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A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream Translation Act 4, Scene 1

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LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA continue to sleep onstage. TITANIA enters with BOTTOM (who still has a donkey’s head) and the fairies PEASEBLOSSOM, COBWEB, MOTH, and MUSTARDSEED. OBERON enters behind them, unseen by the others.

TITANIA

[To BOTTOM] Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed While I thy amiable cheeks do coy, And stick musk roses in thy sleek, smooth head, And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.

TITANIA

[To BOTTOM] Come and sit here on this flowery bed while I caress your lovable cheeks, and stick roses into the fur of your silky, smooth head, and kiss your big, beautiful ears, my gentle darling.

BOTTOM

Where’s Peaseblossom?

BOTTOM

Where’s Peaseblossom?

PEASEBLOSSOM

Ready.

PEASEBLOSSOM

At your service.

BOTTOM

Scratch my head, Peaseblossom. Where’s Monsieur Cobweb?

BOTTOM

Scratch my head, Peaseblossom. Where’s Sir Cobweb?

COBWEB

Ready.

COBWEB

At your service.

BOTTOM

Monsieur Cobweb, good monsieur, get you your weapons inyour hand and kill me a red-hipped humble-bee on the top of a thistle. And, good monsieur, bring me the honeybag. Do not fret yourself too much in the action, monsieur. And good monsieur, have a care the honey bag break not. I would be loath to have you overflown with ahoney bag, signor.

BOTTOM

Monsieur Cobweb, my good sir, get out your weapons and kill for me a red-tailed bumblebee that has landed on a thistle. And, good sir, bring me its honey. Now don’t overwork yourself too much in doing it, sir. Oh, and good sir, be careful not to break the honey-sac. I’d be sad if you drowned in honey, sir.

COBWEB exits.

Where’s Monsieur Mustardseed?
Where’s Sir Mustardseed?

MUSTARDSEED

Ready.

MUSTARDSEED

At your service.

BOTTOM

Give me your neaf, Monsieur Mustardseed. Pray you, leave your courtesy, good monsieur.

BOTTOM

Give me your first, Sir Mustardseed. Please, no need to take off your hat and bow, good sir.

MUSTARDSEED

What’s your will?

MUSTARDSEED

What would you like?

BOTTOM

Nothing, good monsieur, but to help Cavalery Cobweb to scratch. I must to the barber’s, monsieur, for methinks I am marvelous hairy about the face. And I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch.

BOTTOM

Nothing, good sir, except for you to help Sir Cobweb scratch my head. I should go to the barber’s, sir, because I think I’m getting amazingly hairy on my face. And I am such a sensitive ass that if my hair even tickles me even slightly, I have to scratch.

TITANIA

What, wilt thou hear some music, my sweet love?

TITANIA

Would you like to hear some music, my sweet love?

BOTTOM

I have a reasonable good ear in music. Let’s have the tongs and the bones.

BOTTOM

I have a fairly good ear for music. Let’s have someone play the triangle and smack some sticks together.

TITANIA

Or say, sweet love, what thou desirest to eat.

TITANIA

Or tell me, sweet love, what you want to eat.

BOTTOM

Truly, a peck of provender. I could munch your good dryoats. Methinks I have a great desire to a bottle of hay. Good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.

BOTTOM

Actually, I’d like two gallons of animal feed. Or I wouldn’t mind munching on some good dry oats. Though I think I would also really like a bundle of hay. Good, sweet hay has no equal.

TITANIA

I have a venturous fairy that shall seekThe squirrel’s hoard and fetch thee new nuts.

TITANIA

I have an adventurous fairy who’ll go find a squirrel’s secret stockpile and get you fresh nuts.

BOTTOM

I had rather have a handful or two of dried peas. But, I pray you, let none of your people stir me. I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.

BOTTOM

I’d rather have a handful or two of dried peas. But, please, don’t let any of your attendants wake me up. An exposition for sleep has come over me.

TITANIA

Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away.

TITANIA

Sleep my love, and I will put my arms around you. Fairies, get out of here. Go off in all directions.

THE FAIRIES exit.

So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle Gently entwist. The female ivy so Enrings the barky fingers of the elm. Oh, how I love thee! How I dote on thee!

I’ll wrap my arms around you just as the tendrils of the woodbine plant gently twist around the sweet honeysuckle, and just as the female ivy curls around the branches of the elm tree. Oh, how I love you! How I love to take care of you!

BOTTOM and TITANIA fall asleep.

