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A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream Translation Act 3, Scene 1

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While TITANIA sleeps onstage, BOTTOM, QUINCE, FLUTE, SNUG, SNOUT, and STARVELING enter.

BOTTOM

Are we all met?

BOTTOM

Are we all here?

QUINCE

Pat, pat. And here’s a marvelous convenient place for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn-brake our tiring-house, and we will do it in action as we will do it before the duke.

QUINCE

Right on time. And this is a great place for us to rehearse. This clearing will be the stage, and this hawthorn bush will be our dressing room. We'll rehearse the play exactly the same way that we’ll perform it for the duke.

BOTTOM

Peter Quince.

BOTTOM

Peter Quince.

QUINCE

What sayest thou, bully Bottom?

QUINCE

What is it, my fine friend Bottom?

BOTTOM

There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe that will never please. First, Pyramus must draw a swordto kill himself, which the ladies cannot abide. How answer you that?

BOTTOM

There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe that will never please the audience. First of all, Pyramus has to take out a sword and use it to kill himself, which the women in the audience won’t be able to stand. What do you think about that?

SNOUT

By 'r lakin, a parlous fear.

SNOUT

By the Virgin Mary, that’s a serious problem.

STARVELING

I believe we must leave the killing out, when all is done.

STARVELING

I think, in the end, we’ll have to leave out all the killing.

BOTTOM

Not a whit. I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue, and let the prologue seem to say we will do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus is not killed indeed. And for the more better assurance, tell them that I, Pyramus, am not Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver. This will put them out of fear.

BOTTOM

Not at all! I’ve got an idea that will solve the problem. Write, as I describe, a prologue that explains to the audience that we won’t actually hurt anyone with our swords, and that Pyramus isn’t really killed. And to make everyone even more comfortable, explain that that while I look like Pyramus I'm not actually him, I'm really Bottom the weaver. That will stop the audience from being afraid.

QUINCE

Well. We will have such a prologue, and it shall be written in eight and six.

QUINCE

Good. We’ll perform that prologue, and we'll write it in traditional ballad form, with alternating lines of eight- and six-syllables.

BOTTOM

No, make it two more. Let it be written in eight and eight.

BOTTOM

No, add two more. Write it with alternating lines of eight and eight syllables.

SNOUT

Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?

SNOUT

Won’t the women be frightened by the lion?

STARVELING

I fear it, I promise you.

STARVELING

I’m very worried about that.

BOTTOM

Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves. To bring in—God shield us!—a lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing. For there is not a more fearful wildfowlthan your lion living. And we ought to look to ’t.

BOTTOM

Sirs, you should all think about this: bringing in—God protect us!—a lion in front of women is really an awful thing to do. Because there's not a more frightening wild bird living than the lion. We should remember that.

SNOUT

Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a lion.

SNOUT

So we'll have another prologue that explains he’s not actually a lion.

BOTTOM

Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be seen through the lion’s neck. And he himself must speak through, saying thus—or to the same defect—“Ladies,” or “Fair ladies,” “I would wish you” or “I would request you” or “I would entreat you” “not to fear, not to tremble, my life for yours. If you think I come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life. No, I am no such thing. I am a man as other men are.” And there indeed let him name his name, and tell them plainly he is Snug the joiner.

BOTTOM

No, you should announce to the audience his actual name, and make it so that half of his face is visible through the lion costume. And he himself should say something like the following, or something else to the same defect: “Ladies,” or “Beautiful ladies,” “I would ask you” or “I would request you” or “I would beg you” “not to fear, not to tremble, because I would defend your lives by giving up my own. If you thought I came here as a real lion, it would endanger my life. No, I am no lion. I am a man, just like other men.” And at that point he should say his name, and tell them plainly that he’s Snug the carpenter.

QUINCE

Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things: that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber. For, youknow, Pyramus and Thisbe meet by moonlight.

QUINCE

Good, that’s what we’ll do. But there are two more problems we have to solve. How are we going to bring moonlight into the room where we perform? Because, you know, Pyramus and Thisbe meet in the moonlight.

SNOUT

Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?

SNOUT

Will the moon be shining on the night we’re performing our play?

BOTTOM

A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanac. Find out moonshine, find out moonshine!

BOTTOM

A calendar; we need a calendar! Look in an almanac. Look up when the moon shines, look up when the moon shines!

