Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > A Midsummer-Night’s Dream
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
A Midsummer-Night’s Dream
 
Act III. Scene II.
 
Another Part of the Wood.
 
Enter OBERON.
  Obe.  I wonder if Titania be awak’d;
Then, what it was that next came in her eye,
Which she must dote on in extremity.        5
Here comes my messenger.
 
Enter PUCK.
        How now, mad spirit!
What night-rule now about this haunted grove?
  Puck.  My mistress with a monster is in love.        10
Near to her close and consecrated bower,
While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,
A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
Were met together to rehearse a play        15
Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial day.
The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,
Who Pyramus presented in their sport
Forsook his scene, and enter’d in a brake,
When I did him at this advantage take;        20
An ass’s nowl I fixed on his head:
Anon his Thisbe must be answered,
And forth my mimick comes. When they him spy,
As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,        25
Rising and cawing at the gun’s report,
Sever themselves, and madly sweep the sky;
So, at his sight, away his fellows fly,
And, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls;
He murder cries, and help from Athens calls.        30
Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong,
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong;
For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch;
Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things catch.
I led them on in this distracted fear,        35
And left sweet Pyramus translated there;
When in that moment, so it came to pass,
Titania wak’d and straightway lov’d an ass.
  Obe.  This falls out better than I could devise.
But hast thou yet latch’d the Athenian’s eyes        40
With the love-juice, as I did bid thee do?
  Puck.  I took him sleeping,—that is finish’d too,—
And the Athenian woman by his side;
That, when he wak’d, of force she must be ey’d.
 
Enter DEMETRIUS and HERMIA.
        45
  Obe.  Stand close: this is the same Athenian.
  Puck.  This is the woman; but not this the man.
  Dem.  O! why rebuke you him that loves you so?
Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.
  Her.  Now I but chide; but I should use thee worse,        50
For thou, I fear, hast given me cause to curse.
If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep,
Being o’er shoes in blood, plunge in knee deep,
And kill me too.
The sun was not so true unto the day        55
As he to me. Would he have stol’n away
From sleeping Hermia? I’ll believe as soon
This whole earth may be bor’d, and that the moon
May through the centre creep, and so displease
Her brother’s noontide with the Antipodes.        60
It cannot be but thou hast murder’d him;
So should a murderer look, so dead, so grim.
  Dem.  So should the murder’d look, and so should I,
Piere’d through the heart with your stern cruelty;
Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear,        65
As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere.
  Her.  What’s this to my Lysander? where is he?
Ah! good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?
  Dem.  I had rather give his carcass to my hounds.
  Her.  Out, dog! out, cur! thou driv’st me past the bounds        70
Of maiden’s patience. Hast thou slain him then?
Henceforth be never number’d among men!
O! once tell true, tell true, e’en for my sake;
Durst thou have look’d upon him being awake,
And hast thou kill’d him sleeping? O brave touch!        75
Could not a worm, an adder, do so much?
An adder did it; for with doubler tongue
Than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.
  Dem.  You spend your passion on a mispris’d mood:
I am not guilty of Lysander’s blood,        80
Nor is he dead, for aught that I can tell.
  Her.  I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.
  Dem.  An if I could, what should I get therefore?
  Her.  A privilege never to see me more.
And from thy hated presence part I so;        85
See me no more, whe’r he be dead or no.  [Exit.
  Dem.  There is no following her in this fierce vein:
Here therefore for a while I will remain.
So sorrow’s heaviness doth heavier grow
For debt that bankrupt sleep doth sorrow owe;        90
Which now in some slight measure it will pay,
If for his tender here I make some stay.  [Lies down and sleeps.
  Obe.  What hast thou done? thou hast mistaken quite,
And laid the love-juice on some true-love’s sight:
Of thy misprision must perforce ensue        95
Some true-love turn’d, and not a false turn’d true.
  Puck.  Then fate o’er-rules, that, one man holding troth,
A million fail, confounding oath on oath.
  Obe.  About the wood go swifter than the wind,
And Helena of Athens look thou find:        100
All fancy-sick she is, and pale of cheer
With sighs of love, that cost the fresh blood dear.
By some illusion see thou bring her here:
I’ll charm his eyes against she do appear.
  Puck.  I go, I go; look how I go;        105
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow.  [Exit.
  Obe.  Flower of this purple dye,
        Hit with Cupid’s archery,
        Sink in apple of his eye.
        When his love he doth espy,        110
        Let her shine as gloriously
        As the Venus of the sky.
        When thou wak’st, if she be by,
        Beg of her for remedy.
 