OBERON

Welcome, good Robin. Seest thou this sweet sight? Her dotage now I do begin to pity. For, meeting her of late behind the wood, Seeking sweet favors from this hateful fool, I did upbraid her and fall out with her. For she his hairy temples then had rounded With a coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers, And that same dew, which sometime on the buds Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls, Stood now within the pretty flowerets' eyes Like tears that did their own disgrace bewail. When I had at my pleasure taunted her And she in mild terms begged my patience, I then did ask of her her changeling child, Which straight she gave me and her fairy sent To bear him to my bower in Fairyland. And now I have the boy, I will undo This hateful imperfection of her eyes. And, gentle Puck, take this transformèd scalp From off the head of this Athenian swain, That, he awaking when the other do, May all to Athens back again repair And think no more of this night’s accidents But as the fierce vexation of a dream. But first I will release the fairy queen. [Squeezing flower juice into TITANIA's eyes] Be as thou wast wont to be. See as thou wast wont to see. Dian’s bud o'er Cupid’s flower Hath such force and blessèd power. Now, my Titania, wake you, my sweet queen.

OBERON

Welcome, good Robin. Do you see this sweet sight? I've now begun to pity Titania for her obsessive crush. I met her a while ago near the edge of the forest as she was searching for pretty flowers for this intolerable idiot, and I scolded her and fought with her. She had put a little crown of fresh, sweet-smelling flowers around his hairy forehead. And the dew, which used to decorate the flowers like the most beautiful pearls, now lay in the center of the flowers like tears of shame for being forced to sit on that ass' head. After taunting her as much I wanted to, she quietly asked me to stop, and then I asked her for the Indian boy. Right away she agreed to give him to me, and sent a fairy to bring him to my chamber in Fairyland. Now that I have the boy, I’ll undo the awful flaw affecting Titania's eyes. And, gentle Puck, remove the ass’ head from the head of this Athenian yokel, so that when he wakes up along with the others, they can all return to Athens and remember the craziness of this night as nothing more than the wild troubles of a bad dream. But first I’ll cure the fairy queen. [Squeezing juice from the second flower into TITANIA's eyes] Be the way you used to be, and see the way you used to see. This juice comes from a flower bud belonging to Diana, and it has the power to overturn the effects of the juice from Cupid’s flower. Now, Titania, wake up, my sweet queen.

ROBIN enters.

TITANIA

[Waking] My Oberon, what visions have I seen!Methought I was enamored of an ass.

TITANIA

[Waking up] My dear Oberon, what a wild dream I had! I dreamed I was in love with an ass.

OBERON

There lies your love.

OBERON

Your love is lying right there.

TITANIA

How came these things to pass?Oh, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now!

TITANIA

How did all this happen? Oh, my eyes can’t stand to see his face now!

OBERON

Silence awhile. Robin, take off this head.Titania, music call, and strike more deadThan common sleep of all these five the sense.

OBERON

Be quiet for a while. Robin, remove his ass’ head. Titania, call to your fairies for some music, so that these five humans will sleep more deeply than is normal.

TITANIA

Music, ho! Music such as charmeth sleep!

TITANIA

Music, now! Play music that magically makes people sleep.

Music.

ROBIN

[Taking the ass’ head off BOTTOM] Now when thou wakest, with thine own fool’s eyes peep.

ROBIN

[Taking the ass’ head off of BOTTOM]
Now when you wake up, you'll see things with your own foolish eyes once more.

OBERON

Sound, music! Come, my queen, take hands with me, And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be. [Dances with TITANIA] Now thou and I are new in amity, And will tomorrow midnight solemnly Dance in Duke Theseus' house triumphantly, And bless it to all fair prosperity. There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.

OBERON

Play the music! Come here, my queen, take my hands. And we’ll dance on the ground where these sleepers are lying, and so rock them to sleep.[Dances with TITANIA] Now that you and I are again at peace, tomorrow at midnight we will perform a ceremonial dance at Duke Theseus’ palace to celebrate and bless his marriage with good fortune. These two pairs of faithful lovers will get married along with Theseus, all in great joy.

ROBIN

Fairy King, attend, and mark.I do hear the morning lark.

ROBIN

Fairy King, pay attention, and listen. I can hear the singing of the lark, which sings when it is morning.

OBERON

Then, my queen, in silence sad, Trip we after the night’s shade. We the globe can compass soon Swifter than the wandering moon.

OBERON

Then, my queen, let’s quietly and seriously follow after the night, crossing the earth faster even than the moon.

TITANIA

Come, my lord, and in our flight Tell me how it came this night That I sleeping here was found With these mortals on the ground.

TITANIA

Come, my lord, and as we fly you can tell me what happened in the night that resulted in me sleeping with these humans on the ground.

OBERON, TITANIA, and ROBIN exit.

A hunting horn blows. THESEUS enters with, EGEUS, HIPPOLYTA, and his servants.

THESEUS

Go, one of you, find out the forester. For now our observation is performed. And since we have the vaward of the day, My love shall hear the music of my hounds. Uncouple in the western valley. Let them go. Dispatch, I say, and find the forester.

