A line-by-line translation

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream Translation Act 3, Scene 2

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The Fairy King OBERON enters.

OBERON

I wonder if Titania be awaked.Then, what it was that next came in her eye,Which she must dote on in extremity.

OBERON

I wonder if Titania is awake. And, if she is, I wonder what thing she saw first that she must love completely now.

ROBIN enters.

Here comes my messenger. How now, mad spirit?What night-rule now about this haunted grove?

Here comes my messenger. What’s going on, crazy spirit? What fun have you had tonight around this haunted forest?

ROBIN

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 thick-skin 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.

ROBIN

My mistress is in love with a monster. While she was sleeping nearby in her secret bed beneath a canopy of flowers, there came a bunch of fools—ignorant manual workers who earn their money working in shops in Athens. They met to rehearse a play they hope to perform on Theseus’ wedding day. The silliest blockhead of that whole dumb group, who played Pyramus in their play, finished his scene and went offstage to sit in the bushes. While he sat there I played a prank on him, and stuck an ass' head on him. Soon it was time for him to respond to his Thisbe, and he came out of the bushes. When they saw him, his friends ran away, like wild geese that spot an approaching hunter, or like a flock of red-headed jackdaws rising, cawing, and madly flying across the sky at the sound of a gunshot. When one of the friends heard my footsteps, he fell head over heels, shouted “Murder!” and called for help from Athens. Their fear was so strong that they lost their common sense, and began to think that inanimate objects were trying to get them, such as thorns that caught at their clothing, sleeves, and hats. I led them away in their frightened confusion, and left sweet, transformed Pyramus there. At that moment, it just so happened that Titania woke up and fell in love with an ass.

OBERON

This falls out better than I could devise.But hast thou yet latched the Athenian’s eyesWith the love juice, as I did bid thee do?

OBERON

This has turned out even better than I could have planned. But have you put the love juice on the eyes of that Athenian, as I told you to?

ROBIN

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.

ROBIN

I did it while he was sleeping, so that task is completed too. And the Athenian woman was sleeping near him. So, when he woke up, he certainly must have seen her.

DEMETRIUS and HERMIA enter.

OBERON

[Aside to ROBIN] Stand close. This is the same Athenian.

OBERON

[To ROBIN so only he can hear] Be quiet. This is the Athenian we were talking about.

ROBIN

[Aside to OBERON] This is the woman, but not this the man.

ROBIN

[To OBERON so only he can hear] That’s the woman I saw, but that is not the man.

DEMETRIUS

Oh, why rebuke you him that loves you so?Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.

DEMETRIUS

Oh, why be so mean to someone who loves you so much? You should aim such cruel language only at your worst enemy.

HERMIA

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, And kill me too. 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.

HERMIA

I’m scolding you at the moment, but I should be treating you even worse than that. I’m frightened that you’ve given me good reason to curse you. If you killed Lysander while he was sleeping, then you’re already knee-deep in blood, and you should just plunge in deeper and kill me too. He is more faithful to me than the sun is to the day. Would he have snuck away from me while I was asleep? I’ll only believe that’s true when a hole appears through the center of the Earth, and the moon sneaks through it to surprise her brother, the sun, on the other side of the world. The only possibility is that you murdered him. A murderer should look like you do—so pale and grim.

DEMETRIUS

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.

DEMETRIUS

That’s how someone who’s been murdered should look. And that’s how I should look, too, because you’ve pierced me through the heart with your cruelty. And yet you, the murderer, look as bright and shining as the planet Venus, glimmering in its orbit in the sky.

HERMIA

What’s this to my Lysander? Where is he?Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?

HERMIA

What does any of that have to do with my Lysander? Where is he? Oh, good Demetrius, will you bring him to me?

DEMETRIUS

I had rather give his carcass to my hounds.

DEMETRIUS

I would rather feed his corpse to my dogs.