Re-enter PUCK.
        115
  Puck.  Captain of our fairy band,
        Helena is here at hand,
        And the youth, mistook by me,
        Pleading for a lover’s fee.
        Shall we their fond pageant see?        120
        Lord, what fools these mortals be!
  Obe.  Stand aside: the noise they make
        Will cause Demetrius to awake.
  Puck.  Then will two at once woo one;
        That must needs be sport alone;        125
        And those things do best please me
        That befall preposterously.
 
Enter LYSANDER and HELENA.
  Lys.  Why should you think that I should woo in scorn?
  Scorn and derision never come in tears:        130
Look, when I vow, I weep; and vows so born,
  In their nativity all truth appears.
How can these things in me seem scorn to you,
Bearing the badge of faith to prove them true?
  Hel.  You do advance your cunning more and more.        135
  When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray!
These vows are Hermia’s: will you give her o’er?
  Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh:
Your vows, to her and me, put in two scales,
Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.        140
  Lys.  I had no judgment when to her I swore.
  Hel.  Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o’er.
  Lys.  Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.
  Dem.  [Awaking.]  O Helen! goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!
To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?        145
Crystal is muddy. O! how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow;
This pure congealed white, high Taurus’ snow,
Fann’d with the eastern wind, turns to a crow
When thou hold’st up thy hand. O! let me kiss        150
That princess of pure white, this seal of bliss.
  Hel.  O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
To set against me for your merriment:
If you were civil and knew courtesy,
You would not do me thus much injury.        155
Can you not hate me, as I know you do,
But you must join in souls to mock me too?
If you were men, as men you are in show,
You would not use a gentle lady so;
To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts,        160
When I am sure you hate me with your hearts.
You both are rivals, and love Hermia,
And now both rivals, to mock Helena:
A trim exploit, a manly enterprise,
To conjure tears up in a poor maid’s eyes        165
With your derision! none of noble sort
Would so offend a virgin, and extort
A poor soul’s patience, all to make you sport.
  Lys.  You are unkind, Demetrius; be not so;
For you love Hermia; this you know I know:        170
And here, with all good will, with all my heart,
In Hermia’s love I yield you up my part;
And yours of Helena to me bequeath,
Whom I do love, and will do to my death.
  Hel.  Never did mockers waste more idle breath.        175
  Dem.  Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none:
If e’er I lov’d her, all that love is gone.
My heart with her but as guest-wise sojourn’d,
And now to Helen it is home return’d,
There to remain.        180
  Lys.        Helen, it is not so.
  Dem.  Disparage not the faith thou dost not know,
Lest to thy peril thou aby it dear.
Look! where thy love comes: yonder is thy dear.
 