THESEUS

Go, one of you, and find the forest ranger. Now that we've completed the May Day ceremonies, and since we are still in the early part of the day, my love will get to hear the musical barking of my dogs as we go hunting. Unleash the dogs in the western valley. Let them go. Now go, I say, and find the forest ranger.

One of the servants exits.

We will, fair queen, up to the mountain’s top,
And mark the musical confusion
Of hounds and echo in conjunction.
My beautiful queen, we’ll go up the mountaintop and listen to the musical chaos of the dogs' barking and their echoes.

HIPPOLYTA

I was with Hercules and Cadmus once, When in a wood of Crete they bayed the bear With hounds of Sparta. Never did I hear Such gallant chiding. For, besides the groves, The skies, the fountains, every region near Seemed all one mutual cry. I never heard So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.

HIPPOLYTA

I was with Hercules and Cadmus once, when their Spartan hunting dogs surrounded a bear. I’d never before heard barking that courageous. Not just the forests, but also the skies, the waterfalls, everything nearby seemed to be part of the same communal cry. I’d never heard such wild music, such lovely thunder.

THESEUS

My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind, So flewed, so sanded, and their heads are hung With ears that sweep away the morning dew, Crook-kneed, and dew-lapped like Thessalian bulls, Slow in pursuit, but matched in mouth like bells, Each under each. A cry more tunable Was never hollaed to, nor cheered with horn, In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly. Judge when you hear. But, soft! What nymphs are these?

THESEUS

My dogs are bred from Spartan line. They have the same fleshy folds around their jaws, the same sandy color, and on their heads they have the same ears that hang low enough to brush the morning dew from the grass. They have crooked knees, and folds of skin hang down under their necks, like bulls from the region of Thessaly. Though they're not very fast when chasing prey, their barks sound like a set of bells—different notes, but all perfectly in tune. No one has ever blown a hunting horn in answer to a more melodic pack of dogs—not in Crete, or Sparta, or Thessaly. Judge for yourself when you hear them. But wait! Who are these girls?

EGEUS

My lord, this is my daughter here asleep. And this, Lysander. This Demetrius is. This Helena, old Nedar’s Helena. I wonder of their being here together.

EGEUS

My lord, this is my daughter, asleep. And that's Lysander. This one here is Demetrius. This is Helena—old Nedar’s daughter Helena. I wonder why they’re all here together.

THESEUS

No doubt they rose up early to observe The rite of May, and hearing our intent Came here in grace our solemnity. But speak, Egeus. Is not this the day That Hermia should give answer of her choice?

THESEUS

Most likely they woke up early to celebrate May Day and, knowing we would be here, they came to attend and honor our ceremony. But tell me, Egeus, isn’t today the day when Hermia has to tell us whether she's chosen Demetrius, death, or to become a virgin priestess?

EGEUS

It is, my lord.

EGEUS

It is, my lord.

THESEUS

Go tell the hunters to wake them by blowing their horns.

One of the servants exits.

Wind, horns, and shouts within. LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA wake and start up.

THESEUS

Good morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past. Begin these woodbirds but to couple now?

THESEUS

Good morning, my friends. Valentine’s Day is over. Have you lovebirds only begun to couple up now?

LYSANDER

Pardon, my lord.

LYSANDER

Forgive us, my lord.

LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA all kneel.

THESEUS

I pray you all, stand up.

THESEUS

Please, all of you, stand up.

LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA all stand up.

[To LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS] I know you two are rival enemies. How comes this gentle concord in the world, That hatred is so far from jealousy To sleep by hate and fear no enmity?

[To LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS] I know you two are bitter rivals. What has happened to make the world such a gentle place that two people who hate each other somehow don't distrust each other, and in fact are willing to sleep next to an enemy without fear of being harmed?

LYSANDER

My lord, I shall reply amazèdly, Half sleep, half waking. But as yet, I swear, I cannot truly say how I came here. But as I think—for truly would I speak, And now do I bethink me, so it is— I came with Hermia hither. Our intent Was to be gone from Athens, where we might, Without the peril of the Athenian law—

LYSANDER

My lord, I can only respond that I am also baffled, and feel as if I am half asleep, half awake. I can't honestly say how I wound up here. But I think—and I want to speak honestly, and now that I think about it, I'm sure it's true. I came here with Hermia. Our plan was to escape from Athens so that we could, without the threat of Athenian law—

EGEUS

[To THESEUS] Enough, enough, my lord. You have enough! I beg the law, the law, upon his head. They would have stol'n away, they would, Demetrius, Thereby to have defeated you and me, You of your wife and me of my consent, Of my consent that she should be your wife.

EGEUS

[To THESEUS] Enough, enough, my lord. You’ve heard enough: I ask that the law, the law, be brought down upon his head. Demetrius, these two were going to run away in order to trick us, stealing your wife from you and stealing from me of my ability to order that she should be your wife.

