Libretto dell'opera



A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Benjamin Britten


per soli fini informativi

Oberon, King of Fairies Counter-tenor
Tytania, Queen of Fairies Coluratura Soprao
Puck Speaking Role
Lysander Tenor
Demetrius Baritone
Hermia Mezzo-soprano
Helena Soprano
Bottom, a weaver Bass-baritone
Quince, a carpenter Bass
Flute, a bellows-mender Tenor
Snug, a joiner Bass
Snout, a tinker Tenor
Starveling, a tailor Baritone
Theseus, Duke of Athens Bass
Hippolyta, Queen of Athens Contralto

Enter fairies, first group with Cobweb and Mustardseed.
FAIRY GROUP 1: Over hill, over dale, thorough brush, thorough briar, over park, over pale, thorough flood,
thorough fire. We do wander everywhere.
Second group of fairies enters with Peaseblossom and Moth.
FAIRY GROUP 2: Over hill, over dale, thorough brush, thorough briar, over park, over pale, thorough flood,
thorough fire. We do wander everywhere.
FAIRY GROUP 1: Swifter than the Moone’s sphere; and we serve the Fairy Queen, to dew her orbs upon
the green.
SOLO FAIRIES: Cowslips tall, her pensioners be, in their gold coats, spots you see. Those be rubies,
fairy favours, in those freckles live their savours.
ALL FAIRIES: We must go seek some dew-drops here, and hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Puck appears suddenly. The fairies scatter to the side
PUCK: How now, spirits?
ALL FAIRIES: Or I mistake your shape and making quite, or are you not that shrewd and knavish
sprite call’d Robin Goodfellow? Are you not he, that frights the maidens of the villagery,
skim milk and sometimes labour in the quern, and bootless make the breathless
huswife churn? And sometime make the drink to bear no barm, mislead night
wanderers, laughing at their harm? You do the work and they shall have good luck,
They that Hobgoblin call you, and Sweet Puck!
PUCK: But room fairies, here comes Oberon.
ALL FAIRIES: And here our mistress:
COBWEB: Would that he were gone.
Enter slowly Oberon and Tytania, with her train, from opposite sides.
ALL FAIRIES: Oberon is passing fell and wrath, because that she, as her attendant, hath a lovely boy
stolen from an Indian king. And jealous Oberon would have the child.
OBERON: Ill met by moonlight, proud Tytania.
TYTANIA: Ill met by moonlight, jealous Oberon. Fairies, skip hence, skip hence, I have forsworn
his bead and company.
All the fairies hide.
OBERON: Therefore the winds, the winds have suck’d up from the sea contagious fogs.

TYTANIA: Therefore the ox hath stretched his yoke in vain.
OBERON: The fold stands empty in the drowned fields.
TYTANIA: The crows are fatted with the murrion flock.
BOTH: The seasons alter; the seasons alter:
OBERON: The spring…
TYTANIA: The summer…
OBERON: The childing autumn…
TYTANIA: The angry winter…
BOTH: And the ‘mazéd world, by their increase, now know not which is which. And this same
progeny of evils comes from our debate, from our dissention. We are their parents and
original. We are.
OBERON: Do you amend it then, it lies in you; I do but beg a little changeling boy to be my
TYTANIA: Set your heart at rest. The fairy land buys not the child of me. His mother was a votress
of my Order, but she being mortal of that boy did die. And for her sake I will not part
with him. Not for thy Fairy kingdom.
OBERON: Give me that boy and I will go with thee. Go!
TYTANIA: Fairies away, away, away, away!
Exit Tytania and Fairies.
OBERON: Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove, till I torment thee for this injury. My
gentle Puck come hither, come hither;
Puck approaches Oberon
Thou rememb’rest the herb I shew’d thee once, the juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid,
will make or man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees, (be
it on Lion, Bear, or Wolf, or Bull on meddling Monkey or on busy Ape.) Fetch me this
herb, and be thou here again ere the leviathan can swim a league.
PUCK: I’ll put a girdle round about the earth, in forty minutes.
He flies off.
OBERON: Having once this juice, I’ll watch Tytania, when she is asleep, and drop the liquor of it in
here eyes: And ere I take this charm from off her sight I’ll make her render up her page
to me.
Oberon disappears and the wood is left empty.

