
Take care, Lysander. we must not give in
To hugs and kisses until midnight tomorrow.

Exit Hermia

LYSANDER:
I will, my Hermia. Helena, adieu;
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you.(230)
LYSANDER:
I will, my Hermia.
Helena, good-bye.
May Demetrius love you as you love him!

Exit Lysander

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,(235)
So I, admiring of his qualities.
Things base and vile, holding 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.(240)
Nor hath Love's mind of any judgment 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,(245)
So the boy Love is perjured everywhere;
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 dissolv'd, and showers of oaths did melt.(250)
I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight;
Then to the wood will he tomorrow night
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense.
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,(255)
To have his sight thither and back again.
HELENA:
How happy can some other “other” be!
I am considered as fair as she is throughout Athens.
But so what? Demetrius doesn’t think so;
He won’t know what everyone but him knows.
And just as he is mistaken, loving Hermia's eyes,
So am I, loving his qualities.
Love can transpose things that are low and ugly,
Having no good qualities at all,
Into things that have beauty and dignity.
Love doesn’t look with the eyes, but with the mind;
And that’s why Cupid is painted with a blindfold.
Love's mind doesn’t have any sense of judgment;
Having wings and no eyes causes careless haste.
And that’s why love is said to be a child,
Because he so often makes the wrong choice.
Just as boastful boys lie when playing a game,
So the boy Love is a liar everywhere.
Because, before Demetrius looked on Hermia's eyes,
He swore many oaths that he was only mine;
And, when this torrent of oaths was rejected by Hermia,
Demetrius dissolved, and his oaths melted too.
I’ll tell him of fair Hermia's flight;
Then tomorrow night, he will pursue her
To the forest, and, even if he just thanks me
For this knowledge, it is sweet payment.
But I mean to make my pain worth suffering,
To have him look at me there and back again.

Exit

Scene II

Original Text Modern Translation

Athens

Enter Quince the Carpenter, Snug the Joiner, Bottom the Weaver, Flute the Bellows-mender, Snout the Tinker, and Starveling the Taylor

