A line-by-line translation

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream Translation Act 4, Scene 2

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QUINCE

Have you sent to Bottom’s house? Is he come home yet?

QUINCE

Have you checked Bottom’s house? Has he come home yet?

QUINCE, FLUTE, SNOUT, and STARVELING enter.

STARVELING

He cannot be heard of. Out of doubt he is transported.

STARVELING

No one’s heard from him. There's no question he's been kidnapped by fairies.

FLUTE

If he come not, then the play is marred. It goes not forward. Doth it?

FLUTE

If he doesn’t come, then the play will be ruined. We won't be able to perform it. Will we?

QUINCE

It is not possible. You have not a man in all Athens able to discharge Pyramus but he.

QUINCE

It wouldn't be possible. There's not another man in all of Athens who can play Pyramus besides Bottom.

FLUTE

No, he hath simply the best wit of any handicraft man in Athens.

FLUTE

It's true. To be blunt, he’s the smartest craftsman in Athens.

QUINCE

Yea, and the best person too. And he is a very paramourfor a sweet voice.

QUINCE

Yes, and the best looking too. And his voice is the paramour of sweetness.

FLUTE

You must say “paragon.” A “paramour” is, God bless us, a thing of naught.

FLUTE

You mean “paragon.” A "paramour" is, God bless us, something naughty.

SNUG

Masters, the duke is coming from the temple, and there is two or three lords and ladies more married. If our sport had gone forward, we had all been made men.

SNUG

Gentlemen, the duke is leaving the temple, along with two or three additional lords and ladies who were also married. If we could only have performed our play, we would all have gotten rewards and been set for life.

SNUG enters.

FLUTE

O sweet bully Bottom! Thus hath he lost sixpence a day during his life. He could not have ’scaped sixpence a day. An the duke had not given him sixpence a day for playing Pyramus, I’ll be hanged. He would have deserved it. Sixpence a day in Pyramus, or nothing.

FLUTE

Oh that sweet, good guy, Bottom! By not being here he's missed out on a pension of six pence a day for the rest of his life. He wouldn't have been able to avoid getting six pence a day, even if he'd wanted to. If the duke wouldn’t have given him six pence a day for playing Pyramus, I'd go jump off a bridge. And he would have deserved it. Pyramus is worth six pence a day, or nothing at all.

BOTTOM enters.

BOTTOM

Where are these lads? Where are these hearts?

BOTTOM

Where are my boys? Where are my good fellows?

QUINCE

Bottom! O most courageous day! O most happy hour!

QUINCE

Bottom! Oh, what a great day! Oh, what a happy moment!

BOTTOM

Masters, I am to discourse wonders—but ask me not what,for if I tell you I am no true Athenian. I will tell you everything, right as it fell out.

BOTTOM

Gentlemen, I have incredible stories to tell you—but don’t ask me what, because if I told you, then I would not be a true Athenian citizen. I’ll tell you everything, exactly how it happened.

QUINCE

Let us hear, sweet Bottom.

QUINCE

Tell us, good Bottom.

BOTTOM

Not a word of me. All that I will tell you is that the duke hath dined. Get your apparel together, good stringsto your beards, new ribbons to your pumps. Meet presently at the palace. Every man look o'er his part. For the short and the long is, our play is preferred. Inany case, let Thisbe have clean linen. And let not him that plays the lion pair his nails, for they shall hang out for the lion's claws. And most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath. AndI do not doubt but to hear them say, "It is a sweet comedy." No more words. Away, go away!



BOTTOM

You won't get a word out of me! All that I'll tell you is that the duke has had his dinner. Gather your costumes, some new strings for your false beards, and some new ribbons to decorate your shoes. Then meet me at the palace as soon as you can. We should each look over our lines again. In sum, our play is going to be performed! So make sure that Thisbe has clean underpants. And make sure whoever is playing the lion doesn't cut down his nails, because they are going to need to stand in for the lion's claws. And, my most dear fellow actors, please don't eat onions or garlic. We must have sweet-smelling breath so the audience will say, "it's a sweet play." Enough talk. Come on, let's go!

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.