HERMIA

Out, dog! Out, cur! Thou drivest me past the bounds Of maiden’s patience. Hast thou slain him then? Henceforth be never numbered among men! Oh, 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.

HERMIA

Get away, you dog! Go away, you mutt! You’ve driven me past what any woman could endure. Have you killed him, then? From now on you should not even be thought of as a human being. Oh, tell the truth for once. Tell the truth, for my sake. You wouldn’t have even dared to look at him when he was awake, but then you murdered him while he was sleeping? Oh, how brave of you! A snake, a poisonous snake, would do it just the same. And in fact a snake did do it, because no snake has ever had a more forked, lying tongue than you have, you serpent.

DEMETRIUS

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.

DEMETRIUS

You’re working yourself into a rage out of a misunderstanding. I’m not guilty of killing Lysander. As far as I know, he’s not dead.

HERMIA

I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.

HERMIA

I beg you, then: tell me he’s all right.

DEMETRIUS

An if I could, what should I get therefore?

DEMETRIUS

If I could tell you that, what would I get out of it?

HERMIA

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.

HERMIA

The privilege of never seeing me again. Now I’m going to depart from your presence, which I hate. I hope you never see me again, whether he’s  dead or not.

HERMIA exits.

DEMETRIUS

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. [Lies down and sleeps]

DEMETRIUS

There’s no point in following her when she’s so angry. So, for a while I’ll just stay here. Sadness becomes harder to bear when it’s combined with a lack of sleep. Now I’ll try to lighten my sadness by getting a little sleep. [He lies down and falls asleep]

OBERON

[To ROBIN] 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.

OBERON

[To ROBIN] What have you done? You’ve made a complete mistake and put the love-juice on someone who was truly in love. Because of your mistake someone’s true love has been turned false, instead of someone's false love being turned into a true love.

ROBIN

Then fate o'errules that, one man holding troth,A million fail, confounding oath on oath.

ROBIN

That’s the fate of love. For every man who’s faithful to his love, a million others cancel out each oath of love they make with a new one, over and over again.

OBERON

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.

OBERON

Race all through the forest, moving faster than the wind, and find Helena of Athens. She’s lovesick, and her face is pale because of all of her sighing, which is bad for the blood. Use some magic illusion to bring her here, and I’ll put the love juice on his eyes for when she arrives.

ROBIN

I go, I go. Look how I go,Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow.

ROBIN

I'm going, I'm going. See how I go? Faster than an arrow from a Tartar’s bow.

ROBIN exits.

OBERON

[Squeezing flower juice into DEMETRIUS ’s eyes] Flower of this purple dye, Hit with Cupid’s archery, Sink in apple of his eye. When his love he doth espy, Let her shine as gloriously As the Venus of the sky. When thou wakest, if she be by, Beg of her for remedy.

OBERON

[Squeezing flower juice on DEMETRIUS ’s eyelids] Purple flower, hit by Cupid’s arrow, sink into the pupils of his eyes. When he sees the girl he should love, make her seem to him as bright as Venus shining in the sky. When you wake up, if she’s nearby, beg her to answer your love with love.

ROBIN enters.

ROBIN

Captain of our fairy band, Helena is here at hand, And the youth, mistook by me, Pleading for a lover’s fee. Shall we their fond pageant see? Lord, what fools these mortals be!

ROBIN

Leader of fairies, Helena is coming. So, too, is the young man whom I mistook for this one sleeping here, and he’s begging her to love him. Should we watch this absurd show? Lord, mortals are such fools!

OBERON

Stand aside. The noise they makeWill cause Demetrius to awake.

OBERON

Stand out of the way. The noise they’re making is going to wake up Demetrius.

ROBIN

Then will two at once woo one. That must needs be sport alone. And those things do best please me That befall preposterously.

ROBIN

Then both of them will pursue one girl at the same time. Watching that will be unparalleled entertainment. Ridiculous things are the things I like best.

