A Midsummer Night's Dream: Act 5, Scene 1

           Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, and
           PHILOSTRATE, [Lords and Attendants].

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

  2   More strange than true: I never may believe
  3   These antic fables, nor these fairy toys.
  4   Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
  5   Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
  6   More than cool reason ever comprehends.
  7   The lunatic, the lover and the poet
  8   Are of imagination all compact:
  9   One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
 10   That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
 11   Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
 12   The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
 13   Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
 14   And as imagination bodies forth
 15   The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
 16   Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
 17   A local habitation and a name.
 18   Such tricks hath strong imagination,
 19   That if it would but apprehend some joy,
 20   It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
 21   Or in the night, imagining some fear,
 22   How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

 23   But all the story of the night told over,
 24   And all their minds transfigured so together,
 25   More witnesseth than fancy's images
 26   And grows to something of great constancy;
 27   But, howsoever, strange and admirable.

 28   Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.

           Enter lovers, LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS,
           HERMIA, and HELENA.

 29   Joy, gentle friends! joy and fresh days of love
 30   Accompany your hearts!

 30                                            More than to us
 31   Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!

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

 38                          Here, mighty Theseus.

 39   Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?
 40   What masque? what music? How shall we beguile
 41   The lazy time, if not with some delight?

 42   There is a brief how many sports are ripe:
 43   Make choice of which your highness will see first.

           [Giving a paper.]

      THESEUS  [Reads.]
 44   "The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
 45   By an Athenian eunuch to the harp."
 46   We'll none of that: that have I told my love,
 47   In glory of my kinsman Hercules.


 48   "The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
 49   Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage."
 50   That is an old device; and it was play'd
 51   When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.


 52   "The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
 53   Of Learning, late deceased in beggary."
 54   That is some satire, keen and critical,
 55   Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.


 56   "A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
 57   And his love Thisby; very tragical mirth."
 58   Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
 59   That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
 60   How shall we find the concord of this discord?

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

 71   What are they that do play it?

 72   Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
 73   Which never labor'd in their minds till now,
 74   And now have toil'd their unbreathed memories
 75   With this same play, against your nuptial.

 76   And we will hear it.

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

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

           [Exit PHILOSTRATE.]

 85   I love not to see wretchedness o'er charged
 86   And duty in his service perishing.

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

 88   He says they can do nothing in this kind.

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

           [Enter PHILOSTRATE.]

106   So please your grace, the Prologue is address'd.

107   Let him approach.

           [Flourish of trumpets.]

           Enter [QUINCE for] the Prologue.

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

118   This fellow doth not stand upon points.

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

122   Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child
123   on a recorder— a sound, but not in
124   government.

125   His speech, was like a tangled chain; nothing
126   impair'd, but all disordered. Who is next?

           Enter PYRAMUS and THISBY and WALL
           and MOONSHINE and LION.

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

           Exit [with Pyramus,] Thisby, Lion, and Moonshine.

152   I wonder if the lion be to speak.

153   No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many
154   asses do.

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

165   Would you desire lime and hair to speak
166   better?

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

           [Enter PYRAMUS.]

169   Pyramus draws near the wall: silence!

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

           [Wall holds up his fingers.]

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

182   The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse
183   again.

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

           Enter THISBY.

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

192   I see a voice: now will I to the chink,
193   To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face.
194   Thisby!

194                   My love thou art, my love I think.

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

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

198   Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.

199   As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.

200   O kiss me through the hole of this vild wall!

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

202   Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?

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

           [Exeunt Pyramus and Thisby.]

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


206   Now is the moon used between the two
207   neighbours.

208   No remedy, my lord, when walls are so
209   willful to hear without warning.

210   This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.

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

213   It must be your imagination then, and not
214   theirs.

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

           Enter LION and MOONSHINE.

219   You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
220   The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
221   May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
222   When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
223   Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am
224   A lion fell, nor else no lion's dam;
225   For, if I should as lion come in strife
226   Into this place, 'twere pity on my life.

227   A very gentle beast, of a good con-
228   science.

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

231   This lion is a very fox for his valour.

232   True; and a goose for his discretion.

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

235   His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his
236   valour; for the goose carries not the fox. It
237   is well: leave it to his discretion, and let us
238   listen to the Moon.

