A line-by-line translation

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream Translation Act 5, Scene 1

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Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, and PHILOSTRATE, with other attendant lords

HIPPOLYTA

'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.

HIPPOLYTA

My dear Theseus, what these lovers are describing is strange.

THESEUS

More strange than true. I never may believe These antique fables nor these fairy toys. Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet Are of imagination all compact. One sees more devils than vast hell can hold— That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic, Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt. The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven. And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name. Such tricks hath strong imagination, That if it would but apprehend some joy, It comprehends some bringer of that joy. Or in the night, imagining some fear, How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

THESEUS

I think the story is more strange than it is true. I don't believe any of these ancient stories or fairy tales. Lovers and madmen have so much going on in their heads, such active imaginations, that they see and hear things that cool, calm, rational people can't understand. Madmen, lovers, and poets all are all controlled by their imaginations: The ones who see devils and monsters all over the place—those are the madmen. Lovers, who are just as wild, see a gypsy's face and think it is as beautiful as Helen of Troy's. Poets, who are always glancing around as if they are overcome by passion, make constant connections between things that are earthly and things that are heavenly. And they take the unreal things that tumble out of their imagination and write about them as if they were actual places or things. When people who have such strong imaginations feel some kind of joy, they imagine that it must be some entity or power that brings or creates that joy. Or if, in the night, they feel some fear, they see a bush and imagine it’s a bear!

HIPPOLYTA

But all the story of the night told over, And all their minds transfigured so together, More witnesseth than fancy’s images And grows to something of great constancy, But, howsoever, strange and admirable.

HIPPOLYTA

But the full story that the lovers are telling about last night—along with the fact that they all described it the same way—suggests that it's something that they really experienced rather than some imagined fantasy. It has a consistency to it that suggests truth, even if it is strange and unbelievable.

THESEUS

Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.Joy, gentle friends! Joy and fresh days of loveAccompany your hearts!

THESEUS

Here come the lovers, full of joy and laughter. Joy to you, kind friends! May joy and sweet days of love be with you always.

The lovers enter: LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA.

LYSANDER

More than to usWait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!

LYSANDER

May even more joy than you wish for us await you—on your royal journeys, at your table, and in your bed!

THESEUS

Come now, what masques, what dances shall we have To wear away this long age of three hours Between our after-supper and bedtime? Where is our usual manager of mirth? What revels are in hand? Is there no play, To ease the anguish of a torturing hour? Call Philostrate.

THESEUS

Now, what performances and dances will we see to pass these three hours between dinner and bedtime? Where is our Master of the Revels? What entertainments do we have ready? Isn’t there a play for us to watch to ease the torture of free time? Call Philostrate.

PHILOSTRATE

Here, mighty Theseus.

PHILOSTRATE

I’m here, Theseus.

THESEUS

Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?What masque, what music? How shall we beguileThe lazy time if not with some delight?

THESEUS

Tell us, what entertainment do you have that will shorten the evening? What plays, what music? How will we enjoy this boring time without some entertainment?

PHILOSTRATE

[Giving THESEUS a paper] There is a brief, how many sports are ripe.Make choice of which your highness will see first.

PHILOSTRATE

[Giving THESEUS a piece of paper] That is a list of all of the performances that are ready to go. Choose which one your highness would like to see first.

THESEUS

[Reads] “The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.” We’ll none of that. That have I told my love, In glory of my kinsman Hercules. “The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals, Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.” That is an old device, and it was played When I from Thebes came last a conqueror. “The thrice three Muses mourning for the death Of learning, late deceased in beggary.” That is some satire, keen and critical, Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony. “A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus And his love Thisbe. Very tragical mirth.” “Merry” and “tragical?” “Tedious” and “brief?” That is hot ice and wondrous strange snow. How shall we find the concord of this discord?