Enter Lysander and Hermia, separately, and meeting.
LYSANDER: How now my love? Why is your cheek so pale? How chance the roses there do fade
so fast?
HERMIA: Belike for want of rain, which I could well beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.
LYSANDER: Ay me, ay me: for aught that I could ever read, could ever hear by tale or history, the
course of true love never did run smooth, but either it was different in blood, O cross!
HERMIA: O cross! Too high to be enthrall’d to low.
LYSANDER: Or else misgraffed in respect of years: O spite!
HERMIA: O spite! Too old to be engag’d to young.
LYSANDER: Or else it stood upon the choice of friends. O hell!
HERMIA: To choose love by another’s eyes. If then true lovers ever have been cross’d…
LYSANDER: If then true lovers have been cross’d, true lovers have been ever cross’d…
BOTH: …it stands as an edict in destiny.
HERMIA: Then let us teach our trial patience.
LYSANDER: A good persuasion; therefore hear me Hermia. I have a widow aunt, a dowager, of
great revenew, and she hath no child. From Athens is her house remote seven leagues.
And she respects me as her only son: There gentle Hermia, may I marry thee. And to
that place, the sharp Athenian Law (compelling thee to marry with Demetrius) cannot
pursue us. If thou lov’st me, then there will I go with thee.
HERMIA: My good Lysander, (if thou lov’st me) I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow.
LYSANDER: I swear to thee, by this best arrow with the golden head.
HERMIA: I swear to thee, by the simplicity of Venus’ doves.
LYSANDER: I swear to thee, by that which knitteth souls, and prospers loves.
HERMIA: I swear to thee, and by that fire which burn’d…
LYSANDER: …the Carthage Queen…
HERMIA: …When the false Troyan under sail was seen…
BOTH: I swear to thee.
HERMIA: By all the vows that ever men have broke…
LYSANDER: In number more than ever woman spoke…
HERMIA: I swear to thee… I swear.
LYSANDER: I swear to thee… I swear.
They slowly go out.
The wood is empty. Oberon appears.
OBERON: (Be it on Lion, Bear or Wolf or Bull, On meddling Monkey or busy Ape…) But who
comes here? I am invisible I will overhear their conference.
Enter Demetrius.
DEMETRIUS: I love thee not therefore pursue me not.
Enter Helena, pursuing him.
Where is Lysander, and fair Hermia? The one I’ll slay, the other slayeth me. Thou
told’st me they were stol’n unto this wood. And here am I, and wode within this wood,
because I cannot meet my Hermia. Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more.
HELENA: [panting] You draw me, you hard-hearted… adamant. Leave you your… power to draw.
And I shall have no… power to 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: Even for… that do I… love you the… more; 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 thee.
DEMETRIUS: Tempt not too much the hatred of my sprite for I am sick when I do look on thee.
HELENA: And I am sick when I look not on thee.
DEMETRIUS: I’ll run from thee and hid me in the brakes, and leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.
He goes out.
HELENA: I’ll follow you… and make a… heav’n of hell…
Running out.
To die upon the hand I love so well.
OBERON: Fare the well, Nymph, fare thee well, ere he do leave this grove, thou shalt fly him and
he shall seek thy love.
Puck flies in.
OBERON: Welcome wanderer! Hast thou the flower there?
Puck gives Oberon the flower and lies at his feet.
I know a bank where the wild time blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Tytania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed 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.
Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove:
A sweet Athenian lady is in love
With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes;
But do it when the next thing he espies
May be the lady: thou shalt know the man
By the Athenian garments he hath on.
The wood is left empty. The six rustics enter cautiously.
QUINCE: Is all our company here?
BOTTOM: Ay. You were best to call them generally man by man according to the script.
FLUTE: First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on.
QUINCE: Marry, our play is the most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and
ALL BUT BOTTOM: Of Pyramus and Thisby.
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.
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 gallant for love.
BOTTOM: My chief humor is for a tyrant. I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to