LYSANDER and HELENA enter.

LYSANDER

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?

LYSANDER

Why would you think that I’m making fun of you when I tell you of my love for you? Mockery is never accompanied by tears. Look, I cry when I swear my love for you. And when vows are made by someone who is crying, that shows how true and since the vow is. How can you think I am mocking you, when my tears are like a badge of honesty?

HELENA

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.

HELENA

You display your sneaky ways more and more clearly. What a nasty fight it will be, when one “true” vow invalidates another “true” vow you made earlier. These promises you’re making to me belong to Hermia. Are you going to just jilt her? If you weigh the vows you’ve made to Hermia against the vows you made to me, they’ll cancel each other out, and weigh nothing. They’ll be as weightless as lies.

LYSANDER

I had no judgment when to her I swore.

LYSANDER

I had no true power of reason when I swore those vows to her.

HELENA

Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o'er.

HELENA

In my opinion, you don’t have any reason now, as you are breaking those vows.

LYSANDER

Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.

LYSANDER

Demetrius loves her, and he doesn’t love you.

DEMETRIUS

[Waking] O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine! To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne? Crystal is muddy. Oh, 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. Oh, let me kiss This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!

DEMETRIUS

[Waking up] Oh, Helena, goddess! Divine, perfect nymph! My love, to what can I compare your eyes? Crystal is like mud compared to them. Oh, your lips look like ripe, tempting cherries just touching together! The pure white snow on the tops of the Taurus mountains, fluffed by winds from the east, look as black as a crow in comparison to the whiteness of your hands. Oh, let me kiss your pure white hand in a pledge of happiness!

HELENA

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.

HELENA

Oh cruelty! Oh hell! I see you’ve all joined together to humiliate me for your own enjoyment. If you were civilized or had good manners, you wouldn’t hurt me this way. Can’t you just hate me, as I know you do? Do you have to team up to mock me too? If you were true men, as you pretend to be, you wouldn’t treat a noble woman this way—making vows and promises and praising my beauty in such over-the-top ways when I know you both hate me in your hearts. You’re both competing for Hermia’s love, and now you’re competing to see who can mock me more. What an impressive feat, what a manly thing to do, to put tears in a poor girl's eyes through your mockery! No truly noble person would offend an innocent girl like this, or torture a poor soul's patience just so you can have some fun.

LYSANDER

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.

LYSANDER

You’re being mean, Demetrius. Don’t be. You love Hermia. You know I know it. And here, with everyone’s best interests in mind, and with all my heart, I give up all my claim to Hermia’s love and give it to you. Now you give up your claim to Helena’s love and give it to me, because I love her, and will continue to love her, until I die.

HELENA

Never did mockers waste more idle breath.

HELENA

No one has ever put in so much pointless effort just to make fun of someone.

DEMETRIUS

Lysander, keep thy Hermia. I will none. If e'er I loved her, all that love is gone. My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourned, And now to Helen is it home returned, There to remain.

DEMETRIUS

Lysander, keep your Hermia. I’m not interested. If I ever loved her, all that love is now gone. My heart visited her as if it was on a little journey, but how my heart has returned home to Helena and it will remain with her.

LYSANDER

Helen, it is not so.

LYSANDER

Helena, it’s not true.

DEMETRIUS

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.

DEMETRIUS

Don’t insult a true love you don’t know anything about, or else you risk paying a terrible price. Look, your love is coming. Over there is the one you love.

HERMIA enters.

HERMIA

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?

HERMIA

While the darkness of night makes eyes work less well, it helps ears to work better. While it blocks the ability to see, it more than makes up for that by increasing the ability to hear. My eyes couldn’t find you, Lysander. But thankfully my ears heard your voice. Why did you so cruelly leave me alone?

LYSANDER

Why should he stay, whom love doth press to go?

LYSANDER

Why should I stay, when love pushed me to go?