QUINCE

[Takes out a book] Yes, it doth shine that night.

QUINCE

[He takes out and consults a book] Yes, the moon will shine that night.

BOTTOM

Why then, may you leave a casement of the great chamberwindow where we play open, and the moon may shine in atthe casement.

BOTTOM

Well then, you could leave a window open in the great room where we’ll be performing, and the moon will shine in through the window.

QUINCE

Ay. Or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern, and say he comes to disfigure, or to present,the person of Moonshine. Then, there is another thing: we must have a wall in the great chamber. For Pyramus and Thisbe, says the story, did talk through the chink of a wall.

QUINCE

Yes, or else someone will have to come in carrying a bundle of sticks and a lantern and say he’s come to disfigure, or represent, the character of Moonshine. Then there's another problem: we need to have a wall in the great room. Because Pyramus and Thisbe talked to each other through a little hole in a wall, as the story goes.

SNOUT

You can never bring in a wall. What say you, Bottom?

SNOUT

You’ll never be able to bring in a wall. What do you think, Bottom?

BOTTOM

Some man or other must present Wall. And let him have some plaster, or some loam, or some roughcast about him to signify wall. And let him hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisbe whisper.

BOTTOM

Someone has to play the part of Wall. For a costume, he can be covered in some plaster or clay with pebbles stuck to him to show that he’s a wall. Then he can hold his fingers like this [He holds up his hand with two fingers split slightly apart], and Pyramus and Thisbe can whisper to each other through that crack.

QUINCE

If that may be then all is well. Come, sit down, every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you begin. When you have spoken your speech, enter into thatbrake. And so everyone according to his cue.

QUINCE

If we do that, everything will be fine. Now sit down everyone and rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you start. When you've said your lines, go behind that bush as if it were a curtain offstage. Everyone else, do the same according to whether you should be on or offstage.

ROBIN enters unseen.

ROBIN

[Aside] What hempen homespuns have we swaggering here, So near the cradle of the fairy queen? What, a play toward? I’ll be an auditor. An actor too, perhaps, if I see cause.

ROBIN

[To himself] Who are these country bumpkins making so much noise so close to the fairy queen's bed? What? Are they about to perform a play? I’ll be the audience. And I’ll act in it, too, if I see a reason to.

QUINCE

Speak, Pyramus. Thisbe, stand forth.

QUINCE

Speak, Pyramus. Thisbe, come forward.

BOTTOM

[As PYRAMUS] Thisbe, the flowers of odious savors sweet—

BOTTOM

[As PYRAMUS] Thisbe, flowers with odious smelling sweet—

QUINCE

“Odors,” “odors.”

QUINCE

“Odors,” “odors.”

BOTTOM

[As PYRAMUS] —odors savors sweet, So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisbe dear. But hark, a voice! Stay thou but here awhile, And by and by I will to thee appear.

BOTTOM

[As PYRAMUS] —odors smelling sweet, are like your breath, my dearest Thisbe dear. But listen, a voice! Wait here for a moment, and I’ll be back soon!

BOTTOM exits.

ROBIN

[Aside] A stranger Pyramus than e'er played here.

ROBIN

[To himself] A stranger Pyramus has never been performed anywhere.

FLUTE

Must I speak now?

FLUTE

Should I talk now?

ROBIN exits.

QUINCE

Ay, marry, must you. For you must understand he goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again.

QUINCE

Yes, you should. You’re supposed to show that you think that Pyramus just went to check on a noise he heard and will soon come back.

FLUTE

[As THISBE] Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue, Of color like the red rose on triumphant brier, Most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew, As true as truest horse that yet would never tire. I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb.

FLUTE

[As THISBE] My shining Pyramus, you are as white as a lily, the color of a red rose on a splendid rosebush, a lively young man and also a lovely Jew, as trustworthy as a horse that never gets tired. I’ll meet you, Pyramus, at Ninny’s grave.

QUINCE

“Ninus' tomb,” man. Why, you must not speak that yet. That you answer to Pyramus. You speak all your part at once, cues and all. Pyramus, enter. Your cue is past. Itis “never tire.”

QUINCE

That’s “Ninus’ grave,” man. And also, don’t say that part yet, because you're supposed to say it to Pyramus. You just said all your lines at once, cues and all. Enter, Pyramus. You missed your cue. It’s “never gets tired.”

