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A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Complete Text on One Page

With Definitions of Difficult Words and Explanations of Difficult Passages

Compiled and Annotated by Michael J. Cummings

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Complete Annotated Text


The following version of A Midsummer Night's Dream is based on the text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The text numbers the lines, including those with stage directions such as "Enter" and "Exit." The annotations (notes and definitions) by Michael J. Cummings appear in boldfaced type.


Theseus: Duke of Athens. He orders lavish festivities and merriment for his marriage to Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, telling her "I will wed thee . . . with pomp, with triumph and with revelling."  Theseus and Hippolyta represent ideal, mature love against which the immature love of the other couples—including Oberon and Titania—is to be measured.
Hippolyta: Queen of the Amazons, a race of women warriors, and a former battlefield foe of Theseus. She is his wife-to-be. According to one tale in Greek mythology, Theseus first made war on the Amazons in their homeland on the Black Sea; they, in turn, invaded Greece in the region of Athens. In that tale, Theseus marries an Amazon queen named Antiope, who is the daughter of the war god Ares (Mars).
Hermia: Strong-willed young woman in love with Lysander. She refuses to marry Demetrius, her father's choice for her. Her father asks Theseus to settle the dispute.
Egeus: Hermia's father.
Lysander, Demetrius: Young men in love with Hermia.
Helena: Young woman in love with Demetrius.
Philostrate: Master of the revels for Duke Theseus.
Bottom: A weaver who plays Pyramus in the tradesmen's play.
Peter Quince: A carpenter who plays Thisbe's father in the tradesmen's play. He also recites the prologue.
Snug: A joiner (cabinetmaker) who plays a lion in the tradesmen's play.
Francis Flute: Bellows-mender who plays Thisbe in the tradesmen's play.
Tom Snout: A tinker who plays Pyramus's father.
Robin Starveling: Tailor who plays Thisbe's mother.
Oberon: King of the fairies.
Titania: Queen of the fairies.
Puck (also called Robin Goodfellow): Mischievous sprite who acts on behalf of Oberon. He can take the form of any creature or thing—hog, bear, horse, dog, and even fire.
Nedar: Father of Helena. He has no speaking part in the play.
Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed: Fairies.
Other Fairies Attending Their King and Queen
Attendants of Theseus and Hippolyta

Text of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Annotations by Michael J. Cummings

Act 1, Scene 1: Athens. The palace of Theseus.
Act 1, Scene 2: Athens. A room in Quince's house.
Act 2, Scene 1: A wood near Athens.
Act 2, Scene 2: Another part of the wood.
Act 3, Scene 1: A wood. Titania lying asleep.
Act 3, Scene 2: Another part of the wood.
Act 4, Scene 1: A wood. Lysander, Demetrius, Helena and Hermia lying asleep.
Act 4, Scene 2: Athens. A room in Quince's house.
Act 5, Scene 1: Athens. An apartment in the palace of Theseus.
Act 5, Scene 2: (Puck recites a closing poem. No setting is listed.)

Act 1, Scene 1

Athens.  The Palace of THESEUS.
THESEUS: Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial [wedding] hour   
Draws on apace: four happy days bring in   
Another moon [change in the shape of the moon; lunar phase] ; but O! methinks how slow            5
This old moon wanes; she lingers [continues] my desires,   
[wanes: Shrinks in visibility after a full moon. A shadow appears over the part of the moon not visible.]
Like to a step-dame [stepmother], or a dowager [widow with property]
Long withering out a young man’s revenue.   
HIPPOLYTA: Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;   
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;            10
And then the moon, like to a silver bow [resembling an archery bow; crescent-shaped] 
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night   
Of our solemnities.   
THESEUS: Go, Philostrate,   
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;            15
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;   
Turn melancholy forth to funerals;   
The pale companion [death] is not for our pomp [celebration].  [Exit PHILOSTRATE.   
Hippolyta, I woo’d thee with my sword,   
And won thy love doing thee injuries;            20
But I will wed thee in another key [way, manner],   
With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.   
EGEUS: Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!   
THESEUS: Thanks, good Egeus: what’s the news with thee?            25
EGEUS: Full of vexation come I, with complaint   
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.   
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,   
This man hath my consent to marry her.   
Stand forth, Lysander: and, my gracious duke,            30
This man hath bewitch’d the bosom of my child:   
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rimes [poems],   
And interchang’d love-tokens with my child;   
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,   
With feigning voice, verses of feigning love;            35
[With . . . love: Egeus accuses Lysander of feigning (disguising) his intentions toward Hermia. In other words, Lysander is insincere—and perhaps a downright liar who lusts after Hermia but does not love her.]
And stol’n the impression of her fantasy   
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds [trinkets], conceits [fancy words],   
Knacks [knickknacks], trifles, nosegays [small bouquets of flowers], sweetmeats [candies; sweets], messengers,   
Of strong prevailment in unharden’d youth; 
Of strong . . . youth: All of which appeal to innocent and inexperienced young women]
With cunning hast thou filch’d my daughter’s heart;            40
Turn’d her obedience, which is due to me,   
To stubborn harshness. And, my gracious duke,   
Be it so she will not here before your Grace   
Consent to marry with Demetrius,   
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,            45
As she is mine, I may dispose of her;   
Which shall be either to this gentleman,   
Or to her death, according to our law   
Immediately provided in that case.   
THESEUS:  What say you, Hermia? be advis’d, fair maid.            50
To you, your father should be as a god;   
One that compos’d your beauties, yea, and one   
To whom you are but as a form in wax   
By him imprinted, and within his power   
To leave the figure or disfigure it.            55
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.   
HERMIA:  So is Lysander.   
THESEUS:  In himself he is;   
But, in this kind, wanting your father’s voice,   
The other must be held the worthier.            60
HERMIA:  I would my father look’d but with my eyes.   
THESEUS:  Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.   
HERMIA:  I do entreat your Grace to pardon me.   
I know not by what power I am made bold,   
Nor how it may concern my modesty            65
In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;   
But I beseech [beg] your Grace, that I may know   
The worst that may befall me in this case,   
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.   
THESEUS:  Either to die the death, or to abjure [renounce]           70
For ever the society of men.   
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires;   
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,   
Whe’r [whether], if you yield not to your father’s choice,   
You can endure the livery [uniform; clothing; habit] of a nun,            75
For aye to be in shady cloister [convent] mew’d [confined; closed up],   
To live a barren [childless] sister all your life,   
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.   
Thrice blessed they that master so their blood,   
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;            80
But earthlier happy is the rose distill’d,   
Than that which withering on the virgin thorn   
Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.
[Thrice . . . blessedness: Three times blessed are those who have what it takes to subdue their worldly desires in order to live the maiden life of a nun. On the other hand, a woman who shares herself in marriage, like a rose that shares its perfume with a passerby, enjoys an earthly happiness far greater than that of a woman who lives, matures, and dies as a virginal nun.]
HERMIA:  So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,   
Ere [before] I will yield my virgin patent [chastity] up            85
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
[unwished yoke: Dominance over me]  
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.   
THESEUS:  Take time to pause; and, by the next new moon,—   
The sealing-day [wedding day] betwixt [between] my love and me   
For everlasting bond of fellowship,—            90
Upon that day either prepare to die   
For disobedience to your father’s will,   
Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;   
Or on Diana’s altar to protest   
[Diana: Moon goddess in ancient mythology. Her Greek name was Artemis and her Roman name, Diana. She was a virgin. One of her duties was to safeguard chastity.]
For aye austerity and single life.            95
DEMETRIUS:  Relent, sweet Hermia; and, Lysander, yield   
Thy crazed title to my certain right.   
LYSANDER:  You have her father’s love, Demetrius;   
Let me have Hermia’s: do you marry him [Hermia's father].   
EGEUS:  Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love,            100
And what is mine my love shall render him;   
And she is mine, and all my right of her   
I do estate [pledge; give] unto Demetrius.   
LYSANDER:  I am, my lord, as well deriv’d as he,   
As well possess’d; my love is more than his;            105
My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d   
If not with vantage, as Demetrius’;   
[If not . . . Demetrius: If not greater than the fortunes of Demetrius]
And, which is more than all these boasts can be,   
I am belov’d of beauteous Hermia.   
Why should not I then prosecute my right?            110
Demetrius, I’ll avouch [affirm] it to his head [face],   
Made love [wooed] to Nedar’s daughter, Helena,   
And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,   
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,   
Upon this spotted [blemished in virtue or reputation] and inconstant man.            115
THESEUS:  I must confess that I have heard so much,   
And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;   
But, being over-full of self-affairs,   
My mind did lose it. But, Demetrius, come;   
[I must . . . lose it: I must confess that I have heard rumors about Demetrius and considered speaking to him about them. However, busy with other affairs, I forgot to do so.]
And come, Egeus; you shall go with me,            120
I have some private schooling for you both,   
For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself   
To fit your fancies to your father’s will,   
Or else the law of Athens yields you up,   
Which by no means we may extenuate,            125
To death, or to a vow of single life.   
Come, my Hippolyta: what cheer, my love?   
Demetrius and Egeus, go along:   
I must employ you in some business   
Against our nuptial [concerning our wedding], and confer with you            130
Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.   
EGEUS:  With duty and desire we follow you.  [Exeunt THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEUS, DEMETRIUS, and Train [attendants].   
LYSANDER:  How now, my love! Why is your cheek so pale? 
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?   
HERMIA:  Belike [maybe] for want of rain, which I could well            135     
Beteem [pour on] them from the tempest of mine eyes.   
LYSANDER:  Ay me! for aught [anything] that ever I could read,   
Could ever hear by tale or history,   
The course of true love never did run smooth;   
But, either it was different in blood,—            140
HERMIA:  O cross! too high to be enthrall’d to low.   
[O cross . . . low: How unfortunate! To be so high in society that you cannot keep company with the low-born.]
LYSANDER:  Or else misgraffed [mismatched] in respect of years,—   
HERMIA:  O spite! too old to be engag’d to young.   
LYSANDER:  Or else it stood upon the choice of friends,—   
[Or else . . . friends: Or else parents or other supervisors chose your companions for you.]
HERMIA:  O hell! to choose love by another’s eye.            145
LYSANDER:  Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,   
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,   
Making it momentary as a sound,   
[Or, if . . . sound: Or if the young man and woman freely chose each other, war, death, or sickness ended their love, making it as brief as a sound.]
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,   
Brief as the lightning in the collied [darkened; black] night,            150
That, in a spleen [display of angry light], unfolds both heaven and earth,   
And ere [before] a man hath power to say, ‘Behold!’   
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:   
So quick bright things come to confusion.
[So quick . . . confusion: So it is that the forces of darkness can swallow the brightness of love.]  
HERMIA:  If then true lovers have been ever cross’d,            155
It stands as an edict in destiny:   
[If then . . . destiny: If then true lovers have always been defeated or thwarted, fate must have ordained their sorry destiny.]
Then let us teach our trial patience,   
Because it is a customary cross,   
As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,   
Wishes and tears, poor fancy’s followers.            160
[Then let . . . followers: Then let's be patient. Patience must be as much a part of love as dreams, sighs, wishes, and tears, which are all symptoms of love.]
LYSANDER:  A good persuasion: therefore, hear me, Hermia.   
I have a widow aunt, a dowager   
Of great revenue, and she hath no child:   
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues [twenty-one miles, or 33.79 kilometers];   
And she respects me as her only son.            165
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee,   
And to that place the sharp Athenian law   
Cannot pursue us. If thou lov’st me then,   
Steal forth thy father’s house to-morrow night,   
And in the wood, a league [three miles, or 4.82 kilometers] without the town,            170
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,   
To do observance to a morn of May,   
There will I stay for thee.   
HERMIA:  My good Lysander!   
I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow,            175
[Cupid: Roman name for Eros, the Greek god of love in ancient mythology. He made a man or woman fall in love by shooting an arrow into his or her body.]
By his best arrow with the golden head,   
By the simplicity of Venus’ doves, 
[Venus: Roman name for Aphrodite [af ro DYE te], the Greek goddess of love in ancient mythology. She was the mother of Eros. Aphrodite was associated with the dove as a symbol of love]
By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,   
And by that fire which burn’d the Carthage queen,   
When the false Troyan under sail was seen,            180
[And by . . .  was seen: Allusion to Dido, queen of Carthage in ancient mythology. Carthage was in North Africa. After she had a love affair with the Trojan (written as Troyan in line 180) warrior Aeneas [uh NE ihs], Aeneas abandoned her. Heartbroken, she committed suicide. As he sailed from the shores of North Africa, Aeneas could see the glow of the fire cremating her.]
By all the vows that ever men have broke,—   
In number more than ever women spoke,—   
In that same place thou hast appointed me,   
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.   
LYSANDER:  Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.            185
HERMIA:  God speed fair Helena! Whither away? [Where are you going?]
HELENA:  Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.   
Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!   
Your eyes are lode-stars! and your tongue’s sweet air            190
More tuneable than lark to shepherd’s ear,   
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.   
[Call you . . . ear: You call me beautiful, but you should not do so. It is your beauty that Demetrius loves. Your eyes are bright stars, and your speech is sweeter than a lark's song to a shepherd's ear when spring brings forth green wheat and hawthorn buds.]
Sickness is catching: O! were favour so,   
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere [before] I go;   
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,            195
My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody.   
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,   
The rest I’d give to be to you translated.   
[Sickness is . . . translated: If you were a sickness. Hermia, I would want to catch you. I'd like to catch your voice, your eye, and the sweet melodies that trip from your tongue. If I could have any wish in the world, I would wish to be you. However, I would never give up my love for Demetrius under any circumstances.]
O! teach me how you look, and with what art   
You sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart.            200
HERMIA:  I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.   
HELENA:  O! that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill.   
HERMIA:  I give him curses, yet he gives me love.   
HELENA:  O! that my prayers could such affection move.   
HERMIA:  The more I hate, the more he follows me.            205 
HELENA:  The more I love, the more he hateth me.   
HERMIA:  His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.   
HELENA:  None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine!   
HERMIA:  Take comfort: he no more shall see my face;   
Lysander and myself will fly this place.            210
Before the time I did Lysander see,   
Seem’d Athens as a paradise to me:   
O! then, what graces in my love do dwell,   
That he hath turn’d a heaven unto a hell.   
LYSANDER:  Helen, to you our minds we will unfold.            215
To-morrow night, when Phoebe [the moon] doth behold             
Her silver visage in the wat’ry glass [body of water],   
Decking with liquid pearl [moonlight] the bladed grass,—   
A time that lovers’ flights doth still conceal, [a time when shadows hide secret lovers]—   
Through Athens’ gates have we devis’d to steal.            220
HERMIA:  And in the wood, where often you and I   
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont [likely] to lie,   
Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet [discussing our concerns and giving each other advice],   
There my Lysander and myself shall meet;   
And thence from Athens turn away our eyes,            225
To seek new friends and stranger companies.   
Farewell, sweet playfellow: pray thou for us;   
And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius!   
Keep word, Lysander: we must starve our sight   
From lovers’ food till morrow deep midnight.            230
[we must . . . midnight: We must not see each till midnight tomorrow.]
LYSANDER:  I will, my Hermia.—[Exit HERMIA.]  Helena, adieu [farewell]:   
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you!  [Exit.   
[As you . . . on you: May Demetrius love you as much as you love him!]
HELENA:  How happy some o’er other some can be!  [How much happier some can be than others!]
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she;   
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;            235
He will not know what all but he do know;   
[Through Athens . . . do know: Throughout Athens, people think I am as beautiful as Hermia. But the views of others don't mean a thing to Demetrius. The only opinion that matters to him is his own.]
And as he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes,   
So I, admiring of his qualities.   
[As as . . . qualities: And just as he errs when he fixes all his attention on Hermia, I also err when I fix all my attention on him.]
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,   
Love can transpose to form and dignity.            240
[Things base . . . dignity: Things that are vile and repugnant, having no merit, can be changed by love into beautiful and dignified things.]
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,   
And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind.   
[Love looks . . . blind: A lover does not see the faults in the beloved. Rather, the lover is blind to the faults of the beloved.]
Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgment taste;   
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste:                                      
And therefore is Love said to be a child,            245
Because in choice he is so oft beguil’d.   
[Nor hath . . . beguil'd: Nor does a lover have experience in good judgment. He is like the god of love, Cupid, who soars with his wings but lacks the insight to make wise judgments.]
As waggish [joking; impish] boys in game themselves forswear,   
So the boy Love is perjur’d every where;   
[So . . . every where: So the boy Cupid lies everywhere. (Here, Cupid represents fickle lovers like Demetrius.)]
For ere [before] Demetrius look’d on Hermia’s eyne [eyes],   
He hail’d down oaths that he was only mine;            250
[hail'd down oaths: Swore]
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,   
So he dissolv’d, and showers of oaths did melt. 
[And when . . . melt:  But when he heated up his passion for Hermia, his promise to love me melted.]
I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight:   
Then to the wood will he to-morrow night   
Pursue her; and for this intelligence            255
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense:   
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,   
To have his sight thither and back again.  [Exit.   
[I will go . . . back again: I will inform him of Hermia's planned excursion into the forest tomorrow night. If he thanks me, it will be a little reward for me. It will cause me pain, of course, to see him chase after her. But at least I will get to see him when he runs off and when he comes back.]