HERMIA

What love could press Lysander from my side?

HERMIA

What love could make you move from my side?

LYSANDER

Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide, Fair Helena, who more engilds the night Than all yon fiery oes 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?

LYSANDER

I could not wait because of my love for beautiful Helena, who shines in the night more brightly than all those fiery orbs and stars. Why are you looking for me? Wasn’t it obvious that I left you because of the hatred I feel toward you?

HERMIA

You speak not as you think. It cannot be.

HERMIA

You don’t believe what you’re saying. It can’t be.

HELENA

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—oh, is it all 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 rent 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.

HELENA

So, she’s a part of your little gang! Now I see that all three of them have joined together to create this game of lies in order to hurt me. Hurtful Hermia! Ungrateful girl! Have you conspired and schemed to torment me with this awful mockery? Have you forgotten about all the confidential conversations we’ve shared, the vows of sisterhood we made, the hours we spent together while scolding time for moving so fast and forcing us apart? Our schoolgirl friendship, our childhood innocence? Hermia, we used to sit together like two gods of craftsmanship, and sew one flower with our two needles, working on the same single piece of cloth. We would sit on the same cushion, singing the same song in perfect tune, as if our hands, our sides, our voices and our minds were joined as one. We grew up together, like two cherries—which seem to be separate but are also joined together. Two loving cherries sharing one stem. That's just how it was with us, who seemed to have two bodies but one heart, like doubled coats of arms that belong separately to a husband and wife who also share a single crest. Are you really going to rip apart our old friendship by joining these men to humiliate your poor friend? It’s not friendly, and it’s not ladylike. All women, not just me, will scold you for acting this way, even though I’m the only one who’s getting hurt.

HERMIA

I am amazèd at your passionate words.I scorn you not. It seems that you scorn me.

HERMIA

I’m shocked by your angry words. I don't hate you. It seems like you hate me.

HELENA

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.

HELENA

Didn't you get Lysander to mock me by following me around, praising my eyes and face? And didn't you make your other love, Demetrius—who just before kicked me with his foot—to call me a goddess, a nymph, and some divine, rare, precious angel? Why would he say that to a girl he hates? And why does Lysander deny that he loves you, when he loves you all the way down to his very soul, and offer me his affection, unless you told him to and he agreed to it? Why do you care that I’m not as blessed as you are—so surrounded by love, so fortunate—and am instead completely miserable, my love unreturned? You should pity me for it, not despise me.

HERMIA

I understand not what you mean by this.

HERMIA

I don’t understand what you’re saying.

HELENA

Ay, 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.

HELENA

Yes, do that. Keep it up, pretend to be serious, but then make faces at me behind my back, wink at each other, and keep the joke going. You're doing such a good job with this prank it will go down in history. If you had any compassion, refinement, or manners, you wouldn’t pretend to fight over me. But goodbye. It’s partly my own fault (given how I've acted), but I can fix it by leaving, or dying.

LYSANDER

Stay, gentle Helena. Hear my excuse.My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena!

LYSANDER

Stay, sweet Helena. Listen to my excuse. My love, my life, my soul, beautiful Helena!

HELENA

Oh, excellent!

HELENA

Oh, nice one!

HERMIA

[To LYSANDER] Sweet, do not scorn her so.

HERMIA

[To LYSANDER] My love, don’t mock her like that.

DEMETRIUS

If she cannot entreat, I can compel.

DEMETRIUS

[To LYSANDER] If Hermia’s pleas don't get you to stop, I can force you to.

LYSANDER

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.

LYSANDER

You can’t force me to stop any more than Hermia can plead for me to. Your threats aren't any stronger than her weak begging. Helena, I love you. On my life, I swear I do. I swear on my life, which I will risk by fighting this man to prove he's lying when he says that I don't love you.

DEMETRIUS

I say I love thee more than he can do.

DEMETRIUS

I say that I love you more than he does.

