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A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream Translation Act 2, Scene 2

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TITANIA enters.

TITANIA

Come now, a roundel and a fairy song. Then for the third part of a minute, hence— Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds, Some war with reremice for their leathern wings To make my small elves coats, and some keep back The clamorous owl that nightly hoots and wonders At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep. Then to your offices and let me rest.

TITANIA

Come, dance in a circle and sing a fairy song. Then go off for a while to do your work. Some of you can kill the worms plaguing the rosebuds. Others can fight with bats for their leathery wings, so we can use them to make coats for my small elves. And still others of you can keep away the loud owl that hoots in surprise when it sees us pretty fairies. Now sing me to sleep, then go off to your work and let me rest.

The FAIRIES sing.

FIRST FAIRY

[Sings]
You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen.
Newts and blindworms, do no wrong.
Come not near our fairy queen.

FIRST FAIRY

[Singing]
Snakes with spots and forked tongues;
And prickly porcupines, don’t be seen.
Poisonous lizards, do no harm.
Don’t come near our fairy queen.

FAIRIES

[Sing] Philomel, with melody Sing in our sweet lullaby. Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby. Never harm Nor spell nor charm Come our lovely lady nigh. So good night, with lullaby.

FAIRIES

[Singing]
Nightingale, melodiously 
Sing our sweet lullaby.
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby.
Let no harm
Or spell or charm
Come near our lovely lady.
Say good night with a lullaby.

FIRST FAIRY

[Sings] Weaving spiders, come not here. Hence, you long-legged spinners, hence! Beetles black, approach not near. Worm nor snail, do no offense.

FIRST FAIRY

[Singing]
Spiders with your webs, stay away.
You long-legged things, begone!
Black beetles, don’t come near.
Worms and snails, don’t be bad.

FAIRIES

[Sing] Philomel, with melody Sing in our sweet lullaby. Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby. Never harm Nor spell nor charm Come our lovely lady nigh. So good night, with lullaby.

FAIRIES

[Singing]
Nightingale, melodiously
Sing our sweet lullaby.
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby.
Let no harm
Or spell or charm
Come near our lovely lady.
Say good night with a lullaby.

TITANIA falls asleep.

SECOND FAIRY

Hence, away! Now all is well. One aloof stand sentinel.

SECOND FAIRY

Come on, let’s go! All is well. One of us can remain alone and stand guard.

OBERON exits.

OBERON

[Squeezing flower juice on TITANIA ’s eyelids] What thou seest when thou dost wake, Do it for thy true love take. Love and languish for his sake. Be it ounce or cat or bear, Pard or boar with bristled hair, In thy eye that shall appear, When thou wakest, it is thy dear. Wake when some vile thing is near.

OBERON

[Squeezing flower juice on TITANIA ’s eyelids] Whatever you first see when you wake up, take it as your true love. Love and yearn for him. Whether he’s a lynx, a wildcat, a bear, a leopard, or a wild boar with bristly hair—when you wake, it will look like your love in your eyes. May you wake up when something disgusting is close by.

The FAIRIES exit.

OBERON enters.

LYSANDER

Fair love, you faint with wandering in the wood. And to speak troth, I have forgot our way. We’ll rest us, Hermia, if you think it good. And tarry for the comfort of the day.

LYSANDER

My beautiful love, wandering like this in the wood is making you weaker and weaker. And, to speak truthfully, I’m lost. If you think it’s a good idea, let's take a rest, and wait until it's daytime and less difficult to travel.

LYSANDER and HERMIA enter.

HERMIA

Be it so, Lysander. Find you out a bed,For I upon this bank will rest my head.

HERMIA

Let’s do that, Lysander. Find yourself somewhere to sleep, and I will rest my head on this little ridge.

LYSANDER

One turf shall serve as pillow for us both.One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one troth.

LYSANDER

We can sleep next to each other on the same ground. We’ll have one heart, one bed, two bodies, and one vow.

HERMIA

Nay, good Lysander. For my sake, my dear,Lie further off yet. Do not lie so near.

HERMIA

No, good Lysander. For my sake, my dear, sleep a little farther away. Don’t lie so close to me.

LYSANDER

O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence. Love takes the meaning in love’s conference. I mean that my heart unto yours is knit So that but one heart we can make of it. Two bosoms interchainèd with an oath— So then two bosoms and a single troth. Then by your side no bed-room me deny. For, lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.

