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

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ACT V - SCENE I. Athens. The palace of THESEUS.
1    'Tis strange my Theseus, that these
2    lovers speak of.
3    More strange than true: I never may believe
4    These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
5    Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
6    Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
7    More than cool reason ever comprehends.
8    The lunatic, the lover and the poet
9    Are of imagination all compact:
10   One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
11   That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
12   Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
13   The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
14   Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
15   And as imagination bodies forth
16   The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
17   Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
18   A local habitation and a name.
19   Such tricks hath strong imagination,
20   That if it would but apprehend some joy,
21   It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
22   Or in the night, imagining some fear,
23   How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
24   But all the story of the night told over,
25   And all their minds transfigured so together,
26   More witnesseth than fancy's images
27   And grows to something of great constancy;
28   But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
29   Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.
30   Joy, gentle friends! joy and fresh days of love
31   Accompany your hearts!
32   More than to us
33   Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!
34   Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have,
35   To wear away this long age of three hours
36   Between our after-supper and bed-time?
37   Where is our usual manager of mirth?
38   What revels are in hand? Is there no play,
39   To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
40   Call Philostrate.
41   Here, mighty Theseus.
42   Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?
43   What masque? what music? How shall we beguile
44   The lazy time, if not with some delight?
45   There is a brief how many sports are ripe:
46   Make choice of which your highness will see first.
Giving a paper

47    'The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
48   By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.'
49   We'll none of that: that have I told my love,
50   In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
51   'The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
52   Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.'
53   That is an old device; and it was play'd
54   When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
55   'The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
56   Of Learning, late deceased in beggary.'
57   That is some satire, keen and critical,
58   Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
59   'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
60   And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.'
61   Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
62   That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
63   How shall we find the concord of this discord?
64   A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
65   Which is as brief as I have known a play;
66   But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
67   Which makes it tedious; for in all the play
68   There is not one word apt, one player fitted:
69   And tragical, my noble lord, it is;
70   For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.
71   Which, when I saw rehearsed, I must confess,
72   Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
73   The passion of loud laughter never shed.
74   What are they that do play it?
75   Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
76   Which never labour'd in their minds till now,
77   And now have toil'd their unbreathed memories
78   With this same play, against your nuptial.
79   And we will hear it.
80   No, my noble lord;
81   It is not for you: I have heard it over,
82   And it is nothing, nothing in the world;
83   Unless you can find sport in their intents,
84   Extremely stretch'd and conn'd with cruel pain,
85   To do you service.
86   I will hear that play;
87   For never anything can be amiss,
88   When simpleness and duty tender it.
89   Go, bring them in: and take your places, ladies.

90   I love not to see wretchedness o'er charged
91   And duty in his service perishing.
92   Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
93   He says they can do nothing in this kind.
94   The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
95   Our sport shall be to take what they mistake:
96   And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
97   Takes it in might, not merit.
98   Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
99   To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
100  Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
101  Make periods in the midst of sentences,
102  Throttle their practised accent in their fears
103  And in conclusion dumbly have broke off,
104  Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
105  Out of this silence yet I pick'd a welcome;
106  And in the modesty of fearful duty
107  I read as much as from the rattling tongue
108  Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
109  Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
110  In least speak most, to my capacity.

111  So please your grace, the Prologue is address'd.
112  Let him approach.
Flourish of trumpets

Enter QUINCE for the Prologue

113  If we offend, it is with our good will.
114  That you should think, we come not to offend,
115  But with good will. To show our simple skill,
116  That is the true beginning of our end.
117  Consider then we come but in despite.
118  We do not come as minding to contest you,
119  Our true intent is. All for your delight
120  We are not here. That you should here repent you,
121  The actors are at hand and by their show
122  You shall know all that you are like to know.
123  This fellow doth not stand upon points.
124  He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he knows
125  not the stop. A good moral, my lord: it is not
126  enough to speak, but to speak true.
127  Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child
128  on a recorder; a sound, but not in government.
129  His speech, was like a tangled chain; nothing
130  impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?
Enter Pyramus and Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine, and Lion

131  Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
132  But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
133  This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
134  This beauteous lady Thisby is certain.
135  This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
136  Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;
137  And through Wall's chink, poor souls, they are content
138  To whisper. At the which let no man wonder.
139  This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,
140  Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,
141  By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
142  To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
143  This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name,
144  The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,
145  Did scare away, or rather did affright;
146  And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall,
147  Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.
148  Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
149  And finds his trusty Thisby's mantle slain:
150  Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
151  He bravely broach'd is boiling bloody breast;
152  And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade,
153  His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
154  Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain
155  At large discourse, while here they do remain.
Exeunt Prologue, Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine

156  I wonder if the lion be to speak.
157  No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.
158  In this same interlude it doth befall
159  That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
160  And such a wall, as I would have you think,
161  That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
162  Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
163  Did whisper often very secretly.
164  This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show
165  That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
166  And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
167  Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.
168  Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?
169  It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard
170  discourse, my lord.
Enter Pyramus

171  Pyramus draws near the wall: silence!
172  O grim-look'd night! O night with hue so black!
173  O night, which ever art when day is not!
174  O night, O night! alack, alack, alack,
175  I fear my Thisby's promise is forgot!
176  And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,
177  That stand'st between her father's ground and mine!
178  Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,
179  Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne!
Wall holds up his fingers
180  Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for this!
181  But what see I? No Thisby do I see.
182  O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss!
183  Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!
184  The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.
185  No, in truth, sir, he should not. 'Deceiving me'
186  is Thisby's cue: she is to enter now, and I am to
187  spy her through the wall. You shall see, it will
188  fall pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.
Enter Thisbe

189  O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,
190  For parting my fair Pyramus and me!
191  My cherry lips have often kiss'd thy stones,
192  Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.
193  I see a voice: now will I to the chink,
194  To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face. Thisby!
195  My love thou art, my love I think.
196  Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace;
197  And, like Limander, am I trusty still.
198  And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.
199  Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.
200  As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.
201  O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!
202  I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.
203  Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?
204  'Tide life, 'tide death, I come without delay.
Exeunt Pyramus and Thisbe

205  Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;
206  And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.

207  Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.
208  No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear
209  without warning.
210  This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.
211  The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst
212  are no worse, if imagination amend them.
213  It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.
214  If we imagine no worse of them than they of
215  themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here
216  come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.
Enter Lion and Moonshine

217  You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
218  The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
219  May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
220  When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
221  Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am
222  A lion-fell, nor else no lion's dam;
223  For, if I should as lion come in strife
224  Into this place, 'twere pity on my life.
225  A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.
226  The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.
227  This lion is a very fox for his valour.
228  True; and a goose for his discretion.
229  Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his
230  discretion; and the fox carries the goose.
231  His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour;
232  for the goose carries not the fox. It is well:
233  leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.
234  This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;--
235  He should have worn the horns on his head.
236  He is no crescent, and his horns are
237  invisible within the circumference.
238  This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;
239  Myself the man i' the moon do seem to be.
240  This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man
241  should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else the
242  man i' the moon?
243  He dares not come there for the candle; for, you
244  see, it is already in snuff.
245  I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!
246  It appears, by his small light of discretion, that
247  he is in the wane; but yet, in courtesy, in all
248  reason, we must stay the time.
249  Proceed, Moon.
250  All that I have to say, is, to tell you that the
251  lanthorn is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this
252  thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.
253  Why, all these should be in the lanthorn; for all
254  these are in the moon. But, silence! here comes Thisbe.
Enter Thisbe

255  This is old Ninny's tomb. Where is my love?
256   Oh--
Thisbe runs off

257  Well roared, Lion.
258  Well run, Thisbe.
259  Well shone, Moon. Truly, the moon shines with a
260  good grace.
The Lion shakes Thisbe's mantle, and exit

261  Well moused, Lion.
262  And so the lion vanished.
263  And then came Pyramus.
Enter Pyramus

264  Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
265  I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright;
266  For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams,
267  I trust to take of truest Thisby sight.
268  But stay, O spite!
269  But mark, poor knight,
270  What dreadful dole is here!
271  Eyes, do you see?
272  How can it be?
273  O dainty duck! O dear!
274  Thy mantle good,
275  What, stain'd with blood!
276  Approach, ye Furies fell!
277  O Fates, come, come,
278  Cut thread and thrum;
279  Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!
280  This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would
281  go near to make a man look sad.
282  Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
283  O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?
284  Since lion vile hath here deflower'd my dear:
285  Which is--no, no--which was the fairest dame
286  That lived, that loved, that liked, that look'd
287  with cheer.
288  Come, tears, confound;
289  Out, sword, and wound
290  The pap of Pyramus;
291  Ay, that left pap,
292  Where heart doth hop:
Stabs himself
293  Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
294  Now am I dead,
295  Now am I fled;
296  My soul is in the sky:
297  Tongue, lose thy light;
298  Moon take thy flight:
Exit Moonshine
299  Now die, die, die, die, die.