LYSANDER

If thou say so, withdraw and prove it too.

LYSANDER

If that’s what you say, draw your sword and prove it.

DEMETRIUS

Quick, come.

DEMETRIUS

You’re on. Let’s do it.

HERMIA

Lysander, whereto tends all this?

HERMIA

Lysander, what does all this mean?

HERMIA holds LYSANDER back.

LYSANDER

[To HERMIA] Away, you Ethiope!

LYSANDER

[To HERMIA] Go away, you African!

DEMETRIUS

No, no. He’llSeem to break loose. Take on as you would follow,But yet come not. You are a tame man, go!

DEMETRIUS

No, no. He’s just pretending like he’s trying to break loose. 

[To LYSANDER] Act like you’re going to follow me, but then you won't. You’re a coward. Go away!

LYSANDER

[To HERMIA] Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! Vile thing, let looseOr I will shake thee from me like a serpent.

LYSANDER

[To HERMIA] Let go of me, you cat, you clinging burr. Let go of me, vile thing, or I’ll shake you off of me like a snake.

HERMIA

Why are you grown so rude? What change is this,Sweet love?

HERMIA

Why have you become so rude? What’s changed you, my sweet love?

LYSANDER

Thy love? Out, tawny Tartar, out!Out, loathèd medicine! O hated potion, hence!

LYSANDER

Your love? Get away from me, you dark-skinned Tartar! Get away, you disgusting poison. You hated potion, get away!

HERMIA

Do you not jest?

HERMIA

Are you joking?

HELENA

Yes, sooth, and so do you.

HELENA

Yes, of course he is, and so are you.

LYSANDER

Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.

LYSANDER

Demetrius, I’ll honor what I said and fight you.

DEMETRIUS

I would I had your bond, for I perceiveA weak bond holds you. I’ll not trust your word.

DEMETRIUS

I wish I had that in writing, because it seems to me that Hermia's rather weak arms somehow seem to be holding you back. I don’t trust your word that you actually want to fight.

LYSANDER

What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?Although I hate her, I’ll not harm her so.

LYSANDER

What? Should I hurt Hermia, hit her, kill her? Although I hate her, I'm not going to harm her.

HERMIA

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—Oh, the gods forbid!— In earnest, shall I say?

HERMIA

What, do you think you could hurt me any more than by saying you hate me? Hate me? Why? What’s happened, my love? Am I not Hermia? Are you not Lysander? I’m as beautiful now as I was just before. You loved me last night. But last night you left me. So—God forbid—did you actually leave me?

LYSANDER

Ay, by my life, And never did desire to see thee more. Therefore be out of hope, of question, of doubt. Be certain, nothing truer. 'Tis no jest That I do hate thee and love Helena.

LYSANDER

Yes, I swear on my life that I did, and I never wanted to see you again. So give up your hopes, your questions, and your doubts. You can be sure that there's nothing more true than this: it’s not a joke that I hate you and love Helena.

HERMIA

O me! [To HELENA] You juggler! You canker-blossom!You thief of love! What, have you come by nightAnd stol'n my love’s heart from him?

HERMIA

Oh no! 

[To HELENA] You trickster, you little worm, feasting on flower buds! You thief of love! What, did you sneak in at night and steal my love’s heart from him?

HELENA

Fine, i' faith! 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!

HELENA

Really, honestly! Have you no modesty, no decency, not even a little bit of shame? What, do you want to make me mad enough that I'll respond to you, despite my usual gentleness? You disgust me! You liar, you doll!

HERMIA

“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.

HERMIA

“Doll?” Why do you say that? Ah, I see where you're taking this. She’s comparing our difference in height. She’s shown off how tall she is, and used her body—her tall body, her height—to win him over. Does he admire you so highly because I’m so small and short? So how short am I, you painted pole? Tell me. How short am I? I’m not so short that I can't reach up to gouge your eyes out with my fingernails.