LYSANDER

Oh, my sweetheart, what I was saying was totally innocent. When lovers talk to each other, they should interpret what the other has said in a loving way. What I meant is that my heart is bound to yours, so we can think of them as one heart. Our two bodies are joined together by our vows of love, so that's why we have two bodies and one faithful vow. So if I am lying by your side, I will not be lying to you.

HERMIA

Lysander riddles very prettily. Now much beshrew my manners and my pride If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied. But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy Lie further off in human modesty. Such separation as may well be said Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid. So far be distant. And, good night, sweet friend. Thy love ne'er alter till thy sweet life end!

HERMIA

Lysander has some skill with words. A curse upon my manners and my pride if I was saying that you were a liar. But, my noble love, for the sake of love and propriety, sleep a little further away. It's proper for a well-behaved bachelor and girl to sleep separately. For now, stay a distance away. And, good night, my sweet friend. May your love for me never change for your whole life!

LYSANDER

Amen, amen to that fair prayer, say I.And then end life when I end loyalty!Here is my bed. Sleep give thee all his rest!

LYSANDER

I say "amen" to that beautiful prayer. And may my life end if my loyalty to you ever does. I’ll sleep over here. May the god of sleep give you all his rest!

HERMIA

With half that wish the wisher’s eyes be pressed!

HERMIA

May half that rest be yours.

HERMIA and LYSANDER sleep.

ROBIN enters.

ROBIN

Through the forest have I gone. But Athenian found I none, On whose eyes I might approve This flower’s force in stirring love. [Sees LYSANDER and HERMIA] Night and silence! Who is here? Weeds of Athens he doth wear. This is he, my master said, Despisèd the Athenian maid. And here the maiden, sleeping sound On the dank and dirty ground. Pretty soul! She durst not lie Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy. [Squeezes flower juice on LYSANDER’s eyelids] Churl, upon thy eyes I throw All the power this charm doth owe. When thou wakest, let love forbid Sleep his seat on thy eyelid. So awake when I am gone, For I must now to Oberon.

ROBIN

I’ve gone all through the forest, but I've found no Athenian on whose eyes to use the love juice of this flower. [Sees LYSANDER and HERMIA] Whoa! Who is this? He’s wearing Athenian clothes. This must be the man who shunned the Athenian girl. And here’s the girl, sleeping soundly on the damp, dirty ground. Pretty girl! She shouldn’t lie near this hard-hearted, crude man. [Squeezes flower juice on LYSANDER ’s eyelids] Villain, I throw all the power that this magic charm has on your eyes. When you wake up, may love stop you from falling back to sleep. Wake up when I’m gone, because now I must go to Oberon.

ROBIN exits.

DEMETRIUS and HELENA enter, running.

HELENA

Stay, though thou kill me, sweet Demetrius.

HELENA

Stop, Demetrius! Even if it's just to kill me.

DEMETRIUS

I charge thee, hence, and do not haunt me thus.

DEMETRIUS

I demand that you get out of here, and stop following me like this.

HELENA

O, wilt thou darkling leave me? Do not so.

HELENA

Oh, will you leave me in the dark? Don't!

DEMETRIUS

Stay, on thy peril. I alone will go.

DEMETRIUS

Stay at your own risk. I’m going on my own.

DEMETRIUS exits.

HELENA

Oh, I am out of breath in this fond chase. The more my prayer, the lesser is my grace. Happy is Hermia, wheresoe'er she lies, For she hath blessèd and attractive eyes. How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears. If so, my eyes are oftener washed than hers. No, no, I am as ugly as a bear, For beasts that meet me run away for fear. Therefore no marvel though Demetrius Do, as a monster, fly my presence thus. What wicked and dissembling glass of mine Made me compare with Hermia’s sphery eyne? [Sees LYSANDER] But who is here? Lysander, on the ground? Dead or asleep? I see no blood, no wound. Lysander, if you live, good sir, awake.

HELENA

Oh, I’m out of breath from this foolish chase of love. The more I pray, the less good fortune I am given. Hermia is happy, wherever she is, because she has blessed and magnetic eyes. How did her eyes become so bright? Not from crying salty tears. If that was the cause, well, my eyes get washed by tears more often hers. No, no, I’m as ugly as a bear, because animals that see me run away in fear. So it’s not a shock that Demetrius runs from me the way he does—as if I were a monster. What cruel and lying mirror made me compare my eyes with Hermia’s bright ones? [Sees LYSANDER] But who is this here? Lysander, on the ground? Is he dead or asleep? I see no blood or injuries. Lysander, good sir, wake up if you’re alive.

