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Here comes my messenger.-How now, mad spirit!
What night-rule1 now about this haunted grove?
Puck. 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,2 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,3
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 now14 I fixed on his head;
Anon, his Thisbe must be answered,
And forth my mimic comes.
When they him spy,
As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
Or russet-pated choughs,5 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
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong;
For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch;
Some, sleeves; some, hats; from yielders all things
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.
3 Barren is dull, unpregnant. Sort is company. 5 The chough is a bird of the daw kind.
2 A patch was a common contemptuous term. 4 A head.
Obe. This falls out better than I could devise. But hast thou yet latched the Athenian's eyes With the love-juice, as I did bid thee do?
Puck. 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.
Enter DEMETRIUS and HERMIA.
Obe. Stand close; this is the same Athenian. Puck. This is the woman, but not this the man. Dem. O, why rebuke you him that loves you so? Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.
Her. Now I but chide, but I should use thee
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 centre creep, and so displease
Her brother's noontide with the Antipodes.
It cannot be, but thou hast murdered him:
So should a murderer look, so dead, so grim.
Dem. So should the murdered look; and so should 1, Pierced through the heart with your stern cruelty. Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear, As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere.
Her. What's this to my Lysander? Where is he? Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?
Dem. I had rather give his carcass to my hounds. Her. Out, dog! Out, cur! Thou driv'st me past the bounds
Of maiden's patience. Hast thou slain him, then?
Henceforth be never numbered among men!
1 Latched or letched, licked or smeared over.
O! 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!1
Could not a worm, an adder, do so much?
An adder did it; for with doubler tongue
Than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.
Dem. You spend your passion on a misprised 2 mood. I am not guilty of Lysander's blood;
Nor is he dead, for aught that I can tell.
Her. I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.
Dem. An if I could, what should I
Her. 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.
Dem. 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.
Obe. 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.
Puck. Then fate o'errules; that, one man holding
A million fail, confounding oath on oath.
Obe. About the wood go swifter than the wind, And Helena of Athens look thou find.
All fancy-sick she is, and pale of cheer3
With sighs of love, that cost the fresh blood dear.1
By some illusion see thou bring her here;
I'll charm his eyes, against she doth appear.
Puck. I go, I go; look, how I go;
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow.
1 A touch anciently signified a trick.
2 "On a misprised mood," i. e. in a mistaken manner.
3 Cheer here signifies countenance, from cera (Ital.).
4 Alluding to the ancient supposition, that every sigh was indulged at the expense of a drop of blood.
Obe. 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 wak'st, if she be by,
Beg of her for remedy.
Puck. 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!
Obe. Stand aside; the noise they make,
Will cause Demetrius to awake.
Puck. Then will two at once woo one;
That must needs be sport alone;
And those things do best please me,
That befall preposterously.
Enter LYSANDER and HELena.
Lys. Why should you think, that I should woo in
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?
Hel. You do advance your cunning more and
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.
Lys. I had no judgment when to her I swore.
Hel. Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o'er.
Lys. Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.
Dem. [Awaking.] O Helen, goddess, nymph, per-
To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?
Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!
That pure congealed white, high Taurus's snow,
Fanned with the eastern wind, turns to a crow,
When thou hold'st up thy hand. O let me kiss
This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!
Hel. 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?
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
poor soul's patience, all to make you sport.
Lys. 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 to my death.
Hel. Never did mockers waste more idle breath. Dem. Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none: If e'er I loved her, all that love is gone.
1 i. e. join heartily, unite in the same mind.