[Enter Oberon, King of the Fairies, wondering how the trick he has played on Titania has worked out]
I wonder if Titania be awaked,
Then what it was that next came in her eye,
Which she must dote on in extremity.
[Enter Robin (Puck) Goodfellow]
Here comes my messenger. How now, mad spirit?
What nightrule now about this haunted grove?
My mistress with a monster is in love.
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
Intended for great Theseus' nuptial day.
The shallowest thickskin of that barren sort,
Who Pyramus presented in their sport,
Forsook his scene and entered in a brake,
When I did him at this advantage take –
An ass's nole I fixèd on his head.
Anon his Thisbe must be answerèd,
And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,
As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,
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.
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,
And left sweet Pyramus translated there;
When in that moment, so it came to pass,
Titania waked and straightway loved an ass.
This falls out better than I could devise.
But hast thou yet latched the Athenian's eyes
With the love juice, as I did bid thee do?
I took him sleeping, that is finished too,
And the Athenian woman by his side,
That when he waked, of force she must be eyed.
[Enter Hermia and Demetrius. Hermia had awoken to find Lysander gone because, under the influence of the love juice, he had chased after Helena. Hermia, while searching for Lysander, has met up with Demetrius.]
Stand close. This is the same Athenian.
This is the woman, but not this the man.
[Earlier Robin had believed that Lysander and Hermia were Oberon’s targets for the love juice, so he applied the potion to Lysander’s eyes, and when Lysander awoke it was not Hermia that he saw, but Helena. Robin and Oberon step aside and listen in on Demetrius and Hermia for whom nothing has changed. Demetrius is still pursuing Hermia, and Hermia is still in love with Lysander.]
O, why rebuke you him that loves you so?
Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.
Now I but chide, but I should use thee worse,
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 the deep
The sun was not so true unto the day
As he to me. Would he have stolen away
From sleeping Hermia? I'll believe as soon
This whole earth may be bored, and that the moon
May through the center creep, and so displease
Her brother's noontide with th' Antipodes.
It cannot be but thou hast murdered him.
So should a murderer look: so dead, so grim.
So should the murdered look, and so should I,
Pierced through the heart with your stern cruelty.
Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear
As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere.
What's this to my Lysander? Where is he?
Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?
I had rather give his carcass to my hounds.
Out, dog! Out, cur! Thou driv’st me past the bounds
Of maiden's patience. Hast thou slain him then,
Henceforth be never numbered among men?
O, once tell true, tell true, even for my sake.
Durst thou have looked upon him being awake?
And hast thou killed him sleeping? O brave touch!
Could not a worm, an adder do so much?
An adder did it, for with doubler tongue
Than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.
You spend your passion on a misprised mood.
I am not guilty of Lysander's blood,
Nor is he dead, for aught that I can tell.
I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.
And if I could, what should I get therefor?
A privilege never to see me more.
And from thy hated presence part I so.
See me no more, whether he be dead or no.
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,
Which now in some slight measure it will pay
If, for his tender, here I make some stay.
[Demetrius lies down and sleeps. Oberon and Robin come forward; it’s obvious now that Robin did not give the love juice to Demetrius as was Oberon’s intent.]
[To Robin (Puck)] 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
Some true love turned, and not a false turned true.
Then fate o'errules – that one man holding troth,
A million fail, confounding oath on oath.
About the wood go swifter than the wind
And Helena of Athens look thou find.
All fancy-sick she is, and pale of cheer
With sighs of love that costs the fresh blood dear.
By some illusion see thou bring her here.
I'll charm his eyes against she do appear.
I go, I go. Look how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow.
[Exit Robin, leaving Oberon on stage with the sleeping Demetrius]
Flower of this purple dye,
Hit with Cupid's archery,
Sink in apple of his eye.
[He drops the love juice on Demetrius’ eyelids]
When his love he doth espy,
Let her shine as gloriously
When thou wakest, if she be by,
[Re-enter Robin (Puck) Goodfellow]
Captain of our fairy band,
And the youth mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover's fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!
Stand aside. The noise they make
Will cause Demetrius to awake.
Then will two at once woo one,
That must needs be sport alone.
And those things do best please me
That befall prepost'rously.
[Robin (Puck) and Oberon step aside. Enter Helena with Lysander following her]
Why should you think that I should woo in scorn?
Scorn and derision never come in tears.
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?
You do advance your cunning more and more
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.
I had no judgment when to her I swore.
Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o'er.
Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.
[Waking and seeing Helena. Oberon’s love juice causes Demetrius to now fall in love with her.]
O Helen, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!
To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?
Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries tempting, grow!
That pure congealèd white, high Taurus’ snow,
Fanned with the eastern wind, turns to a crow
When thou hold'st up thy hand. O, let me kiss
This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!
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.
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
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
With your derision. None of noble sort
Would so offend a virgin, and extort
A poor soul's patience, all to make you sport.
You are unkind, Demetrius, be not so.
For you love Hermia, this you know I know.
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 till my death.
Never did mockers waste more idle breath.
Lysander, keep thy Hermia. I will none.
If e'er I loved her, all that love is gone.
My heart to her but as guestwise sojourned,
And now to Helen is it home returned,
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.
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;
Mine ear – I thank it – brought me to thy sound.
But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?
Why should he stay whom love doth press to go?
What love could press Lysander from my side?
Lysander's love that would not let him bide,
Fair Helena who more engilds the night
Than all yon fiery O’s 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?
You speak not as you think. It cannot be.
Lo, she is one of this confederacy.
Now I perceive they have conjoined all three
To fashion this false sport in spite of me.