THESEUS

[Reading] “The battle between Hercules and the Centaurs at the wedding feast of Pirothous, sung by an Athenian eunuch  accompanied by a harp.” No, we don’t want that. I’ve already told that story to Hippolyta, telling her of the glory of my cousin Hercules. What else? “The riot of the drunk Bacchanals who in the grip of their drunken frenzy rip the singer Orpheus to shreds.” That’s a story often told in plays, and I saw it when I returned from conquering Thebes. “The nine Muses mourning the death of learning and the arts, which lately have become so reduced.” That’s a satire—a sharp and critical satire—and wouldn’t be right to perform at a wedding. “A boring short drama about young Pyramus and his love Thisbe. Very sad and funny.” Funny and sad? Short but still boring? That’s like hot ice and very strange snow. What will we think of this play which claims to be such contradictory things?

PHILOSTRATE

A play there is, my lord, some ten words long, Which is as brief as I have known a play. But by ten words, my lord, it is too long, Which makes it tedious. For in all the play There is not one word apt, one player fitted. And tragical, my noble lord, it is. For Pyramus therein doth kill himself. Which, when I saw rehearsed, I must confess, Made mine eyes water—but more merry tears The passion of loud laughter never shed.

PHILOSTRATE

My lord, it is a play that's about ten words long, which is the shortest play I’ve ever encountered. But, my lord, it’s ten words too long, which is what makes it tedious. In the entire play, there is not one well-placed word, and not one actor is a good fit for his part. It is tragic, my noble lord, because Pyramus does kill himself. When I saw the suicide during rehearsal, I must admit that it brought tears to my eyes—but I've never cried tears of such loud and merry laughter.

THESEUS

What are they that do play it?

THESEUS

Who are the people performing it?

PHILOSTRATE

Hard-handed men that work in Athens here, Which never labored in their minds till now, And now have toiled their unbreathed memories With this same play against your nuptial.

PHILOSTRATE

Manual workers from here in Athens who have never until now spent much doing anything that required thinking. Now they’ve overburdened their under-exercised brains to create this play for your wedding.

THESEUS

And we will hear it.

THESEUS

And we will watch it.

PHILOSTRATE

No, my noble lord. It is not for you. I have heard it over, And it is nothing, nothing in the world— Unless you can find sport in their intents, Extremely stretched and conned with cru 'l pain To do you service.

PHILOSTRATE

No, my noble lord. It’s not something you’ll like. I’ve seen it, and it’s worthless, as worthless as anything ever created—unless you find their sad attempt funny, with their bad acting and incorrectly remembered lines.

THESEUS

I will hear that play. For never anything can be amiss When simpleness and duty tender it. Go, bring them in. And take your places, ladies.

THESEUS

I’ll watch this play. Because nothing can be bad when it’s motivated by a simple desire to bring pleasure to a person's betters. Go and bring them in. And find your seats, ladies.

HIPPOLYTA

I love not to see wretchedness o'er chargedAnd duty in his service perishing.

HIPPOLYTA

I don’t enjoy seeing incompetent people overwhelmed and made to look bad when they are only trying to serve.

PHILOSTRATE exits.

THESEUS

Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.

THESEUS

Why, my noble love, you won’t see any such thing.

HIPPOLYTA

He says they can do nothing in this kind.

HIPPOLYTA

Philostrate says they’re not good at acting.

THESEUS

The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing. Our sport shall be to take what they mistake, And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect Takes it in might, not merit. Where I have come, great clerks have purposèd To greet me with premeditated welcomes, Where I have seen them shiver and look pale, Make periods in the midst of sentences, Throttle their practiced accent in their fears, And in conclusion dumbly have broke off, Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet, Out of this silence yet I picked a welcome, And in the modesty of fearful duty I read as much as from the rattling tongue Of saucy and audacious eloquence. Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity In least speak most, to my capacity.

THESEUS

Then we’re even more kind, for giving them thanks for something they’re not good at. Our entertainment will be to watch their mistakes, and what their own poor talent can't accomplish. Our noble generosity will see the effort they are giving rather than the quality of their performance. When I have visited foreign cities, great scholars have tried to greet me with speeches they've rehearsed. And I have seen them shiver and turn pale from nervousness, and pause incorrectly in the middle of their sentences, and mess up the tones of voice they've practiced, and then finish by suddenly breaking off without even welcoming me. Trust me, my love, even in their silence I could sense the welcome they meant to give. I can understand the same meaning from those who are modest and frightened but also want to do their duty as I can from those who can rattle off a speech with wit, talent, and eloquence. As I see it, my love, tongue-tied simplicity says the most precisely by saying the least.

