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

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THESEUS

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

THESEUS

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

LYSANDER

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

LYSANDER

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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

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PHILOSTRATE

Here, mighty Theseus.

PHILOSTRATE

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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

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PHILOSTRATE

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

PHILOSTRATE

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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

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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

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THESEUS

What are they that do play it?

THESEUS

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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

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THESEUS

And we will hear it.

THESEUS

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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

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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

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HIPPOLYTA

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

HIPPOLYTA

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PHILOSTRATE exits.

THESEUS

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

THESEUS

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HIPPOLYTA

He says they can do nothing in this kind.

HIPPOLYTA

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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

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PHILOSTRATE enters.

PHILOSTRATE

So please your grace, the Prologue is addressed.

PHILOSTRATE

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THESEUS

Let him approach.

THESEUS

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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

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THESEUS

This fellow doth not stand upon points.

THESEUS

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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

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HIPPOLYTA

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

HIPPOLYTA

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THESEUS

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

THESEUS

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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

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THESEUS

I wonder if the lion be to speak.

THESEUS

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DEMETRIUS

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

DEMETRIUS

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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

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PROLOGUE, THISBE, LION, and MOONSHINE exit.

THESEUS

Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?

THESEUS

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DEMETRIUS

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

DEMETRIUS

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THESEUS

Pyramus draws near the wall. Silence!

THESEUS

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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

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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!

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THESEUS

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

THESEUS

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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

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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

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PYRAMUS

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

PYRAMUS

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THISBE

My love thou art, my love, I think.

THISBE

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PYRAMUS

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

PYRAMUS

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THISBE

And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.

THISBE

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PYRAMUS

Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.

PYRAMUS

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THISBE

As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.

THISBE

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PYRAMUS

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

PYRAMUS

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THISBE

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

THISBE

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PYRAMUS

Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?

PYRAMUS

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THISBE

Tide life, tide death, I come without delay.

THISBE

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PYRAMUS and THISBE exit.

WALL

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

WALL

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WALL exits.

THESEUS

Now is the moon down between the two neighbors.

THESEUS

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DEMETRIUS

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

DEMETRIUS

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HIPPOLYTA

This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.

HIPPOLYTA

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THESEUS

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

THESEUS

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HIPPOLYTA

It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.

HIPPOLYTA

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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

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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

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LION and MOONSHINE enter.

THESEUS

A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.

THESEUS

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DEMETRIUS

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

DEMETRIUS

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LYSANDER

This lion is a very fox for his valor.

LYSANDER

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THESEUS

True. And a goose for his discretion.

THESEUS

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DEMETRIUS

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

DEMETRIUS

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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

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MOONSHINE

This lanthorn doth the hornèd moon present—

MOONSHINE

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DEMETRIUS

He should have worn the horns on his head.

DEMETRIUS

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THESEUS

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

THESEUS

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MOONSHINE

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

MOONSHINE

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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

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DEMETRIUS

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

DEMETRIUS

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HIPPOLYTA

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

HIPPOLYTA

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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

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LYSANDER

Proceed, Moon.

LYSANDER

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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

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DEMETRIUS

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

DEMETRIUS

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THISBE enters.

THISBE

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

THISBE

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LION

[Roaring] O!

LION

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THISBE runs off, leaving her cloak behind.

DEMETRIUS

Well roared, Lion!

DEMETRIUS

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THESEUS

Well run, Thisbe!

THESEUS

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HIPPOLYTA

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

HIPPOLYTA

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

THESEUS

Well moused, Lion!

THESEUS

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PYRAMUS enters.

DEMETRIUS

And then came Pyramus.

DEMETRIUS

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LION exits.

LYSANDER

And so the lion vanished.

LYSANDER

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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

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THESEUS

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

THESEUS

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HIPPOLYTA

Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.

HIPPOLYTA

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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

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MOONSHINE exits.

DEMETRIUS

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

DEMETRIUS

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

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

LYSANDER

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THESEUS

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

THESEUS

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HIPPOLYTA

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

HIPPOLYTA

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THESEUS

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

THESEUS

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THISBE enters.

HIPPOLYTA

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

HIPPOLYTA

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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

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LYSANDER

She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.

LYSANDER

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DEMETRIUS

And thus she means , videlice t —

DEMETRIUS

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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

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THESEUS

Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.

THESEUS

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DEMETRIUS

Ay, and Wall too.

DEMETRIUS

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

L

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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.