Enter HERMIA.
        185
  Her.  Dark night, that from the eye his function takes,
The ear more quick of apprehension makes;
Wherein it doth impair the seeing sense,
It pays the hearing double recompense.
Thou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found;        190
Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound.
But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?
  Lys.  Why should he stay, whom love doth press to go?
  Her.  What love could press Lysander from my side?
  Lys.  Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide,        195
Fair Helena, who more engilds the night
Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light.
Why seek’st thou me? could not this make thee know,
The hate I bear thee made me leave thee so?
  Her.  You speak not as you think: it cannot be.        200
  Hel.  Lo! she is one of this confederacy.
Now I perceive they have conjoin’d all three
To fashion this false sport in spite of me.
Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!
Have you conspir’d, have you with these contriv’d        205
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shar’d,
The sister-vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us, O! is it all forgot?        210
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our neelds created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,        215
As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet an union in partition;
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;        220
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one, and crowned with one crest.
And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?        225
It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly:
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
Though I alone do feel the injury.
  Her.  I am amazed at your passionate words.
I scorn you not: it seems that you scorn me.        230
  Hel.  Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,
To follow me and praise my eyes and face,
And made your other love, Demetrius,—
Who even but now did spurn me with his foot,—
To call me goddess, nymph, divine and rare,        235
Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this
To her he hates? and wherefore doth Lysander
Deny your love, so rich within his soul,
And tender me, forsooth, affection,
But by your setting on, by your consent?        240
What though I be not so in grace as you,
So hung upon with love, so fortunate,
But miserable most to love unlov’d?
This you should pity rather than despise.
  Her.  I understand not what you mean by this.        245
  Hel.  Ay, do, persever, counterfeit sad looks,
Make mouths upon me when I turn my back;
Wink each at other; hold the sweet jest up:
This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.
If you have any pity, grace, or manners,        250
You would not make me such an argument.
But, fare ye well: ’tis partly mine own fault,
Which death or absence soon shall remedy.
  Lys.  Stay, gentle Helena! hear my excuse:
My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena!        255
  Hel.  O excellent!
  Her.        Sweet, do not scorn her so.
  Dem.  If she cannot entreat, I can compel.
  Lys.  Thou canst compel no more than she entreat:
Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers.        260
Helen, I love thee; by my life, I do:
I swear by that which I will lose for thee,
To prove him false that says I love thee not.
  Dem.  I say I love thee more than he can do.
  Lys.  If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.        265
  Dem.  Quick, come!
  Her.        Lysander, whereto tends all this?
  Lys.  Away, you Ethiop!
  Dem.        No, no, he’ll …
Seem to break loose; take on, as you would follow,        270
But yet come not: you are a tame man, go!
  Lys.  [To HERMIA.]  Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.
  Her.  Why are you grown so rude? what change is this,
Sweet love,—        275
  Lys.        Thy love! out, tawny Tartar, out!
Out, loathed medicine! hated poison, hence!
  Her.  Do you not jest?
  Hel.        Yes, sooth; and so do you.
  Lys.  Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.        280
  Dem.  I would I had your bond, for I perceive
A weak bond holds you: I’ll not trust your word.
  Lys.  What! should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I’ll not harm her so.
  Her.  What! can you do me greater harm than hate?        285
Hate me! wherefore? O me! what news, my love?
Am not I Hermia? Are not you Lysander?
I am as fair now as I was erewhile.
Since night you lov’d me; yet, since night you left me:
Why, then you left me,—O, the gods forbid!—        290
In earnest, shall I say?
  Lys.        Ay, by my life;
And never did desire to see thee more.
Therefore be out of hope, of question, doubt;
Be certain, nothing truer: ’tis no jest,        295
That I do hate thee and love Helena.
  Her.  O me! you juggler! you canker-blossom!
You thief of love! what! have you come by night
And stol’n my love’s heart from him?
  Hel.        Fine, i’ faith!        300
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness? What! will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet you!
  Her.  Puppet! why, so: ay, that way goes the game.        305
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures: she hath urg’d her height;
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail’d with him.
And are you grown so high in his esteem,        310
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? speak;
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.
  Hel.  I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,        315
Let her not hurt me: I was never curst;
I have no gift at all in shrewishness;
I am a right maid for my cowardice:
Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think,
Because she is something lower than myself,        320
That I can match her.
  Her.        Lower! hark, again.
  Hel.  Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
Did ever keep your counsels, never wrong’d you;        325
Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
I told him of your stealth unto this wood.
He follow’d you; for love I follow’d him;
But he hath chid me hence, and threaten’d me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too:        330
And now, so you will let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back,
And follow you no further: let me go:
You see how simple and how fond I am.
  Her.  Why, get you gone. Who is ’t that hinders you?        335
  Hel.  A foolish heart, that I leave here behind.
  Her.  What! with Lysander?
  Hel.        With Demetrius.
  Lys.  Be not afraid: she shall not harm thee, Helena.
  Dem.  No, sir; she shall not, though you take her part.        340
  Hel.  O! when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd.
She was a vixen when she went to school:
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
  Her.  ‘Little’ again! nothing but ‘low’ and ‘little!’
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?        345
Let me come to her.
  Lys.        Get you gone, you dwarf;
You minimus, of hindering knot-grass made;
You bead, you acorn!
  Dem.        You are too officious        350
In her behalf that scorns your services.
Let her alone; speak not of Helena;
Take not her part, for, if thou dost intend
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it.        355
  Lys.        Now she holds me not;
Now follow, if thou dar’st, to try whose right,
Or thine or mine, is most in Helena.
  Dem.  Follow! nay, I’ll go with thee, cheek by jole.  [Exeunt LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS.
  Her.  You, mistress, all this coil is ’long of you:        360
Nay, go not back.
  Hel.        I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray,
My legs are longer though, to run away.  [Exit.        365
  Her.  I am amaz’d, and know not what to say.  [Exit.
  Obe.  This is thy negligence: still thou mistak’st,
Or else commit’st thy knaveries wilfully.
  Puck.  Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
Did not you tell me I should know the man        370
By the Athenian garments he had on?
And so far blameless proves my enterprise,
That I have ’nointed an Athenian’s eyes;
And so far am I glad it so did sort,
As this their jangling I esteem a sport.        375
  Obe.  Thou see’st these lovers seek a place to fight:
Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night;
The starry welkin cover thou anon
With drooping fog as black as Acheron;
And lead these testy rivals so astray,        380
As one come not within another’s way.
Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue,
Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong;
And sometime rail thou like Demetrius;
And from each other look thou lead them thus,        385
Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep:
Then crush this herb into Lysander’s eye;
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
To take from thence all error with his might,        390
And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight.
When they next wake, all this derision
Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision;
And back to Athens shall the lovers wend,
With league whose date till death shall never end.        395
Whiles I in this affair do thee employ,
I’ll to my queen and beg her Indian boy;
And then I will her charmed eye release
From monster’s view, and all things shall be peace.
  Puck.  My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,        400
For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger;
At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards: damned spirits all,
That in cross-ways and floods have burial,        405
Already to their wormy beds are gone;
For fear lest day should look their shames upon,
They wilfully themselves exile from light,
And must for aye consort with black-brow’d night.
  Obe.  But we are spirits of another sort.        410
I with the morning’s love have oft made sport;
And, like a forester, the groves may tread,
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery-red,
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
Turns into yellow gold his salt green streams.        415
But, notwithstanding, haste; make no delay:
We may effect this business yet ere day.  [Exit OBERON.
  Puck.  Up and down, up and down;
        I will lead them up and down:
        I am fear’d in field and town;        420
        Goblin, lead them up and down.
Here comes one.
 