Act 1, Scene 2

The Same.  A Room in QUINCE’S House.
QUINCE:  Is all our company here?   
BOTTOM:  You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip.  
[You were . . . scrip: You should call each man specifically by name in the order in which the names are written down on our list. (Bottom often uses the wrong word (or words) to convey his meaning. Here, he uses generally for specifically. A scrip is a scrap of paper with words on it.)]
QUINCE:  Here is the scroll of every man’s name, which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and the duchess on his wedding-day at night.            5
[Here is . . . night: Here is the list of every man in Athens believed competent to act in our play before the duke and duchess on their wedding night.]
BOTTOM:  First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on; then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point.   
[First . . . a point: First, Peter Quince, tell us the topic of the play and read the actors' names.  Then stop talking.]
QUINCE:  Marry, our play is, The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby. [Quince mispells the female character. Her name is Thisbe.]
BOTTOM:  A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.   
QUINCE:  Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.   
BOTTOM:  Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed.            10
QUINCE:  You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.   
BOTTOM:  What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?   
QUINCE:  A lover, that kills himself most gallantly for love.   
BOTTOM:  That will ask some tears in the true performing of it: if I do it, let the audience look to their eyes [the audience will cry too]; I will move storms [I will make them cry storms], I will condole [cry; wail; grieve] in some measure. To the rest: yet my chief humour [preference] is for a tyrant. I could play Ercles [Hercules] rarely [very well], or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split [part requiring me to rant and rave and bluster].
    The raging rocks
    And shivering shocks
    Shall break the locks
        Of prison gates:                 
    And Phibbus’ car
    Shall shine from far
    And make and mar
        The foolish Fates.
[Phibbus' car: Allusion to the golden chariot driven by Phoebus Apollo, a sun god in Greek mythology. Apollo drove the gleaming chariot (the sun) each day across the sky, from east to west.]
This was lofty! Now name the rest of the players. This is Ercles’ vein, a tyrant’s vein; a lover is more condoling.   
[This was . . . condoling: You've got to admit that I did a great job with this recitation. Now name the rest of the actors. Incidentally, my acting just now was tyrannical, as in the Hercules vein. If I acted the part of a lover, I would be more sorrowful.]
QUINCE:  Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.            15
FLUTE:  Here, Peter Quince.   
QUINCE:  You must take Thisby on you.   
FLUTE:  What is Thisby? a wandering knight?   
QUINCE:  It is the lady that Pyramus must love.   
FLUTE:  Nay, faith, let not me play a woman; I have a beard coming.            20
QUINCE:  That’s all one: you shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.   
[That's all . . . you will: That doesn't make any difference because you will be wearing a mask. You may speak as much like a woman as you like.]
BOTTOM:  An [if] I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too. I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice, ‘Thisne, Thisne!’ ‘Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear; thy Thisby dear, and lady dear!’   
QUINCE:  No, no; you must play Pyramus; and Flute, you Thisby.   
BOTTOM:  Well, proceed.   
QUINCE:  Robin Starveling, the tailor.            25
STARVELING:  Here, Peter Quince.   
QUINCE:  Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby’s mother. Tom Snout, the tinker.   
SNOUT:  Here, Peter Quince.   
QUINCE:  You, Pyramus’s father; myself, Thisby’s father; Snug, the joiner [cabinetmaker], you the lion’s part: and, I hope, here is a play fitted.   
SNUG:  Have you the lion’s part written? pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study.            30
QUINCE:  You may do it extempore [without preparation; extemporaneously], for it is nothing but roaring.   
BOTTOM:  Let me play the lion too. I will roar, that I will do any man’s heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will make the duke say, ‘Let him roar again, let him roar again.’   
QUINCE:  An [if] you should do it too terribly, you would fright the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek; and that were enough to hang us all.   
ALL:  That would hang us, every mother’s son.   
BOTTOM:  I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion [no alternative] but to hang us; but I will aggravate [lower the intensity of; moderate] my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you as ’twere any nightingale.            35
QUINCE:  You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is a sweet-faced man; a proper man, as one shall see in a summer’s day; a most lovely, gentleman-like man; therefore, you must needs play Pyramus.   
BOTTOM:  Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in?   
QUINCE:  Why, what you will.   
BOTTOM:  I will discharge it in either your straw colour beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard [beard dyed purple], or your French-crown [coin] colour beard, your perfect yellow.   
QUINCE:  Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-faced. But masters, here are your parts; and I am to entreat you, request you, and desire you, to con them by to-morrow night, and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by moon-light: there will we rehearse; for if we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with company, and our devices known. In the meantime I will draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not.            40
BOTTOM:  We will meet; and there we may rehearse more obscenely [obscurely; without notice] and courageously. Take pains; be perfect; adieu.   
QUINCE:  At the duke’s oak we meet.   
BOTTOM:  Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings.  [Exeunt.   

Act 2, Scene 1

A Wood near Athens.
Enter a Fairy on one side, and PUCK on the other.
PUCK:  How now, spirit! whither [where] wander you?   
FAIRY:  Over hill, over dale [valley],   
        Thorough [through] bush, thorough brier,            5
    Over park, over pale [fence; barrier],   
        Thorough flood, thorough fire,   
    I do wander every where,   
    Swifter than the moone’s sphere;   
    [Swifter . . . sphere: Swifter than the moon in its orbit]
    And I serve the fairy queen,            10
    To dew her orbs [rings of grass] upon the green:   
    The cowslips tall her pensioners be;   
     [cowslip: Plant with a long stem and clusters of yellow flowers]
     [pensioners: Men-at-arms who attend the fairy queen]
    In their gold coats spots you see;   
    Those be rubies, fairy favours,   
    In their freckles live their savours:            15
    [In their . . . savours: On their yellow flowers are ruby spots that emit a pleasing fragrance.]
I must go seek some dew-drops here,   
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.   
Farewell, thou lob [lout; oaf]: I’ll be gone;   
Our queen and all her elves come here anon [soon].   
PUCK:  The king doth keep his revels here to-night.            20
Take heed the queen come not within his sight;   
For Oberon is passing fell [angry; deadly] and wrath,   
Because that she as her attendant hath   
A lovely boy, stol’n from an Indian king;   
She never had so sweet a changeling;            25
[changeling: Beautiful child that changed places with an ugly child. The exchange took place when fairies abducted the beautiful child and left behind the ugly child.]
And jealous Oberon would have the child   
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild;   
[would have . . . wild: Would have the child as a knight who helps the king trace tracks in the forest]
But she, perforce, withholds the loved boy,   
Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy.   
And now they never meet in grove, or green,            30
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,   
But they do square [square off; quarrel; argue]; that all their elves, for fear,   
Creep into acorn-cups and hide them there.   
FAIRY:  Either I mistake your shape and making quite,  
[Either . . . quite: Either I quite mistake your shape]
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite            35
Call’d Robin Goodfellow: are you not he   
That frights the maidens of the villagery;   
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern,  
[Skim milk: Skims the cream from others' milk]
[labour . . . quern: Vandalizes the hand-operated mills that grind grain]
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;  
[And . . . churn: And cause the housewife to churn and churn in a useless (bootless) effort to make butter from milk]
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm [foam; froth];            40
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?   
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,   
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:   
[Those that . . . luck: Those that address you as Hobgoblin or sweet Puck win your favor, and you give them good luck.]
Are you not he?   
PUCK:  Fairy, thou speak’st aright;            45
I am that merry wanderer of the night.   
I jest to Oberon, and make him smile   
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,  
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:   
[When I  . . . foal: When I fool a fat, bean-fed horse into thinking that I am a young female horse ready to mate with him.all I do is neigh like a female.]
And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl,            50
In very likeness of a roasted crab;   
And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob   
And on her wither’d dewlap pour the ale.   
[And sometime . . . ale: And sometimes I lurk as a roasted crabapple in the bottom of a gossipy old woman's bowl of ale. When she drinks, I ascend and caress her lips, then pour the ale on the fold of fat skin on her wrinkled old neck.]
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,   
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;            55
[Sometime . . . me: Sometimes mistakes me for a three-legged stool and attempts to sit on me]
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,   
And ‘tailor’ cries, and falls into a cough;   
[Then . . . cough: Then I slip away from her rear end, like a chair being pulled from under someone, and down she topples. She shouts, "Tailor!" Then she begins coughing. It is not clear what tailor is supposed to mean. Perhaps she's accusing a tailor of playing a prank on her.]
And then the whole quire hold their hips and loff;   
And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear   
A merrier hour was never wasted there.            60
[And then . . . wasted there: And then all the listeners put their hands on their hips and laugh. As their laughter broadens, they sneeze and declare they had a merry old time.]
But, room [give me room], fairy! here comes Oberon.   
FAIRY:  And here my mistress. Would that he were gone!   
Enter OBERON from one side, with his Train; and TITANIA from the other, with hers.
OBERON:  Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.  
[Ill met . . . Titania: I'm not exactly happy to meet with you here in the moonlight, Titania.]
TITANIA:  What! jealous Oberon. Fairies, skip hence:            65
I have forsworn his bed and company.   
[Fairies, skip . . . company: Fairies, skip away with me. I don't want to be with Oberon. I have refused to share his bed and be in his presence.]
OBERON:  Tarry [wait a moment], rash wanton [capricious woman]! am not I thy lord?   
TITANIA:  Then, I must be thy lady; but I know   
When thou hast stol’n away from fairy land,   
And in the shape of Corin sat all day,            70
Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love   
To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
[Then, I . . . Phillida: If you are my lord, I must be your lady. But you don't treat me like your lady. You steal away from our fairyland and go off to a countryside. There, you pose as a shepherd (Corin) while playing music and reciting love poems to a shepherdess (Phillida).]
Come from the furthest steppe [grassy plain where trees are sparse or nonexistent] of India?   
But that, forsooth [in truth], the bouncing Amazon,  
[Amazon: One of a race of female warriors said to have lived in Scythia, an ancient region northeast of the Black Sea]
Your buskin’d mistress and your warrior love,            75
[buskin: Sandal-like footwear with laces around the calf that rise halfway to the knee]
To Theseus must be wedded, and you come   
[mistress . . . wedded: Apparently Oberon has been keeping company with Hippolyta even though she is to marry Theseus.]
To give their bed joy and prosperity.   
OBERON:  How canst thou thus for shame, Titania,   
Glance at my credit [relationship] with Hippolyta,   
Knowing I know thy love to [for] Theseus?            80
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night   
From Perigouna, whom he ravished?
[Didst thou  . . . ravished: Weren't you the one who led Theseus away in the night after he ravished a young woman named Perigouna (also spelled Perigune, Perigenia, and Perigone)? In Greek mythology, Perigouna was the daughter of a bandit killed by Theseus. She bore Theseus a son.
And make him with fair Aegle break his faith,   
With Ariadne, and Antiopa?  
[Aegle, Ariadne, Antiopa: In Greek mythology, Aegle was the daughter of Panopeus, a skillful hunter. She was said to be a lover of Theseus. But he abandoned her for Ariadne and Antiopa. Ariadne was the daughter of Minos, the king of Crete. Antiopa was an Amazon and the sister of Hippolyta.]
TITANIA:  These are the forgeries [lies] of jealousy:            85
And never, since the middle summer’s spring [since early in midsummer],   
Met we [met my fairies and I] on hill, in dale, forest, or mead [meadow],   
By paved fountain, or by rushy brook,   
Or in the beached margent [shore] of the sea,   
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,            90
But with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport.  
[And never . . . our sport: And never, since early in midsummer, have my fairies and I met without being interrupted by your angry rants. Whether we met on a hill or in a valley, in a forest or mead, or at a fountain, a brook, or the seashore—to dance in a circle to the song of the wind, you were always there to disturb us.]
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,   
As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea   
Contagious fogs; which, falling in the land,   
Have every pelting [modest] river made so proud [swelled]          95
That they have overborne their continents;   
[Therefore . . . continents: Therefore, the winds became enraged that you interrupted their musical accompaniment of our dance. To express their anger, they sucked up fogs from the sea and expelled them on land, causing rivers to overflow.]
The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke [pulled the plow] in vain,   
The ploughman lost his sweat [lost his crop in the flooded fields], and the green corn   
Hath rotted ere [before] his youth attain’d a beard [growth of corn silk]:   
The fold [pen for sheep] stands empty in the drowned field,            100
And crows are fatted with the murrion [dead pestilence] flock;   
The nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud, 
[nine . . . morris: Game played on a square board]
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green 
For lack of tread are undistinguishable:   
[And the . . . undistinguishable: And the intriguing mazes on the village green are imperceptible because the grass is overgrown for lack of foot traffic.]
The human mortals want their winter here:            105
No night is now with hymn or carol blest:   
[The human . . . blest: People aren't holding their winter feasts and celebrations, so no hymns or carols bless the night.]
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,   
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,   
That rheumatic diseases do abound:   
[Therefore . . . abound: Therefore, the angry moon spreads rheumatic diseases (diseases of the muscles, bones, nerves, tendons, and joints; rheumatism) in the air.]
And thorough [through] this distemperature [disturbance in nature] we see            110
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts   
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,   
And on old Hiems’ [winter's] thin and icy crown 
An odorous chaplet [garland for the head] of sweet summer buds   
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,            115
The childing [fruitful; providing a bountiful harvest] autumn, angry winter, change   
Their wonted liveries [usual appearance], and the mazed [confused; stupefied; amazed] world,   
By their increase, now knows not which is which.   
And this same progeny of evil comes   
From our debate, from our dissension:            120
We are their parents and original.   
[And this . . . original: And all of these abnormalities result from our quarreling. We are the source of the problems.]
OBERON:  Do you amend it then; it lies in you.  
[Do . . . you: Do make the necessary changes to end the problems. The task is your responsibility.]
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?   
I do but beg a little changeling boy,   
To be my henchman [attendant; servant].            125
TITANIA:  Set your heart at rest;   
The fairy land buys not the child of me.   
[Set your . . . of me: Forget about the boy and put your heart to rest. If you offered to buy all of fairyland for me, I wouldn't give him up.]
His mother was a votaress of my order:   
[votaress: Femine form of votary, a devoted follower of a cult, religion, cause, etc.]
And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,   
Full often hath she gossip’d by my side,            130
And sat with me on Neptune’s yellow sands, 
[Neptune: In ancient mythology, the Roman name for the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon]
[yellow sands: Seashore]
Marking the embarked traders on the flood; 
[Marking . . . flood: Watching the merchants embark on the ocean] 
When we have laugh’d to see the sails conceive   
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;  
[the sails . . . wind: The sails grow big-bellied, like a pregnant woman, after "having relations" with the lascivious wind.]
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait            135
Following,—her womb then rich with my young squire,—   
Would imitate, and sail upon the land,   
To fetch me trifles, and return again,   
As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.   
[Which she . . . merchandise: My votaress, then pregnant with the changeling boy, would imitate the ship by walking with a sway while on her way to fetch me little gifts. When she returned with the gifts, she was like a ship returning with treasures.]
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;            140
[But . . . die: But she died when the boy was born.]
And for her sake I do rear up her boy,   
And for her sake I will not part with him.   
OBERON:  How long within this wood intend you stay?   
TITANIA:  Perchance, till after Theseus’ wedding-day.   
If you will patiently dance in our round,            145
And see our moonlight revele, go with us;   
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.   
[If you . . . haunts: If you are willing to dance with us and take part in our moonlight revelry, come with us. If not, stay away from me; in return, I will stay away from you and your favorite haunts.]
OBERON:  Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.   
TITANIA:  Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies, away!   
We shall chide downright, if I longer stay.  [Exit TITANIA with her Train.            150
[We shall . . . stay: We shall have a vicious quarrel if I remain here any longer.]
OBERON:  Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove   
Till I torment thee for this injury. 
[Well, go . . . injury: Oberon is speaking to himself. Titania has exited (line 150).]
My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou remember’st   
Since once I sat upon a promontory,   
[promontory: On a cliff, a rock formation that juts out over the sea]
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back            155
Uttering such dulcet [sweet] and harmonious breath [tones],   
That the rude sea grew civil at her song,   
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres   
To hear the sea-maid’s music.   
PUCK:  I remember.            160
OBERON:  That very time I saw, but thou couldst not,   
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,   
Cupid all arm’d: a certain aim he took   
At a fair vestal throned by the west,   
[vestal . . . west: Virgin enthroned in the west]
And loos’d his love-shaft smartly from his bow,            165
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts;   
But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft   
Quench’d in the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon,   
And the imperial votaress passed on,   
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.            170
[But I  . . . fancy-free: But Cupid's fiery arrow of love was extinguished by watery moonbeams. ("Chaste beams" is perhaps an allusion to the moon goddess in ancient mythology. Her Greek name was Artemis and her Roman name, Diana. She was a virgin. One of her duties was to safeguard chastity. Hence, she uses "chaste beams" to thwart Cupid.) The throned vestal then continues sitting on her throne, meditating and unaffected by thoughts of love.]
Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:   
It fell upon a little western flower,   
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,   
And maidens call it, Love-in-idleness [probably a pansy].   
Fetch me that flower; the herb I show’d thee once:            175
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid   
Will make or man or woman madly dote   
Upon the next live creature that it sees.   
[Will make . . . it sees: Will make any man or woman fall madly in love with the next living creature it sees.]
Fetch me this herb [the flower in line 172]; and be thou here again   
Ere [before] the leviathan [whale] can swim a league [three miles].            180
PUCK:  I’ll put a girdle round about the earth   
In forty minutes.  [Exit.
[I'll put . . . minutes: It will take me just forty minutes to search the entire earth for the flower.] 
OBERON:  Having once this juice   
I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep,   
And drop the liquor of it in her eyes:            185
The next thing then she waking looks upon,   
Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,   
On meddling monkey, or on busy ape,   
She shall pursue it with the soul of love:   
And ere [before] I take this charm off from her sight,            190
As I can take it with another herb,   
I’ll make her render up her page [changeling] to me.   
But who comes here? I am invisible,   
And I will overhear their conference.   
Enter DEMETRIUS, HELENA following him.             195