PHILOSTRATE enters.

PHILOSTRATE

So please your grace, the Prologue is addressed.

PHILOSTRATE

If it please your Grace, the actor who will deliver the prologue is ready.

THESEUS

Let him approach.

THESEUS

Let him come forward.

QUINCE enters, performing as the PROLOGUE.

PROLOGUE

If we offend, it is with our good will. That you should think we come not to offend, But with good will. To show our simple skill, That is the true beginning of our end. Consider then we come but in despite. We do not come as minding to contest you, Our true intent is. All for your delight We are not here. That you should here repent you, The actors are at hand, and by their show You shall know all that you are like to know.

PROLOGUE

If our play offends you, it is our intention. That you know we have not come here to offend, but it is our intention. Showing off the little skill we have in acting will end up getting us executed. Understand, then, that we come in a spirit of ill will. We don’t come here with the purpose of making you happy. We did not come here for your complete delight. You should regret that the actors are ready. By watching their show, you’ll find out everything you’re likely to know. 

THESEUS

This fellow doth not stand upon points.

THESEUS

This guy doesn’t pay attention to punctuation.

LYSANDER

He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt. He knows not the stop. A good moral, my lord: it is not enough tospeak, but to speak true.

LYSANDER

He rode his prologue like a wild colt. He didn’t know how to make it stop. The moral here, my lord, is that it’s not enough to speak. You have to speak correctly.

HIPPOLYTA

Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child on arecorder—a sound, but not in government.

HIPPOLYTA

Yes, he’s performed the prologue like a child plays a recorder—he can make sounds, but not with any purposeful control.

THESEUS

His speech was like a tangled chain. Nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?

THESEUS

His speech was like a tangled chain. Unbroken, but all jumbled up. Who’s next?

Enter BOTTOM as PYRAMUS; FLUTE as THISBE; SNOUT as WALL; STARVELING as MOONSHINE; and SNUG as LION.

PROLOGUE

Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show. But wonder on, till truth make all things plain. This man is Pyramus, if you would know. This beauteous lady Thisbe is certain. This man, with lime and roughcast, doth present Wall, that vile wall which did these lovers sunder. And through Wall’s chink, poor souls, they are content To whisper. At the which let no man wonder. This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn, Presenteth Moonshine. For, if you will know, By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn To meet at Ninus' tomb—there, there to woo. This grisly beast, which “Lion” hight by name, The trusty Thisbe, coming first by night, Did scare away, or rather did affright. And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall, Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain. Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall, And finds his trusty Thisbe’s mantle slain. Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade, He bravely broached his boiling bloody breast. And Thisbe, tarrying in mulberry shade, His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest, Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain At large discourse, while here they do remain.

PROLOGUE

Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps you're wondering about the subject of this play. Keep on wondering, until the truth makes everything clear. This man is Pyramus, if you'd like to know. It's certain that this beautiful lady is Thisbe. This man, dusted in lime and plaster, is playing the Wall, that awful wall that separated these lovers. Through a little hole in the Wall, the poor souls are content to whisper. And no one should be amazed by that. This man, who has the lantern, dog, and thorn bush, is playing the role of Moonshine. Because, if you'd like to know, the lovers didn't think it was shameful to meet each other in the moonlight by Ninus’s tomb—there, they would woo each other. This dreadful beast, which is called “Lion,” scared away, or rather frightened, the faithful Thisbe when she arrived first at the meeting place one night. And, as she ran away, she dropped her cloak, which the awful Lion stained with his bloody mouth. Soon Pyramus arrives, a sweet and tall young man, and finds his faithful Thisbe’s cloak covered in blood. Because of that, he raised his sword—his bloodthirsty responsible blade—and bravely stabbed his raging, ferocious chest. Then Thisbe, waiting in the shade of the mulberry bushes, took out his dagger and killed herself. To hear the rest of the story, let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and the two separated lovers explain it more fully while they stand here on the stage.

THESEUS

I wonder if the lion be to speak.