make all split:
The raging rocks and shivering shocks shall break the locks of prison gates. And
Phibbus’ car shall shine from faraAnd make and mar the foolish Fates.
This was lofty!—now name the rest of the players. This is Ercles’ vein, a tyrant’s vein. A
lover is more condoling.
QUINCE: Francis Flute, bellows-mender.
FLUTE: Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE: Flute, you must take Thisby on you.
FLUTE: What is Thisby? A wand’ring knight?
QUINCE: It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
FLUTE: Nay, faith, let me not play a woman, I have a beard coming.
QUINCE: That’s all one, you shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.
BOTTOM: And I may hid my face, let me play Thisby, too. I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice:
“Thisby, Thisby,” [falsetto] “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.
FLUTE: [practicing to himself, overlapping] (Ah Pyramus my lover dear, thy Thisby dear; and…
Ah Pyramus my lover dear, thy Thisby dear; and lady…)
QUINCE: Robin Starveling the Tailor.
STARVELING: Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE: Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby’s mother. Tom Snout, the Tinker.
SNOUT: Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE: You, Pyramus’ father; myself, Thisby’s father. Snug the joiner, 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.
QUINCE: You may do it extempore, 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.”
FLUTE: And 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 BUT BOTTOM: That would hang us, every mother’s son.

BOTTOM: But I will aggravate my voice so, that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will
roar you and t’wer any nightingale.
QUINCE: You can play no part but Pyramus, for Pyramus is a sweet fac’d man, a proper man, a
most lovely gentleman like man, therefore you must needs play Pyramus.
BOTTOM: Well, I will undertake it.
General satisfaction.
QUINCE: But masters, here are your parts, and I am to entreat you, request you, and desire you,
to con them by tonight; here will we rehearse anon.
BOTTOM: We will meet and here we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously. Take pains,
be perfect, adieu.
ALL: Adieu.
QUINCE: At the Duke’s oak we meet.
They go off. The wood is left empty. Enter Lysander and Hermia.
LYSANDER: Fair love, you faint with wandering in the wood. And to speak troth I have forgot our
way. We’ll rest us Hermia, if you think it good, and tarry for the comfort of the day.
HERMIA: Be it so Lysander, find you out a bed, 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
HERMIA: Nay good Lysander, for my sake my dear, lie further off yet do not lie so near. So far be
distant and good night sweet friend. Thy love ne’er alter, till thy sweet life end.
BOTH: Amen, amen to that fair prayer, say I. And then end life, when I end loyalty.
They go to sleep. Enter Puck.
PUCK: Through the forest have I gone.
But Athenian found I none,
On whose eyes I might approve
This flower’s force in stirring love.
Puck hunts about.
Night and silence.
He discovers Lysander.
Who is here?
Weeds of Athens he doth wear:
This is he, (my master said),
Despised the Athenian maid;