DEMETRIUS:  I love thee not, therefore pursue me not.   
Where is Lysander and fair Hermia?   
The one I’ll slay, the other slayeth me.   
[The one . . . The one I'll kill, the other will slay me with her beauty and charm.]
Thou told’st me they were stol’n into this wood;   
And here am I, and wood [archaic: insane; mad] within this wood,            200
Because I cannot meet my Hermia.   
Hence! get thee gone, and follow me no more.   
HELENA:  You draw me [you draw me to you], you hard-hearted adamant [one unwilling to change his mind]:   
But yet you draw not iron, for my heart   
Is true as steel: leave you your power to draw,            205
And I shall have no power to follow you.   
[leave . . . follow you: Turn off your power to attract me, and I will no longer be drawn to you and thus will not follow you.]
DEMETRIUS:   Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair?   
Or, rather, do I not in plainest truth   
Tell you I do not nor I cannot love you?   
HELENA:  And even for that do I love you the more.            210
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,   
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you:   
Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,   
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,   
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.            215
What worser place can I beg in your love,   
And yet a place of high respect with me,   
Than to be used as you use your dog?   
DEMETRIUS:  Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit,   
For I am sick when I do look on you.            220
HELENA:  And I am sick when I look not on you.   
DEMETRIUS:  You do impeach your modesty too much,   
To leave the city, and commit yourself   
Into the hands of one that loves you not;   
To trust the opportunity of night            225
And the ill counsel of a desert place   
With the rich worth of your virginity.   
[You do . . . virginity: You should be modest and reserved. But you are so bold that you left the city and committed yourself into my hands. And I am a man who does not love you. You seem to be willing to risk losing your virginity in a desert place under the cover of night.]
HELENA:  Your virtue is my privilege: for that   
It is not night when I do see your face,   
Therefore I think I am not in the night;            230
[Your virtue . . . in the night: It is my privilege to have you as my virtuous protector. It is not night, but day, when I see your bright face.]
Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,   
For you in my respect are all the world:   
Then how can it be said I am alone,   
When all the world is here to look on me?   
DEMETRIUS:  I’ll run from thee and hide me in the brakes [briars; bushes; thicket],            235
And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.   
HELENA:  The wildest hath not such a heart as you.   
[The wildest . . . you: The wildest beast has a gentler heart than you.]
Run when you will, the story shall be chang’d;   
Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase;   
The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind            240
Makes speed to catch the tiger: bootless speed,   
When cowardice pursues and valour flies. 
[Run when . . . flies: Go ahead and run. Normally, men chase women and the strong chase the weak. But I'll change the story by chasing you. It will be as if the water nymph Daphne, a virgin, is chasing the sun god Apollo. (In Greek mythology, Apollo pursued Daphne relentlessly. After she asked her father—a river god—for help, he changed her into a laurel tree. Apollo had no interest in a laurel tree.) And it will be as if the meek dove is chasing the monstrous griffin (a creature that is part lion and part eagle) and the gentle hind (female deer) is speedily chasing the tiger. But speed bears no fruit when the meek and humble is chasing the strong and proud.]
DEMETRIUS:  I will not stay [stay here to listen to] thy questions: let me go;   
Or, if thou follow me, do not believe   
But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.            245
HELENA:  Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,   
You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!   
Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex.   
[Ay . . . sex: Yes, just as you do me mischief in the church, in the town, in the field. For shame, Demetrius! Your wrongdoing sets a bad example that damages the entire female sex.]
We cannot fight for love, as men may do;   
We should be woo’d [courted] and were not made to woo.  [Exit DEMETRIUS.            250
I’ll follow thee and make a heaven of hell,   
To die upon the hand I love so well.  [Exit.   
OBERON:  Fare thee well, nymph: ere [before] he do leave this grove,   
Thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek thy love.  
[Fare thee . . . thy love: With Helena and Demetrius gone, Oberon speaks to himself, saying that before Demetrius leaves the forest Helena shall run from him as he pursues her seeking her love.]
Re-enter PUCK.            255

Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.   
PUCK:  Ay, there it is.   
OBERON:  I pray thee, give it me.   
I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,   
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows            260
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,   
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine:   
[thyme, oxlips, violet, woodbine, musk-roses, eglantine: Plants]
There sleeps Titania some time of the night,   
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;  
And there the snake throws [sheds] her enamell’d [smooth and shiny] skin,            265
Weed [skin; garment] wide enough to wrap a fairy in:  
And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes,   
And make her full of hateful fantasies [dreadful hallucinations].   
Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove:   
A sweet Athenian lady is in love            270
With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes;   
But do it when the next thing he espies [sees] 
May be the lady. Thou shalt know the man   
By the Athenian garments he hath on.   
Effect it with some care, that he may prove            275
More fond on her than she upon her love.
[More fond . . . love: More fond of her than she is of him] 
And look thou meet me ere [before] the first cock crow.   
PUCK:  Fear not, my lord, your servant shall do so.  [Exeunt.   

Act 2, Scene 2

Another Part of the Wood.
Enter TITANIA, with her Train [attendants].
TITANIA:  Come, now a roundel and a fairy song; 
[roundel: Dance in which the participants move slowly in a circle; roundelay]
Then, for the third of a minute, hence;   
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds,            5
Some war with rere-mice for their leathern wings,   
To make my small elves coats, and some keep back   
The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots, and wonders   
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep;
[Then, for . . . spirits: Then, for a short while, go off—some to kill worms in the buds of musk roses (roses with white petals that emit a musk scent), some to battle bats to get their leathery wings for making elves' coats, and some to shush the noisy owl that nightly hoots while observing us in wonder.]  
Then to your offices, and let me rest.            10

The Fairies sing.
    You spotted snakes with double tongue [forked tongue],
      Thorny [having spiny protrusions] hedge-hogs, be not seen;
    Newts [salamanders], and blind-worms [legless lizards thought to be blind], do no wrong;
      Come not near our fairy queen.
        Philomel [nightingale], with melody,
        Sing in our sweet lullaby;
    Lulla, lulla, lullaby; lulla, lulla, lullaby:
        Never harm,
        Nor spell, nor charm,
        Come our lovely lady nigh;
        [Come near our lovely lady]
        So, good night, with lullaby.
    Weaving spiders come not here;
      Hence [get out of here], you long-legg’d spinners, hence!
    Beetles black, approach not near;
      Worm nor snail, do no offence.
        Philomel, with melody, &c.
  FAIRY:  Hence, away! now all is well.   
    One aloof stand sentinel.  [Exeunt Fairies. TITANIA sleeps.            15
[One . . . sentinel: One of you keep watch.]
Enter OBERON, and squeezes the flower on TITANIA’S eyelids.
OBERON:  What thou seest when thou dost wake,   
Do it for thy true-love take;   
Love and languish for his sake:   
Be it ounce [lynx; wildcat], or cat, or bear,            20
Pard [panther or leopard], or boar with bristled hair,   
In thy eye that shall appear   
When thou wak’st, it is thy dear.   
Wake when some vile thing is near.  [Exit.   
Enter LYSANDER and HERMIA.            25

LYSANDER:  Fair love, you faint with wandering in the wood;   
And to speak troth [the truth], I have forgot our way:   
We’ll rest us, Hermia, if you think it good,   
And tarry for the comfort of the day.
[tarry . . . day: Wait for the comfort that daylight brings.]   
HERMIA:  Be it so, Lysander: find you out a bed,            30
For I upon this bank will rest my head.   
LYSANDER:  One turf shall serve as pillow for us both;   
One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one troth [pledge of love and fidelity].   
HERMIA:  Nay, good Lysander; for my sake, my dear,   
Lie further off yet, do not lie so near.            35
LYSANDER:  O! take the sense, sweet, of my innocence,   
Love takes the meaning in love’s conference.   
I mean that my heart unto yours is knit,   
So that but one heart we can make of it;   
Two bosoms interchained with an oath;            40
So then two bosoms and a single troth.   
Then by your side no bed-room me deny,   
For, lying so, Hermia. I do not lie.   
[O! take . . . do not lie: O! take my meaning as entirely innocent. When two lovers confer, each should clearly understand what the other says. What I meant was that my heart and your heart beat as one heart. When I said our bosoms would be united, I meant they would be united spiritually—with our pledge of love for each other—not physically. So allow me to lie beside you. Trust what I say. I am not lying.]
HERMIA:  Lysander riddles very prettily:   
Now much beshrew [condemn; curse] my manners and my pride,            45
If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied.   
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy   
Lie further off; in human modesty,   
Such separation as may well be said   
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid,            50
So far be distant; and, good night, sweet friend. 
Thy love ne’er alter till thy sweet life end!   
[So far . . . life end: So bed down at some distance from me. Good night, dearest friend, and love me till the day you die.]
LYSANDER:  Amen, amen, to that fair prayer, say I;   
And then end life when I end loyalty!  [Retires a little distance,   
Here is my bed: sleep give thee all his rest!            55
HERMIA:  With half that wish the wisher’s eyes be press’d [closed as sleep sets in]!  [They sleep.   
Enter PUCK.
  PUCK:  Through the forest have I gone,   
        But Athenian found I none,   
        On whose eyes I might approve            60
        This flower’s force in stirring love.   
        Night and silence! who is here?   
        Weeds [clothing; apparel] of Athens he doth wear:   
        This is he, my master said,   
        Despised the Athenian maid;            65
[This is . . . maid: Puck thinks that Lysander is Demetrius and that Hermia is Helena.]
        And here the maiden, sleeping sound,   
        On the dank and dirty ground.   
        Pretty soul! she durst not lie   
        Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy.  [Squeezes the flower on LYSANDER’S eyelids.]   
        Churl, upon thy eyes I throw            70
        All the power this charm doth owe.   
        When thou wak’st, let love forbid   
        Sleep his seat on thy eyelid:   
[When thou . . . eyelid: When you awaken, let love prevent you from going back to sleep.]
        So awake when I am gone;   
        For I must now to Oberon.  [Exit.            75
Enter DEMETRIUS and HELENA, running.
HELENA:  Stay, though thou kill me, sweet Demetrius.   
DEMETRIUS:  I charge thee, hence [go away], and do not haunt me thus.   
HELENA:  O! wilt thou darkling [in darkness] leave me? do not so.   
DEMETRIUS:   Stay, on thy peril: I alone will go.  [Exit DEMETRIUS.            80
HELENA:  O! I am out of breath in this fond chase.   
The more my prayer, the lesser is my grace.
[The more . . . grace: The more I pray, the less I benefit.]  
Happy is Hermia, wheresoe’er she lies;   
For she hath blessed and attractive eyes.   
How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears:            85
If so, my eyes are oftener wash’d than hers.
[If so . . . hers: If her eyes brighten when she cries, mine should be brighter, because I cry more often than she does.]
No, no, I am as ugly as a bear;   
For beasts that meet me run away for fear;   
Therefore no marvel though Demetrius   
Do, as a monster, fly my presence thus.            90
[Therefore . . . thus: Therefore, it is no marvel that Demetrius runs from me too, for I am a monster.]
What wicked and dissembling glass of mine   
Made me compare with Hermia’s sphery eyne?   
[What wicked . . . eyne: What wicked and deceptive mirror of mine made me compare my eyes with Hermia's sparkling eyes?]
But who is here? Lysander! on the ground!   
Dead? or asleep? I see no blood, no wound.   
Lysander, if you live, good sir, awake.            95
LYSANDER:  [Awaking.]  And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake.   
Transparent Helena! Nature shows art,   
That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart.   
[Transparent . . . heart: Nature has permitted me to see your heart, as if your bosom were transparent.]
Where is Demetrius? O! how fit a word   
Is that vile name to perish on my sword.            100
HELENA:  Do not say so, Lysander; say not so.   
What though he love your Hermia? Lord! what though?   
Yet Hermia still loves you: then be content.   
[Do not . . . content: Do not say such harsh things, Lysander. What does it matter that Demetrius loves Hermia? She still loves you. So be satisfied.]
LYSANDER:  Content with Hermia! No: I do repent   
The tedious minutes I with her have spent.            105
Not Hermia, but Helena I love:   
Who will not change a raven for a dove?   
The will of man is by his reason sway’d,   
And reason says you are the worthier maid.   
Things growing are not ripe until their season;            110
So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason;   
[Things growing . . . reason: Fruits, vegetables, and other plants do not ripen until they mature at harvest time. The same is true of my judgment, my reason. It did not ripen until this moment. Now my judgment tells me that you, not Hermia, are the woman I love.]
And touching now the point of human skill,   
Reason becomes the marshal to my will,   
And leads me to your eyes; where I o’erlook   
Love’s stories written in love’s richest book.            115
[Reason becomes . . . book: My mature judgment now governs what I do, and it leads me to your eyes. They beckon me, like the greatest love stories in the greatest book about love.]
HELENA:  Wherefore [why] was I to this keen mockery born?  [Why was I born to be mocked?]
When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?   
Is ’t not enough, is ’t not enough, young man,   
That I did never, no, nor never can,   
Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius’ eye,            120
But you must flout my insufficiency?   
Good troth, you do me wrong, good sooth, you do,   
[troth: Truly]
[sooth: Another word for truly]
In such disdainful manner me to woo.   
But fare you well: perforce [of or by necessity] I must confess   
I thought you lord of more true gentleness.            125
O! that a lady of one man refus’d,   
Should of another therefore be abus’d.  [Exit.
[O! that . . . abus'd: First, Demetrius refused me. Now you abuse me.] 
LYSANDER:  She sees not Hermia. Hermia, sleep thou there;   
And never mayst thou come Lysander near.   
For, as a surfeit of the sweetest things            130
The deepest loathing to the stomach brings;  
Or, as the heresies that men do leave   
Are hated most of those they did deceive:   
So thou, my surfeit and my heresy,   
Of all be hated, but the most of me!            135
And, all my powers, address your love and might   
To honour Helen, and to be her knight.  [Exit.   
[Hermia, sleep . . . her knight: Hermia, keep on sleeping. But when you're awake, don't ever come near me. You see, filling the stomach with sweet things brings on a bad case of indigestion. Men who deceive others—as I deceived you when I told you I loved you—really hate their deceptions. So now you, Hermia—who gave me a stomachache and received my false pledges of love—are an object to be hated. I will now devote all my powers to honoring Helena and being her knight.]
HERMIA:  [Awaking.]  Help me, Lysander, help me! do thy best   
To pluck this crawling serpent from my breast.   
Ay me, for pity! what a dream was here [what a dream I had!]            140
Lysander, look how I do quake with fear:   
Methought a serpent eat my heart away,   
And you sat smiling at his cruel prey.   
Lysander! what! remov’d? [what! are you gone?]—Lysander! lord!   
What! out of hearing? gone? no sound, no word?            145
Alack! [expression of dismay; alas] where are you? speak, an if you hear [speak if you can hear me];   
Speak, of all loves! I swound [faint] almost with fear.   
No! then I well perceive you are not nigh [near]:   
Either death or you I’ll find immediately.  [Exit.   