THESEUS

I wonder if the lion will speak.

DEMETRIUS

No wonder, my lord. One lion may when many asses do.

DEMETRIUS

It wouldn’t be shocking, my lord. When a bunch of asses are up on stage talking, a lion might talk too.

WALL

In this same interlude it doth befall That I, one Snout by name, present a wall. And such a wall, as I would have you think, That had in it a crannied hole, or chink, Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe, Did whisper often very secretly. This loam, this roughcast, and this stone doth show That I am that same wall. The truth is so. And this the cranny is, right and sinister, Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.

WALL

At this moment of the play I, Snout, play a wall. I want you to know that this wall has a little hole in it, through which the lovers Pyramus and Thisbe often secretly whispered. This clay, this plaster, and this stone that I have on me show that I’m that wall. That's the truth. And this is the crack, running horizontally right to left, through which the fated lovers will whisper.

PROLOGUE, THISBE, LION, and MOONSHINE exit.

THESEUS

Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?

THESEUS

Would you ever hope to hear plaster speak more eloquently?

DEMETRIUS

It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.

DEMETRIUS

It’s the smartest barrier that I’ve ever heard speak, my lord.

THESEUS

Pyramus draws near the wall. Silence!

THESEUS

Pyramus is approaching the wall. Be quiet!

PYRAMUS enters.

PYRAMUS

O grim-looked night! O night with hue so black! O night, which ever art when day is not! O night, O night! Alack, alack, alack, I fear my Thisbe’s promise is forgot! And thou, O Wall, O sweet, O lovely Wall, That stand’st between her father’s ground and mine. Thou Wall, O Wall, O sweet and lovely Wall, Show me thy chink to blink through with mine eyne!

PYRAMUS

Oh, grim-looking night! Oh, night colored so black! Oh night, which always exists when day does not! Oh night, oh night! Sad, sad, sad. I’m afraid my Thisbe has forgotten her promise! And you, oh Wall, oh sweet, oh lovely Wall, which stands between Thisbe’s father’s land and mine. You Wall, oh Wall, oh sweet and lovely Wall. Show me your hole that I can peer through with my eye!

WALL holds up two fingers, spread a bit apart.

Thanks, courteous Wall. Jove shield thee well for this! But what see I? No Thisbe do I see. O wicked Wall through whom I see no bliss! Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!

Thanks, considerate Wall. May Jove protect you for doing this. But what do I see? I don’t see Thisbe. Oh wicked Wall, through which I see no happiness! Curse your stones for tricking me like this!

THESEUS

The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.

THESEUS

Since the wall has thoughts and feelings, I think it should curse back at him.

BOTTOM

No, in truth, sir, he should not. “Deceiving me” is Thisbe’s cue. She is to enter now and I am to spy her through the wall. You shall see, it will fall pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.

BOTTOM

[As himself] No, in fact, sir, he shouldn't. "Tricking me” is the cue for Thisbe to speak. She’s going to enter now, and I’ll spot her through the wall. You’ll see, it’ll happen just as I am telling you. There she comes.

THISBE enters.

THISBE

O Wall, full often hast thou heard my moans, For parting my fair Pyramus and me! My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones, Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.

THISBE

Oh Wall, you’ve so often heard my moans because you separate me from my handsome Pyramus! My cherry lips have often kissed your stones which are held together by plaster.

PYRAMUS

I see a voice. Now will I to the chink,To spy an I can hear my Thisbe’s face. Thisbe?

PYRAMUS

I see a voice! Now I’ll go to the hole to find out if I can hear my Thisbe’s face. Thisbe?

THISBE

My love thou art, my love, I think.

THISBE

You are my love, my love, I think.

PYRAMUS

Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace.And like Limander am I trusty still.

PYRAMUS

Whatever you think, I am your gracious lover. And, like Limander, I’m still faithful to you.

THISBE

And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.

THISBE

And I’ll be as faithful as Helen of Troy, until the day I’m destined to die.

PYRAMUS

Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.

PYRAMUS

Not even Shafalus was as faithful to his lover Procrus as I am to you.

THISBE

As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.