LYSANDER

[Waking] And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake. Transparent Helena! Nature shows art That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart. Where is Demetrius? Oh, how fit a word Is that vile name to perish on my sword!

LYSANDER

[Waking up] I’d not just wake up, but run through fire for you. Radiant Helena! Mother Nature shows her magic by letting me see through your body into your heart. Where is Demetrius? Oh, that name deserves to be killed by my sword!

HELENA

Do not say so, Lysander. Say not so.What though he love your Hermia? Lord, what though?Yet Hermia still loves you. Then be content.

HELENA

Don’t say that, Lysander. Don’t say that. Why does it matter if he loves Hermia? Lord, what does it matter? Hermia still loves you. So be happy.

LYSANDER

Content with Hermia? No. I do repent The tedious minutes I with her have spent. Not Hermia but Helena I love. Who will not change a raven for a dove? The will of man is by his reason swayed, And reason says you are the worthier maid. Things growing are not ripe until their season. So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason. And touching now the point of human skill, Reason becomes the marshal to my will And leads me to your eyes, where I o'erlook Love’s stories written in love’s richest book.

LYSANDER

Happy with Hermia? No. I regret all that boring time I spent with her. It's not Hermia I love. It's Helena. Who wouldn’t choose a dove over a crow? What a man wants is influenced by his reason, and reason makes it obvious that you are better than Hermia. Just as fruits and vegetables don't ripen until the right season, I—being young—did not until now have a fully mature sense of reason. Now, with fully developed taste and judgment, my reason has more control over my desires. And it’s leading me to look into your eyes, where I find the richest collection of love stories ever written.

HELENA

Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born? When at your hands did I deserve this scorn? Is ’t not enough, is ’t not enough, young man, That I did never, no, nor never can, Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius' eye, But you must flout my insufficiency? Good troth, you do me wrong, good sooth, you do, In such disdainful manner me to woo. But fare you well. Perforce I must confess I thought you lord of more true gentleness. Oh, that a lady of one man refused Should of another therefore be abused!

HELENA

Why is it my destiny to always be made fun of? What have I done to you to deserve this kind of mockery? Isn't it enough, isn't it enough, young man, that I never have and never will get a kind look from Demetrius? Must you also make fun of my defectiveness? Honestly, you are being cruel to woo me so disdainfully, without meaning it. So goodbye, though I have to say that I thought you were a much kinder and nobler person. Oh, how terrible that a lady who’s been rejected by one man would then be mocked for that rejection by another man!

HELENA exits.

LYSANDER

She sees not Hermia. Hermia, sleep thou there. And never mayst thou come Lysander near! For as a surfeit of the sweetest things The deepest loathing to the stomach brings, Or as the heresies that men do leave Are hated most of those they did deceive, So thou, my surfeit and my heresy, Of all be hated, but the most of me. And, all my powers, address your love and might To honor Helen and to be her knight.

LYSANDER

She doesn’t see Hermia. Hermia, keep sleeping over there, and never come near me again! Eating too many sweet things makes people sick to their stomachs, and the mistakes that people make are always hated most by the one who made them. Hermia, you're my sweet and my mistake, so I hate you more than anyone. Now, I’ll use all my love and energy to honor Helen, and be her loyal man.

LYSANDER exits.

HERMIA

[Waking up] Help me, Lysander, help me! Do thy best To pluck this crawling serpent from my breast. Ay me, for pity! What a dream was here. Lysander, look how I do quake with fear. Methought a serpent eat my heart away, And you sat smiling at his cruel pray. Lysander!—What, removed?—Lysander, lord!— What, out of hearing, gone? No sound, no word?— Alack, where are you? Speak, an if you hear. Speak, of all loves! I swoon almost with fear. No? Then I well perceive you all not nigh. Either death or you I'll find immediately.

HERMIA


[Waking up] Lysander, help me! Help me! Do your best: try to get this slithering snake off of my chest. Oh goodness! What an awful dream I just had. Lysander, look at how I'm shaking with fear! I thought a serpent was eating up my heart, and you just sat there, watching and smiling. Lysander! What, are you gone? Lysander, my lord! What, is he so far away that he can't hear me? Not a sound, not a word in reply? Alas, where are you? Say something if you can hear me. Please, say something! Anything! I'm so afraid that I'm almost fainting. No? Nothing? Then I guess you are not nearby. I'll either find you right away, or else I'll die.

HERMIA exits

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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.