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Home > Midsummer Night's Dream > ACT I - SCENE I. Athens. The palace of THESEUS.

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ACT I, SCENE II (Next) >

ACT I - SCENE I. Athens. The palace of THESEUS.
1    Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
2    Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
3    Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow
4    This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,
5    Like to a step-dame or a dowager
6    Long withering out a young man revenue.
7    Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
8    Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
9    And then the moon, like to a silver bow
10   New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
11   Of our solemnities.
12   Go, Philostrate,
13   Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
14   Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
15   Turn melancholy forth to funerals;
16   The pale companion is not for our pomp.
17   Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
18   And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
19   But I will wed thee in another key,
20   With pomp, with triumph and with revelling.

21   Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!
22   Thanks, good Egeus: what's the news with thee?
23   Full of vexation come I, with complaint
24   Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
25   Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,
26   This man hath my consent to marry her.
27   Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke,
28   This man hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child;
29   Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
30   And interchanged love-tokens with my child:
31   Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,
32   With feigning voice verses of feigning love,
33   And stolen the impression of her fantasy
34   With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits,
35   Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats, messengers
36   Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth:
37   With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart,
38   Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me,
39   To stubborn harshness: and, my gracious duke,
40   Be it so she; will not here before your grace
41   Consent to marry with Demetrius,
42   I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,
43   As she is mine, I may dispose of her:
44   Which shall be either to this gentleman
45   Or to her death, according to our law
46   Immediately provided in that case.
47   What say you, Hermia? be advised fair maid:
48   To you your father should be as a god;
49   One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
50   To whom you are but as a form in wax
51   By him imprinted and within his power
52   To leave the figure or disfigure it.
53   Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
54   So is Lysander.
55   In himself he is;
56   But in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
57   The other must be held the worthier.
58   I would my father look'd but with my eyes.
59   Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.
60   I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
61   I know not by what power I am made bold,
62   Nor how it may concern my modesty,
63   In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;
64   But I beseech your grace that I may know
65   The worst that may befall me in this case,
66   If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
67   Either to die the death or to abjure
68   For ever the society of men.
69   Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires;
70   Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
71   Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
72   You can endure the livery of a nun,
73   For aye to be in shady cloister mew'd,
74   To live a barren sister all your life,
75   Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
76   Thrice-blessed they that master so their blood,
77   To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;
78   But earthlier happy is the rose distill'd,
79   Than that which withering on the virgin thorn
80   Grows, lives and dies in single blessedness.
81   So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
82   Ere I will my virgin patent up
83   Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
84   My soul consents not to give sovereignty.
85   Take time to pause; and, by the nest new moon--
86   The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
87   For everlasting bond of fellowship--
88   Upon that day either prepare to die
89   For disobedience to your father's will,
90   Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;
91   Or on Diana's altar to protest
92   For aye austerity and single life.
93   Relent, sweet Hermia: and, Lysander, yield
94   Thy crazed title to my certain right.
95   You have her father's love, Demetrius;
96   Let me have Hermia's: do you marry him.
97   Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love,
98   And what is mine my love shall render him.
99   And she is mine, and all my right of her
100  I do estate unto Demetrius.
101  I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
102  As well possess'd; my love is more than his;
103  My fortunes every way as fairly rank'd,
104  If not with vantage, as Demetrius';
105  And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
106  I am beloved of beauteous Hermia:
107  Why should not I then prosecute my right?
108  Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,
109  Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
110  And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
111  Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
112  Upon this spotted and inconstant man.
113  I must confess that I have heard so much,
114  And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;
115  But, being over-full of self-affairs,
116  My mind did lose it. But, Demetrius, come;
117  And come, Egeus; you shall go with me,
118  I have some private schooling for you both.
119  For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
120  To fit your fancies to your father's will;
121  Or else the law of Athens yields you up--
122  Which by no means we may extenuate--
123  To death, or to a vow of single life.
124  Come, my Hippolyta: what cheer, my love?
125  Demetrius and Egeus, go along:
126  I must employ you in some business
127  Against our nuptial and confer with you
128  Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.
129  With duty and desire we follow you.
Exeunt all but LYSANDER and HERMIA

