A Midsummer Night's Dream: Act 2, Scene 1












3. Thorough: Through. 4. pale: enclosure.
           Enter a FAIRY at one door
           and ROBIN GOODFELLOW [PUCK]
           at another.

      PUCK
  1   How now, spirit! whither wander you?

      Fairy
  2         Over hill, over dale,
  3         Thorough bush, thorough brier,
  4         Over park, over pale,
  5         Thorough flood, thorough fire,
  6         I do wander everywhere,
7. sphere: In the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the moon and the other heavenly bodies were thought to revolve about the earth fixed in transparent spheres. 9. orbs: circles, i.e., make fairy rings out of dark grass. 10. pensioners: Members of the royal bodyguard were called "gentlemen pensioners."
  7         Swifter than the moon's sphere;
  8         And I serve the fairy queen,
  9         To dew her orbs upon the green.
 10         The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
 11         In their gold coats spots you see;
12. favors: gifts; love tokens.
 12         Those be rubies, fairy favors,
cowslips
13. freckles: i.e., the cowslip "spots" mentioned before. savors: sweet scents, perfumes.
16. lob: country bumpkin.
17. anon: at once.
 13         In those freckles live their savors.
 14   I must go seek some dewdrops here
 15   And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
 16   Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I'll be gone:
 17   Our queen and all our elves come here anon.

      PUCK
 18   The king doth keep his revels here tonight:
 19   Take heed the queen come not within his sight;
20. passing fell and wrath: exceedingly fierce and angry.
 20   For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
 21   Because that she as her attendant hath
 22   A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king;
23. changeling: child exchanged for another by fairies.
25. trace: range through.
26. perforce: forcibly.
 23   She never had so sweet a changeling;
 24   And jealous Oberon would have the child
 25   Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild;
 26   But she perforce withholds the loved boy,
 27   Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her joy.
 28   And now they never meet in grove or green,
29. fountain: spring.
 29   By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
30. square: quarrel. that: so that.
 30   But, they do square, that all their elves for fear
31. them: themselves.
 31   Creep into acorn-cups and hide them there.

      Fairy
32. making: form.
 32   Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
33. shrewd: mischievous. sprite: spirit.
 33   Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
 34   Call'd Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
35. villagery: village folk, peasantry.
 35   That frights the maidens of the villagery;
36. Skim . . . quern: A "quern" is a handmill for grinding grain. Puck skims the milk so . . . more 37. bootless: unavailingly. huswife: housewife. 38. sometime: at times. barm: frothy head on a tankard of ale.
 36   Skim milk, and sometimes labor in the quern
 37   And bootless make the breathless huswife churn;
 38   And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
 39   Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
40. Hobgoblin: A mischievous, tricksy imp or sprite; another name for Puck or Robin Goodfellow; hence a terrifying apparition or bogy. —OED
 40   Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
 41   You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
 42   Are not you he?

Stanley Tucci as Puck, 1999






47. gossip's: garrulous old woman's. 48. crab: crab apple.
      PUCK
 42                          Thou speak'st aright;
 43   I am that merry wanderer of the night.
 44   I jest to Oberon and make him smile
 45   When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
 46   Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
 47   And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
 48   In very likeness of a roasted crab,
 49   And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
50. dewlap: loose skin on the neck.
 50   And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
51. aunt: old woman, gossip. saddest: most serious; soberest.
 51   The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
 52   Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
 53   Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
54. And "tailor" cries: The woman cries "tailor" because she finds herself sitting cross-legged on the floor as tailors did to sew or because she falls on her "tail." 55. quire: choir; i.e., company. 56. waxen: increase. neeze: sneeze. 57. wasted: spent.
 54   And "tailor" cries, and falls into a cough;
 55   And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
 56   And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
 57   A merrier hour was never wasted there.
 58   But, room, fairy! here comes Oberon.

      Fairy
 59   And here my mistress. Would that he were gone!

           Enter the King of Fairies [OBERON]
           at one door with his TRAIN, and the
           Queen [TITANIA] at another with hers.

      OBERON
 60   Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.

      TITANIA
 61   What, jealous Oberon! Fairies, skip hence:
63. forsworn: usually falsely sworn, but in this case, sworn off.
 62   I have forsworn his bed and company.

      OBERON
63. rash wanton: impetuous and willful creature.
 63   Tarry, rash wanton: am not I thy lord?