Re-enter LYSANDER.
  Lys.  Where art thou, proud Demetrius? speak thou now.
  Puck.  Here, villain! drawn and ready. Where art thou?        425
  Lys.  I will be with thee straight.
  Puck.        Follow me, then,
To plainer ground.  [Exit LYSANDER as following the voice.
 
Re-enter DEMETRIUS.
  Dem.        Lysander! speak again.        430
Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?
Speak! In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy head?
  Puck.  Thou coward! art thou bragging to the stars,
Telling the bushes that thou look’st for wars,
And wilt not come? Come, recreant; come, thou child;        435
I’ll whip thee with a rod: he is defil’d
That draws a sword on thee.
  Dem.        Yea, art thou there?
  Puck.  Follow my voice: we’ll try no manhood here.  [Exeunt.
 
Re-enter LYSANDER.
        440
  Lys.  He goes before me and still dares me on:
When I come where he calls, then he is gone.
The villain is much lighter-heel’d than I:
I follow’d fast, but faster he did fly;
That fallen am I in dark uneven way,        445
And here will rest me.  [Lies down.]  Come, thou gentle day!
For it but once thou show me thy grey light,
I’ll find Demetrius and revenge this spite.  [Sleeps.
 
Re-enter PUCK and DEMETRIUS.
  Puck.  Ho! ho! ho! Coward, why com’st thou not?        450
  Dem.  Abide me, if thou dar’st; for well I wot
Thou runn’st before me, shifting every place,
And dar’st not stand, nor look me in the face.
Where art thou now?
  Puck.  Come hither: I am here.        455
  Dem.  Nay then, thou mock’st me. Thou shalt buy this dear,
If ever I thy face by daylight see:
Now, go thy way. Faintness constraineth me
To measure out my length on this cold bed:
By day’s approach look to be visited.  [Lies down and sleeps.        460
 
Re-enter HELENA.
  Hel.  O weary night! O long and tedious night,
Abate thy hours! shine, comforts, from the east!
That I may back to Athens by daylight,
From these that my poor company detest:        465
And sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow’s eye,
Steal me a while from mine own company.  [Lies down and sleeps.
  Puck.  Yet but three? Come one more;
        Two of both kinds make up four.
        Here she comes, curst and sad:        470
        Cupid is a knavish lad,
        Thus to make poor females mad.
 
Re-enter HERMIA.
  Her.  Never so weary, never so in woe,
    Bedabbled with the dew and torn with briers,        475
I can no further crawl, no further go;
    My legs can keep no pace with my desires.
Here will I rest me till the break of day.
Heavens shield Lysander, if they mean a fray!  [Lies down and sleeps.
  Puck.  On the ground        480
        Sleep sound:
        I’ll apply
        To your eye,
    Gentle lover, remedy  [Squeezing the juice on LYSANDER’S eyes.
        When thou wak’st,        485
        Thou tak’st
        True delight
        In the sight
    Of thy former lady’s eye:
    And the country proverb known,        490
    That every man should take his own,
    In your waking shall be shown:
        Jack shall have Jill;
        Nought shall go ill;
    The man shall have his mare again,        495
    And all shall be well.  [Exit.
 
 
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