DEMETRIUS

[To THESEUS] My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth, Of this their purpose hither to this wood. And I in fury hither followed them, Fair Helena in fancy following me. But, my good lord, I wot not by what power— But by some power it is—my love to Hermia, Melted as the snow, seems to me now As the remembrance of an idle gaud Which in my childhood I did dote upon. And all the faith, the virtue of my heart, The object and the pleasure of mine eye, Is only Helena. To her, my lord, Was I betrothed ere I saw Hermia. But like in sickness did I loathe this food. But as in health, come to my natural taste, Now I do wish it, love it, long for it, And will for evermore be true to it.

DEMETRIUS

[To THESEUS] My lord, the beautiful Helena told me they were going to sneak away to escape into this forest. In a fury, I followed them here, and the lovely Helena followed me because of her love for me. Now, my good lord, I don't know what made this happen—but by some power it did happen—my love for Hermia melted away like snow. That love seems to me now like a memory of some worthless trinket I used to love when I was a child. Now the only person to whom I want to be faithful, who owns my entire heart, who is the greatest pleasure to my eye, is Helena. I was engaged to her before I ever met Hermia. But then, like a sick man who can't stand the food that sustains him, I hated her for a time. But now, healthy once again, my normal taste has returned. Now I want Helena. I love her, and long for her, and will always be true to her.

THESEUS

Fair lovers, you are fortunately met. Of this discourse we more will hear anon. Egeus, I will overbear your will. For in the temple by and by with us These couples shall eternally be knit. And, for the morning now is something worn, Our purposed hunting shall be set aside. Away with us to Athens. Three and three, We’ll hold a feast in great solemnity. Come, Hippolyta.

THESEUS

Beautiful lovers, it's lucky that you've met me here. You'll tell me more about all of this later. Egeus, I’m overruling your commands. Later on in the temple these couples will be married alongside Hippolyta and me. And now, because the morning is nearly over, we'll set aside our planned hunting. Come with us to Athens. Three men and three women, we'll throw a feast and celebration. Come along, Hippolyta.

THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEUS, and the servants and followers exit.

DEMETRIUS

These things seem small and undistinguishable,Like far-off mountains turnèd into clouds.

DEMETRIUS

Everything that happened seems distant and difficult to figure out, like mountains that look like clouds from far away.

HERMIA

Methinks I see these things with parted eye,When everything seems double.

HERMIA

It seems to me that my eyes are out of focus, and everything looks double.

HELENA

So methinks.And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,Mine own, and not mine own.

HELENA

Me too. It's like I came upon Demetrius like a jewel I found by accident, so that while he is in my possession, he might really belong to someone else.

DEMETRIUS

Are you sure That we are awake? It seems to me That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think The duke was here, and bid us follow him?

DEMETRIUS

Are you sure that we’re awake? It seems to me like we are sleeping, and dreaming. Do you think the duke was really just here, and told us to follow him?

HERMIA

Yea, and my father.

HERMIA

Yes I do, and my father was here too.

HELENA

And Hippolyta.

HELENA

And Hippolyta.

LYSANDER

And he did bid us follow to the temple.

LYSANDER

And he told us to follow him to the temple.

DEMETRIUS

Why then, we are awake. Let’s follow himAnd by the way let us recount our dreams.

DEMETRIUS

Well, then, we’re awake. Let’s follow him. And as we go, why don't we tell each other our dreams?

LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA exit.

BOTTOM

[Waking] When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer.My next is "Most fair Pyramus." Heigh-ho! Peter Quince?Flute the bellows-mender? Snout the tinker? Starveling?God's my life, stol'n hence, and left me asleep? I havehad a most rare vision. I have had a dream—past the witof man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was—thereis no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methoughtI had—but man is but a patched fool if he will offer tosay what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called "Bottom's Dream" because it hath no bottom. And I will sing it in the latter end of a play before the duke. Peradventure, to make it more gracious, I shall sing it at her death.

BOTTOM

[Waking up] When it's my cue, call me—and I'll say my line. My next cue is "Most handsome Pyramus." Hey there! Peter Quince? Flute the bellows-repairman? Snout the repairman? Starveling? My God, they went away from here, and left me asleep? I have had the strangest dream. I have had a dream so strange that it's beyond explanation. A man would be a fool if he tried to explain this dream. I thought I was—well, nobody could describe what I was. I thought I was, and I thought I had—but a man would have to be a true fool to try and say what I thought I had. My dream was so odd that no man's eyes have heard, or his ears have seen, or his hands have tasted, or his tongue felt, or his heart described what it was like. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad about this dream. It will be called "Bottom's Dream" because it's so complex that it has no bottom. And I'll sing it for the duke at the end of the play. Or, better yet, to make it more pleasing, I'll sing it when Thisbe dies.

BOTTOM 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.