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      A Midsummer Night’s DreamA Midsummer Night’s Dream
      Shakespeare’s SonnetsShakespeare’s Sonnets


      [1] From fairest creatures we desire increase,

      [2] That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,

      [3] But, as the riper should by time decease,

      [4] His tender heir might bear his memory.

      [5] But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,

      [6] Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,

      [7] Making a famine where abundance lies,

      [8] Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.

      [9] Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament

      [10] And only herald to the gaudy spring

      [11] Within thine own bud buriest thy content

      [12] And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding.

      [13] Pity the world, or else this glutton be—

      [14] To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

      Scene 1

      Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, and Philostrate, with others.


      (FTLN 0001) [1] Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour

      (FTLN 0002) [2] Draws on apace. Four happy days bring in

      (FTLN 0003) [3] Another moon. But, O, methinks how slow

      (FTLN 0004) [4] This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires

      (FTLN 0005) [5] Like to a stepdame or a dowager

      (FTLN 0006) [6] Long withering out a young man’s revenue.


      (FTLN 0007) [7] Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;

      (FTLN 0008) [8] Four nights will quickly dream away the time;

      (FTLN 0009) [9] And then the moon, like to a silver bow

      (FTLN 0010) [10] New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night

      (FTLN 0011) [11] Of our solemnities.


      (FTLN 0012) [12] Go, Philostrate,

      (FTLN 0013) [13] Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments.

      (FTLN 0014) [14] Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth.

      (FTLN 0015) [15] Turn melancholy forth to funerals;

      (FTLN 0016) [16] The pale companion is not for our pomp.

      Philostrate exits.

      (FTLN 0017) [17] Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword

      (FTLN 0018) [18] And won thy love doing thee injuries,

      (FTLN 0019) [19] But I will wed thee in another key,

      (FTLN 0020) [20] With pomp, with triumph, and with reveling.

      Enter Egeus and his daughter Hermia, and Lysander and Demetrius.


      (FTLN 0021) [21] Happy be Theseus, our renownèd duke!


      (FTLN 0022) [22] Thanks, good Egeus. What’s the news with thee?


      (FTLN 0023) [23] Full of vexation come I, with complaint

      (FTLN 0024) [24] Against my child, my daughter Hermia.—

      (FTLN 0025) [25] Stand forth, Demetrius.—My noble lord,

      (FTLN 0026) [26] This man hath my consent to marry her.—

      (FTLN 0027) [27] Stand forth, Lysander.—And, my gracious duke,

      (FTLN 0028) [28] This man hath bewitched the bosom of my child.—

      (FTLN 0029) [29] Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes

      (FTLN 0030) [30] And interchanged love tokens with my child.

      (FTLN 0031) [31] Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung

      (FTLN 0032) [32] With feigning voice verses of feigning love

      (FTLN 0033) [33] And stol’n the impression of her fantasy

      (FTLN 0034) [34] With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits,

      (FTLN 0035) [35] Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats—messengers

      (FTLN 0036) [36] Of strong prevailment in unhardened youth.

      (FTLN 0037) [37] With cunning hast thou filched my daughter’s heart,

      (FTLN 0038) [38] Turned her obedience (which is due to me)

      (FTLN 0039) [39] To stubborn harshness.—And, my gracious duke,

      (FTLN 0040) [40] Be it so she will not here before your Grace

      (FTLN 0041) [41] Consent to marry with Demetrius,

      (FTLN 0042) [42] I beg the ancient privilege of Athens:

      (FTLN 0043) [43] As she is mine, I may dispose of her,

      (FTLN 0044) [44] Which shall be either to this gentleman

      (FTLN 0045) [45] Or to her death, according to our law

      (FTLN 0046) [46] Immediately provided in that case.


      (FTLN 0047) [47] What say you, Hermia? Be advised, fair maid.

      (FTLN 0048) [48] To you, your father should be as a god,

      (FTLN 0049) [49] One that composed your beauties, yea, and one

      (FTLN 0050) [50] To whom you are but as a form in wax

      (FTLN 0051) [51] By him imprinted, and within his power

      (FTLN 0052) [52] To leave the figure or disfigure it.

      (FTLN 0053) [53] Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.


      (FTLN 0054) [54] So is Lysander.