239   This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;—

240   He should have worn the horns on his
241   head.

242   He is no crescent, and his horns are
243   invisible within the circumference.

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

246   This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man
247   should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else the
248   man i' the moon?

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

251   I am aweary of this moon: would he would
252   change!

253   It appears, by his small light of discretion, that
254   he is in the wane; but yet, in courtesy, in all
255   reason, we must stay the time.

256   Proceed, Moon.

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

260   Why, all these should be in the lanthorn; for all
261   these are in the moon. But, silence! here comes
262   Thisby.

           Enter THISBY.

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

      Lion  [Roaring.]
264   O!

           [Thisby runs off.]

265   Well roared, Lion.

266   Well run, Thisby.

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

           [The Lion shakes THISBY's mantle, and exit.]

269   Well mous'd, Lion.

270   And then came Pyramus.

271   And so the lion vanished.

           Enter PYRAMUS.

272   Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
273   I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright;
274   For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams,
275   I trust to take of truest Thisby sight.
276         But stay, O spite!
277         But mark, poor knight,
278       What dreadful dole is here!
279         Eyes, do you see?
280         How can it be?
281       O dainty duck! O dear!
282         Thy mantle good,
283         What, stain'd with blood!
284       Approach, ye Furies fell!
285         O Fates, come, come,
286         Cut thread and thrum;
287       Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!

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

290   Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.

291   O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?
292   Since lion vile hath here deflower'd my dear:
293   Which is—no, no—which was the fairest dame
294   That lived, that loved, that liked, that look'd with cheer.
295         Come, tears, confound;
296         Out, sword, and wound
297       The pap of Pyramus;
298         Ay, that left pap,
299         Where heart doth hop:

                 [Stabs himself.]

300       Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
301         Now am I dead,
302         Now am I fled;
303       My soul is in the sky:
304         Tongue, lose thy light;
305         Moon take thy flight:

                 [Exit Moonshine.]

306       Now die, die, die, die, die.


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

308   Less than an ace, man; for he is dead; he is
309   nothing.

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

312   How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisby comes
313   back and finds her lover?

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

           [Enter THISBY.]

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

318   A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus,
319   which Thisby, is the better; he for a man, God
320   warrant us; she for a woman, God bless us.

321   She hath spied him already with those sweet
322   eyes.

323   And thus she means, videlicet

324         Asleep, my love?
325         What, dead, my dove?
326       O Pyramus, arise!
327         Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
328         Dead, dead? A tomb
329       Must cover thy sweet eyes.
330         These My lips,
331         This cherry nose,
332       These yellow cowslip cheeks,
333         Are gone, are gone:
334         Lovers, make moan:
335       His eyes were green as leeks.
336         O Sisters Three,
337         Come, come to me,
338       With hands as pale as milk;
339         Lay them in gore,
340         Since you have shore
341       With shears his thread of silk.
342         Tongue, not a word:
343         Come, trusty sword;
344       Come, blade, my breast imbrue:

           [Stabs herself.]

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


348   Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the
349   dead.

350   Ay, and Wall too.

      BOTTOM  [Starting up.]
351    No, I assure you; the wall is down that
352   parted their fathers. Will it please you to
353   see the epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask
354   dance between two of our company?

355   No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no
356   excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all
357   dead, there needs none to be blamed. Marry, if he
358   that writ it had played Pyramus and hanged himself
359   in Thisby's garter, it would have been a fine
360   tragedy: and so it is, truly; and very notably
361   discharged. But come, your Bergomask: let your
362   epilogue alone.

           [A dance.]

363   The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve:
364   Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.
365   I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn
366   As much as we this night have overwatch'd.
367   This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled
368   The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.
369   A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
370   In nightly revels and new jollity.


           Enter PUCK.

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

           Enter the King and Queen of Fairies
           [OBERON and TITANIA] with all their train.

391         Through the house give glimmering light
392         By the dead and drowsy fire:
393         Every elf and fairy sprite
394         Hop as light as bird from brier;
395         And this ditty, after me,
396         Sing, and dance it trippingly.

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

           [Song and dance.]

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

           Exeunt [OBERON, TITANIA, and train].

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