Act 3, Scene 1

A Wood.  TITANIA lying asleep.
BOTTOM:  Are we all met?   
QUINCE:  Pat, pat [we're exactly on time]; and here’s a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn-brake [thicket] our tiring-house [place to put on costumes; dressing room; "attiring" room]; and we will do it in action [we will rehearse it the same way] as we will do it before the duke.   
BOTTOM:  Peter Quince,—            5
QUINCE:  What sayst thou, bully Bottom?   
BOTTOM:  There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisby that will never please. First Pyramus must draw a sword to kill himself, which the ladies cannot abide. How answer you that?   
SNOUT:  By ’r lakin [by Our Lady, a mild oath referring to the Virgin Mary], a parlous [dangerous; threatening] fear.   
STARVELING:  I believe we must leave the killing out, when all is done.   
BOTTOM:  Not a whit: I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue; and let the prologue seem to say, we will do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus is not killed indeed; and, for the more better assurance, tell them that I, Pyramus, am not Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver: this will put them out of fear.            10
QUINCE:  Well, we will have such a prologue, and it shall be written in eight and six.   
[eight and six: A ballad in which one line has eight syllables, the next six, the next eight, the next six, and so on.]
BOTTOM:  No, make it two more: let it be written in eight and eight.   
SNOUT:  Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?   
STARVELING:  I fear it, I promise you.   
BOTTOM:  Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves: to bring in,—God shield us!—a lion among ladies, is a most dreadful thing; for there is not a more fearful wild-fowl [another example of Bottom's faulty word choice] than your lion living, and we ought to look to it.            15
SNOUT:  Therefore, another prologue must tell he is not a lion.   
BOTTOM:  Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be seen through the lion’s neck; and he himself must speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect [Bottom means effect], ‘Ladies,’ or, ‘Fair ladies,’ ‘I would wish you,’ or, ‘I would request you,’ or, ‘I would entreat you, not to fear, not to tremble: my life for yours. If you think I come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life: no, I am no such thing: I am a man as other men are;’ and there indeed let him name his name, and tell them plainly he is Snug the joiner.   
QUINCE:  Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things, that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber; for, you know, Pyramus and Thisby meet by moonlight.   
SNUG:  Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?   
BOTTOM:  A calendar, a calendar! look in the almanack; find out moonshine, find out moonshine.            20
QUINCE:  Yes, it doth shine that night.   
BOTTOM:  Why, then may you leave a casement [window frame that opens on hinges and contains a pane or several panes] of the great chamber-window, where we play, open; and the moon may shine in at the casement.   
QUINCE:  Ay; or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lanthorn [lantern], and say he comes to disfigure [prefigure: suggest, indicate, represent], or to present, the person of Moonshine. Then, there is another thing: we must have a wall in the great chamber; for Pyramus and Thisby, says the story, did talk through the chink of a wall.   
SNUG:  You can never bring in a wall. What say you, Bottom?   
BOTTOM:  Some man or other must present Wall; and let him have some plaster, or some loam [mixture used to cover walls or make bricks], or some rough-cast about him, to signify wall; and let him hold his fingers thus [hold his fingers in the shape of a V], and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisby whisper.            25
QUINCE:  If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down, every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you begin: when you have spoken your speech, enter into that brake [thicket]; and so every one according to his cue.   
Enter PUCK, behind.
PUCK:  What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here,   
[hempen home-spuns: Commoners wearing clothing rough to the touch; commoners wearing clothing spun from coarse fibers, such as hemp]
So near the cradle [bed; sleeping place] of the fairy queen?   
What! a play toward; I’ll be an auditor;            30
An actor too perhaps, if I see cause.   
[What! . . . cause: What! A play is about to be enacted. I'll be the audience. I'll act in the play too, if I have a mind to.]
QUINCE:  Speak, Pyramus.—Thisby, stand forth.   
BOTTOM:  Thisby, the flowers have odious savours sweet,—   
QUINCE:  Odorous, odorous.   
[Thisby . . . odorous: Quince corrects Bottom, telling him he should use odorous, not odious, which means hatetful. Some editions of Shakespeare's works say Quince recommends the word odours instead of odorous.]
BOTTOM:  —odours savours sweet:            35
So hath thy breath [so is your breath sweet], my dearest Thisby dear.   
But hark, a voice! stay thou but here awhile,   
And by and by I will to thee appear.  [Exit.   
PUCK:  A stranger Pyramus than e’er play’d here!  [Exit.  
[A stranger . . . here: The way he plays Pyramus is stranger than any I have ever seen played in this country.]
FLUTE:  Must I speak now?            40
QUINCE:  Ay, marry [by the Virgin Mary], must you; for you must understand, he goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again.
[see a noise: Quince is sometimes like Bottom in expressing himself.] 
FLUTE:  "Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,   
  Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier,   
Most brisky [frisky] juvenal [juvenile, or youth], and eke [also] most lovely Jew,   
  As true as truest horse that yet would never tire,            45
I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb."
["Most radiant . . . tomb": Most glorious Pyramus, your lily-white complexion has a color resembling that of a red rose. You are a frisky young man and a most lovely Jew. Moreover, you are as true as a horse that runs without tiring. I'll meet you at the tomb of Ninus. (Ninus was the founder of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria in ancient times. The ruins of the city are in present-day northern Iraq.) Flute uses Ninny to refer to Ninus. A ninny is a simpleton or fool.]
QUINCE:  ‘Ninus’ tomb,’ man. Why, you must not speak that yet; that you answer to Pyramus: you speak all your part at once, cues and all. Pyramus, enter: your cue is past; it is ‘never tire.’   
FLUTE:  O!—As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.   
Re-enter PUCK, and BOTTOM with an ass’s head.
BOTTOM:  If I were fair [handsome], Thisby, I were only thine.            50
QUINCE:  O monstrous! O strange! we are haunted.   
Pray, masters! fly, masters!—Help!  [Exeunt Clowns.   
PUCK:  I’ll follow you, I’ll lead you about a round [this way and that],   
  Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier:   
Sometime a horse I’ll be, sometime a hound,            55
  A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire;   
And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,   
Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.  [Exit.   
BOTTOM:  Why do they run away? this is a knavery of them to make me afeard.  
[this is . . . afeard: They're playing a trick to make me afraid.]

Re-enter SNOUT.            60

SNOUT:  O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee?   
BOTTOM:  What do you see? you see an ass-head of your own, do you?  [Exit SNOUT.   
[What . . . you?:  What do you see on my head? There's nothing on it, you ass.]
Re-enter QUINCE.
QUINCE:  Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated [changed; transformed].  [Exit.   
BOTTOM:  I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can: I will walk up and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid.
    The ousel-cock [male blackbird], so black of hue,
      With orange-tawny bill,
    The throstle [thrush, a songbird] with his note so true,
      The wren with little quill [feather].         65
  TITANIA:  [Awaking.]  What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?   
    The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
      The plain-song cuckoo gray,
[The plain-song cuckoo: The cuckoo sings a simple—or plain—song without accompaniment.]
    Whose note full many a man doth mark,
      And dares not answer, nay;
for indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird? who would give a bird the lie, though he cry ‘cuckoo’ never so? 
[And dares . . . never so: No man would say no to this bird because no man would want to reply to such a stupid bird, even to say no. Who would accuse the bird of lying no matter what is says?]
  I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again:   
Mine ear is much enamour’d of [attracted to] thy note;   
So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape;            70
And thy fair virtue’s force, perforce, doth move me,   
On the first view, to say, to swear, I love thee.
[Oberon's scheme is working. Titania falls in love with the first creature she sees—Bottom wearing the head of an ass.] 
BOTTOM:  Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason for that: and yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together now-a-days. The more the pity, that some honest neighbours will not make them friends. Nay, I can gleek upon occasion.   
[Methinks . . . occasion: I think you should have little reason to love me. But reason and love are strangers these days. It's a pity that the neighbors of love and reason don't arrange for them to meet each other. Oh, I'm just joking (gleeking).]
TITANIA:  Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.   
BOTTOM:  Not so, neither [not really]; but if I had wit enough to get out of this wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn [I would have enough intelligence to get along].            75
TITANIA:  Out of this wood do not desire to go:   
Thou shalt remain here, whe’r thou wilt or no [whether you want to or not].   
I am a spirit of no common rate;   
The summer still doth tend upon my state;   
[I am . . . state: I am a fairy with great powers. Summer is my servant.]
And I do love thee: therefore, go with me;            80
I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee,   
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,   
And sing, while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep:   
And I will purge thy mortal grossness so   
That thou shalt like an airy spirit go.            85
[And I . . . spirit go: And I will purge you of your mortal flaws so that you can come and go like a spirit.]
Peaseblossom! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustardseed!   
Enter Four Fairies.
COBWEB:  And I.   
MOTH:  And I.            90
All Four.  Where shall we go?   
TITANIA:  Be kind and courteous to this gentleman;   
Hop in his walks, and gambol in his eyes;
[Hop . . . eyes: Dance and frolic for him.]  
Feed him with apricocks [apricots] and dewberries [dark blue or black berries],            95
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries.   
The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees,   
And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs,   
[The honey . . . thighs: Steal honey from the bees and use their wax to make candles.]
And light them at the fiery glow-worm’s eyes,  
[glow-worm: Wingless, worm-like larva of a female beetle, such as the firefly]
To have my love to bed, and to arise;            100
And pluck the wings from painted butterflies   
To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes:   
Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.   
PEASEBLOSSOM:  Hail, mortal!   
COBWEB:  Hail!            105
MOTH:  Hail!   
BOTTOM:  I cry your worships mercy, heartily: I beseech your worship’s name.   
COBWEB:  Cobweb.   
BOTTOM:  I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good Master Cobweb: if I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you. Your name, honest gentleman?            110
[I shall . . . gentleman: I'd like to make friends with you, good Master Cobweb. If I cut my finger, I'd like to use you to treat the cut. (In Shakespeare's time and earlier, people sometimes wrapped cobwebs around cuts.]
PEASEBLOSSOM: Peaseblossom.   
BOTTOM:  I pray you, commend me to Mistress Squash, your mother, and to Master Peascod, your father. Good Master Peaseblossom, I shall desire you of more acquaintance too. Your name, I beseech you, sir?   
[I pray . . . sir: Please give my regards to your mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Peapod. I'd like to make friends with you, too. Now, what is your name, sir?]
MUSTARDSEED:  Mustardseed.   
BOTTOM:  Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience well: that same cowardly, giant-like ox-beef hath devoured many a gentleman of your house. I promise you, your kindred hath made my eyes water ere [before]now. I desire you of more acquaintance, good Master Mustardseed.  
[I know . . . now: You must have lot of patience having to endure watching members of your mustard family being eaten as a seasoning on beef. I promise you, your relatives have made my eyes water before now.]
TITANIA:  Come, wait upon him; lead him to my bower [sleeping place].            115
The moon methinks, looks with a watery eye;   
And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,   
Lamenting some enforced chastity.   
Tie up my love’s tongue, bring him silently.  [Exeunt.   
[The moon . . . silently: The moon and the little flowers weep against the enforcement of chastity. Silence his tongue and bring him along.]

Act 3, Scene 2

Another Part of the Wood.
OBERON:  I wonder if Titania be awak’d;   
Then, what it was that next came in her eye,   
Which she must dote on in extremity [with extreme devotion].            5
Here comes my messenger.   
Enter PUCK.
How now, mad spirit!   
What night-rule now about this haunted grove?   
[What . . . grove: What mischief did you make in this haunted grove?]
PUCK:  My mistress with a monster is in love.            10
Near to her close and consecrated bower,   
While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,   
A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,   
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,   
Were met together to rehearse a play            15
Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial day.   
[A crew . . . nuptial day: A crew of common tradesmen from Athenian shops met to rehearse a play to be performed on Theseus' wedding day.]
The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,   
Who Pyramus presented in their sport   
Forsook his scene, and enter’d in a brake,   
When I did him at this advantage take;            20
An ass’s nole I fixed on his head:   
[The shallowest . . .  The dumbest of these men, who are enacting a play about Pyramis and Thisbe, walked off and entered a thicket. At that moment, I outfitted him with an ass's head.]
Anon [soon]his Thisbe must be answered,   
And forth my mimick comes. When they him spy,  
As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,   
Or russet-pated choughs [jackdaws], many in sort,            25
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.            30
[Anon . . . Athens calls: Soon he had to come out of the thicket to act his part with Thisbe. When the actor (mimick) comes forth, all of the other men—like wild geese and jackdaws frightened by gunshots—flee. One of them cries, "Murder!" and calls for help.]
Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong,   
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong;   
For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch;   
Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things catch.   
I led them on in this distracted fear,            35
And left sweet Pyramus translated there;   
[Their sense . . . translated there: Their senses weakened and their fears growing strong, senseless things begin to happen to them. Briers and thorns snatch at sleeves, hats, and other items of apparel. I continued to work my mischief against them while allowing Pyramus (Bottom) to stand there with his ass's head.]
When in that moment, so it came to pass,   
Titania wak’d and straightway lov’d an ass.   
OBERON:  This falls out better than I could devise.   
But hast thou yet latch’d [sprinkled] the Athenian’s eyes            40
With the love-juice, as I did bid thee do?   
PUCK:  I took him sleeping,—that is finish’d too,—   
And the Athenian woman by his side;   
That, when he wak’d, of force she must be ey’d.
[That, when . . . ey'd: That, when he awakened, he he couldn't help but look upon her.] 
Enter DEMETRIUS and HERMIA.            45