HELENA

[To LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS] I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen, Let her not hurt me. I was never cursed. 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, That I can match her.

HELENA

[To LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS] I beg you—even though you're making fun of me, gentlemen—don’t let her hurt me. I've never been good at trading insults. I’m not mean like her. I’m shy, like a girl should be. Don’t let her hit me. You might be thinking that I could overpower her because she is somewhat shorter than me.

HERMIA

“Lower”? Hark, again!

HERMIA

“Shorter?” See, there it is again!

HELENA

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.

HELENA

Good Hermia, please don’t be so angry with me. Hermia, I always loved you, and kept your secrets confidential. I never did anything to hurt you—other than, out of love for Demetrius, telling him about your plan to sneak into this forest. He followed you. And I followed him, out of love. But he shouted at me to go away and threatened to hit me, kick me—and to kill me too. And now, so that you'll let me go without attacking me further, I'll carry my foolishness back with me to Athens and won’t follow you anymore. Let me go. You see how naïve and foolish I can be.

HERMIA

Why, get you gone! Who is ’t that hinders you?

HERMIA

So, get going! Who's stopping you?

HELENA

A foolish heart, that I leave here behind.

HELENA

My silly heart, which I’m leaving behind here.

HERMIA

What, with Lysander?

HERMIA

What, with Lysander?

HELENA

With Demetrius.

HELENA

With Demetrius.

LYSANDER

Be not afraid. She shall not harm thee, Helena.

LYSANDER

Don’t be afraid. She won't hurt you, Helena.

DEMETRIUS

No, sir, she shall not, though you take her part.

DEMETRIUS

No, sir, she won't, even if you take Hermia's side.

HELENA

Oh, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd!She was a vixen when she went to school.And though she be but little, she is fierce.

HELENA

Oh, when she's angry, she gets vicious and mean. She was a hellcat when we were in school. And though she’s little, she's fierce.

HERMIA

“Little” again? Nothing but “low” and “little”! Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?Let me come to her.

HERMIA

“Little” again? Nothing but “short” and “little!” Why do you allow her to mock me like this? Let me at her!

LYSANDER

[To HERMIA] Get you gone, you dwarf,You minimus of hindering knotgrass made,You bead, you acorn!

LYSANDER

[To HERMIA] Get out of here, you dwarf, you tiny little creature made of knotgrass weed, you tiny bead, you acorn!

DEMETRIUS

You are too officious 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, Thou shalt aby it.

DEMETRIUS

You’re trying too hard to help a woman who doesn't want anything from you. Leave Helena alone. Don’t talk about her. Don’t try to help her. And if you plan on showing so little love to Hermia, you’ll pay for it.

LYSANDER

Now she holds me not.Now follow, if thou darest, to try whose right,Of thine or mine, is most in Helena.

LYSANDER

Hermia’s not holding me anymore. So follow me, if you dare, to find out through a duel which of us has more right to Helena.

DEMETRIUS

“Follow”? Nay, I’ll go with thee, cheek by jowl.

DEMETRIUS

“Follow?” No, I’ll walk next to you, side by side.

DEMETRIUS and LYSANDER exit.

HERMIA

You, mistress, all this coil is long of you.Nay, go not back.

HERMIA

You, mistress, are the cause of all this fighting. No, don't walk away from me!

HELENA

I will not trust you, I, Nor longer stay in your curst company. Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray. My legs are longer though, to run away.

HELENA

I don't trust you. And I'm not going to stay anywhere near you. You may have faster hands in a fight than I do, but I can run away faster because my legs are longer.

HELENA exits.

HERMIA

I am amazed and know not what to say.

HERMIA

I'm shocked and don't know what to say.

HERMIA exits.

OBERON

[To ROBIN] This is thy negligence. Still thou mistakest,Or else committ’st thy knaveries willfully.

OBERON

[To ROBIN] This is your fault. You continually make mistakes, or else you're making trouble on purpose.