      TITANIA
 64   Then I must be thy lady: but I know
 65   When thou hast stolen away from fairy land,
66. Corin: Common, conventional name of a lover in pastoral poetry. 67. corn: oat stalks. versing love: making love verses. 68. Phillida: Common, conventional name of a lover in pastoral poetry. 69. steep: mountain range.
 66   And in the shape of Corin sat all day,
 67   Playing on pipes of corn and versing love
 68   To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
 69   Come from the farthest steep of India?
70. forsooth: in truth; truly.
 70   But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
71. buskin'd: wearing buskins or half-boots.
 71   Your buskin'd mistress and your warrior love,
 72   To Theseus must be wedded, and you come
 73   To give their bed joy and prosperity.

      OBERON
 74   How canst thou thus for shame, Titania,
75. Glance at my credit with Hippolyta: make derogatory insinuations about my relationship with Hippolyta.
 75   Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
 76   Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?
 77   Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night
78. Perigenia: Perigouna, daughter of the brigand Sinis. On his journey to Athens to claim his . . . more 79. Aegles: Aegle, a nymph for whose love Theseus, in some accounts, deserted Ariadne. 80. Ariadne: daughter of Minos, king of Crete. Having slain the Minotaur with her aid . . . more
 78   From Perigenia, whom he ravished?
 79   And make him with fair Aegles break his faith,
 80   With Ariadne and Antiopa?

      TITANIA
81. forgeries: i.e., fantastic lies. Titania accused Oberon of loving Hippolyta; Oberon . . . more 82. middle summer's spring: beginning of midsummer.
 81   These are the forgeries of jealousy:
 82   And never, since the middle summer's spring,
 83   Met we on hill, in dale, forest or mead,
84. paved fountain: spring with pebbled bottom. rushy: edged with rushes. 85. in: on. margent: margin, edge.
 84   By paved fountain or by rushy brook,
 85   Or in the beached margent of the sea,
86. ringlets: circular dances.
 86   To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
87. brawls: noisy quarrels.
 87   But with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport.
 88   Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
 89   As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
90. Contagious: Noxious.
 90   Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
91. pelting: (1) pelting; (2) paltry.
 91   Have every pelting river made so proud
92. overborne their continents: overflowed their banks.
 92   That they have overborne their continents:
 93   The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
94. green: immature. corn: grain (wheat, barley, oats, etc.) 95. ere: before. his: its.
 94   The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
 95   Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard;
the fold stands empty
96. fold: pen for sheep or cattle. 97. murrion: i.e., dead of the murrain, an animal plague. 98. nine men's morris: A board . . . more 99-100. the quaint . . . undistinguishable: the ingenious . . . more 101. want: lack. —It seems that Oberon's quarrel with Titania has confused the seasons. . . . more 103. Therefore: —As previously, this means "because of your quarreling with me."
105. rheumatic diseases: colds, flu, and all diseases thought to be the result of excessive moisture. 106. distemperature: (1) disturbance in the natural order; (2) unpredictable, foul moods.
 96   The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
 97   And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
 98   The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud,
 99   And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
100   For lack of tread are undistinguishable:
101   The human mortals want their winter here;
102   No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
103   Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
104   Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
105   That rheumatic diseases do abound:
106   And thorough this distemperature we see
107   The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
108   Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
109. Hiems': —Hiems is the personification of winter.
109   And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
110. chaplet: wreath.
110   An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
111   Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
112. childing: fruitful.
112   The childing autumn, angry winter, change
113. wonted liveries: customary apparel. mazed: bewildered, confused. 114. their increase: their fruits, what they produce. —Before, Titania said that flowers are budding in winter. 116. debate: disagreement. quarrelling.
113   Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
114   By their increase, now knows not which is which:
115   And this same progeny of evils comes
116   From our debate, from our dissension;
117. original: origin.
117   We are their parents and original.

      OBERON
118   Do you amend it then; it lies in you:
119. cross: thwart.
119   Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
120   I do but beg a little changeling boy,
121. henchman: attendant, page of honor.
121   To be my henchman.