OBERON:  Stand close: this is the same Athenian.   
PUCK:  This is the woman; but not this the man.   
DEMETRIUS:  O! why rebuke you him that loves you so?   
Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.   
[O! why . . . bitter: O! why rebuke me for loving you so. Save your bitter breath for a bitter foe.]
HERMIA:  Now I but chide; but I should use thee worse,            50
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 knee deep,   
And kill me too.   
[Now I . . . me too: I am just scolding you. But maybe I should be cursing you. If you have killed Lysander in his sleep—his blood rising over your shoes—you might as well kill me and stand knee-deep in blood.]
The sun was not so true unto the day            55
As he to me. Would he have stol’n away   
From sleeping Hermia? I’ll believe as soon   
This whole earth may be bor’d, and that the moon   
May through the centre creep, and so displease   
Her brother’s noontide with the Antipodes.            60
[I'll believe . . . Antipodes: I'll believe it as soon as a hole is bored through the earth and the moon can creep through the center and emerge on the other side, interfering with the sun's ("her brother's) ability to shine on the Antipodes. The antipodes are two regions on earth that are diametrically opposite each other. If you drove an ice pick completely through a rubber ball (imagining that it is the earth), passing the pick through the exact center of the ball, the entry point of the tip of the pick would be the antipodes of the exit point of the tip.]
It cannot be but thou hast murder’d him;   
So should a murderer look, so dead, so grim.
[So should . . .  grim: You look like a murderer with your deathly, grim face.]  
DEMETRIUS:  So should the murder’d look, and so should I,   
Piere’d [pierced] through the heart with your stern cruelty;   
Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear,            65
As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere.   
[Venus: The planet Venus is visible in the morning and evening as a bright star.]
HERMIA:  What’s this to my Lysander? where is he?   
Ah! good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?   
DEMETRIUS:  I had rather give his carcass to my hounds.   
HERMIA:  Out, dog! out, cur! thou driv’st me past the bounds            70
Of maiden’s patience. Hast thou slain him then?   
Henceforth be never number’d among men!   
O! once tell true, tell true, e’en for my sake; 
[O! . . . sake: O, just for once tell me the truth, for my sake.]
Durst thou have look’d upon him being awake,   
And hast thou kill’d him sleeping? O brave touch!            75
Could not a worm, an adder, do so much?   
An adder did it; for with doubler tongue   
Than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.  
[Durst  . . . adder stung: Did you dare to look upon him while he was awake, or did you kill him while he was sleeping? O how brave, to kill a sleeping man. A worm or an adder could have done the same thing. In fact, it must be that an adder did kill him—for you are are like an adder, with a forked lying tongue.]
DEMETRIUS:  You spend your passion on a mispris’d mood:  
[You . . . mood: Your wasting your words on an unfounded accusation.]
I am not guilty of Lysander’s blood,            80
Nor is he dead, for aught that I can tell.   
HERMIA:  I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.   
DEMETRIUS:  An if I could, what should I get therefore?   
HERMIA:  A privilege never to see me more.   
And from thy hated presence part I so;            85
See me no more, whe’r [whether] he be dead or no.  [Exit.   
DEMETRIUS:  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;            90
Which now in some slight measure it will pay,   
If for his tender here I make some stay.  [Lies down and sleeps.   
[So sorrow's  . . . stay: My heavy sorrow only grows heavier. Sleep might relieve my sorrow somewhat and, lord knows, I deserve some rest. Perhaps if I lie down, sleep will give me what I deserve.]
OBERON:  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            95
Some true-love turn’d, and not a false turn’d true.
[What has . . . true: Puck, you put love juice on the wrong person. Your mistake will produce unexpected results.]
PUCK:  Then fate o’er-rules, that, one man holding troth,   
A million fail, confounding oath on oath.  
[Then fate . . . oath: It's in fate's hands now. Bear in mind that in the world at large, one man may hold true to his pledges of love while a million other men violate their vows of love.]
OBERON:  About the wood go swifter than the wind,   
And Helena of Athens look thou find:            100
All fancy-sick she is, and pale of cheer   
With sighs of love, that cost the fresh blood dear.   
By some illusion see thou bring her here:   
I’ll charm his eyes against she do appear.   
[About the wood . . . appear: With all due speed, search the woods and find Helena of Athens, who is sick with love. By some trick, bring her here. Meanwhile, I'll put love juice on Demetrius's eyes in preparation for her arrival.]
PUCK:  I go, I go; look how I go;            105
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow.  [Exit.   
[Tartar: Member of the army of Ghenghis Khan (1162?-1227), who conquered vast territories in Asia. A Tartar was renowned for his extraordinary skill with the bow and arrow.]

OBERON:  Flower of this purple dye,   
        Hit [Demetrius] with Cupid’s archery,   
        Sink in apple of his eye.   
        When his love he doth espy,            110
        Let her shine as gloriously   
        As the Venus of the sky.   
        When thou wak’st, if she be by,   
        Beg of her for remedy.   

Re-enter PUCK.            115

PUCK:  Captain of our fairy band,   
        Helena is here at hand,   
        And the youth [Lysander], mistook by me [for Demetrius],   
        Pleading for a lover’s fee.
        [Pleading . . . fee: Pleading with Hermia to love him] 
        Shall we their fond pageant see?            120
        Lord, what fools these mortals be!   
  OBERON:  Stand aside: the noise they make   
        Will cause Demetrius to awake.   
  PUCK:  Then will two [Demetrius and Lysander] at once woo one [Hermia];   
        That must needs be sport alone;            125
         [That . . . alone: Their wooing competition will be amusing.]
        And those things do best please me   
        That befall [happen] preposterously.   
LYSANDER:  Why should you think that I should woo in scorn?   
Scorn and derision never come in tears:            130
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?  
[Why should . . . true: Why do you think I am making fun of you when I woo you? A person who is in tears, as I am, is not a person who scorns others. Look at me: notice that when I swear I love you, I weep. Truth resides in a person who weeps when he makes a vow. So, how can I be scorning you when my sincerity, proven by my tears, tells you that I love you?]
HELENA:  You do advance your cunning more and more.            135
When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray!   
These vows are Hermia’s: will you give her o’er?   
[You do . . . her o'er: You are getting better and better at deceiving people. Now, you're using truth to kill truth, vowing that you truly love me when you previously vowed that you truly loved Hermia. You're turning holy truth into a devilish thing. Now, what of Hermia? Are you rejecting her?]
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.            140
[Weigh oath . . . tales: If you weighed on balance scales the promises you made to me and the promises you made to her, the scales would show no weight at all. All of your promises are lies, without substance.]
LYSANDER:  I had no judgment when to her I swore.   
HELENA:  Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o’er.   
LYSANDER:  Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.   
DEMETRIUS:   [Awaking.]  O Helen! goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!   
To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne [eyes]?            145
Crystal is muddy. O! how ripe in show   
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow;   
This pure congealed white, high Taurus’ snow,   
Fann’d with the eastern wind, turns to a crow   
When thou hold’st up thy hand. O! let me kiss            150
That princess of pure white, this seal of bliss.   
[Crystal . . . bliss: Crystal is muddy compared to the clarity of your eyes. Your cherry lips are tempting. The snow on the Taurus Mountains (in present day southern Turkey) turns black when you hold up a lovely white hand. O, let me kiss your hand, an action that will seal my happiness.]
HELENA:  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.            155
Can you not hate me, as I know you do,   
But you must join in souls to mock me too?   
If 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,            160
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 [challenging] exploit, a manly enterprise,   
To conjure tears up in a poor maid’s eyes            165
With your derision! none of noble sort   
Would so offend a virgin, and extort   
A poor soul’s patience, all to make you sport.   
LYSANDER:  You are unkind, Demetrius; be not so;   
For you love Hermia; this you know I know:            170
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.   
HELENA:  Never did mockers waste more idle breath.            175
DEMETRIUS:  Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none:   
If e’er I lov’d her, all that love is gone.   
My heart with her but as guest-wise sojourn’d,  
And now to Helen it is home return’d,   
[My heart . . . return'd: My heart was but a guest that briefly resided with her. It has now returned to Helena.]
There to remain.            180
LYSANDER:  Helen, it is not so.   
DEMETRIUS:   Disparage not the faith thou dost not know,   
Lest to thy peril thou aby it dear.   
[Disparage . . . dear: Don't belittle my devotion to Helena, which you don't understand, or you will pay heavy penalty for doing so.
Look! where thy love comes: yonder is thy dear.   
Enter HERMIA.            185

HERMIA:  Dark night, that from the eye his function takes,   
The ear more quick of apprehension makes;   
Wherein it doth impair the seeing sense,   
It pays the hearing double recompense.   
[Dark . . . recompense: Dark night robs the eye of its ability to see. But the ear hears well. In fact, the night doubles the ear's ability while diminishing the eye's ability.]
Thou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found;            190
Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound.   
But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?   
LYSANDER:  Why should he [I] stay, whom love doth press to go?   
HERMIA:  What love could press Lysander from my side?   
LYSANDER:  Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide,            195
Fair Helena, who more engilds [makes golden] the night   
Than all yon fiery oes [circles; spheres] and eyes of light.   
Why seek’st thou me? could not this make thee know,   
The hate I bear thee made me leave thee so?   
HERMIA:  You speak not as you think: it cannot be.            200
HELENA:  Lo! she is one of this confederacy.
Now I perceive they have conjoin’d all three   
To fashion this false sport in spite of me.   
[she is . . . spite of me: She must be part of this conspiracy against me. I think she has joined Lysander and Demetrius in a plot to make fun of me.]
Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!   
Have you conspir’d, have you with these contriv’d            205
To bait me with this foul derision?   
Is all the counsel that we two have shar’d,   
The sister-vows, the hours that we have spent,   
When we have chid [scolded] the hasty-footed time   
For parting us, O! is it all forgot?            210
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?   
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,   
Have with our neelds [needles] created both one flower,   
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,   
[sampler: Cloth embroidered with images intended to demonstrate the skill of a needleworker and to serve as a decorative element]  
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,            215
[Both warbling . . . key: Both singing the same song in the same key]
As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,   
Had been incorporate [the same]. So we grew together,   
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,   
But yet an union in partition;   
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;            220
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;   
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,   
Due but to one, and crowned with one crest.
[Two of . . . crest: Two people who are united in one coat of arms with a single crest. In heraldry, the coat of arms of a husband was united with the coat of arms of a wife. The crest is an ornamental, often leafy, element that appears above a shield.]
And will you rent [tear] our ancient love asunder [into pieces],   
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?            225
It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly:   
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,   
Though I alone do feel the injury.   
HERMIA:  I am amazed at your passionate words.   
I scorn you not: it seems that you scorn me.            230
HELENA:  Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,   
To follow me and praise my eyes and face,
[Have you . . . face: Isn't it true that you told Lysander to mock me by pretending to praise me?] 
And made your other love, Demetrius,—   
Who even but now did spurn me with his foot,—   
To call me goddess, nymph, divine and rare,            235
Precious, celestial? Wherefore [why] speaks he this   
[And made . . . celestial: And didn't you also tell Demetrius to mock me by calling me a goddess and a celestial being?]
To her he hates? and wherefore [why] doth Lysander   
Deny your love, so rich within his soul,   
And tender [offer] me, forsooth [in truth], affection,   
But by your setting on [instigation], by your consent?            240
What though I be not so in grace as you,   
So hung upon with love, so fortunate,   
But miserable most to love unlov’d?   
This you should pity rather than despise.   
[What though . . . despise: I am not as popular as you are. Though I love, I am not loved back. You should pity me instead of making fun of me.]
HERMIA:  I understand not what you mean by this.            245
HELENA:  Ay, do, persever, counterfeit sad looks,   
Make mouths upon me when I turn my back;   
Wink each at other; hold the sweet jest up:   
This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.   
[Ay, do . . . chronicled: All right, go ahead and persevere in your mockery. Put on sad looks. Make faces at me behind my back. Wink at each other and keep the jest going. You've been doing so well at it that someone should write a story about it.]
If you have any pity, grace, or manners,            250
You would not make me such an argument.
[You would  . . . argument: You would not make me the butt of ridicule.] 
But, fare ye well: ’tis partly mine own fault,   
Which death or absence soon shall remedy.   
LYSANDER:  Stay, gentle Helena! hear my excuse:   
My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena!            255
HELENA:  O excellent!   
HERMIA:  Sweet, do not scorn her so.   
DEMETRIUS:  If she cannot entreat, I can compel.   
[If she . . . compel: If Hermia cannot persuade you to stop teasing her, Lysander, I can force you to do so.]
LYSANDER:  Thou canst compel no more than she entreat:   
Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers.            260
[You can't force me any more than Hermia can persuade me. Your threats are no stronger than her weak entreaties.]
Helen, I love thee; by my life, I do:   
I swear by that which I will lose for thee,   
To prove him false that says I love thee not.   
DEMETRIUS:   I say I love thee more than he can do [more than he does].   
LYSANDER:  If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.            265
[If thou . . . too: Back up your words by withdrawing with me and fighting a duel.]
DEMETRIUS:   Quick, come!   
HERMIA:  Lysander, whereto tends all this? [Lysander, what is all this leading to?] 
LYSANDER:  Away, you Ethiop!
[Away . . . Ethiop: Away, you Ethiopian (a remark addressed to Hermia). An Ethiopian is a black African. This remark sounds racist. However, in Shakespeare: the Complete Works, editor G. B. Harrison says the remark may indicate that the boy actor playing Hermia had a dark complexion.  (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1952, page 530)].
DEMETRIUS:  No, no, he’ll …   
Seem to break loose; take on, as you would follow,            270
But yet come not: you are a tame man, go!   
[No, no . . . go: If you leave his side, Hermia, he'll make it seem as if he is breaking away from you. The fact is that he is using you as a shield. As for you, Lysander, make as if you are going to follow me. But don't. You're a coward.Your best option is to run away.]
LYSANDER:  [To HERMIA.]  Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! vile thing, let loose,   
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.   
HERMIA:  Why are you grown so rude? what change is this,   
Sweet love,—            275
LYSANDER:  Thy love! out, tawny Tartar [dark-skinned savage], out!   
Out, loathed medicine! hated poison, hence!   
HERMIA:  Do you not jest?   
HELENA:  Yes, sooth; and so do you. [Yes, he is joking. And so are you.]  
LYSANDER:  Demetrius, I will keep my word [to duel] with thee.            280
DEMETRIUS:  I would I had your bond [written pledge], for I perceive   
A weak bond [the bond is Hermia] holds you: I’ll not trust your word.   
LYSANDER:  What! should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?   
Although I hate her, I’ll not harm her so.   
HERMIA:  What! can you do me greater harm than hate?            285
Hate me! wherefore [why]? O me! what news [what has changed you], my love?   
Am not I Hermia? Are not you Lysander?   
I am as fair [attractive to you] now as I was erewhile [earlier; before].   
Since night you lov’d me; yet, since night you left me:   
Why, then you left me,—O, the gods forbid!—            290
In earnest, shall I say?   
[Since night . . . I say: You loved me earlier in the evening, but after you woke up you rejected me—the gods forbid!—and did so in earnest.]
LYSANDER:  Ay, by my life;   
And never did desire to see thee more.   
Therefore be out of hope, of question, doubt;   
Be certain, nothing truer: ’tis no jest,            295
That I do hate thee and love Helena.   
HERMIA:  O me! you juggler [one who "juggles" lovers]! you canker-blossom [destructive worm in a flower blossom]!   
You thief of love! what! have you come by night   
And stol’n my love’s heart from him?   
[you juggler . . . from him: Helena, you are a juggler of lovers! You are a destructive worm in a flower blossom! You came by night and stole from him his love for me.]
HELENA:  Fine, i’ faith!            300
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,   
No touch of bashfulness? What! will you tear   
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?   
Fie, fie! you counterfeit [deceiver], you puppet [mere doll] you!   
HERMIA:  Puppet! why, so: ay, that way goes the game.            305
Now I perceive that she hath made compare   
Between our statures: she hath urg’d her height;   
And with her personage, her tall personage,   
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail’d with him.   
And are you grown so high in his esteem,            310
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?   
How low am I, thou painted maypole? speak;   
How low am I? I am not yet so low   
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.   
[Puppet! . . . thine eyes: In this passage, Hermia says Helena claims to be tall in stature and virtue. Hermia, on the other hand, is dwarfish in appearance and virtue. At least that is what Hermia says Helena maintains. Hermia asks Helena—adressing her as a "painted maypole"—just how low she is. No matter how low she is, Hermia says, she is tall enough to scratch Helena's eyes.]
HELENA:  I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,            315
Let her not hurt me: I was never curst;   
I have no gift at all in shrewishness;   
I am a right maid for my cowardice:   
Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think,   
Because she is something lower than myself,            320
That I can match her.   
[I pray . . . match her: Please, gentlemen, don't let her hurt me. I was never cursed with savagery or unruliness. I am a meek, upstanding maid. Don't let her hit me. You might think that I can repel her because she is lower than I am.]
HERMIA:  Lower! hark, again.   
HELENA:  Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.   
I evermore did love you, Hermia,   
Did ever keep your counsels, never wrong’d you;            325
Save that, in love unto Demetrius,   
I told him of your stealth unto this wood.   
He follow’d you; for love I follow’d him;   
But he hath chid me hence [chased me away], and threaten’d me   
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too:            330
And now, so you will let me quiet go,   
To Athens will I bear my folly back,   
And follow you no further: let me go:   
You see how simple and how fond I am.   
HERMIA:  Why, get you gone. Who is ’t that hinders you?            335
HELENA:  A foolish heart, that I leave here behind.   
HERMIA:  What! with Lysander?   
HELENA:  With Demetrius.   
LYSANDER:  Be not afraid: she shall not harm thee, Helena.   
DEMETRIUS:   No, sir; she shall not, though you take her part.            340
HELENA:  O! when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd.   
She was a vixen [unruly girl; female fox] when she went to school:   
And though she be but little, she is fierce.   
HERMIA:  ‘Little’ again! nothing but ‘low’ and ‘little!’   
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?            345
Let me come to her.   
LYSANDER:  Get you gone, you dwarf;   
You minimus, of hindering knot-grass made;
[You minimus . . . made: You insignificant thing; you piece of knotgrass, a weed that hinders the growth of surrounding plants] 
You bead, you acorn!   
DEMETRIUS: You are too officious            350
In her behalf that scorns your services.   
Let her alone; speak not of Helena;   
Take not her part, for, if thou dost intend   
Never so little show of love to her,   
Thou shalt aby it.            355
[You are . . . aby it: You are too quick to meddle in the affairs of someone who scorns you. And don't speak of Helena. If you wrong her, you'll pay a penalty.]
LYSANDER:  Now she holds me not;   
Now follow, if thou dar’st, to try whose right,   
Or thine or mine, is most in Helena.   
[Now she . . . Helena: First, Hermia and I have broken up. Second, I am willing to fight you for Helena. Follow me.]
DEMETRIUS:  Follow! nay, I’ll go with thee, cheek by jole [jowl].  [Exeunt LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS.  
[Follow . . . jole: I won't follow you. I'll walk with you shoulder to shoulder—that is, cheek to jowl.]
HERMIA:  You, mistress, all this coil is ’long of you:            360
Nay, go not back.   
[You, mistress . . . back: You, Helena—all this trouble is because of you. Stay put. Don't run away.]
HELENA:  I will not trust you, I,   
Nor longer stay in your curst company.   
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray,   
My legs are longer though, to run away.  [Exit.            365
[I will . . . away: Because I don't trust you, I will no longer stay in your accursed company. You may have quicker hands than mine in a fight, but I have strong legs to carry me away.]
HERMIA:  I am amaz’d, and know not what to say.  [Exit.   
OBERON:  This is thy negligence: still thou mistak’st,   
Or else commit’st thy knaveries wilfully.   
[This is . . . wilfully: The conflicts between these mortals result from your mistakes, Puck—or perhaps your deliberate mischief.]
PUCK:  Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook [made a mistake].   
Did not you tell me I should know the man            370
By the Athenian garments he had on?   
And so far blameless proves my enterprise,   
That I have ’nointed [anointed; put magic potion on] an Athenian’s eyes;   
And so far am I glad it so did sort,   
As this their jangling [arguing; wrangling] I esteem a sport.            375
OBERON:  Thou see’st these lovers seek a place to fight:   
Hie [go quickly] therefore, Robin, overcast the night;   
The starry welkin [sky] cover thou anon [then; immediately] 
With drooping fog as black as Acheron; 
[Acheron (AK er on) : In Greek mythology, the river of woe in Hades]
And lead these testy rivals so astray,            380
As one come not within another’s way.   
Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue,  
Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong;   
And sometime rail thou like Demetrius;   
And from each other look thou lead them thus,            385
Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep   
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep:   
[Like to . . . wrong: Mimicking Lysander's voice, say nasty things about Demetrius. Then imitate Demetrius's voice and say nasty things about Lysander. Keep up your mischief until they tire and fall asleep.]
Then crush this herb into Lysander’s eye;   
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,   
To take from thence all error with his might,            390
And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight.   
[Whose . . . sight: Whose juice has the power to restore Lysander's senses so that he sees the world as it was before he entered the forest.]
When they next wake, all this derision [fighting; quarreling]
Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision;   
And back to Athens shall the lovers wend [go],   
With league whose date till death shall never end.            395
[With . . . end: With pledges of love that will remain in effect for the rest of their lives]
Whiles I in this affair do thee employ,   
I’ll to my queen and beg her Indian boy;   
[beg . . . boy: Ask her for the changeling]
And then I will her charmed eye release   
From monster’s view, and all things shall be peace.
[And then . . . peace: And then I will cancel out the magic that has made her fall in love with the man with the ass's head.]  
PUCK:  My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,            400
For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,   
And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger;   
[night's . . . harbinger: The dragons that pull night's dark chariot across the sky are nearing the end of their journey. Moreover, Aurora—the goddess of dawn—has already sent out visible signs of her coming.]
At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,   
Troop home to churchyards: damned spirits all,   
That in cross-ways [crossroads] and floods have burial,            405
Already to their wormy beds [graves] are gone;   
For fear lest day should look their shames upon,   
They wilfully themselves exile from light,   
And must for aye consort with black-brow’d night.   
OBERON:  But we are spirits of another sort.            410
I with the morning’s love have oft made sport;   
And, like a forester, the groves may tread,   
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery-red,   
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,   
Turns into yellow gold his salt green streams.            415
[But we . . . streams: But we are not like those sad, woeful ghosts. I myself welcome dawn and its fiery red sky that shines down on the the god of the sea, Neptune, and turns his oceans into golden waterways.]
But, notwithstanding, haste; make no delay:   
We may effect [carry out; accomplish] this business yet ere [before] day.  [Exit OBERON.   
PUCK:  Up and down, up and down;   
      I will lead them up and down:   
      I am fear’d in field and town;            420
      Goblin, lead them up and down.   
[Goblin: Tiny creature that works mischief against humans. Puck appears to be referring to himself.]
Here comes one.   
Re-enter LYSANDER.
LYSANDER:  Where art thou, proud Demetrius? speak thou now.   
PUCK:  Here, villain! drawn and ready. Where art thou?            425
LYSANDER:  I will be with thee straight.   
PUCK:  Follow me, then,   
To plainer ground.  [Exit LYSANDER as following the voice.   
DEMETRIUS:  Lysander! speak again.            430
Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?   
Speak! In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy head?   
PUCK:  Thou coward! art thou bragging to the stars,   
Telling the bushes that thou look’st for wars,   
And wilt not come? Come, recreant [coward]; come, thou child;            435
I’ll whip thee with a rod: he is defil’d   
That draws a sword on thee.   
[he is . . . thee: It would be shameful to have to draw a sword on a coward like you.]
DEMETRIUS:   Yea, art thou there?   
PUCK:  Follow my voice: we’ll try no manhood here.  [Exeunt.  
[we'll  . . . here: We won't fight in this place.]
Re-enter LYSANDER.            440