ROBIN

Believe me, King of Shadows, I mistook. Did not you tell me I should know the man By the Athenian garment he 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.

ROBIN

Believe me, King of Shadows—it was a mistake. Didn’t you tell me that I’d recognize the man by the Athenian clothes he was wearing? I can't be blamed for what I've done—I put the love juice on an Athenian’s eyes. And so far I’m glad it worked out this way, as I find all this uproar entertaining.

OBERON

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. [Gives ROBIN another flower] 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.

OBERON

You can see that these lovers are looking for a place to fight. Therefore, rush, Robin, and make the night dark and cloudy. As quickly as possible, cover the starry sky with a low fog as dark as hell, and lead around these manic rivals so that they get so lost that they won't run into each other. Imitate Lysander’s voice to get Demetrius all riled up with insults. Then rage a bit in Demetrius’ voice. And in that way you’ll lead them away from each other until tiredness creeps over them with its heavy legs and bat-like wings that they fall dead asleep.[He gives a different flower to ROBIN] Then crush this flower over Lysander’s eyes, because its juice has the ability to remove from his eyes the mistaken love he was given by the first love juice—and to make his eyes see the way he would normally. When they wake, all this mockery and fighting will seem like a dream or an insignificant hallucination. Then the lovers will return to Athens, bound together by love until they die. While you’re working on this job I've given you, I’ll go visit Titania and ask her for the Indian boy. And then I’ll reverse the spell on her eyes and she will stop loving that monster. Then everything will be at peace.

ROBIN

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 exile from light And must for aye consort with black-browed night.

ROBIN

My fairy lord, all this must be done quickly. The dragons that pull the night's chariot are speeding through the sky. In the distance the morning star, which appears just before the dawn, is shining, and all the ghosts that wander in the night are marching back to their graveyards. The damned souls of all those who committed suicide, buried at crossroads or at the bottom of a river, have already returned to their wormy graves. They fear that day will expose their shame, and so they avoid all sunlight and remain forever in darkest night.

OBERON

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.

OBERON

But we’re a different sort of spirit. I've often enjoyed the pleasures of the morning, and like a forest ranger, wander the woods until in the East the sun rises, all fiery red—spreading its rays over the ocean and turning the salty green water to gold. But anyway, hurry. Don’t delay. We can get all this done before it's day.

OBERON exits.

ROBIN

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. Here comes one.

ROBIN

Here and there, here and there,
I will lead them here and there.
I am feared in the country and in town.
Goblin, lead them here and there.
Here comes one of them.

LYSANDER enters.

LYSANDER

Where art thou, proud Demetrius? Speak thou now.

LYSANDER

Where are you, arrogant Demetrius? Say something.

ROBIN

[As DEMETRIUS] Here, villain. Drawn and ready. Where art thou?

ROBIN

[In DEMETRIUS’ voice] I’m over here, you villain. I have my sword out and am ready to fight. Where are you?

LYSANDER

I will be with thee straight.

LYSANDER

I’ll find you in a moment.

ROBIN

[As DEMETRIUS] Follow me thenTo plainer ground.

ROBIN

[In DEMETRIUS’ voice] Then follow me to flatter ground, which will be better for fighting.

DEMETRIUS

Lysander, speak again!Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?Speak! In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy head?

DEMETRIUS

Lysander, say something! You quitter, you coward, have you run away? Say something! Are you in some bush? Where are you hiding?

LYSANDER exits. DEMETRIUS enters.

ROBIN

[As 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.

ROBIN

[In LYSANDER’s voice] You coward! Are you bragging to the stars and telling the bushes that you're looking for a fight, but then you won't actually come find me? Come here, coward! Come here, you child! I’ll whip you with a stick. You're such a coward, anyone who tries to fight you with a sword would be disgraced.

DEMETRIUS

Yea, art thou there?