FLUTE

Oh. [As Thisbe] As true as truest horse that yet would never tire.

FLUTE

Oh! [As THISBE] As trustworthy as a horse that never gets tired.

BOTTOM

[As PYRAMUS] If I were fair, Thisbe, I were only thine.

BOTTOM

[As PYRAMUS] If I were handsome, my lovely Thisbe, I would still be entirely yours.

BOTTOM enters, with an ass' head instead of his own. ROBIN also enters.

QUINCE

Oh, monstrous! Oh, strange! We are haunted. Pray, masters! Fly, masters! Help!

QUINCE

Oh! A monster! How strange! We’re being haunted. Pray, gentlemen! Run, gentlemen! Help!

QUINCE, FLUTE, SNUG, SNOUT, and STARVELING exit.

ROBIN

I’ll follow you. I’ll lead you about a round Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier. Sometime a horse I’ll be, sometime a hound, A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire. And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn, Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.

ROBIN

I’ll follow you. I’ll lead you all in circles, through bogs, through bushes, through hedges, and through thorns. Sometimes I’ll take the shape of a horse, sometimes a dog or a pig or a headless bear. Sometimes I’ll be A fire! And I’ll neigh like a horse, bark like a dog, grunt like a pig, growl like a bear, and burn like a fire wherever you run.

ROBIN exits.

BOTTOM

Why do they run away? This is a knavery of them to makeme afeard.

BOTTOM

Why are they running away? This is some practical joke of theirs to try to scare me.

SNOUT enters.

SNOUT

O Bottom, thou art changed! What do I see on thee?

SNOUT

Oh, Bottom, you’ve been changed! What do you have on your head?

BOTTOM

What do you see? You see an ass head of your own, do you?

BOTTOM

What do you think I have on my head? You see something you've imagined with your own asinine head, right?

SNOUT exits. QUINCE enters.

QUINCE

Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee. Thou art translated.

QUINCE

God bless you, Bottom, God bless you. You’ve been transformed.

QUINCE exits.

BOTTOM

I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me, to fright me if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can. I will walk up and down here and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid. [Sings] The ouzel cock, so black of hue With orange-tawny bill, The throstlewith his note so true, The wren with little quill—

BOTTOM

I see what joke they're trying to pull. They want to make an ass of me, to scare me if they can. But I won’t move from this spot, whatever they do. I’ll walk back and forth and sing a song so that they’ll hear me and know I’m not afraid.
[Singing]
The blackbird, so black in color
With an orange-and-tan beak,
The thrush with its beautiful voice,
The wren with its high piping voice—

TITANIA

[Waking] What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?

TITANIA

[Waking up] What angel wakes me from my bed of flowers?

BOTTOM

[Sings] The finch, the sparrow, and the lark, The plainsong cuckoo gray, Whose note full many a man doth mark And dares not answer “Nay”— For indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird? Who would give a bird the lie, though he cry “cuckoo” never so?

BOTTOM

[Singing]
The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
The gray cuckoo with his unchanging song
Whose voice so many men hear
But don’t dare say no to it—

Indeed, who would try to win an argument with a stupid bird?
Who would say that a bird was lying, now matter how many times the bird called out that his wife was cheating on him?

TITANIA

I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again. Mine ear is much enamored of thy note. So is mine eye enthrallèd to thy shape. And thy fair virtue’s force perforce doth move me On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee.

TITANIA

Noble human, I beg you, sing again. My ears cannot get enough of your voice, and my eyes are entranced by your looks. Though this is the first time I have ever seen you, the power of your beauty compels me to swear that I love you.

BOTTOM

Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays. The more the pity thatsome honest neighbors will not make them friends. Nay, I can gleek upon occasion.

BOTTOM

I don’t think you should have a good reason to love me. And yet, to be honest, reason and love are seldom found together these days. It’s a shame that some mutual friend of theirs doesn’t introduce them. Ha, I've been known to tell a joke from time to time.

TITANIA

Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.

TITANIA

You’re as wise as you are beautiful.

BOTTOM

Not so, neither. But if I had wit enough to get out of this wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn.

BOTTOM

That’s not true, either. But if I were wise enough to get out of this forest, I’d have all the wisdom I needed.