THISBE

I’m as faithful to you as Shafalus was to Procrus.

PYRAMUS

Oh, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!

PYRAMUS

Oh, kiss me through the hole in this awful wall.

THISBE

I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.

THISBE

I’m kissing the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.

PYRAMUS

Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?

PYRAMUS

Will you meet me at Ninny’s grave right now?

THISBE

Tide life, tide death, I come without delay.

THISBE

No matter what comes in life or death, I will be there without delay.

PYRAMUS and THISBE exit.

WALL

Thus have I, Wall, my part dischargèd so.And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.

WALL

In this way, I, Wall, have played my part. Now, since I’m done, Wall can go away.

WALL exits.

THESEUS

Now is the moon down between the two neighbors.

THESEUS

With the wall gone, now the two lovers will see each other by the light of the moon.

DEMETRIUS

No remedy, my lord, when walls are so willful to hear without warning.

DEMETRIUS

There's nothing you can do about it, my lord, when walls have ears.

HIPPOLYTA

This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.

HIPPOLYTA

This is the silliest thing I’ve ever seen.

THESEUS

The best in this kind are but shadows, and the worst are no worse if imagination amend them.

THESEUS

The best plays are a kind of illusion, and the worst are no worse if you use your imagination to fix them up.

HIPPOLYTA

It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.

HIPPOLYTA

Then it's your imagination that's good, not theirs.

THESEUS

If we imagine no worse of them than they of themselves,they may pass for excellent men. Here come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.

THESEUS

If we imagine these actors as being no worse than they imagine themselves to be, then they'd seem like accomplished actors. Here come two noble beasts, a man and a lion.

LION

You, ladies, you whose gentle hearts do fear The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor, May now perchance both quake and tremble here, When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar. Then know that I, as Snug the joiner, am A lion fell, nor else no lion’s dam. For if I should as lion come in strife Into this place, ’twere pity on my life.

LION

You gentle-hearted ladies—who fear even the smallest monstrous mouse that sneaks along the floor—may shake and tremble when the wild lion roars in its most violent rage. Therefore, know that I, Snug the carpenter, am neither a cruel lion nor a lioness, because if I were a lion that had come to this place in order to fight, then it would cost me my life.

LION and MOONSHINE enter.

THESEUS

A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.

THESEUS

It’s a noble beast, with a good conscience.

DEMETRIUS

A very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.

DEMETRIUS

He’s the best actor at being a beast that I’ve ever seen, my lord.

LYSANDER

This lion is a very fox for his valor.

LYSANDER

This lion seems like a fox, by being more sly than courageous.

THESEUS

True. And a goose for his discretion.

THESEUS

True. And he's just about as wise as a goose—that is, not wise at all!

DEMETRIUS

Not so, my lord. For his valor cannot carry his discretion, and the fox carries the goose.

DEMETRIUS

Not true, my lord. He’s not courageous enough pull off being discreet, just as the fox pulls along the goose by carrying it in its mouth.

THESEUS

His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valor, for the goose carries not the fox. It is well. Leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.

THESEUS

He’s not discreet enough to be brave, actually, just as the goose can't carry the fox. It doesn't matter. Let's leave all this to his discretion, and listen to the what the moon has to say.

MOONSHINE

This lanthorn doth the hornèd moon present—

MOONSHINE

This lantern symbolizes the horned moon.

DEMETRIUS

He should have worn the horns on his head.

DEMETRIUS

He should have worn the horns on his head.

THESEUS

He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the circumference.

THESEUS

He’s not shaped like a crescent moon, so his horns are probably invisible inside the circle.

MOONSHINE

This lanthorn doth the hornèd moon present.Myself the man i' th' moon do seem to be.

MOONSHINE

This lantern represents the crescent moon. I am pretending to be the man in the moon.

THESEUS

This is the greatest error of all the rest. The man should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else the “mani' th' moon?”

THESEUS

That’s a bigger mistake that all the others. The man should be put inside the lantern. How else can he be the “man in the moon?”

DEMETRIUS

He dares not come there for the candle. For you see, itis already in snuff.

DEMETRIUS

He doesn't dare to go in there on account of the candle. Because, you see, the candle must first be put out.