      (FTLN 0055) [55] In himself he is,

      (FTLN 0056) [56] But in this kind, wanting your father’s voice,

      (FTLN 0057) [57] The other must be held the worthier.


      (FTLN 0058) [58] I would my father looked but with my eyes.


      (FTLN 0059) [59] Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.


      (FTLN 0060) [60] I do entreat your Grace to pardon me.

      (FTLN 0061) [61] I know not by what power I am made bold,

      (FTLN 0062) [62] Nor how it may concern my modesty

      (FTLN 0063) [63] In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;

      (FTLN 0064) [64] But I beseech your Grace that I may know

      (FTLN 0065) [65] The worst that may befall me in this case

      (FTLN 0066) [66] If I refuse to wed Demetrius.


      (FTLN 0067) [67] Either to die the death or to abjure

      (FTLN 0068) [68] Forever the society of men.

      (FTLN 0069) [69] Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,

      (FTLN 0070) [70] Know of your youth, examine well your blood,

      (FTLN 0071) [71] Whether (if you yield not to your father’s choice)

      (FTLN 0072) [72] You can endure the livery of a nun,

      (FTLN 0073) [73] For aye to be in shady cloister mewed,

      (FTLN 0074) [74] To live a barren sister all your life,

      (FTLN 0075) [75] Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.

      (FTLN 0076) [76] Thrice-blessèd they that master so their blood

      (FTLN 0077) [77] To undergo such maiden pilgrimage,

      (FTLN 0078) [78] But earthlier happy is the rose distilled

      (FTLN 0079) [79] Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,

      (FTLN 0080) [80] Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.


      (FTLN 0081) [81] So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,

      (FTLN 0082) [82] Ere I will yield my virgin patent up

      (FTLN 0083) [83] Unto his Lordship whose unwishèd yoke

      (FTLN 0084) [84] My soul consents not to give sovereignty.


      (FTLN 0085) [85] Take time to pause, and by the next new moon

      (FTLN 0086) [86] (The sealing day betwixt my love and me

      (FTLN 0087) [87] For everlasting bond of fellowship),

      (FTLN 0088) [88] Upon that day either prepare to die

      (FTLN 0089) [89] For disobedience to your father’s will,

      (FTLN 0090) [90] Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would,

      (FTLN 0091) [91] Or on Diana’s altar to protest

      (FTLN 0092) [92] For aye austerity and single life.


      (FTLN 0093) [93] Relent, sweet Hermia, and, Lysander, yield

      (FTLN 0094) [94] Thy crazèd title to my certain right.


      (FTLN 0095) [95] You have her father’s love, Demetrius.

      (FTLN 0096) [96] Let me have Hermia’s. Do you marry him.


      (FTLN 0097) [97] Scornful Lysander, true, he hath my love;

      (FTLN 0098) [98] And what is mine my love shall render him.

      (FTLN 0099) [99] And she is mine, and all my right of her

      (FTLN 0100) [100] I do estate unto Demetrius.

      lysander, to Theseus

      (FTLN 0101) [101] I am, my lord, as well derived as he,

      (FTLN 0102) [102] As well possessed. My love is more than his;

      (FTLN 0103) [103] My fortunes every way as fairly ranked

      (FTLN 0104) [104] (If not with vantage) as Demetrius’;

      (FTLN 0105) [105] And (which is more than all these boasts can be)

      (FTLN 0106) [106] I am beloved of beauteous Hermia.

      (FTLN 0107) [107] Why should not I then prosecute my right?

      (FTLN 0108) [108] Demetrius, I’ll avouch it to his head,

      (FTLN 0109) [109] Made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena,

      (FTLN 0110) [110] And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,

      (FTLN 0111) [111] Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,

      (FTLN 0112) [112] Upon this spotted and inconstant man.


      (FTLN 0113) [113] I must confess that I have heard so much,

      (FTLN 0114) [114] And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;

      (FTLN 0115) [115] But, being overfull of self-affairs,

      (FTLN 0116) [116] My mind did lose it.—But, Demetrius, come,

      (FTLN 0117) [117] And come, Egeus; you shall go with me.

