Midsummer Night's Dream (1918) Yale/Text/Act V
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Midsummer Night's Dream 1918 Yale/Text/Act V




Scene One

[The Palace of Theseus]

Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, [Philostrate,] and Lords.

Hip. 'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.

The. More strange than true. I never may believe
These antic fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend5
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact:8
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is the madman; the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,12
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing16
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush suppos'd a bear!

Hip. But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigur'd so together,24
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy,
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.

Enter lovers, Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena.

The. Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.28
Joy, gentle friends! joy, and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!

Lys.More than to us
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!

The. Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have,32
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after-supper and bed-time?
Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play,36
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
Call Philostrate.

Philost. Here, mighty Theseus.

The. Say, what abridgment have you for this evening?
What masque? what music? How shall we beguile40
The lazy time, if not with some delight?

Philost. There is a brief how many sports are ripe;
Make choice of which your highness will see first.

[Gives a paper.]

The. 'The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung44
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.'
We'll none of that: that have I told my love,
In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
'The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,48
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.'
That is an old device; and it was play'd
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
'The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of Learning, late deceas'd in beggary.'53
That is some satire keen and critical,
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus56
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.'
Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
How shall we find the concord of this discord?

Philost. A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,61
Which is as brief as I have known a play;
But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
Which makes it tedious; for in all the play64
There is not one word apt, one player fitted.
And tragical, my noble lord, it is;
For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.
Which when I saw rehears'd, I must confess,68
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.

The. What are they that do play it?

Philost. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,72
Which never labour'd in their minds till now,
And now have toil'd their unbreath'd memories
With this same play, against your nuptial.

The. And we will hear it.

Philost. No, my noble lord;
It is not for you: I have heard it over,77
And it is nothing, nothing in the world;
Unless you can find sport in their intents,
Extremely stretch'd and conn'd
with cruel pain,
To do you service.

The. I will hear that play;81
For never anything can be amiss,
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in: and take your places, ladies.

[Exit Philostrate.]

Hip. I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharg'd,85
And duty in his service perishing.

The. Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.

Hip. He says they can do nothing in this kind.88

The. The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
Our sport shall be to take what they mistake:
And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
Takes it in might, not merit.92
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,96
Throttle their practis'd accent in their fears,
And, in conclusion, dumbly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I pick'd a welcome;100
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity104
In least speak most, to my capacity.

[Enter Philostrate.]

Philost. So please your Grace, the Prologue is address'd.

The. Let him approach.

Flour[ish of] Trum[pets].

Enter the Prologue (Quince).

Prol. If we offend, it is with our good will.
 That you should think, we come not to offend,109
But with good will. To show our simple skill,
 That is the true beginning of our end.
Consider then we come but in despite.112
 We do not come as minding to content you,
Our true intent is. All for your delight,
 We are not here. That you should here repent you,
The actors are at hand; and, by their show,116
You shall know all that you are like to know.

The. This fellow doth not stand upon points.

Lys. He hath rid his prologue like a rough
colt; he knows not the stop. A good moral, my
lord: it is not enough to speak, but to speak

Hip. Indeed he hath played on his prologue
like a child on a recorder; a sound, but not in

The. His speech was like a tangled chain;
nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is

Enter Pyramus and Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine, and Lion, Tawyer with a trumpet before them.

Prol. Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
 But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
 This beauteous lady Thisby is, certain.132
This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
 Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;
And through Wall's chink, poor souls, they are content135
 To whisper, at the which let no man wonder.
This man, with lantern, dog, and bush of thorn,
 Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,
By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
 To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.140
This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name,
The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,
Did scare away, or rather did affright;
And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall,144
 Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.
Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
 And finds his trusty Thisby's mantle slain:
Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,148
 He bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast;
And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade,
 His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain,152
At large discourse, while here they do remain.

Exeunt all but Wall.

The. I wonder, if the lion be to speak.

Dem. No wonder, my lord: one lion may,
when many asses do.156

Wall. In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,160
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast, and this stone doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so;164
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.

The. Would you desire lime and hair to speak

Dem. It is the wittiest partition that ever I
heard discourse, my lord.

The. Pyramus draws near the wall: silence!

Enter Pyramus.

Pyr. O grim-look'd night! O night with hue so black!172
 O night, which ever art when day is not!
O night! O night! alack, alack, alack!
 I fear my Thisby's promise is forgot.
And thou, O wall! O sweet, O lovely wall!176
 That stand'st between her father's ground and mine;
Thou wall, O wall! O sweet, and lovely wall!
 Show me thy chink to blink through with mine eyne.

[Wall holds up his fingers.]

Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for this!180
 But what see I? No Thisby do I see.
O wicked wall! through whom I see no bliss;
 Curs'd be thy stones for thus deceiving me!

The. The wall, methinks, being sensible,
should curse again.185

Pyr. No, in truth, sir, he should not. 'De-
ceiving me,' is Thisby's cue: she is to enter now,
and I am to spy her through the wall. You
shall see, it will fall pat as I told you. Yonder
she comes.

Enter Thisbe.

This. O wall! full often hast thou heard my moans,
 For parting my fair Pyramus and me:192
My cherry lips have often kiss'd thy stones,
 Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.

Pyr. I see a voice: now will I to the chink,
 To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face.196

This. My love! thou art my love, I think.

Pyr. Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace;
And, like Limander, am I trusty still.200

This. And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.

Pyr. Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.

This. As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.

Pyr. O! kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.

This. I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.

Pyr. Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?

This. 'Tide life, 'tide death, I come without delay.

Wall. Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;208
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.

Exeunt Clowns.

The. Now is the mural down between the two

Dem. No remedy, my lord, when walls are so
wilful to hear without warning.213

Hip. This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.

The. The best in this kind are but shadows,
and the worst are no worse, if imagination
amend them.217

Hip. It must be your imagination then, and
not theirs.

The. If we imagine no worse of them than
they of themselves, they may pass for excellent
men. Here come two noble beasts in, a man
and a lion.

Enter Lion and Moonshine.

Lion. You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear224
 The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
 When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am228
A lion-fell, nor else no lion's dam:
For, if I should as lion come in strife
Into this place, 'twere pity on my life.

The. A very gentle beast, and of a good con-

Dem. The very best at a beast, my lord, that
e'er I saw.

Lys. This lion is a very fox for his valour.

The. True; and a goose for his discretion.237

Dem. Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot
carry his discretion, and the fox carries the

The. His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry
his valour, for the goose carries not the fox. It
is well: leave it to his discretion, and let us
listen to the moon.244

Moon. This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;--

Dem. He should have worn the horns on his

The. He is no crescent, and his horns are in-
visible within the circumference.249

Moon. This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;
Myself the man i' the moon do seem to be.

The. This is the greatest error of all the rest.
The man should be put into the lantern: how
is it else the man i' the moon?

Dem. He dares not come there for the candle;
for, you see, it is already in snuff.256

Hip. I am aweary of this moon: would he
would change!

The. It appears, by his small light of discre-
tion, that he is in the wane; but yet, in courtesy,
in all reason, we must stay the time.261

Lys. Proceed, Moon.

Moon. All that I have to say, is, to tell you
that the lanthorn is the moon; I, the man in
the moon; this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and
this dog, my dog.

Dem. Why, all these should be in the lan-
tern; for all these are in the moon. But,
silence! here comes Thisbe.269

Enter Thisbe.

This. This is old Ninny's tomb. Where is my love?

Lion. Oh--. The Lion roars; Thisbe runs off.

Dem. Well roared, Lion.272

The. Well run, Thisbe.

Hip. Well shone, Moon. Truly, the moon
shines with a good grace.

[The Lion tears Thisbe's mantle, and exit.]

The. Well moused, Lion.276

Dem. And then came Pyramus.

Lys. And so the lion vanished.

Enter Pyramus.

Pyr. Sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright,
For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering beams,
I trust to taste of truest Thisby's sight.
But stay, O spite!
But mark, poor knight,284
What dreadful dole is here!
Eyes, do you see?
How can it be?
O dainty duck! O dear!288
Thy mantle good,
What! stain'd with blood!
Approach, ye Furies fell!
O Fates, come, come,
Cut thread and thrum;
Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!294

The. This passion, and the death of a dear
friend, would go near to make a man look sad.

Hip. Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.

Pyr. O! wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?
Since lion vile hath here deflower'd my dear?
Which is--no, no--which was the fairest dame
That liv'd, that lov'd, that lik'd, that look'd with cheer.301

Come tears, confound;
Out, sword, and wound
The pap of Pyramus:304
Ay, that left pap,
Where heart doth hop:
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.

[Stabs himself.]

Now am I dead,308
Now am I fled;
My soul is in the sky:
Tongue, lose thy light!
Moon, take thy flight!312

[Exit Moonshine.]

Now die, die, die, die, die.

Dem. No die, but an ace, for him; for he is
but one.

Lys. Less than an ace, man, for he is dead;
he is nothing.317

The. With the help of a surgeon, he might
yet recover, and prove an ass.

Hip. How chance Moonshine is gone before
Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?321

The. She will find him by starlight. Here
she comes; and her passion ends the play.