He squeezes the juice on Lysander’s eyes.
Churl, upon thy eyes I throw
All the power this charm doth owe.
So awake when I am gone;
For I must now to Oberon.
Exit Puck.
HERMIA: [in her sleep] Amen, amen to that fair prayer say I.
HELENA: [approaching] Stay, tho’ thou kill me, sweet Demetrius.
DEMETRIUS: [running in] I charge thee hence, and do not haunt me thus.
HELENA: [following Demetrius] O wilt thou darkling leave me? Do not so.
DEMETRIUS: [running out] Stay on thy peril, I alone will go.
HELENA: O I am out of breath, in this fond chase. [sinking, exhausted]. The more my… prayer,
the lesser is my grace. Happy is Hermia, wheresoe’er she lies; for she hath blessed
and attractive eyes. Happy is Hermia. Alas, alas. I am as ugly as a bear; for beasts that
meet me, run away for fear. [She sees Lysander.]
But who is here? Lysander on the ground; dead or asleep? I see no blood, no wound.
Lysander, if you live good sire awake.
LYSANDER: [awakes] And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake. Transparent Helena, Nature
shows her art that through thy bosom makes me see thy heart. Where is Demetrius?
Oh how fit a word is that vile name, to perish on my sword!
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.
LYSANDER: Content with Hermia? No, I do repent the tedious minutes I with her have spent. Not
Hermia but Helena I love. Who will not change a raven for a dove?
HELENA: Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born? When at your hands did I deserve this
scorn? Good troth you do me wrong (good sooth you do) in such disdainful manner,
me to woo. But fare you well; perforce I must confess I thought you Lord of more true
gentleness. [Running out]
LYSANDER: She sees not Hermia: Hermia sleep thou there and never mayst thou come Lysander
near; sleep thou there and all my powers address your love and might, to honour Helen
and to be her knight. [running out]
Hermia wakes up.
HERMIA: Lysander, help me, Lysander! What a dream was here!
Lysander, look, Lysander how I do quake with fear:
Methought a serpent eat my heart away,
And you sat smiling at his cruel pray. [Looking around]
Lysander! what, removed? Lysander! lord!
What, out of hearing, gone? No sound, no word?
Alack, where are you speak, and if you hear;
Speak, of all loves! I swoon almost with fear.
Lysander, Lord! [going off, dying away]
TYTANIA: [Distant] Come, come now a roundel and a fairy song;
Then, for the third part of a minute, hence;
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds,
Some war with rere-mice for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves coats, [entering with Cobweb, blossom, Mustardseed, Moth,
and Fairies] and some keep back
The clamorous owl that nightly hoots and wonders, wonders,
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep;
Then to your offices and let me rest. Sing me now asleep…
She lies down with the Fairies around her.
SOLO FAIRIES: You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,
Come not near our Fairy Queen.
Philomel, Philomel with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby,
ALL FAIRIES: Lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Never harm,
Nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night, with lullaby.
SOLO FAIRIES: Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legg’d spinners, hence!
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail, do no offence.
Philomel, Philomel with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby,
ALL FAIRIES: Lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Never harm,
Nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night, with lullaby.
COBWEWB: [whispered] Hence away, now all is well; one aloof stand sentinel.
The fairies, except one standing sentry, slip out. Oberon appears. He squeezes the juice onto Tytania’s eyes.
OBERON: What thou seest when thou dost wake,
Do it for thy true-love take,
Love and languish for his sake:
Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
In thy eye that shall appear
When thou wakest, it is thy dear:
Wake when some vile thing is near.
Oberon slowly disappears and the lights fade on the sleeping Tytania. Curtain.
ACT II: The Wood
Tytania lying asleep. Enter the six rustics.
BOTTOM: Are we all met?
SNUG, STARVELING: Pat, Pat, pat.
QUINCE: And here’s a marvelous convenient place for our rehearsal.
ALL: For our rehearsal
BOTTOM: Peter Quince?
QUINCE: What sayest 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?
ALL: By’r lakin, a parlous fear.
FLUTE: 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; tell them that I, Pyramus, am not
Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver: this will put them
out of fear.