LYSANDER:  He goes before me and still dares me on:   
When I come where he calls, then he is gone.   
The villain is much lighter-heel’d than I:   
I follow’d fast, but faster he did fly;   
That fallen am I in dark uneven way,            445
[That fallen . . . way: I have come upon a dark, uneven area.]
And here will rest me.  [Lies down.]  Come, thou gentle day!   
For it but once thou show me thy grey light,   
I’ll find Demetrius and revenge this spite.  [Sleeps.   
[For it . . . spite: For once the first light of dawn appears. I'll find Demetrius and gain my revenge.]
Re-enter PUCK and DEMETRIUS.
PUCK:  Ho! ho! ho! Coward, why com’st thou not?            450
DEMETRIUS:  Abide [confront] me, if thou dar’st [dare]; for well I wot [know]
Thou runn’st [run] before me, shifting every place,   
And dar’st not stand, nor look me in the face.   
Where art thou now?   
PUCK:  Come hither: I am here.            455
DEMETRIUS:  Nay then, thou mock’st me. Thou shalt buy this dear,   
If ever I thy face by daylight see:   
[Nay then . . . see: You're mocking me. You'll pay dearly for your tricks if I see your face in the daylight.]
Now, go thy way. Faintness [weariness] constraineth [forces] me   
To measure out my length [to lie down] on this cold bed:   
By day’s approach look to be visited.  [Lies down and sleeps.            460
[By day's . . . visited: When day arrives, I'll track you down.]
Re-enter HELENA.
HELENA:  O weary night! O long and tedious night,   
Abate [shorten] thy hours! shine, comforts [comforting light], from the east!   
That I may back to Athens by daylight,   
From these that my poor company detest:            465
[That I . . . detest: That I may return to Athens and get away from these people who detest my company]
And sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow’s eye,   
Steal me a while from mine own company.  [Lies down and sleeps.   
PUCK:  Yet but three? Come one more;   
      Two of both kinds make up four.   
      Here she comes, curst and sad:            470
      Cupid is a knavish lad,   
      Thus to make poor females mad.   

Re-enter HERMIA.
HERMIA:  Never so weary, never so in woe,   
Bedabbled [smeared] with the dew and torn with briers,            475
I can no further crawl, no further go;   
My legs can keep no pace with my desires.   
Here will I rest me till the break of day.   
Heavens shield Lysander, if they mean a fray!  [Lies down and sleeps.   
PUCK:  On the ground            480
      Sleep sound:   
      I’ll apply   
      To your eye,   
  Gentle lover, remedy  [Squeezing the juice on LYSANDER’S eyes.   
      When thou wak’st,            485
      Thou tak’st   
      True delight   
      In the sight   
  Of thy former lady’s eye:   
    And the country proverb known,            490
    That every man should take his own,   
     [That every Jack should have his Jill]
    In your waking shall be shown:   
        Jack shall have Jill;   
        Nought shall go ill;   
    The man shall have his mare again,            495
    And all shall be well.  [Exit.   

Act 4, Scene 1

Enter TITANIA and BOTTOM, Fairies attending; OBERON behind unseen.
TITANIA:  Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,   
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy [kiss; caress],   
And stick musk-roses [white roses with the scent of musk] in thy sleek smooth head,            5
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.   
BOTTOM:  Where’s Peaseblossom?   
BOTTOM:  Scratch my head, Peaseblossom. Where’s Mounsieur [Monsieur] Cobweb?   
COBWEB:  Ready.            10
BOTTOM:  Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get your weapons in your hand, and kill me a redhipped humble-bee [bumblebee] on the top of a thistle [prickly plant]; and, good mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag [honey sac]. Do not fret yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and, good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not; I would be loath to have you overflown with a honey-bag, signior [have you get honey all over yourself]. Where’s Mounsieur Mustardseed?   
Must.  Ready.   
BOTTOM:  Give me your neaf [neif: fist], Mounsieur Mustardseed. Pray you, leave your curtsy [don't bow to me], good mounsieur.   
Must.  What’s your will?   
BOTTOM:  Nothing, good mounsieur, but to help Cavalery [cavalier; horseman; caballero] Cobweb to scratch [scratch my head]. I must to the barber’s, mounsieur, for methinks I am marvellous hairy about the face; and I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch.            15
[I am such . . . scratch: My skin is so sensitive that if a hair tickles it, I must scratch.]
TITANIA:  What, wilt thou hear some music, my sweet love?   
BOTTOM:  I have a reasonable good ear in music: let us have the tongs and the bones.   
[tongs, bones: Both the tongs and the bones were percussion instruments. The tongs were played by striking them together. The bones were played the same way.]
TITANIA:  Or say, sweet love, what thou desir’st to eat.   
BOTTOM:  Truly, a peck of provender [dry food for livestock]: I could munch your good dry oats. Methinks I have a great desire to a bottle of hay: good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.   
[Methinks . . . fellow: I think I would like a bundle of hay. Really good hay has no equal.]
TITANIA:  I have a venturous [adventurous] fairy that shall seek            20
The squirrel’s hoard, and fetch thee thence new nuts.   
BOTTOM:  I had rather have a handful or two of dried pease [peas]. But, I pray you, let none of your people stir me: I have an exposition of [inclination or disposition for] sleep come upon me.   
TITANIA:  Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.   
Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away.  [Exeunt Fairies.   
So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle            25
Gently entwist; the female ivy so   
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.   
O! how I love thee; how I dote on thee!  [They sleep.   
Enter PUCK.
OBERON:  [Advancing.]  Welcome, good Robin. See’st thou this sweet sight?            30
Her dotage [devotion to Bottom] now I do begin to pity:   
For, meeting her of late behind the wood,   
Seeking sweet favours for this hateful fool,   
I did upbraid her and fall out with her;   
For she his hairy temples then had rounded            35
With coronet [small crown or headband] 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.            40
[And that same . . . bewail: And the same dew that appears like pearls on the buds of flowers now cried tears of shame for appearing on the coronet of this fool with the head of an ass.]
When I had at my pleasure taunted her,   
And she in mild terms begg’d 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 [residence; private chamber] in fairy land.            45
And now I have the boy, I will undo   
This hateful imperfection of her eyes:  
[This . . . eyes: This hateful spell that made her love Bottom]
And, gentle Puck, take this transformed scalp [this ass's head] 
From off the head of this Athenian swain [fellow],   
That he, awaking when the other do,            50
May all to Athens back again repair [go],   
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.  [Touching her eyes with an herb.   
        Be as thou wast wont to be;            55
        See as thou wast wont to see:   
        Dian’s bud o’er Cupid’s flower   
        Hath such force and blessed power.  
[Dian's  . . . power: This bud that touches your eyes is from Diana, the virgin moon goddess. It has the power to undo the spell that made you love Bottom. (In ancient mythology, Diana was the Roman name for Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon and of virginity.)]     
Now, my Titania; wake you, my sweet queen.   
TITANIA:  My Oberon! what visions have I seen!            60
Methought I was enamour’d of [in love with] an ass.   
OBERON:  There lies your love.   
[There . . . love: The ass is right over there, sleeping.]
TITANIA:  How came these things to pass?   
O! how mine eyes do loathe his visage now.   
OBERON:  Silence, awhile. Robin, take off this head.            65
Titania, music call; and strike more dead   
Than common sleep of all these five the sense.   
[Robin, take . . . sense:  Robin, remove the ass's head from that man. Titania, tell your fairies to play music. Then make those five humans sleep more deeply than is normal.]
TITANIA:  Music, ho! music! such as charmeth sleep.  [Music.   
[Music . . . sleep: Fairies, play music that will charm these people into a deep sleep.]
PUCK:  When thou wak’st, with thine own fool’s eyes peep.   
[When thou . . . . peep: Puck removes the donkey head and comments that Bottom, upon awakening, will return to being his old, foolish self.]
OBERON:  Sound, music!  [Still, music.]  Come, my queen, take hands with me,            70
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.   
[And rock . . . be: And let's dance in a way that rocks the ground as if it were a cradle for these sleepers.]
Now thou and I are new in amity,  
[Now . . . amity: Now you and I are reconciled.]
And will to-morrow midnight solemnly   
Dance in Duke Theseus’ house triumphantly,   
And bless it to all fair prosperity.            75
There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be   
Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.   
PUCK:  Fairy king, attend, and mark:   
     I do hear the morning lark.   
OBERON:  Then, my queen, in silence sad,            80
      Trip we after the night’s shade;   
      We the globe can compass soon,   
      Swifter than the wandering moon.   
[Then, my . . . moon: Then, my queen, in somber silence, let's follow the night westward. We can circle the globe more swiftly than the moon.]
TITANIA:  Come, my lord; and in our flight [and during our journey] 
      Tell me how it came this night            85
      That I sleeping here was found   
      With these mortals on the ground.  [Exeunt.  Horns winded within. 
[Horns winded within: Horns played offstage.]
THESEUS:  Go, one of you, find out the forester;   
For now our observation is perform’d;            90
[our observation . . . perform'd: We have carried out the rites of May Day.]
And since we have the vaward [early part; forepart] of the day,   
My love shall hear the music of my hounds.   
Uncouple in the western valley; let them go:   
[My love . . . let them go: My love shall hear the barking of my hounds as they track their prey. Unleash them in the valley to the west.]
Dispatch [go], I say, and find the forester.   
We will, fair queen, up to the mountain’s top,            95
And mark the musical confusion   
Of hounds and echo in conjunction. 
[And mark . . . conjunction: And listen to the musical confusion of barking hounds and the echoes they make.]
HIPPOLYTA:  I was with Hercules and Cadmus once, 
[Cadmus: In Greek mythology, the son of the king of Phoenicia and founder of the Greek city of Thebes]
When in a wood of Crete they bay’d the bear   
With hounds of Sparta: never did I hear            100
Such gallant chiding; for, besides the groves,   
The skies, the fountains, every region near   
Seem’d all one mutual cry. I never heard   
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.   
[they bay'd . . . thunder: They tracked down a bear with their hounds of Sparta. Never did I hear such loud barking. The groves, the skies, the fountains, and every region near seemed to echo a single cry of baying dogs. I never heard such a musical cacophony—such sweet thunder.]
THESEUS:  My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,            105
So flew’d, so sanded; and their heads are hung   
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;   
Crook-knee’d, and dew-lapp’d like Thessalian bulls;   
[My hounds . . . dew: My hounds are like the Spartan ones, having fleshy jowls (flew'd), a sandy color, and ears so long that they sweep away the morning dew. They also have crooked (one-syllable word, like hooked) knees and drooping folds of flesh under the chin, like the bulls of Thessaly, in east-central Greece.]
Slow in pursuit, but match’d in mouth like bells,   
[but . . . bells: But matched with barks that blend together like harmonizing bells.]
Each under each. A cry more tuneable            110
Was never holla’d to, nor cheer’d with horn,   
In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly:   
Judge, when you hear. But, soft! what nymphs are these?   
EGEUS:  My lord, this is my daughter here asleep;   
And this, Lysander; this Demetrius is;            115
This Helena, old Nedar’s Helena:   
I wonder of their being here together.
[I wonder . . . together: I wonder why they are here together.] 
THESEUS:  No doubt they rose up early to observe   
The rite of May [May Day celebrations], and, hearing our intent,   
Came here in grace of our solemnity.            120
[hearing . . . solemnity: Hearing that I would be in this vicinity, they gathered here to pay their respects to me.]
But speak, Egeus, is not this the day   
That Hermia should give answer of her choice [select a future husband]?   
EGEUS:  It is, my lord.   
THESEUS:  Go, bid the huntsmen wake them with their horns.  [Horns and shout within.  LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HERMIA, and HELENA, wake and start up.   
Good morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past:            125
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?   
[Good morrow . . . now: Good morning, friends. Saint Valentine's Day, when birds mate, has come and gone. But you lovebirds seem to be choosing each other only now.]
LYSANDER:  Pardon, my lord.  [He and the rest kneel.   
THESEUS:  I pray you all, stand up.   
I know you two are rival enemies:   
How comes this gentle concord in the world,            130
That hatred is so far from jealousy,   
To sleep by hate, and fear no enmity?   
[How comes . . . enmity: How is it that there is peace among you four? Hatred has divided you, yet you sleep next to one another without fear of trouble.]
LYSANDER:  My lord, I shall reply amazedly,   
Half sleep [asleep], half waking [awake]: but as yet, I swear,   
I cannot truly say how I came here;            135
But, as I think,—for truly would I speak,   
And now I do bethink me, so it is,—   
I came with Hermia hither [here]: our intent   
Was to be gone from Athens, where we might,   
Without the peril of the Athenian law—            140
EGEUS:  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;   
[They would have robbed] You of your wife, and me of my consent,            145
Of my consent that she should be your wife.   
DEMETRIUS:  My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,   
Of this their purpose hither, to this wood;   
And I in fury hither follow’d them,   
Fair Helena in fancy following me.            150
[Fair . . . me: Fair Helena, out of love for me, followed.]
But, my good lord, I wot [know] not by what power,—   
But by some power it is,—my love to Hermia,   
Melted as doth the snow, seems to me now   
As the remembrance of an idle gaud [passing fancy; mere trifle]
Which in my childhood I did dote upon;            155
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 betroth’d ere [before] I saw Hermia:   
But, like in sickness, did I loathe this food;            160
But, as in health, come to my natural taste,   
Now do I wish it, love it, long for it,   
And will for evermore be true to it.   
THESEUS:  Fair lovers, you are fortunately met:   
Of this discourse we more will hear anon [soon].            165
Egeus, I will overbear [overrule; supersede] your will,   
For in the temple, by and by, with us,   
These couples shall eternally be knit [be married]:   
And, for the morning now is something worn,
[And, for . . . worn: And since the morning is already about half over]   
Our purpos’d hunting shall be set aside.            170
Away with us, to Athens: three and three, 
[three and three: Three couples—Theseus and Hippolyta, Lysander and Hermia, and Demetrius and Helena]
We’ll hold a feast in great solemnity.   
Come, Hippolyta.  [Exeunt THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEUS, and Train.   
DEMETRIUS:  These things seem small and undistinguishable,   
Like far-off mountains turned into clouds.            175
[These things . . . clouds: The events of this past night are like a dream.]
HERMIA:  Methinks I see these things with parted eye,   
When everything seems double.  
[Methinks . . . double: I see two of everything, as if I'm still in a dream.]
HELENA:  So methinks:   
And I have found Demetrius, like a jewel,   
Mine own, and not mine own.            180
DEMETRIUS:  Are you sure   
That we are awake? It seems to me   
That yet we sleep, we dream. Do you not think   
The duke was here, and bid us follow him?   
HERMIA:  Yea; and my father.            185
HELENA:  And Hippolyta.   
LYSANDER:  And he did bid us follow to the temple.   
DEMETRIUS:   Why then, we are awake. Let’s follow him;   
And by the way let us recount our dreams.  [Exeunt.   
BOTTOM:  [Awaking.]  When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer: my next [next cue] is, ‘Most fair Pyramus.’ Heigh-ho! Peter Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout, the tinker! Starveling!  God’s my life! stolen hence, and left me asleep! [Where are they? As God is my witness, they must have run off and left me here to sleep.] I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit [ability] of man to say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go about to expound [to tell people about] this dream. Methought I was—there is no man can tell what. Methought I was,—and methought I had,—but man is but a patched fool [a fool, or jester, often wore a coat with patches of different colors], if he will offer to say 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 the more gracious, I shall sing it at her death [at the death of Thisbe].  [Exit.            190