TITANIA

Out of this wood do not desire to go. Thou shalt remain here whether thou wilt or no. I am a spirit of no common rate. The summer still doth tend upon my state. And I do love thee. Therefore go with me. I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee. And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep, And sing while thou on pressèd flowers dost sleep. And I will purge thy mortal grossness so That thou shalt like an airy spirit go. Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed!

TITANIA

Please don't wish that you could leave this forest. You will stay here whether you want to or not. I’m not some ordinary fairy. The summer itself serves me as one of my followers. And I love you. So come with me. I’ll give you fairies to serve you, and they’ll bring you jewels from the ocean depths, and sing to you as you sleep on a bed of pressed flowers. And I’ll remove you from your physical body, so you will be a spirit of the air. Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed, come here!

Four fairies enter: PEASEBLOSSOM, COBWEB, MOTH, and MUSTARDSEED.

PEASEBLOSSOM

Ready.

PEASEBLOSSOM

Ready.

COBWEB

And I.

COBWEB

Me too.

MOTH

And I.

MOTH

Me too.

MUSTARDSEED

And I.

MUSTARDSEED

Me too.

ALL

Where shall we go?

ALL

Where should we go?

TITANIA

Be kind and courteous to this gentleman. Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes. Feed him with apricoks and dewberries, With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries. The honey bags steal from the humble-bees, And for night tapers crop their waxen thighs And light them at the fiery glowworms' eyes To have my love to bed and to arise. And pluck the wings from painted butterflies To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes. Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.

TITANIA

Be kind and considerate to this gentleman. Follow where he walks. Run and jump joyfully where he can watch you. Feed him apricots and blackberries, along with purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries. Steal honey from the bumblebees, and make candles from beeswax taken from the bees' legs. Then light the candles with the fire from glowworms' eyes so that my love will have light when he goes to bed and wakes up. Pluck the wings from colorful butterflies, then use them to fan moonbeams away from his sleeping eyes. Fairies, bow and curtsy to him.

PEASEBLOSSOM

Hail, mortal.

PEASEBLOSSOM

Hello, mortal!

COBWEB

Hail.

COBWEB

Hello!

MOTH

Hail.

MOTH

Hello!

MUSTARDSEED

Hail.

MUSTARDSEED

Hello!

BOTTOM

I cry your worships' mercy, heartily. I beseech your worship’s name.

BOTTOM

I beg your pardon, sirs, very much. Will you tell me your names, sirs?

COBWEB

Cobweb.

COBWEB

Cobweb.

BOTTOM

I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good MasterCobweb. If I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you.Your name, honest gentleman?

BOTTOM

I would like to get to know you better, good Mister Cobweb. If I cut my finger, I’ll use you as a bandage. And your name, good sir?

PEASEBLOSSOM

Peaseblossom.

PEASEBLOSSOM

Peaseblossom.

BOTTOM

I pray you, commend me to Mistress Squash, your mother,and to Master Peascod, your father. Good Master Peaseblossom, I shall desire you of more acquaintance too. Your name, I beseech you, sir?

BOTTOM

Please, give my regards to Mrs. Peapod, your mother, and to Mr. Peapod, your father. Good Mr. Peaseblossom, I’d like to get to know you better too. And now, may I ask what your name is, sir?

MUSTARDSEED

Mustardseed.

MUSTARDSEED

Mustardseed.

BOTTOM

Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience well. That same cowardly, giantlike ox-beef hath devoured manya gentleman of your house. I promise you your kindred hath made my eyes water ere now. I desire you of more acquaintance, good Master Mustardseed.

BOTTOM

Good Mr. Mustardseed, I know how you have patiently suffered, and how those cowardly, gigantic sides of beef have caused so many of your family members to get eaten. I promise you that many of your mustard relatives have made my eyes water before now. I'd like to get to know you better, good Mr. Mustardseed.

TITANIA

Come, wait upon him. Lead him to my bower. The moon methinks looks with a watery eye. And when she weeps, weeps every little flower, Lamenting some enforcèd chastity. Tie up my love's tongue. Bring him silently.

TITANIA

Serve him well, and lead him to the place I sleep. I think the moon looks sad, and when she cries, every little flower cries, lamenting the fact that they are forced to remain chaste. Make my lover stay quiet. Bring him to me in silence.

They exit.

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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.