Injurious Hermia, most ungrateful maid,
Have you conspired, have you with these contrived
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shared —
The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us — O, is it all quite forgot?
All schooldays' friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
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 molded on one stem.
So, with two seeming bodies but one heart –
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one and crownèd with one crest.
And will you rend our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
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.
I am amazèd at your passionate words.
I scorn you not. It seems that you scorn me.
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,
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?
What though I be not so in grace as you,
So hung upon with love, so fortunate,
But miserable most, to love unloved?
This you should pity rather than despise.
I understand not what you mean by this.
I 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,
You would not make me such an argument.
But fare ye well. 'Tis partly my own fault,
Which death or absence soon shall remedy.
Stay, gentle Helena. Hear my excuse,
My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena.
[To Lysander] Sweet, do not scorn her so.
[To Lysander] If she cannot entreat, I can compel.
Thou canst compel no more than she entreat;
Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers.
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.
[To Helena] I say I love thee more than he can do.
If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.
Lysander, whereto tends all this?
[Hermia tries to physically restrain Lysander from going after Demetrius]
Seem to break loose, take on as you would follow,
But yet come not. You are a tame man, go.
[To Hermia] Hang off, thou cat, thou burr. Vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.
Why are you grown so rude? What change is this,
Thy love? Out, tawny Tartar, out.
Out, loathèd med’cine. O hated potion, hence.
Yes, sooth, and so do you.
Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
I would I had your bond, for I perceive
A weak bond holds you. I'll not trust your word.
What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I'll not harm her so.
What, can you do me greater harm than hate?
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 loved me, yet since night you left me.
Why, then you left me — O, the gods forbid —
And never did desire to see thee more,
Therefore be out of hope, of question, doubt.
Be certain, nothing truer, 'tis no jest
That I do hate thee and love Helena.
[To Helena] O me, you juggler, you cankerblossom,
You thief of love. What, have you come by night
And stolen my love's heart from him?
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!
Puppet? Why so? Ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures. She hath urged her height.
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevailed with him.
And are you grown so high in his esteem
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.
[To Demetrius and Lysander]
I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
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
Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
Did ever keep your counsels, never wronged you —
Save that in love unto Demetrius
I told him of your stealth unto this wood.
He followed you; for love, I followed him.
But he hath chid me hence, and threatened me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too.
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.
Why, get you gone. Who is't that hinders you?
A foolish heart that I leave here behind.
Be not afraid. She shall not harm thee, Helena.
No, sir, she shall not, though you take her part.
O, when she is angry she is keen and shrewd.
She was a vixen when she went to school,
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
“Little” again? Nothing but “low” and “little”?
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
You minimus of hind’ring knot-grass made,
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,
Now follow, if thou dar'st, to try whose right,
Of thine or mine, is most in Helena.
Follow? Nay, I'll go with thee, cheek by jowl.
[Exit Lysander and Demetrius]
You, mistress, all this coil is long of you.
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray,
My legs are longer though to run away.
I am amazed, and know not what to say.
[Exit Hermia. Oberon and Robin (Puck) come forward]
This is thy negligence. Still thou mistak’st,
Or else committ'st thy knaveries willfully.
Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
Did not you tell me I should know the man
By the Athenian garment be 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.
Thou seest 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
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
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,
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.
Whiles I, in this affair, do thee employ,
I'll to my queen and beg her Indian boy,
And then I will her charmèd eye release
From monster's view, and all things shall be peace.
My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
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. Damnèd spirits all,
That in crossways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone,
For fear lest day should look their shames upon.
They willfully themselves exiled from light,
And must for aye consort with black-browed night.
But we are spirits of another sort.
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 blessèd beams
Turns into yellow gold his salt green streams.
But notwithstanding, haste, make no delay;
We may effect this business yet ere day.
Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down.
I am feared in field and town.
Goblin, lead them up and down.
[Enter Lysander searching for Demetrius]
Where art thou, proud Demetrius? Speak thou now.
[Pretending to be Demetrius]
Here, villain, drawn and ready. Where art thou?
I will be with thee straight.
[Exit Lysander. Enter Demetrius]
Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?
Speak! In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy head?
[Pretending to be Lysander]
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,
I'll whip thee with a rod. He is defiled
That draws a sword on thee.
Follow my voice; we'll try no manhood here.
[Exit Robin (Puck) and Demetrius. Enter Lysander]
He goes before me, and still dares me on.
When I come where he calls, then he is gone.
The villain is much lighter heeled than I;
I followed fast, but faster he did fly,
That fallen am I in dark uneven way,
[He lies down]
For if but once thou show me thy grey light,
I'll find Demetrius and revenge this spite.
[He Sleeps. Enter Robin (Puck) and Demetrius]
[Pretending to be Lysander]
Ho, ho, ho, coward, why comest thou not?
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.
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.
[He lies down]
By day's approach look to be visited.
[He sleeps. Enter Helena who doesn't see Lysander in the darkness]
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;
And sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow's eye,
Steal me awhile from mine own company.
[She lies down and sleeps]
Yet but three? Come one more,
Two of both kinds make up four.
Here she comes, curst and sad.
Thus to make poor females mad.
Never so weary, never so in woe,
Bedabbled with the dew, and torn with briers,
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.
[She lies down]
Heavens shield Lysander, if they mean a fray!
[He drops the flower’s nectar on Lysander’s eyelids]
Of thy former lady's eye.
And the country proverb known,
"That every man should take his own",
In your waking shall be shown.
The man shall have his mare again,
[Exit Robin (Puck)]