Act 4, Scene 2

Athens.  A Room in QUINCE’S House.
QUINCE:  Have you sent to Bottom’s house? is he come home yet?   
STARVELING:  He cannot be heard of. Out of doubt [no doubt] he is transported [kidnapped].   
FLUTE:  If he come not, then the play is marred: it goes not forward, doth it?            5
QUINCE:  It is not possible: you have not a man in all Athens able to discharge Pyramus but he.   
Flu  No; he hath simply the best wit of any handicraft man in Athens.   
QUINCE:  Yea, and the best person too; and he is a very paramour [malapropism for paragon] for a sweet voice.   
FLUTE:  You must say, ‘paragon:’ a paramour is, God bless us! a thing of naught [naughtiness; impropriety].   
Enter SNUG.            10

SNUG:  Masters, the duke is coming from the temple, and there is two or three lords and ladies more [who have been married]: if our sport [play] had gone forward, we had all been made men [celebrities who receive pensions].   
FLUTE:  O sweet bully Bottom! Thus hath he lost [a pension of] sixpence a day during his life; he could not have ’scaped [gotten anything less than] sixpence a day: an [if] 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.   
BOTTOM:  Where are these lads? where are these hearts [my buddies]?   
QUINCE:  Bottom! O most courageous day! O most happy hour!            15
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.   
[Masters . . . out: Masters, I am about to speak of wonders that I experienced. But don't ask me about them; for, if I tell you, I am not a true Athenian citizen. Anyway, I will tell you everything, just as it happened.]
QUINCE:  Let us hear, sweet Bottom.   
BOTTOM:  Not a word of me. All that I will tell you is, that the duke hath dined. Get your apparel [costumes] together, good strings to your beards [put on your beards], new ribbons to your pumps [put new ribbons on your shoes]; meet presently at the palace; every man look o’er his part; for the short and the long is, our play is preferred [will be a hit]. In any case, let Thisby have clean linen [lingerie]; and let not him that plays the lion pare [trim] his nails, for they shall hang out for the lion’s claws [they should look like the lion's claws]. And, most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath, and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy. No more words: away! go; away.  [Exeunt.   

Act 5, Scene 1

Athens.  An Apartment in the Palace of THESEUS.
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, Lords, and Attendants.
HIPPOLYTA:  ’Tis strange, my Theseus, that [what] these lovers speak of.   
THESEUS:  More strange than true. I never may believe   
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.            5
[More strange . . . toys: Yes, strange, but not true. I don't believe any of these old fables and fairytales.]
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:            10
[Lovers . . . compact: Lovers and lunatics have such active brains. They imagine all sorts of things that a normal person cannot understand. Lovers, lunatics, and poets seem to be made of imagination.]
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 a fine frenzy rolling,   
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;            15
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.   
[One sees . . . and a name: The madman sees more devils than there are in hell. The lover  sees in a common Gypsy's face the beauty of Helen of Troy, the dazzling enchantress who started the Trojan War. The poet's pen, inspired by his frenzied imagination, turns airy nothingness into shapes and places and people.]
Such tricks hath strong imagination,            20
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 suppos’d a bear!   
HIPPOLYTA:  But all the story of the night told over,            25
And all their minds transfigur’d so together,   
More witnesseth than fancy’s images,   
And grows to something of great constancy,   
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.  
[But all . . . admirable: But they are consistent in their accounts of what happened during the night. Moreover, they all appear spellbound by what they heard and saw. Therefore, I think they really did experience something strange and wonderful. They didn't just imagine everything.]
THESEUS:  Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.            30
Joy, gentle friends! joy, and fresh days of love   
Accompany your hearts!   
LYSANDER:  More than to us   
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!            35
[More than . . . bed: It is our hope that more joy than we are experiencing awaits you and Hippolyta on your leisurely walks, at your dining table, and in your bed!]
THESEUS:  Come now; what masques [amusements], what dances shall we have,   
To wear away this long age of three hours   
Between our after-supper and bed-time?   
Where is our usual manager of mirth [manager of entertainment; master of revels]?   
What revels are in hand? Is there no play,            40
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?   
Call Philostrate [the master of revels].   
PHILOSTRATE:  Here, mighty Theseus.   
THESEUS:  Say, what abridgment [entertainment; amusement] have you for this evening?   
What masque? what music? How shall we beguile            45
The lazy time, if not with some delight?   
PHILOSTRATE:  There is a brief [list of] how many sports [entertainments] are ripe [ready];   
Make choice of which your highness will see first.  [Gives a paper.   
THESEUS:  The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung   
[centaur: In Greek mythology, a creature with the legs and body of a horse and the arms, trunk, and head of a man]
By an Athenian eunuch [castrated man or boy] to the harp.            50
We’ll none of that: that have I told my love, 
[that . . . love: That story I have already told to Hippolyta.]
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 play’d            55
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.   
[The riot . . . conqueror: Next on the list is the story of the riot of the drunken women devoted to Bacchus, the god of wine. In this story, they tear to pieces the gifted Thracian musician and poet Orpheus. (Thrace was an ancient country north of the Aegean Sea.) That's an old story that was dramatized for me after I returned from conquering the Greek city of Thebes.]
The thrice three Muses mourning for the death   
Of Learning, late deceas’d in beggary.   
That is some satire keen and critical,   
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.            60
[The thrice . . . ceremony: Next is the story of the nine Muses mourning the death of an impoverished poet. That sort of satire is not appropriate for a wedding ceremony.  (The muses were goddesses of poetry, music, astronomy, and other arts and sciences.)]
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 wonderous strange snow.   
How shall we find the concord of this discord?            65
[A tedious . . . discord: Here's a strange one: An enactment of a scene from a funny tragedy that is short but drawn out. How can a play be amusing and tragic, or short and long? What are we to make of this production?]
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.            70
And tragical my noble lord, it is;   
For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.   
Which when I saw rehears’d, I must confess,   
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears   
The passion of loud laughter never shed.            75
THESEUS:  What are they that do play it?   
PHILOSTRATE:  Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,   
Which never labour’d in their minds till now,   
And now have toil’d their unbreath’d memories   
With this same play, against your nuptial.            80
[Hard-handed . . . nuptial: They are Athenians who work with their hands. They never did mental labor until now. They worked hard to commit their lines to their unexercised memories so that they could perform their play as part of your wedding celebration.]
THESEUS:  And we will hear 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 [amusement] in their intents [meager talents],            85
Extremely stretch’d [stretched to their limits] and conn’d [studied; learned] with cruel pain,   
To do you service.   
THESEUS:  I will hear that play;   
For never anything can be amiss,   
When simpleness and duty tender [present; accompany] it.            90
Go, bring them in: and take your places, ladies.  [Exit PHILOSTRATE.   
HIPPOLYTA:  I love not to see wretchedness o’er-charg’d,   
And duty in his service perishing.   
[I love . . . perishing: I don't like to see ungifted people overtaxing themselves to live up to a high standard. I feel sorry for them when they fail.]
THESEUS:  Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.   
HIPPOLYTA:  He says they can do nothing in this kind [nothing special to entertain us].            95
THESEUS:  The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.   
[The kinder . . . nothing: The kinder we will be if we thank them 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.   
[Our sport . . . merit: Our entertainment shall be to overlook their mistakes. If their acting lacks merit, we should at least respect their efforts.]
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed [planned]            100
To greet me with premeditated [rehearsed] welcomes;   
Where [but] I have seen them shiver and look pale,   
Make periods in the midst of sentences [fail to finish sentences],   
Throttle their practis’d accent in their fears,   
And, in conclusion, dumbly have broke off,            105
Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,   
Out of this silence [botched greeting] yet I pick’d a welcome;   
And in the modesty of fearful duty   
I read as much as from the rattling tongue   
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.            110
[And in the modesty . . . eloquence: And in their modesty and fearfulness, they said as much as someone who welcomes me with bold and confident eloquence.]
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity   
In least speak most, to my capacity.   
[Love . . . capacity: Those with genuine love in their hearts, though they may be tongue-tied in their simplicity, say the most even though they say the least, to my way of thinking.]