130  How now, my love! why is your cheek so pale?
131  How chance the roses there do fade so fast?
132  Belike for want of rain, which I could well
133  Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.
134  Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
135  Could ever hear by tale or history,
136  The course of true love never did run smooth;
137  But, either it was different in blood,--
138  O cross! too high to be enthrall'd to low.
139  Or else misgraffed in respect of years,--
140  O spite! too old to be engaged to young.
141  Or else it stood upon the choice of friends,--
142  O hell! to choose love by another's eyes.
143  Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
144  War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,
145  Making it momentany as a sound,
146  Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;
147  Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
148  That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
149  And ere a man hath power to say 'Behold!'
150  The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
151  So quick bright things come to confusion.
152  If then true lovers have been ever cross'd,
153  It stands as an edict in destiny:
154  Then let us teach our trial patience,
155  Because it is a customary cross,
156  As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,
157  Wishes and tears, poor fancy's followers.
158  A good persuasion: therefore, hear me, Hermia.
159  I have a widow aunt, a dowager
160  Of great revenue, and she hath no child:
161  From Athens is her house remote seven leagues;
162  And she respects me as her only son.
163  There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
164  And to that place the sharp Athenian law
165  Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me then,
166  Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night;
167  And in the wood, a league without the town,
168  Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
169  To do observance to a morn of May,
170  There will I stay for thee.
171  My good Lysander!
172  I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow,
173  By his best arrow with the golden head,
174  By the simplicity of Venus' doves,
175  By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
176  And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage queen,
177  When the false Troyan under sail was seen,
178  By all the vows that ever men have broke,
179  In number more than ever women spoke,
180  In that same place thou hast appointed me,
181  To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.
182  Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.

183  God speed fair Helena! whither away?
184  Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.
185  Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!
186  Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue's sweet air
187  More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear,
188  When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
189  Sickness is catching: O, were favour so,
190  Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;
191  My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
192  My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.
193  Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
194  The rest I'd give to be to you translated.
195  O, teach me how you look, and with what art
196  You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.
197  I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
198  O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!
199  I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
200  O that my prayers could such affection move!
201  The more I hate, the more he follows me.
202  The more I love, the more he hateth me.
203  His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.
204  None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine!
205  Take comfort: he no more shall see my face;
206  Lysander and myself will fly this place.
207  Before the time I did Lysander see,
208  Seem'd Athens as a paradise to me:
209  O, then, what graces in my love do dwell,
210  That he hath turn'd a heaven unto a hell!
211  Helen, to you our minds we will unfold:
212  To-morrow night, when Phoebe doth behold
213  Her silver visage in the watery glass,
214  Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass,
215  A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal,
216  Through Athens' gates have we devised to steal.
217  And in the wood, where often you and I
218  Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie,
219  Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,
220  There my Lysander and myself shall meet;
221  And thence from Athens turn away our eyes,
222  To seek new friends and stranger companies.
223  Farewell, sweet playfellow: pray thou for us;
224  And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius!
225  Keep word, Lysander: we must starve our sight
226  From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight.
227  I will, my Hermia.
228  Helena, adieu:
229  As you on him, Demetrius dote on you!

230  How happy some o'er other some can be!
231  Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
232  But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
233  He will not know what all but he do know:
234  And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
235  So I, admiring of his qualities:
236  Things base and vile, folding no quantity,
237  Love can transpose to form and dignity:
238  Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
239  And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind:
240  Nor hath Love's mind of any judgement taste;
241  Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste:
242  And therefore is Love said to be a child,
243  Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
244  As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
245  So the boy Love is perjured every where:
246  For ere Demetrius look'd on Hermia's eyne,
247  He hail'd down oaths that he was only mine;
248  And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
249  So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.
250  I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight:
251  Then to the wood will he to-morrow night
252  Pursue her; and for this intelligence
253  If I have thanks, it is a dear expense:
254  But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
255  To have his sight thither and back again.

ACT I, SCENE II (Next) >
Scene Index

  • ACT II


  • ACT IV

  • ACT V

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