QUINCE:
Is all our company here?
QUINCE:
Is everybody here?
BOTTOM:
You were best to call them generally, man by
man, according to the scrip.
BOTTOM:
It would be better if you took attendance, man by man,
according to the list.
QUINCE:
Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is
thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude(5)
before the duke and the duchess on his wedding-day at
night.
QUINCE:
Here is the list of every man's name, who are thought to be the best in all Athens, to play in our play before the duke and duchess at night on their wedding-day.
BOTTOM:
First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
on; then read the names of the actors; and so grow to a
point. (10)
BOTTOM:
First, good Peter Quince, tell us what the play’s about,
then read the names of the actors; and so get to the point.
QUINCE:
Marry, our play is, The Most Lamentable Comedy
and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe.
QUINCE:
By Mary, our play is—The most lamentable comedy and most
cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.
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.(15)
BOTTOM:
A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry one.—
Now, good Peter Quince, call the actors’ names, and give them their rolls.
Ok, guys, spread out.
QUINCE:
Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.
QUINCE:
Answer me as I call you.—Nick Bottom, the weaver.
BOTTOM:
Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed.
BOTTOM:
I’m ready. Tell me what my part is, and then proceed.
QUINCE:
You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
QUINCE:
You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
BOTTOM:
What is Pyramus? A lover, or a tyrant?
BOTTOM:
What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?
QUINCE:
A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.(20)
QUINCE:
A lover that kills himself most gallantly for love.
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 humor is for a tyrant. I could play
Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all(25)
split.
‘The raging rocks
And shivering shocks
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates;(30)
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(35)
Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein: a lover is more condoling.
BOTTOM:
That will require some tears in the true performance of it.
If I do it, the audience will have to cry. I will move them to
storms of tears; I will rouse their pity in some measure. To the rest.—yet, my
favorite way to play it is to be a tyrant. I could play Hercules beyond compare, or a
part to tear a lion apart in, to bring disaster everywhere.
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 very well done.—Now name the rest of the players.—This is
Hercules' vein, a tyrant's vein;—a lover is more sad and thoughtful.
QUINCE:
Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
QUINCE:
Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
FLUTE:
Here, Peter Quince.
FLUTE:
Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE:
Flute, you must take Thisbe on you.
QUINCE:
Flute, you must take the role of Thisbe.
FLUTE:
What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?(40)
FLUTE:
What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?
QUINCE:
It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
QUINCE:
It is the lady that Pyramus loves.
FLUTE:
Nay, faith, let not me play a woman; I have a beard
coming.
FLUTE:
No, please, don’t let me play a woman; I have a beard starting t o grow.
QUINCE:
That's all one; you shall play it in a mask, and you
may speak as small as you will.(45)
QUINCE:
That’s nothing to worry about; You shall play it with a mask on, and you can make your voice as light as you want.
BOTTOM:
An I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too. I'll
speak in a monstrous little voice: ‘Thisne, Thisne!’ [Then
speaking small] ‘Ah Pyramus, my lover dear! Thy Thisbe
dear, and lady dear!’
BOTTOM:
If I can hide my face, let me play Thisbe too.
I'll speak in a monstrous little voice;—'Thisbe, Thisbe!'—
Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear; your Thisbe dear! and lady dear!'
QUINCE:
No, no, you must play Pyramus; and, Flute, you(50)
Thisbe.
QUINCE:
No, no, you must play Pyramus; and, Flute, you Thisbe.
BOTTOM:
Well, proceed.
BOTTOM:
Ok. Go ahead.
QUINCE:
Robin Starveling, the tailor.
QUINCE:
Robin Starveling, the tailor.
STARVELING:
Here, Peter Quince.
STARVELING:
Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE:
Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe's mother.(55)
Tom Snout, the tinker.
QUINCE:
Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe's mother.—
Tom Snout, the tinker.
SNOUT:
Here, Peter Quince.
SNOUT:
Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE:
You, Pyramus' father; myself, Thisbe's father; Snug,
the joiner, you, the lion's part. And, I hope, here is a play
fitted. (60)
QUINCE:
You, Pyramus' father; I will play Thisbe's father;—Snug,
the joiner, you will play the lion's part.—and, I hope, here is a very well cast play.
SNUG:
Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if it be,
give it me, for I am slow of study.
SNUG:
Have you written the lion's part? Please, if it is, give it to
me now, because I am slow in studying my lines.
QUINCE:
You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but
roaring.
QUINCE:
You may do it off the top of your head, because it’s nothing but roaring.
BOTTOM:
Let me play the lion too. I will roar that I will do(65)
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.’
BOTTOM:
Let me play the lion too. I will roar so well that it will do
any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar so well that I will make the
duke say, “Let him roar again, let him roar again.”
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.(70)
QUINCE:
If you should do it too terribly, you would so frighten the
duchess and the ladies, that they would scream; and that would be
enough to hang us all.
ALL:
That would hang us, every mother's son.
ALL:
That would hang us, every mother's son.
BOTTOM:
I grant you, friends, if 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(75)
you an't were any nightingale.
BOTTOM:
I agree with you, friends, if you should frighten the ladies
out of their wits, they would have no better reason but to hang
us. but I will change my voice so, that I will roar as
gently as any newborn dove; I will roar as if I were any
nightingale.
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.(80)
QUINCE:
You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is a
sweet-faced man; a proper man that you shall see on a summer's
day; a most lovely gentleman-like man; therefore you must
absolutely play Pyramus.
BOTTOM:
Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best
to play it in?
BOTTOM:
OK, I’ll do it. What beard would be best to play it in?
QUINCE:
Why, what you will.
QUINCE:
Whichever one you want.
BOTTOM:
I will discharge it in either your straw color
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain(85)
beard, or your French crown color beard, your perfect
yellow.
BOTTOM:
I will play it in either your straw-color beard,
your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your
French-crown-color beard, your perfect yellow.
QUINCE:
Some of your French crowns have no hair at all,
and then you will play barefaced. But, masters, here are
your parts; and I am to entreat you, request you, and(90)
desire you, to con them by tomorrow 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 dogg'd with company, and our devices
known. In the meantime I will draw a bill of properties,(95)
such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not.
QUINCE:
Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and
then you will play it with no beard!!— But, guys, here are your
parts,. and I beg you, request you, and want you to memorize
them by tomorrow night; and meet me in the palace forest, a
mile outside town, by moonlight; there will we rehearse, because
if we meet in the city, we shall be bothered by on-lookers, and our
play known. In the meantime, I will draw a list of props,
that our play needs. I beg you, don’t let me down.
BOTTOM:
We will meet; and there we may rehearse most
obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect;
adieu.
BOTTOM:
We will meet; and there we may rehearse most obscenely
and courageously. Be careful; be perfect; goodbye.
QUINCE:
At the duke's oak we meet.(100)
QUINCE:
We’ll meet at the duke's oak.
BOTTOM:
Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings.
BOTTOM:
Enough; stay or get going!

Exeunt