SNUG: Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?
ALL: The lion.
FLUTE: I fear it, I promise you.
BOTTOM: Therefore another prologue must tell them plainly he is not a lion, but Snug the joiner.
QUINCE: But there is two hard things;
that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber; for,
you know, Pyramus and Thisby meet by moonlight.
STARVELING: Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?
BOTTOM: A calendar, a calendar! look in the almanac; find
out moonshine, find out moonshine.
ALL: Moonshine, moonshine…
BOTTOM: Or else one must come in with a bush of thorns
and a lanthorn, and say he comes to disfigure, or to
present, the person of Moonshine.
ALL: Moonshine, moonshine…
QUINCE: Then, there is another thing: we must have a wall in the great
SNOUT: You can never bring in a wall.
ALL: What say you, Bottom?
BOTTOM: Some man or other must present Wall: and let him hold his
fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus
and Thisby whisper.
ALL: Then all is well.
QUINCE: Come, sit down, every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts, ev’ry man according to
his cue. Pyramus, you begin:
Puck flies in.
PUCK: What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here,
So near the cradle of the fairy queen?
QUINCE: Speak, Pyramus: Thisby, stand forth.
BOTTOM: Thisby, the flowers of odious savours sweet…
QUINCE: Odours, odours…
BOTTOM: …odours savours sweet:
So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisby dear.
But hark, a voice! stay thou but here awhile,
And by and by I will to thee appear.
Exit Bottom.
PUCK: I’ll follow you. I’ll lead you about around.
He follows Bottom. Flute comes nervously forward.
FLUTE: Must I speak now?
QUINCE: Ay, marry, must you; for you must understand he goes
but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again.
FLUTE: Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier,
Most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew,
As true as truest horse that yet would never tire,
I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb.
QUINCE: 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, Thisby, I were only thine.
ALL: O monstrous! O strange! we are haunted. Pray,
masters! fly, masters! Help!
Exeunt Quince, Snug, Flute, Snout, and Starveling.
BOTTOM: Why do they run away? This is a knavery of them to
make me afeard.
Flute re-appears.
FLUTE: O Bottom, Bottom, thou art changed, changed! What do I see on thee?
Exit Flute.
BOTTOM: What do you see? You see an asshead of your own, do
The rustics reappear from behind the trees.
ALL: Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated.
They disappear.

BOTTOM: I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me;
to fright me, if they could, if they could. But I will not stir
from this place, and I will sing, that they shall hear
I am not afraid. “The woo-sell cock so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill,
The throstle with his note so true,
The wren with little quill.”
TYTANIA: [Awaking] What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?
BOTTOM: The finch, the sparrow and the lark,
The plain-song cuckoo gray,
Whose note full many a man doth mark,
And dares not answer nay…
TYTANIA: I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again:
Mine ear is much enamour’d of thy note;
So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape;
Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.
BOTTOM: Not so, neither: but if I had wit enough to get out
of this wood…
TYTANIA: Out of this wood do not desire to go:
Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no.
I am a spirit of no common rate;
I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee.
Peaseblossom! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustardseed!
Enter Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed.
MOTH : And I.
SOLO FAIRIES: Where shall we go?
TYTANIA: Be kind and courteous to this gentleman;
Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes;
Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees,
And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs
And light them at the fiery glow-worm’s eyes,
To have my love to bed and to arise;
And pluck the wings from Painted butterflies
To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes:
Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.
SOLO FAIRIES: Hail, hail, hail Mortal, hail hail.
BOTTOM: I cry your worship’s mercy, heartily: I beseech your
worship’s name.
COBWEB: Cobweb. Hail mortal, hail, hail.
BOTTOM: I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good Master
Cobweb. Your name, honest gentleman?
PEASEBLOSSOM: Peaseblossom. Hail mortal, hail, hail.
BOTTOM: I pray you, commend me to Mistress Squash, your
mother, and to Master Peascod, your father. Your name, I beseech you, sir?
MUSTARDSEED: Mustardseed. Hail mortal, hail, hail.
BOTTOM: Your kindred had made my eyes water ere now. I
desire your more acquaintance. Your name sir?
Moth comes forward.
TYTANIA: Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,wWhile I thy amiable cheeks do coy, and
stick musk roses in thy sleek smooth head, and kiss thy fair large ears, thy fair large
ears, my gentle joy.

BOTTOM: [Yawning] But I pray you, let none of your people stir me: I have an exposition of sleep
come upon me.
TYTANIA: Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms. Fairies be gone, and be all ways away.
The fairies disappear.
So doth the woodbine, the sweet honeysuckle gently, gently entwist; the female ivy so
enrings the barky fingers of the elm. O how I love thee! O how I dote on thee!
They sleep and it grows dark. Enter Puck. Enter Oberon.
OBERON: How now mad sipirt. What night-rule now about this haunted grove?
PUCK: See, see, my Mistress with a monster is in love.
OBERON: This falls out better than I could devise. But hast thou yet latch’d the Athenian’s eyes
with a love juice, as I did bid thee do? Stand close: This is the same Athenian.

