Please paraphrase this part from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act IV, scene 1.DEMETRUIS My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,Of this their purpose hither to this wood;And I in fury hither...

Please paraphrase this part from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act IV, scene 1.


My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,
Of this their purpose hither to this wood;
And I in fury hither follow'd them,
Fair Helena in fancy following me.
But, my good lord, I wot not by what power,--
But 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,
The object and the pleasure of mine eye,
Is only Helena. To her, my lord,
Was I betroth'd ere I saw Hermia:
But, like in sickness, did I loathe this food;
But, as in health, come to my natural taste,
Now I do wish it, love it, long for it,
And will for evermore be true to it.

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You need to remember the context of this speech by Demetrius - the Athenian lovers, having been "sorted out" by Puck into their proper pairs, now wake up and are found in the wood by a hunting party including Theseus and Hippolyta. The lovers themselves are trying to make sense of their new reality - that Demetrius, having detested Helena for so long, now has abandoned his love for Hermia, and has realised that Helena is the true love of his life. Of course, he is trying to make sense of the change of his affections, just as Theseus and Hippolyta struggle to understand it.

Demetrius thus commences by saying that when he heard that Lysander and Hermia were going to elope, he decided to follow them in anger, with Helena following him out of her love. However, now, somehow, Demetrius is not sure how, but his love for Hermia has "melted as the snow" and he now views it as if it were a favourite childhood toy that he used to play with lots but now is forgotten. His true love now, the only object of his affections, is Helena. He was going to marry her before he saw Hermia, but then explains his infatuation with Hermia as if he were sick - he didn't want to eat what he knew was good for him because of his illness. Now, however, he says that he is back in "health" and realises what is best for him - his relationship with Helena. He ends his speech with a declaration that this relationship with Helena is what he wishes, wants and longs for, and he swears eternal love.

gedaly | Student

To put it into words you're more familiar with...

Sir, Helena told me that Lysander and Hermia were going to run away to the woods and I angrily followed them, and Helena followed me since she has a huge crush on me. But somehow - I don't know how - my love for Hermia faded away, it seems like a distant childhood memory now, and now I only love Helena. I was engaged to her before I saw Hermia but now I am healed of that temporary sickness and only love Helena.

It's not an exact "translation," but that's the gist of it. I'd encourage you to look up words your unfamilar with and try to make sense of the whole speech by yourself. You'll understand the text much better if you spend some time figuring it out.

Read the study guide:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

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