      TITANIA
121. Set your heart at rest: i.e., Give up that notion.
121                                 Set your heart at rest:
122   The fairy land buys not the child of me.
123. votaress: a female votary (one who is bound by vows to a religious life); esp. a woman devoted to a special saint.
123   His mother was a votaress of my order:
124   And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
125. gossip'd by my side: kept me congenial company. 126. Neptune: god of the sea . . . more 127. traders: trading vessels. flood: sea.
129. wanton: sportive, amorous.
125   Full often hath she gossip'd by my side,
126   And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
127   Marking the embarked traders on the flood,
128   When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive
129   And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
130   Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
131   Following,—her womb then rich with my young squire,—
132   Would imitate, and sail upon the land,
133   To fetch me trifles, and return again,
134   As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.
135   But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;
136   And for her sake do I rear up her boy,
137   And for her sake I will not part with him.

      OBERON
138   How long within this wood intend you stay?

      TITANIA
139   Perchance till after Theseus' wedding-day.
140. round: circular dance.
140   If you will patiently dance in our round
141   And see our moonlight revels, go with us;
142. spare: shun, stay away from.
142   If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.

      OBERON
143   Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.

      TITANIA
144   Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies, away!
145. chide: quarrel.
145   We shall chide downright, if I longer stay.

           Exeunt [TITANIA with her TRAIN].

      OBERON
146. from: go from. 147. injury: affront.

149. Since: When. 149-150. once . . . back
151. breath: voice, music. 152. rude: rough, boisterous. civil: well-behaved, gentle.
146   Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove
147   Till I torment thee for this injury.
148   My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememberest
149   Since once I sat upon a promontory,
150   And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back
151   Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
152   That the rude sea grew civil at her song
153   And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
154   To hear the sea-maid's music.

      PUCK
154                                             I remember.

      OBERON
155   That very time I saw, but thou couldst not,
156   Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
157. all: fully, completely.
157   Cupid all arm'd: a certain aim he took
158. vestal: i.e., vestal virgin. Lines 157-164 have long been considered to be a compliment to Queen Elizabeth, celebrating her status as a Virgin Queen. 160. As it should: As if it would. 161. might: could.
158   At a fair vestal throned by the west,
159   And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
160   As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts;
161   But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
162. moon: i.e., Diana, the virgin goddess, whose votaress the "fair vestal" is.
162   Quench'd in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
163   And the imperial votaress passed on,
164. fancy-free: free of love's spell or love-thoughts.
164   In maiden meditation, fancy-free.
165. bolt: arrow.
165   Yet mark'd I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
166   It fell upon a little western flower,
167   Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound,
168. love-in-idleness: a name for the pansy or heartsease.
love-in-idleness
purple with love's wound

Image Source:



171. or ... or: either ... or.


174. leviathan: gigantic sea-beast.

175-176. I'll put a girdle round about the earth / In forty minutes: i.e., I'll circle the earth in a few moments.
168   And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
169   Fetch me that flower; the herb I shew'd thee once:
170   The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
171   Will make or man or woman madly dote
172   Upon the next live creature that it sees.
173   Fetch me this herb; and be thou here again
174   Ere the leviathan can swim a league.

      PUCK
175   I'll put a girdle round about the earth
176   In forty minutes.

           [Exit.]

      OBERON
176                          Having once this juice,
177. watch Titania when she is asleep: i.e., keep a watch on Titania until the moment she falls asleep.
177   I'll watch Titania when she is asleep,
178   And drop the liquor of it in her eyes.
179   The next thing then she waking looks upon,
180   Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
181   On meddling monkey, or on busy ape,
182   She shall pursue it with the soul of love:
183. ere: before.
183   And ere I take this charm from off her sight,
184   As I can take it with another herb,
185   I'll make her render up her page to me.
186. I am invisible: Oberon is the magical King of Fairies, and when he says "I am invisible" we must believe him, even though we can still see him on stage.
186   But who comes here? I am invisible;
187   And I will overhear their conference.

           Enter DEMETRIUS, HELENA
           following him.

      DEMETRIUS
188   I love thee not, therefore pursue me not.
189   Where is Lysander and fair Hermia?
190   The one I'll slay, the other slayeth me.
191   Thou told'st me they were stolen unto this wood;
192. wode: mad. —Pronounced "wood."
192   And here am I, and wode within this wood,
193   Because I cannot meet my Hermia.
194   Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more.