HIPPOLYTA

I am aweary of this moon. Would he would change!

HIPPOLYTA

I’m tired of this moon. If only he would wane away.

THESEUS

It appears by his small light of discretion, that he isin the wane. But yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay the time.

THESEUS

It seems by the meager amount of light he's giving off that he is waning. But, to be polite, we’ll have to wait to find out.

LYSANDER

Proceed, Moon.

LYSANDER

Continue, Moon.

MOONSHINE

All that I have to say is to tell you that the lanthornis the moon; I, the man in the moon; this thornbush, mythornbush; and this dog, my dog.

MOONSHINE

All I have to say is that the lantern is the moon. I’m the man in the moon. This thorn bush is my thorn bush. And this dog is my dog.

DEMETRIUS

Why, all these should be in the lanthorn, for all theseare in the moon. But silence! Here comes Thisbe.

DEMETRIUS

Well, all of these should be in the lantern, because all of them are in the moon. But be quiet! Here comes Thisbe.

THISBE enters.

THISBE

This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?

THISBE

This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?

LION

[Roaring] O!

LION

[Roaring] Grr!

THISBE runs off, leaving her cloak behind.

DEMETRIUS

Well roared, Lion!

DEMETRIUS

Nice roar, Lion!

THESEUS

Well run, Thisbe!

THESEUS

Nice running, Thisbe!

HIPPOLYTA

Well shone, Moon! Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.

HIPPOLYTA

Nice shining, Moon! Really, the Moon shines quite well.

LION bites and shakes THISBE’s cloak, staining it with blood.

THESEUS

Well moused, Lion!

THESEUS

Way to shake that mantle around the way a cat shakes a mouse, Lion!

PYRAMUS enters.

DEMETRIUS

And then came Pyramus.

DEMETRIUS

And then Pyramus arrived.

LION exits.

LYSANDER

And so the lion vanished.

LYSANDER

So then the lion disappeared.

PYRAMUS

Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams. I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright. For by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams, I trust to take of truest Thisbe sight. But stay, O spite! But mark, poor knight, What dreadful dole is here! Eyes, do you see? How can it be? O dainty duck! O dear! Thy mantle good, What, stained with blood? Approach, ye Furies fell! O Fates, come, come, Cut thread and thrum. Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!

PYRAMUS

Sweet Moon, I thank you for your sunny beams. I thank you, Moon, for shining now so bright, because by the light of your helpful, golden, glittering beams, I will be able to see my faithful Thisbe. But wait. Oh, misfortune! Look, you poor knight, what an awful sight! Eyes, do you see? How can this be? Oh, my dainty duck! Oh, my dear! What? Your beautiful cloak, is it stained with blood? Come, you cruel Furies! Come, come you Fates, and cut the thread of my life. Conquer, crush, bring to an end, and kill!

THESEUS

This passion and the death of a dear friend would go near to make a man look sad.

THESEUS

Watching this performance would be almost enough to make a man sad—so long as a good friend of yours died while you were watching it.

HIPPOLYTA

Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.

HIPPOLYTA

Curse my heart, but I feel sorry for this man.

PYRAMUS

O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame? Since lion vile hath here deflowered my dear, Which is—no, no—which was the fairest dame That lived, that loved, that liked, that looked with cheer. Come, tears, confound! Out, sword, and wound! The pap of Pyramus— Ay, that left pap Where heart doth hop. [Stabs himself] Thus die I, thus, thus, thus. Now am I dead. Now am I fled. My soul is in the sky. Tongue, lose thy light. Moon, take thy flight.

PYRAMUS

Oh why, Mother Nature, did you create lions? A dreadful lion has deflowered my darling, who is—no, no—who was the most beautiful woman that ever lived, loved, liked, or smiled. Come, tears, overwhelm me! Come out, sword, and wound me in the chest—yes, on the left side where the heart beats. [He stabs himself]  And so, I die, so, so, so. Now I am dead. Now my soul has flown from my body. Tongue, see no more. Moon, disappear.

MOONSHINE exits.

DEMETRIUS

No die, but an ace for him, for he is but one.