Enter Thisbe.

Hip. Methinks she should not use a long one
for such a Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.325

Dem. A mote will turn the balance, which Pyra-
, which Thisbe, is the better: he for a man,
God warrant us; she for a woman, God bless us.

Lys. She hath spied him already with those
sweet eyes.330

Dem. And thus she moans, videlicet:--

This.Asleep, my love?
What, dead, my dove?
O Pyramus, arise!
Speak, speak! Quite dumb?
Dead, dead! A tomb336
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These lily lips,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,340
Are gone, are gone:
Lovers, make moan!
His eyes were green as leeks.
O, Sisters Three,344
Come, come to me,
With hands as pale as milk;
Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore348
With shears his thread of silk.
Tongue, not a word:
Come, trusty sword:
Come, blade, my breast imbrue:352

[Stabs herself.]

And farewell, friends;
Thus Thisby ends:
Adieu, adieu, adieu.

The. Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the

Dem. Ay, and Wall too.

Bot. No, I assure you; the wall is down that
parted their fathers. Will it please you to see
the epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance
between two of our company?362

The. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play
needs no excuse. Never excuse; for when the
players are all dead, there need none to be
blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played
Pyramus, and hanged himself in Thisbe's gar-
ter, it would have been a fine tragedy: and
so it is, truly, and very notably discharged.
But come, your Bergomask: let your epilogue
alone.[Here a dance of clowns.]

The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve;
Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.373
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn,
As much as we this night have overwatch'd.
This palpable-gross play hath well beguil'd376
The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
In nightly revels, and new jollity.[Exeunt.]

Enter Puck.

Puck. Now the hungry lion roars,380
 And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
 All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,384
 Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
 In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night388
 That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
 In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run392
By the triple Hecate's team,
From the presence of the sun,
 Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic; not a mouse396
Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.

Enter King and Queen of Fairies, with their train.

Obe. Through the house give glimmering light
 By the dead and drowsy fire;401
Every elf and fairy sprite
 Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty after me404
Sing and dance it trippingly.

Tita. First, rehearse your song by rote,
To each word a warbling note:
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,408
Will we sing, and bless this place.

[Song and dance.]

Obe. Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,412
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three416
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand:
Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,420
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate,424
Every fairy take his gait,
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
Ever shall in safety rest,428
And the owner of it blest.
Trip away;
Make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.432

[Exeunt King, Queen, and train.]

Puck. If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended.
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.436
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend.440
And, as I'm an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;444
Else the Puck a liar call:
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.[Exit.]





Footnotes to Act V

Scene One

3 antic: fantastic
toys: trifling tales
5 apprehend: perceive
8 compact: composed
11 Helen: Helen of Troy
brow of Egypt: gypsy's face
19, 20 Cf. n.
25 More witnesseth: is evidence of more
26 constancy: consistency
27 admirable: to be wondered at
34 after-supper: dessert
39 abridgment: pastime
49 Thracian singer: Orpheus
50 device: something devised for dramatic representation
54 critical: censorious
55 sorting with: befitting
74 unbreath'd: unpractised
79, 80 intents conn'd; cf. n.
85 o'ercharg'd: overburdened
92 I.e., takes the will for the deed
93 clerks: scholars
105 capacity: understanding
106 address'd: ready
107 S. d. Flourish: blast
118 stand upon points: pun on senses 'mind punctuation' and 'be over-careful'
120 stop: both 'period' and 'method of stopping a horse'
124 recorder: wind instrument of flute type
128 S. d. Tawyer; cf. n.
141 hight: is called
144 fall: let fall
146 tall: goodly
165 sinister: left
184 sensible: capable of perception
189 fall: happen
199 lover's grace: i.e., lover
200 Limander; cf. n.
207 'Tide: come
210 mural: wall; cf. n.
229 lion-fell: lion's skin
246 horns; cf. n.
255 for: because of
256 in snuff: with a pun on the sense 'in hasty anger'
261 stay: await
276 moused: torn (as a cat tears a mouse)
293 thread and thrum: the warp and its fastening, i.e., everything
294 Quail: overpower
quell: kill
295 passion: violent expression of sorrow
314 No ace; cf. n.
326, 327 which which: whether or
328 warrant: defend
344 Sisters Three: the three Fates
352 imbrue: stain with blood
361 Bergomask dance: a rustic dance originating in Italy
375 overwatch'd: overwaked
376 palpable-gross: stupid
383 fordone: exhausted
393 Cf. n.
396 frolic: merry
414 create: created
424 field-dew consecrate: i.e., fairy holy water
428 Ever shall: i.e., ever shall it; cf. n.
447 hands: applause

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