PHILOSTRATE:  So please your Grace, the Prologue is address’d.   
[Prologue . . . addressed: An actor called the Prologue is ready to introduce the play.]
THESEUS:  Let him approach.  [Flourish of trumpets.            115
Enter QUINCE for 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.            120
Consider then we come but in despite.   
  We do not come as minding to content 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,            125
You shall know all that you are like to know.   
[If we offend . . . to know: Quince means to say that he and his fellow actors do not wish to offend anyone. But because he pauses at the wrong places, he conveys the opposite meaning. For example, he pauses at the end of the first line (as indicated by the period) instead of running the first line into the second without a pause.
THESEUS:  This fellow doth not stand upon points.   
[This . . . points: This fellow apparently misuses punctuation, judging from the way he recites his lines.]
LYSANDER:  He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he knows not the stop [he does not know when to use periods]. A good moral, my lord: it is not enough to speak, but to speak true.   
HIPPOLYTA:  Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child on a recorder [flute-like instrument]; a sound, but not in government [but not well played; but not well executed; but not well governed].   
THESEUS:  His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?            130
Enter PYRAMUS and THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, and LION, as in dumb show [part of a play acted without speaking; pantomime].
[Note: The tradesmen's script spells the name of the lover of Pyramus as Thisby, with a y on the end. However, the correct spelling is Thisbe, with an e on the end.]
PROLOGUE:  Gentles [ladies and gentlemen], 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 Thisby is, certain.            135
This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present   
Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;   
[This man . . . sunder: This man is rough-cast in cement so that he can play the part of the wall that separated Pyramus and Thisbe.]
And through Wall’s chink [crack or small opening in the wall], poor souls, they are content   
To whisper, at the which let no man wonder.   
This man, with lanthorn [lantern], dog, and bush of thorn,            140
Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,   
By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn   
To meet at Ninus’ tomb, there, there to woo.   
[Ninus: Founder of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria in ancient times. The ruins of the city are in present-day northern Iraq.)
This grisly beast, which Lion hight [is called] by name,   
The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,            145
Did scare away, or rather did affright;  
[This grisly beast . . . affright: A grisly beast called a lion scared Thisbe away.]
And, as she fled, her mantle [cloak] she did fall [drop],   
Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.   
Anon [soon] comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,   
And finds his trusty Thisby’s mantle slain [bloodstained mantle]:            150
Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,   
He bravely broach’d [drove into] his boiling bloody breast;   
And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade,   
His dagger drew and died. For all the rest,   
[And Thisby . . . died: And Thisbe, who was standing in the shade of a mulberry tree, took Pyramus's dagger and killed herself.]
Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain,            155
At large discourse, while here they do remain.  [Exeunt PROLOGUE, PYRAMUS, THISBE, LION, and MOONSHINE.   
[Let Lion . . . remain: Let the characters playing Lion, Moonshine, and the separated lovers now play out their roles, since they are all present.]
THESEUS:  I wonder, if the lion be to speak.   
DEMETRIUS:  No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do. [It would be no wonder if the lion could speak. After all, many people who are asses—including the actors in this play—can speak.]
WALL:  In this same interlude it doth befall   
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;            160
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 Thisby,   
Did whisper often very secretly.   
This loam [paste used in making bricks, plaster, etc.] this rough-cast, and this stone doth show            165
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.   
THESEUS:  Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?   
[Would . . . better: Do you really believe a wall of cement could speak any better?
DEMETRIUS:   It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.            170
[It is . . . discourse: It is the wittiest wall that ever I heard speak.]
THESEUS:  Pyramus draws near the wall: silence!   
Re-enter PYRAMUS.
PYRAMUS:  O grim-look’d night! O night with hue so black!   
O night, which ever art when day is not!   
O night! O night! alack [alas], alack, alack!            175
I fear my Thisby’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.  [WALL holds up his fingers.            180
Thanks, courteous wall: Jove [Roman name for the Greek deity Zeus, king of the gods] shield thee well for this!   
But what see I? No Thisby do I see.   
O wicked wall! through whom I see no bliss;   
Curs’d be thy stones for thus deceiving me!   
THESEUS:  The wall, methinks, being sensible [sensitive; feeling offended], should curse again.            185
PYRAMUS:  No, in truth, sir, he should not. ‘Deceiving me,’ is Thisby’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.   
Re-enter THISBE.
THISBY (THISBE): O wall! full often hast thou heard my moans,   
For parting my fair Pyramus and me:   
My cherry lips have often kiss’d thy stones,            190
Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.   
PYRAMUS:  I see a voice: now will I to the chink,   
To spy an [if] I can hear my Thisby’s face.   
THISBY (THISBE):  My love! thou art my love, I think.            195
PYRAMUS:  Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace [I am your lover];   
And, like Limander, am I trusty still.  
[Limander: Leander. In Greek mythology, Leander was a youth of Abydos (a town on the Asian side of present-day Turkey) who fell in love with Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Hero lived in a tower on the European side of Turkey. Every night, Leander would swim across a narrow strait called the Dardanelles to visit her. However, on one trip he drowned. Hero then plunged to her death from the tower.]
THISBY (THISBE):  And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.  
[And I . . . kill: Flute, the actor playing Thisbe, apparently gets Hero mixed up with Helen of Troy. The line should say, "And I like Hero, till the Fates me kill." (See the note immediately above.]
PYRAMUS:  Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true. 
[Not . . . true: The line should say, "Not Cephalus to Procris was so true. " In Greek mythology, Cephalus was the husband of Procris, the daughter of one of the founders of Athens.]
THISBY (THISBE):  As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.            200
PYRAMUS:  O! kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.   
THISBY (THISBE):  I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.   
PYRAMUS:  Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?   
[Ninny: Ninus, the founder of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria in ancient times.]
THISBY (THISBE):  ’Tide life, ’tide death, I come without delay.  [Exeunt PYRAMUS and THISBE.   
['Tide . . . delay: Even if my life is in jeopardy, I will come without delay.]
WALL:  Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;            205
[Thus . . . so: I have finished reciting my part.]
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.  [Exit.   
THESEUS:  Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.
[Now . . . neighbours: There is no longer a wall to separate the lovers, but they are not present to take advantage.] 
DEMETRIUS:  No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear without warning. 
[No remedy . . . warning: That's the way it goes. The wall heard that Pyramus and Thisbe were leaving, so it left too.]
HIPPOLYTA:  This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.   
THESEUS:  The best in this kind are but shadows, and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them.            210
[The best . . . amend them: The best stage plays aren't real; they're just products of the imagination. The worst plays are just as good as the best, since you can use your imagination to make them better.]
HIPPOLYTA:  It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.
[It must . . . theirs: What you're saying is that your imagination is good, not the performers and their play.] 
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.  
[If we . . . themselves: If we imagine that they are just as good as they think they are]
Re-enter LION and MOONSHINE.
LION:  You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear   
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,            215
May now perchance both quake and tremble here,   
When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.   
Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am   
A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam:   
For, if I should as lion come in strife            220
Into this place, ’twere pity on my life.   
[Then know . . . my life: Then know that I am not really a dangerous lion or lioness. I am a tradesman, Snug the joiner. If I were really a lion that came here to attack you, Theseus and his men would attack me. So don't worry.]
THESEUS:  A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience.   
DEMETRIUS:  The very best at a beast, my lord, that e’er I saw.   
LYSANDER:  This lion is a very fox for his valour.
[This . . . valour: This lion is as courageous as a fox.] 
THESEUS:  True; and a goose for his discretion [good judgment; prudence; wisdom].            225
DEMETRIUS:   Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his discretion, and the fox carries the goose. 
[his valour . . . goose:  His courage is not great enough to support his discretion. Moreover, a fox is smarter than a goose.]
THESEUS:  His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour, for the goose carries not the fox. It is well: leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.   
MOONSHINE:  This lanthorn [lantern] doth the horned [crescent] moon present;—   
DEMETRIUS:   He should have worn the horns on his head.   
THESEUS:  He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the circumference.            230
[He is . . . circumference: He is not a crescent moon but a full moon. Thus, it's impossible to see a crescent shape.]
MOONSHINE:  This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;   
Myself the man i’ the moon do seem to be.   
THESEUS:  This is the greatest error of all the rest. The man should be put into the lanthorn: how is it else the man i’ the moon? 
[This is . . . the moon: This is the greatest of all the mistakes the actors have made. The man should be inside the lantern if he is to be the man in the moon.]
DEMETRIUS:  He dares not come there for the candle; for, you see, it is already in snuff.
[He dares . . . snuff: If he dares to enter the lantern, the candle will burn him.]
HIPPOLYTA:  I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!            235
THESEUS:  It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he is in the wane; but yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay the time.   
[It appears . . . time: It appears that his light is dimming, suggesting that his part in the play will soon end. But, out of courtesy, we must hear all that he has to say.]
LYSANDER:  Proceed, Moon.   
MOONSHINE:  All that I have to say, is, to tell you that the lanthorn is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.   
DEMETRIUS:  Why, all these should be in the lanthorn; for all these are in the moon. But, silence! here comes Thisbe.   
Re-enter THISBE.             240

THISBY (THISBE):  This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?   
LION:  [Roaring.]  Oh—.  [THISBE runs off, dropping her mantle [cloak.]
DEMETRIUS:   Well roared, Lion.  
THESEUS:  Well run, Thisbe.   
HIPPOLYTA:  Well shone, Moon. Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.  [The LION tears THISBE’S mantle, and exits.            245
[The lion . . . exits: The lion paws and tears the dropped cloak, staining it with blood from an animal it killed.]
THESEUS:  Well moused, Lion.
[Well . . . Lion: Lion, you're doing a good job shaking that cloak. You remind me of a cat shaking a mouse.]  
DEMETRIUS:   And then came Pyramus.   
LYSANDER:  And so the lion vanished.   
Re-enter PYRAMUS.
PYRAMUS:  Sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;            250
I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright,   
For, by the gracious, golden, glittering streams,   
I trust to taste of truest Thisby’s sight.   
        But stay, O spite!   
        But mark, poor knight,            255
        What dreadful dole [grief or sorrow; fate] is here!   
            Eyes, do you see?   
            How can it be?   
        O dainty duck! O dear!   
            Thy mantle good,            260
            What! stain’d with blood!   
        Approach, ye Furies fell! 
[Furies: In ancient mythology, the Roman name for the Erinyes, three Greek goddesses of vengeance who pursued and punished evildoers. The Furies—whose names were Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera—lived in the underworld.]
            O Fates, come, come,   
            Cut thread and thrum;   
[Fates . . . thrum: In Greek and Roman mythology, the Fates were three sister goddesses—Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis—who controlled human fate. A person died when the Fates cut the thread of life. A thrum was a fringe trimmed from a cloth before it was removed from a loom, a weaving apparatus.]
        Quail [drive back; conquer; overwhelm], crush, conclude, and quell [kill]!            265
THESEUS:  This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man look sad.   
HIPPOLYTA:  Beshrew [curse] my heart, but I pity the man.   
PYRAMUS:  O! wherefore [why], Nature, didst thou lions frame [make]?   
  Since lion vile hath here deflower’d [malapropism for devoured] my dear?   
Which is—no, no—which was the fairest dame            270
  That liv’d, that lov’d, that lik’d, that look’d with cheer.   
            Come tears, confound;   
            Out, sword, and wound   
        The pap [nipple] of Pyramus:   
            Ay, that left pap,            275
            Where heart doth hop:
[that left . . . hop: The left nipple, over the beating heart]   
        Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.  [Stabs himself.   
            Now am I dead,   
            Now am I fled;   
        My soul is in the sky:            280
            Tongue, lose thy light [sight]!   
            Moon, take thy flight!  [Exit MOONSHINE.   
        Now die, die, die, die, die.  [Dies.   
DEMETRIUS:  No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one. 
[No die . . . one: A pun in which die stands as the singular of dice. In the game of dice, an ace is a thrown die displaying a single black dot. Pyramus is an ace because he is one man.]
LYSANDER:  Less than an ace, man, for he is dead; he is nothing.            285
THESEUS:  With the help of a surgeon, he might yet recover, and prove an ass.   
HIPPOLYTA:  How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?   
THESEUS:  She will find him by starlight. Here she comes; and her passion ends the play.   
Re-enter THISBE.
HIPPOLYTA:  Methinks she should not use a long one [not give a long speech] for such a Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.            290
DEMETRIUS:  A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the better: he for a man, God warrant us; she for a woman, God bless us.   
[A mote . . . better: Who is better, Pyramus or Thisbe? If we were to weigh them on balance scales, the tiniest speck of dust would tip the scales in favor of one or the other.]
LYSANDER:  She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.   
DEMETRIUS:   And thus she moans, videlicet [that is to say]:—   
  THISBY (THISBE):  Asleep, my love?   
            What, dead, my dove?            295
        O Pyramus, arise!   
            Speak, speak! Quite dumb?   
            Dead, dead! A tomb   
        Must cover thy sweet eyes.   
            These lily lips,            300
            This cherry nose,   
        These yellow cowslip cheeks,   
            Are gone, are gone:   
            Lovers, make moan!   
        His eyes were green as leeks.            305
            O, Sisters Three [Fates],   
            Come, come to me,   
        With hands as pale as milk;   
            Lay them in gore,   
            Since you have shore [shorn, cut]            310
        With shears his thread of silk [thread of life].   
            Tongue, not a word:   
            Come, trusty sword:   
        Come, blade, my breast imbrue [stain]:  [Stabs herself.   
            And farewell, friends;            315
            Thus Thisby ends:   
        Adieu [good-bye], adieu, adieu.  [Dies.   
THESEUS:  Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.   
DEMETRIUS:  Ay, and Wall too.   
BOTTOM:  No, I assure you; the wall is down that parted their fathers [that separated Pyramus and Thisbe, as well as their families]. Will it please you to see the epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance between two of our company?            320
[Bergomask dance: Clumsy dance that makes fun of the people of Bergamo, Italy, noted for their clownish behavior.]
THESEUS:  No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all dead, there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus, and hanged himself in Thisbe’s garter, it would have been a fine tragedy: and so it is, truly, and very notably discharged. But come, your Bergomask: let your epilogue alone.  [A dance.   
The iron tongue [bell] of midnight hath told [struck] twelve;   
Lovers, to bed; ’tis almost fairy time.   
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn,   
As much as we this night have overwatch’d.            325
[I fear . . . overwatch'd: I fear we shall oversleep in the morning, since we have stayed up too late tonight.]
This palpable-gross [noticeably crude and coarse] play hath well beguil’d   
The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed. 
[well beguil'd . . . night: Served as a good way to pass the time tonight]
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,   
In nightly revels, and new jollity.  [Exeunt.   
[A fortnight . . . jollity: For two weeks, we will continue to celebrate with revels and jolly entertainments.]

Act 5, Scene 2

Enter PUCK.

PUCK:  Now the hungry lion roars,   
          And the wolf behowls the moon;   
        Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,   
          All with weary task fordone.            5
[All with . . . fordone: After a hard day's work]
        Now the wasted brands do glow,
[wasted brands: Embers of burnt wood] 
          Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,   
        Puts the wretch that lies in woe   
          In remembrance of a shroud.  
[Puts . . . shroud: Makes a bedridden sick person think about the shroud he will be wrapped in after he dies]
        Now it is the time of night            10
          That the graves, all gaping wide,   
        Every one lets forth his sprite,   
          In the church-way paths to glide:  
[Now it . . . glide: Now is the time of night when graves open and release spirits that glide through church cemeteries.]
        And we fairies, that do run   
          By the triple Hecate’s team,            15
[triple Hecate: In Greek mythology, Hecate was an underworld goddess associated with witchcraft and sorcery. She was also associated with the moon. In sculptures, she is often depicted as having three bodies and/or three faces. In this passage the fairies appear to be running by her in her role as a goddess of dim moonlight and darkness.]
        From the presence of the sun,   
          Following darkness like a dream,   
        Now are frolic; not a mouse   
        Shall disturb this hallow’d house:   
        I am sent with broom before,            20
        To sweep the dust behind the door.   
Enter OBERON and TITANIA, with their Train
  OBERON:  Through the house give glimmering light   
          By the dead and drowsy fire;   
[Through the . . . fire: Let the dying embers in the fireplace throw glimmering light throughout the house.]
        Every elf and fairy sprite            25
          Hop as light as bird from brier;   
        And this ditty after me   
        Sing and dance it trippingly. 
[And this . . . trippingly: And sing this song with me while we all dance nimbly.] 
  TITANIA:  First, rehearse your song by rote, 
[by rote: From memory] 
        To each word a warbling note:            30
[To each . . . note: Sing each word with the same fluttering beauty of a warbling bird.]
        Hand in hand, with fairy grace,   
        Will we sing, and bless this place.  [Song and dance.   
  OBERON:  Now, until the break of day,   
        Through this house each fairy stray.   
        To the best bride-bed will we,            35
        Which by us shall blessed be;   
        And the issue there create   
        Ever shall be fortunate.   
[To the . . . blessed be: To the best marriage bed will Titania and I go. We will bless it. The children we create there shall always be fortunate.]
        So shall all the couples three   
        Ever true in loving be;            40
        And the blots of Nature’s hand   
        Shall not in their issue stand:   
[So shall . . . stand: May the three wedding couples (Theseus and Hippolyta, Lysander and Hermia, Demetrius and Helena) ever be true in their love. And may nature give them beautiful, unblemished children.]
        Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,   
        Nor mark prodigious, such as are   
        Despised in nativity,            45
        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;            50
[With this . . . peace: Let every fairy use holy field dew to bless each chamber in this palace with sweet peace.]
        Ever shall in safety rest,   
        And the owner of it blest.   
            Trip away;   
            Make no stay; 
[Trip . . . stay: Now go do your work, fairies; don't linger here.] 
        Meet me all by break of day.  [Exeunt OBERON, TITANIA, and Train.            55
  PUCK:  If we shadows [actors in this play] have offended,   
        Think but this, and all is mended,   
        That you have but slumber’d here   
        While these visions did appear.
        And this weak and idle theme,            60
        No more yielding but a dream,   
[That you . . . dream: That you simply slept here and everything you saw was merely a dream.]
        Gentles, do not reprehend [rebuke; find fault];  
        If you pardon, we will mend.   
        And, as I’m an honest Puck,   
        If we have unearned luck            65
        Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,
        We will make amends ere long;   
[If you . . . long: If you pardon us, we will make it up to you. As I am honest, we will make amends to you if we have the good fortune to escape the sharp tongue of criticism.]
        Else the Puck a liar call:   
        So, good night unto you all.   
        Give me your hands, if we be friends,            70
        And Robin shall restore amends.  [Exit.