300  No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.
301  Less than an ace, man; for he is dead; he is nothing.
302  With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover, and
303  prove an ass.
304  How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes
305  back and finds her lover?
306  She will find him by starlight. Here she comes; and
307  her passion ends the play.
Re-enter Thisbe

308  Methinks she should not use a long one for such a
309  Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.
310  A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which
311  Thisbe, is the better; he for a man, God warrant us;
312  she for a woman, God bless us.
313  She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.
314  And thus she means, videlicet:--
315  Asleep, my love?
316  What, dead, my dove?
317  O Pyramus, arise!
318  Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
319  Dead, dead? A tomb
320  Must cover thy sweet eyes.
321  These My lips,
322  This cherry nose,
323  These yellow cowslip cheeks,
324  Are gone, are gone:
325  Lovers, make moan:
326  His eyes were green as leeks.
327  O Sisters Three,
328  Come, come to me,
329  With hands as pale as milk;
330  Lay them in gore,
331  Since you have shore
332  With shears his thread of silk.
333  Tongue, not a word:
334  Come, trusty sword;
335  Come, blade, my breast imbrue:
Stabs herself
336  And, farewell, friends;
337  Thus Thisby ends:
338  Adieu, adieu, adieu.

339  Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.
340  Ay, and Wall too.
Starting up
341   No assure you; the wall is down that
342  parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the
343  epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance between two
344  of our company?
345  No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no
346  excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all
347  dead, there needs none to be blamed. Marry, if he
348  that writ it had played Pyramus and hanged himself
349  in Thisbe's garter, it would have been a fine
350  tragedy: and so it is, truly; and very notably
351  discharged. But come, your Bergomask: let your
352  epilogue alone.
A dance
353  The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve:
354  Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.
355  I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn
356  As much as we this night have overwatch'd.
357  This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled
358  The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.
359  A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
360  In nightly revels and new jollity.

Enter PUCK

361  Now the hungry lion roars,
362  And the wolf behowls the moon;
363  Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
364  All with weary task fordone.
365  Now the wasted brands do glow,
366  Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
367  Puts the wretch that lies in woe
368  In remembrance of a shroud.
369  Now it is the time of night
370  That the graves all gaping wide,
371  Every one lets forth his sprite,
372  In the church-way paths to glide:
373  And we fairies, that do run
374  By the triple Hecate's team,
375  From the presence of the sun,
376  Following darkness like a dream,
377  Now are frolic: not a mouse
378  Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
379  I am sent with broom before,
380  To sweep the dust behind the door.
Enter OBERON and TITANIA with their train

381  Through the house give gathering light,
382  By the dead and drowsy fire:
383  Every elf and fairy sprite
384  Hop as light as bird from brier;
385  And this ditty, after me,
386  Sing, and dance it trippingly.
387  First, rehearse your song by rote
388  To each word a warbling note:
389  Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
390  Will we sing, and bless this place.
Song and dance

391  Now, until the break of day,
392  Through this house each fairy stray.
393  To the best bride-bed will we,
394  Which by us shall blessed be;
395  And the issue there create
396  Ever shall be fortunate.
397  So shall all the couples three
398  Ever true in loving be;
399  And the blots of Nature's hand
400  Shall not in their issue stand;
401  Never mole, hare lip, nor scar,
402  Nor mark prodigious, such as are
403  Despised in nativity,
404  Shall upon their children be.
405  With this field-dew consecrate,
406  Every fairy take his gait;
407  And each several chamber bless,
408  Through this palace, with sweet peace;
409  And the owner of it blest
410  Ever shall in safety rest.
411  Trip away; make no stay;
412  Meet me all by break of day.
Exeunt OBERON, TITANIA, and train

413  If we shadows have offended,
414  Think but this, and all is mended,
415  That you have but slumber'd here
416  While these visions did appear.
417  And this weak and idle theme,
418  No more yielding but a dream,
419  Gentles, do not reprehend:
420  if you pardon, we will mend:
421  And, as I am an honest Puck,
422  If we have unearned luck
423  Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
424  We will make amends ere long;
425  Else the Puck a liar call;
426  So, good night unto you all.
427  Give me your hands, if we be friends,
428  And Robin shall restore amends.

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