DEMETRIUS

This guy is just a single face of a die—the one, because he's a true original.


Now die, die, die, die, die.
[He dies]
Now die, die, die, die, die. [He dies]

LYSANDER

Less than an ace, man. For he is dead. He is nothing.

LYSANDER

He’s a die with even fewer than one dot. He's dead, so he's nothing.

THESEUS

With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover and prove an ass.

THESEUS

With the help of a doctor he might recover and become an ass.

HIPPOLYTA

How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?

HIPPOLYTA

What's going to happen since Moonshine has left before Thisbe comes back. How will she be able to find her lover?

THESEUS

She will find him by starlight. Here she comes, and herpassion ends the play.

THESEUS

She’ll see him by starlight. Here she comes. Her crying will end the play.

THISBE enters.

HIPPOLYTA

Methinks she should not use a long one for such a Pyramus.I hope she will be brief.

HIPPOLYTA

I don’t think this Pyramus deserves a whole lot of crying. I hope she does her part quickly.

DEMETRIUS

A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the better. He for a man, God warrant us, shefor a woman, God bless us.

DEMETRIUS

The difference in who's better between Pyramus and Thisbe is razor thin. God save us from him, as a man. But God save us from her, as a woman.

LYSANDER

She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.

LYSANDER

She's seen him already with those sweet eyes of hers.

DEMETRIUS

And thus she means , videlice t —

DEMETRIUS

And so she’ll start moaning, as we expected—

THISBE

Asleep, my love? What, dead, my dove? O Pyramus, arise! Speak, speak. Quite dumb? Dead, dead? A tomb Must cover thy sweet eyes. These lily lips, This cherry nose, These yellow cowslip cheeks Are gone, are gone. Lovers, make moan. His eyes were green as leeks. O Sisters three, Come, come to me With hands as pale as milk. Lay them in gore, Since you have shore With shears his thread of silk. Tongue, not a word. Come, trusty sword. Come, blade, my breast imbrue. [Stabs herself] And, farewell, friends. Thus Thisbe ends. Adieu, adieu, adieu. [She dies]

THISBE

Are you asleep, my love? What, are you dead, my dove? Oh, Pyramus, wake up! Speak, speak. Can you talk? Dead, dead? A tomb must cover your sweet eyes. Your lily-white lips, your cherry-red nose, your marigold-yellow cheeks are gone, gone. Lovers, moan. His eyes were as green as leeks. Oh, you three Fates, come, come to me, with hands as pale as milk. Place your hands in blood, since you have cut with scissors the thread of his life. Tongue, don't say a word. Come, trusty sword. Come, trusted sword, stain my breast with blood.[She stabs herself] Goodbye, friends! This is how Thisbe dies. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. [She dies]

THESEUS

Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.

THESEUS

Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.

DEMETRIUS

Ay, and Wall too.

DEMETRIUS

Yes, and Wall too.

BOTTOM

[Out of character] No, assure you. The wall is down that parted their fathers. Will it please you to see theepilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance between two of our company?

BOTTOM

[As himself] No, I assure you. The wall that separated their fathers' land has been taken down. Would you like to see the epilogue or see two of our actors perform a country dance?

THESEUS

No epilogue, I pray you, for your play needs no excuse.Never excuse—for when the players are all dead, there needs none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus and hanged himself in Thisbe’s garter, itwould have been a fine tragedy. And so it is, truly, and very notably discharged. But come, your Bergomask. Let your epilogue alone.

THESEUS

No epilogue, please. Your play does not need to offer any apology for itself through an epilogue. Never apologize—when the actors are all dead, no one must be blamed. In fact, if the man who wrote the play had performed as Pyramus and hanged himself with Thisbe’s stockings, it would have been a very good tragedy. And that's exactly what it is, honestly, and remarkably performed. Now please, perform your country dance. But don't worry about performing your epilogue.

The actors dance. BOTTOM and FLUTE exit.

The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve. Lovers, to bed. 'Tis almost fairy time. I fear we shall outsleep the coming morn As much as we this night have overwatched. This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed. A fortnight hold we this solemnity, In nightly revels and new jollity.