      (FTLN 0118) [118] I have some private schooling for you both.—

      (FTLN 0119) [119] For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself

      (FTLN 0120) [120] To fit your fancies to your father’s will,

      (FTLN 0121) [121] Or else the law of Athens yields you up

      (FTLN 0122) [122] (Which by no means we may extenuate)

      (FTLN 0123) [123] To death or to a vow of single life.—

      (FTLN 0124) [124] Come, my Hippolyta. What cheer, my love?—

      (FTLN 0125) [125] Demetrius and Egeus, go along.

      (FTLN 0126) [126] I must employ you in some business

      (FTLN 0127) [127] Against our nuptial and confer with you

      (FTLN 0128) [128] Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.


      (FTLN 0129) [129] With duty and desire we follow you.

      All but Hermia and Lysander exit.


      (FTLN 0130) [130] How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale?

      (FTLN 0131) [131] How chance the roses there do fade so fast?


      (FTLN 0132) [132] Belike for want of rain, which I could well

      (FTLN 0133) [133] Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.


      (FTLN 0134) [134] Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,

      (FTLN 0135) [135] Could ever hear by tale or history,

      (FTLN 0136) [136] The course of true love never did run smooth.

      (FTLN 0137) [137] But either it was different in blood—


      (FTLN 0138) [138] O cross! Too high to be enthralled to low.


      (FTLN 0139) [139] Or else misgraffèd in respect of years—


      (FTLN 0140) [140] O spite! Too old to be engaged to young.


      (FTLN 0141) [141] Or else it stood upon the choice of friends—


      (FTLN 0142) [142] O hell, to choose love by another’s eyes!


      (FTLN 0143) [143] Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,

      (FTLN 0144) [144] War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,

      (FTLN 0145) [145] Making it momentany as a sound,

      (FTLN 0146) [146] Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,

      (FTLN 0147) [147] Brief as the lightning in the collied night,

      (FTLN 0148) [148] That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and Earth,

      (FTLN 0149) [149] And, ere a man hath power to say “Behold!”

      (FTLN 0150) [150] The jaws of darkness do devour it up.

      (FTLN 0151) [151] So quick bright things come to confusion.


      (FTLN 0152) [152] If then true lovers have been ever crossed,

      (FTLN 0153) [153] It stands as an edict in destiny.

      (FTLN 0154) [154] Then let us teach our trial patience

      (FTLN 0155) [155] Because it is a customary cross,

      (FTLN 0156) [156] As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,

      (FTLN 0157) [157] Wishes and tears, poor fancy’s followers.


      (FTLN 0158) [158] A good persuasion. Therefore, hear me, Hermia:

      (FTLN 0159) [159] I have a widow aunt, a dowager

      (FTLN 0160) [160] Of great revenue, and she hath no child.

      (FTLN 0161) [161] From Athens is her house remote seven leagues,

      (FTLN 0162) [162] And she respects me as her only son.

      (FTLN 0163) [163] There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;

      (FTLN 0164) [164] And to that place the sharp Athenian law

      (FTLN 0165) [165] Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me, then

      (FTLN 0166) [166] Steal forth thy father’s house tomorrow night,

      (FTLN 0167) [167] And in the wood a league without the town

      (FTLN 0168) [168] (Where I did meet thee once with Helena

      (FTLN 0169) [169] To do observance to a morn of May),

      (FTLN 0170) [170] There will I stay for thee.


      (FTLN 0171) [171] My good Lysander,

      (FTLN 0172) [172] I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow,

      (FTLN 0173) [173] By his best arrow with the golden head,

      (FTLN 0174) [174] By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,

      (FTLN 0175) [175] By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,

      (FTLN 0176) [176] And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen

      (FTLN 0177) [177] When the false Trojan under sail was seen,

      (FTLN 0178) [178] By all the vows that ever men have broke

      (FTLN 0179) [179] (In number more than ever women spoke),

      (FTLN 0180) [180] In that same place thou hast appointed me,

      (FTLN 0181) [181] Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee.


      (FTLN 0182) [182] Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.

      Enter Helena.


      (FTLN 0183) [183] Godspeed, fair Helena. Whither away?


      (FTLN 0184) [184] Call you me “fair”? That “fair” again unsay.

      (FTLN 0185) [185] Demetrius loves your fair. O happy fair!

      (FTLN 0186) [186] Your eyes are lodestars and your tongue’s sweet air

      (FTLN 0187) [187] More tunable than lark to shepherd’s ear

      (FTLN 0188) [188] When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.

      (FTLN 0189) [189] Sickness is catching. O, were favor so!