DEMETRIUS

Hey, are you there?

ROBIN

[As LYSANDER] Follow my voice. We’ll try no manhood here.

ROBIN

[In LYSANDER’s voice] Follow my voice. This isn’t a good place to test our manhood in a fight.

DEMETRIUS and ROBIN exit.

LYSANDER enters.

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, And here will rest me. [Lies down] Come, thou gentle day! For if but once thou show me thy grey light, I’ll find Demetrius and revenge this spite. [Sleeps]

LYSANDER

He walks ahead of me and keeps daring me to follow him. But when I get to the spot where he’s calling from, he's not there. This scoundrel is much quicker than I am. I chased him as fast as I could, but he ran away from me even faster, and now I’m lost in this dark part of the forest with uneven ground. I’ll rest here. [He lies down] May the comfort of daytime arrive soon! Because as soon as I see the gray light of morning, I’ll find Demetrius and get my revenge for this insult. [He falls asleep]

ROBIN and DEMETRIUS enter.

ROBIN

[As LYSANDER] Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why comest thou not?

ROBIN

[In LYSANDER’s voice] Ha, ha, ha! Coward, why aren’t you coming?

DEMETRIUS

Abide me, if thou darest! For well I wot Thou runn’st before me, shifting every place, And darest not stand nor look me in the face. Where art thou now?

DEMETRIUS

Wait for me, if you dare! You keep running away from me, dashing all over the place, but you don’t dare to stand and face me eye to eye. Where are you now?

ROBIN

[As LYSANDER] Come hither. I am here.

ROBIN

[In LYSANDER’s voice] Come this way. I’m over here.

DEMETRIUS

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. By day’s approach look to be visited. [Lies down and sleeps]

DEMETRIUS

No, you’re just mocking me. You’ll pay dearly for this if I ever see your face in the daylight. Now run wherever you want. I’m so tired I need to lie down and sleep on this cold ground. But expect me to come find you by the dawn. [He lies down and falls asleep]

HELENA enters.

HELENA

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. [Lies down and sleeps]

HELENA

Oh, exhausting, long, and boring night, please end already! You reassuring dawn, start shining in the east, so I can go back to Athens in the daylight and leave behind these people who hate spending time with me. Now sleep, which can make us forget our sorrows, help me escape for a while from my own company. [She lies down and falls asleep]

ROBIN

Yet but three? Come one more. Two of both kinds make up four. Here she comes, cursed and sad. Cupid is a knavish lad Thus to make poor females mad.

ROBIN

Still only three? One more is needed. Two men and two women make four. Now here she comes, angry and sad. Cupid is a tricky, deceitful boy to drive poor girls crazy like this.

HERMIA enters.

HERMIA

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. Heavens shield Lysander if they mean a fray! [Lies down and sleeps]

HERMIA

I’ve never been so exhausted or so sad. I’m covered in dew and scratched by thorns, and I can’t crawl any farther. I can’t go any further. My legs can’t keep moving, even though I want them too. This is where I’ll rest until the morning comes. May the gods protect Lysander if he and Demetrius do end up fighting! [She lies down and falls asleep]

ROBIN

On the ground Sleep sound. I'll apply To your eye. Gentle lover, remedy. [Squeezes flower juice into LYSANDER's eyes] When thou wakest, Thou takest True delight In the sight Of thy former lady's eye. And the country proverb known— That every man should take his own— In your waking shall be shown. Jack shall have Jill. Nought shall go ill. The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.

ROBIN

Sleep soundly on the ground. And I'll apply a remedy to your eye, dear lover. [He squeezes flower juice into LYSANDER's eyes] When you wake up, you will be truly delighted to see the lady you once loved. And you'll be a walking reminder of that country saying—each man should take what's his. Yes, Jack will have his Jill. Nothing can go wrong. The man will have his lady again, and everything will be all right.

ROBIN exits.

A midsummer nights dream
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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.