The hands of the clock have struck midnight. Lovers, let's go to bed. It’s almost fairy time. I’m afraid we’re going to sleep past morning because we've stayed up so late tonight. This obviously idiotic play has done a good job to help us pass the tired hours of night. Sweet friends, let’s go to bed. For two weeks we will continue to celebrate, with parties and new fun every night.

ROBIN

Now the hungry lion roars And the wolf behowls the moon, Whilst the heavy ploughman snores, All with weary task fordone. Now the wasted brands do glow, Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud, Puts the wretch that lies in woe In remembrance of a shroud. Now it is the time of night That the graves all gaping wide, Every one lets forth his sprite, In the churchway paths to glide. And we fairies, that do run By the triple Hecate’s team From the presence of the sun, Following darkness like a dream, Now are frolic. Not a mouse Shall disturb this hallowed house. I am sent with broom before To sweep the dust behind the door.

ROBIN

Now the hungry lion roars and the wolf howls at the moon, while the tired farmer snores, exhausted from all the work he's done. The embers of the fire glow, while the owl’s screeching hoot makes the man lying in his sickbed think about the shroud that will cover him in death. Now is the time of night when the graves all open wide, and release their spirits to glide over the paths of graveyards. And we fairies—who run from the sun just like Hecate, following darkness like a dream—are jolly. I will ensure that not even a mouse will disturb this blessed house. I’ve been sent ahead with a broom to sweep the dust behind the door.

OBERON and TITANIA enter with all their servants and followers.

OBERON

Through the house give glimmering light, By the dead and drowsy fire. Every elf and fairy sprite Hop as light as bird from brier. And this ditty, after me, Sing and dance it trippingly.

OBERON

The dying fire gives off a glimmering light throughout the house. Now every elf and fairy, hop as lightly as a bird on a twig, and sing this little song along with me, and dance.

TITANIA

First, rehearse your song by rote, To each word a warbling note. Hand in hand with fairy grace Will we sing and bless this place.

TITANIA

First rehearse your song from memory, and sing each word with a bird-like note. With everyone holding hands, we'll sing and bless this place with fairy grace.

OBERON

[Sings] Now until the break of day, Through this house each fairy stray. To the best bride bed will we, Which by us shall blessèd be. And the issue there create Ever shall be fortunate. So shall all the couples three Ever true in loving be. And the blots of Nature’s hand Shall not in their issue stand. Never mole, harelip, nor scar, Nor mark prodigious, such as are Despisèd in nativity, Shall upon their children be. With this field dew consecrate, Every fairy take his gait. And each several chamber bless Through this palace with sweet peace. And the owner of it blessed Ever shall in safety rest. Trip away. Make no stay. Meet me all by break of day.

OBERON

[Singing]
Now, until the dawn,
Each fairy wander through this house.
Titania and I will go
To the bless the royal marriage bed,
So that the children conceived in it
Will have good luck.
All three of the couples will always be
Faithful in love,
And none of the defects of nature
Will appear in their children.
They won’t have moles, or cleft lips, or scars,
Or abnormal birthmarks,
All of which will cause upset
If a baby is born with it.
Fairies, take this holy dew from the fields,
And as you walk
Through the rooms of the palace,
Bless them with sweet peace.
And the owner of the palace
Will always be blessed and safe.
Now go, but don’t stay long.
Meet me at dawn.

OBERON and TITANIA and the FAIRIES sing and dance.

All exit except for ROBIN.

ROBIN

If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended— That you have but slumbered here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend. And, as I am an honest Puck, If we have unearnèd luck Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, We will make amends ere long. Else the Puck a liar call. So good night unto you all. Give me your hands if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends.



ROBIN

If we actors have offended you, simply think about it this way, and everything will be better: you just slept here, and saw these visions in a dream. This foolish and silly plot was only a dream. Ladies and gentlemen, don't rebuke me. If you forgive us, we'll make everything better. And since I, Puck, am honest, I promise to make everything better—if we're lucky enough to escape your boos and hisses. Otherwise, call me a liar. So, good night to all of you. If we are friends, please give us a round of applause—and Robin will make it all up to you.

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.