      HELENA
195. adamant: lodestone, magnet. —Also, adamant was thought to be the hardest of all stones. 196. you draw not iron: i.e., what you draw (my heart) is not iron, but steel of the finest, truest temper. 197. Leave: give up.
195   You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant;
196   But yet you draw not iron, for my heart
197   Is true as steel: leave you your power to draw,
198   And I shall have no power to follow you.

      DEMETRIUS
199. fair: courteously.
199   Do I entice you? do I speak you fair?
200   Or, rather, do I not in plainest truth
I am your spaniel
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206. Neglect: Ignore.
201   Tell you, I do not, nor I cannot love you?

      HELENA
202   And even for that do I love you the more.
203   I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
204   The more you beat me, I will fawn on you:
205   Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
206   Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
207   Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
208   What worser place can I beg in your love,—
209   And yet a place of high respect with me,—
210   Than to be used as you use your dog?

      DEMETRIUS
211. Tempt: try, put to the test.
211   Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit;
212   For I am sick when I do look on thee.

      HELENA
213   And I am sick when I look not on you.

      DEMETRIUS
214. impeach your modesty: call into question your good sense and morality. As becomes clear in the following lines, Demetrius is accusing Helena of being sluttish, because she follows him into the forest in the dark, where he could easily force sex upon her. 218. ill counsel of a desert place: evil ideas that come to mind in a deserted place.
214   You do impeach your modesty too much,
215   To leave the city and commit yourself
216   Into the hands of one that loves you not;
217   To trust the opportunity of night
218   And the ill counsel of a desert place
219   With the rich worth of your virginity.

      HELENA
220. Your virtue is my privilege: (1) your goodness is my safeguard; (2) your attractiveness is my justification. For that: Because.
220   Your virtue is my privilege. For that
221   It is not night when I do see your face,
222   Therefore I think I am not in the night;
223   Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
224. in my respect: as far as I am concerned.
224   For you in my respect are all the world:
225   Then how can it be said I am alone,



227. brakes: thickets.





231. Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase: Daphne . . . more 232. griffin: fabulous monster with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle. hind: female deer. 233. bootless: vain, useless.
226   When all the world is here to look on me?

      DEMETRIUS
227   I'll run from thee and hide me in the brakes,
228   And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.

      HELENA
229   The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
230   Run when you will, the story shall be changed:
231   Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase;
232   The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
233   Makes speed to catch the tiger — bootless speed,
234   When cowardice pursues and valor flies.

      DEMETRIUS
235. stay thy questions: wait around to listen to your arguments.
235   I will not stay thy questions; let me go:
236   Or, if thou follow me, do not believe
237. I shall do thee mischief: —Demetrius is threatening to rape her; he has made that threat before without making much of an impression on the desperate Helena.
237   But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.

      HELENA
238   Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
239   You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
240. Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex: —Helena believes that Demetrius should be wooing her, and that because he is making her woo him, he is disrespecting all women.
240   Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex:
241   We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
242   We should be woo'd and were not made to woo.

           [Exit DEMETRIUS.]

243   I'll follow thee and make a heaven of hell,
244. upon: by.
244   To die upon the hand I love so well.

           [Exit HELENA.]

      OBERON
245   Fare thee well, nymph: ere he do leave this grove,
246   Thou shalt fly him and he shall seek thy love.

           Enter PUCK.

wild thyme blows
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249. wild thyme blows: wild thyme blooms.
luscious woodbine
Image Source

251. woodbine: honeysuckle.
252. musk-roses and with eglantine: varieties of roses. 253. sometime of: at some time during.
255. throws: sheds. enamell'd: adorned with brilliant colors. 256. Weed: garment. 257. streak: anoint.
247   Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.

      PUCK
248   Ay, there it is.

      OBERON
248                                  I pray thee, give it me.
249   I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
250   Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
251   Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
252   With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
253   There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
254   Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight;
255   And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin,
257   And with the juice of this I'll streak her eyes,
258   And make her full of hateful fantasies.
259   Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove:
260   A sweet Athenian lady is in love
eglantine
Image Source





266. fond on: infatuated with.
261   With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes;
262   But do it when the next thing he espies
263   May be the lady: thou shalt know the man
264   By the Athenian garments he hath on.
265   Effect it with some care, that he may prove
266   More fond on her than she upon her love:
267   And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.

      PUCK
268   Fear not, my lord, your servant shall do so.

           Exeunt.