      (FTLN 0190) [190] Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go.

      (FTLN 0191) [191] My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye;

      (FTLN 0192) [192] My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet

      (FTLN 0193) [193] melody.

      (FTLN 0194) [194] Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,

      (FTLN 0195) [195] The rest I’d give to be to you translated.

      (FTLN 0196) [196] O, teach me how you look and with what art

      (FTLN 0197) [197] You sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart!


      (FTLN 0198) [198] I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.


      (FTLN 0199) [199] O, that your frowns would teach my smiles such

      (FTLN 0200) [200] skill!


      (FTLN 0201) [201] I give him curses, yet he gives me love.


      (FTLN 0202) [202] O, that my prayers could such affection move!


      (FTLN 0203) [203] The more I hate, the more he follows me.


      (FTLN 0204) [204] The more I love, the more he hateth me.


      (FTLN 0205) [205] His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.


      (FTLN 0206) [206] None but your beauty. Would that fault were mine!


      (FTLN 0207) [207] Take comfort: he no more shall see my face.

      (FTLN 0208) [208] Lysander and myself will fly this place.

      (FTLN 0209) [209] Before the time I did Lysander see

      (FTLN 0210) [210] Seemed Athens as a paradise to me.

      (FTLN 0211) [211] O, then, what graces in my love do dwell

      (FTLN 0212) [212] That he hath turned a heaven unto a hell!


      (FTLN 0213) [213] Helen, to you our minds we will unfold.

      (FTLN 0214) [214] Tomorrow night when Phoebe doth behold

      (FTLN 0215) [215] Her silver visage in the wat’ry glass,

      (FTLN 0216) [216] Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass

      (FTLN 0217) [217] (A time that lovers’ flights doth still conceal),

      (FTLN 0218) [218] Through Athens’ gates have we devised to steal.


      (FTLN 0219) [219] And in the wood where often you and I

      (FTLN 0220) [220] Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,

      (FTLN 0221) [221] Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,

      (FTLN 0222) [222] There my Lysander and myself shall meet

      (FTLN 0223) [223] And thence from Athens turn away our eyes

      (FTLN 0224) [224] To seek new friends and stranger companies.

      (FTLN 0225) [225] Farewell, sweet playfellow. Pray thou for us,

      (FTLN 0226) [226] And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius.—

      (FTLN 0227) [227] Keep word, Lysander. We must starve our sight

      (FTLN 0228) [228] From lovers’ food till morrow deep midnight.


      (FTLN 0229) [229] I will, my Hermia.

      Hermia exits.

      (FTLN 0230) [230] Helena, adieu.

      (FTLN 0231) [231] As you on him, Demetrius dote on you!

      Lysander exits.


      (FTLN 0232) [232] How happy some o’er other some can be!

      (FTLN 0233) [233] Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.

      (FTLN 0234) [234] But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so.

      (FTLN 0235) [235] He will not know what all but he do know.

      (FTLN 0236) [236] And, as he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes,

      (FTLN 0237) [237] So I, admiring of his qualities.

      (FTLN 0238) [238] Things base and vile, holding no quantity,

      (FTLN 0239) [239] Love can transpose to form and dignity.

      (FTLN 0240) [240] Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind;

      (FTLN 0241) [241] And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

      (FTLN 0242) [242] Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgment taste.

      (FTLN 0243) [243] Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste.

      (FTLN 0244) [244] And therefore is Love said to be a child

      (FTLN 0245) [245] Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.

      (FTLN 0246) [246] As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,

      (FTLN 0247) [247] So the boy Love is perjured everywhere.

      (FTLN 0248) [248] For, ere Demetrius looked on Hermia’s eyne,

      (FTLN 0249) [249] He hailed down oaths that he was only mine;

      (FTLN 0250) [250] And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,

      (FTLN 0251) [251] So he dissolved, and show’rs of oaths did melt.

      (FTLN 0252) [252] I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight.

      (FTLN 0253) [253] Then to the wood will he tomorrow night

      (FTLN 0254) [254] Pursue her. And, for this intelligence

      (FTLN 0255) [255] If I have thanks, it is a dear expense.

      (FTLN 0256) [256] But herein mean I to enrich my pain,

      (FTLN 0257) [257] To have his sight thither and back again.

      She exits.