Enter Demetrius and Hermia.
PUCK: This is the woman, but not this the man.
Oberon and Puck listen.
DEMETRIUS: O, why rebuke you him that loves you so?
HERMIA: If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep, plunge in the deep,
And kill me too. Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?
DEMETRIUS: I had rather give his carcass to my hounds.
HERMIA: Out, dog! out, cur! Hast thou slain him, then?
DEMETRIUS: I am not guilty of Lysander’s blood.
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:
See me no more, whether he be dead or no.
Exit Hermia.
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. [Lies down]
OBERON: What hast thou done? Thou hast mistaken quite
And laid the love-juice on some true-love’s sight: About the wood go swifter than the
wind, And Helena of Athens look thou find.
PUCK: I go, I go; look how I go, swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow.
Puck flies off.
OBERON: [Squeezing the flower onto Demetrius’ eyes] Flower of this purple dye, hit with Cupid’s
archery, sink in apple of his eye. When his love he doth espy, let her shine as gloriously
as the Venus of the sky. When thou wakest, if she be by, beg of her for remedy.
Puck flies in.
PUCK: Captain of our fairy band, Helena is here at hand;
And the youth, mistook by me, shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!
Enter Lysander and Helena. Oberon and Puck stand aside.
LYSANDER: Why should you think that I should woo in scorn?
HELENA: These vows are Hermia’s: will you give her o’er?
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 awakes.
DEMETRIUS: O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!
To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?
Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!
That pure congealed white, high Taurus snow,
Fann’d with the eastern wind, turns to a crow
When thou hold’st up thy hand: O, let me kiss
This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!
HELENA: O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
To set against me for your merriment:
LYSANDER: You are unkind, Demetrius, be not so;
For you love Hermia; this you know I know.
DEMETRIUS Look, where thy love comes; yonder is thy dear.
Re-enter Hermia.
HERMIA: Ah Lysander. why unkindly didst thou leave me so?
HELENA: Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!
Have you conspired, have you with these contrived
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters’ vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us…O, is it all forgot?
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
It is not friendly, ‘tis not maidenly:

HERMIA: I am amazed at your passionate words.
I scorn you not: it seems that you scorn me.
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.
But fare ye well: ‘tis partly my own fault;
Which death or absence soon shall remedy.
LYSANDER: Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse:
My love, my life my soul, fair Helena!
HELENA: O excellent!
HERMIA: Sweet, do not scorn her so.
DEMETRIUS : If she cannot entreat, I can compel.
LYSANDER: Thou canst compel no more than she entreat:
DEMETRIUS: I say I love her more than you can do.
LYSANDER: If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.
DEMETRIUS: Quick, come!
HERMIA: Lysander, whereto tends all this?
LYSANDER: Away, you Ethiope!
DEMETRIUS: No, no sir, seem to break loose. You are a tame man, go! Seem to break loose, take on
as you would follow.
LYSANDER: 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…
LYSANDER: Thy love! out, tawny Tartar, out!
Out, loathed medicine! hated potion, hence!
HERMIA: Do you not jest?
HELENA: Yes, sooth; and so do you.
LYSANDER: Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
DEMETRIUS: I would I had your bond, for 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?
Am not I Hermia? are not you Lysander?
DEMETRIUS: Lysander keep thy Hermia. If e’er I lov’d her all that love is gone.
LYSANDER: Ay, by my life; be certain ‘tis no jest.
That I do hate thee and love Helena.
HERMIA: O me! you juggler! you canker-blossom!
You thief of love!
HELENA: Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet, you!
HERMIA: Puppet? why so? ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures; she hath urged 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;
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.
HELENA: I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me: You perhaps may think,
Because she is something lower than myself,
That I can match her.
HERMIA: Lower? Lower? hark, again!
HELENA: O, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd!
She was a vixen—a vixen—when she went to school;
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
HERMIA: ‘Little’ again! nothing but ‘low’ and ‘little’!
HELENA: Get you gone, you dwarf; You minimus, of hindering knot-grass made; You bead, you
HERMIA: Hark again. Why will you surer her to flout me thus? Hark again, Let me come to her!
LYSANDER: Be not afraid, she shall not harm thee, Helena.
DEMETRIUS: No sir, she shall not, though you take her part.
LYSANDER: You are too officious In her behalf that scorns your services.
DEMETRIUS: Let her alone: speak not of Helena.
LYSANDER: Now follow, if thou darest.
DEMETRIUS: I’ll go with thee, cheek by jowl.
BOTH MEN: To try whose right, of thine or mine, is most in Helena.
Exeunt Lysander and Demetrius.
BOTH WOMEN: You, mistress, all this coil is ‘long of you.
HERMIA: Nay, go not back.
HELENA: I will not trust you, I…
BOTH WOMEN: Nor longer stay in your curst company.
HELENA: Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray,
My legs are longer though, to run away.
Helena goes out followed by Hermia.
Oberon comes forward in a rage, dragging Puck.
OBERON: This is thy negligence: still thou mistakest,
Or else committ’st thy knaveries wilfully.
PUCK: Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook. [Oberon shakes him]
OBERON: Thou see’st these lovers seek a place to fight:
Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night;
And lead these testy rivals so astray
As one come not within another’s way.
Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep, sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep:
Then crush this herb into Lysander’s eye;
When they next wake, all this derision
Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision.
Haste, Robin, haste; make no delay:
We may effect this business yet ere day.
Oberon vanishes. It becomes misty.
PUCK: Up and down, up and down, I will lead them up and down:
I am fear’d in field and town: Goblin, lead them up and down.
Here comes one.
Re-enter Lysander.
LYSANDER: Where art thou, proud Demetrius? speak thou now.
PUCK: [imitating Demetrius] Here, villain; drawn and ready. Where art thou? [In his own voice]
Follow me, then, to plainer ground.
DEMETRIUS: [calling] Lysander! speak again: Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?
PUCK: [Imitating Lysander] Art bragging to the stars, and wilt not come?
DEMETRIUS: Yes, art thou there?
PUCK: [In his own voice] Follow my voice: we’ll try no manhood here.
Exit Puck. Enter Lysander.
LYSANDER: He goes before me and still dares me on:
PUCK: [Distant, in Demetrius’ voice] Lysander
LYSANDER: When I come where he calls, then he is gone. And I am fallen in dark uneven way, And
here will rest me. [Lies down] Come, thou gentle day! For if but once thou show me thy
grey light, I’ll find Demetrius and revenge this spite.
Lysander sleeps. Re-enter Puck and Demetrius.
PUCK: Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why comest thou not?
DEMETRIUS: Abide me, if thou darest; Where art thou now?
PUCK: [Exit, distant, imitating Lysander] Come hither: I am here.
DEMETRIUS: Nay, then, thou mock’st me. Thou shalt buy this dear,
If ever I thy face by daylight see. Now, go thy way. Faintness constraineth me to
measure out my length on this cold bed.
By day’s approach look to be visited.
Demetrius lies down and sleeps. Re-enter Puck followed by Helena.
HELENA : O weary night, O long and tedious night,
Abate thy hour! Shine comforts from the east,
And sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow’s eye,
Steal me awhile from mine own company.
She sleeps. Hermia enters and sleeps. The fairies come in very stealthily.
FAIRIES: On the ground sleep sound: He’ll apply to your eye,
Gentle lover, remedy. When thou wakest,
Thou takest true delight In the sight
Of thy former lady’s eye: And the country proverb known, in your waking shall be
shown: Jack shall have Jill;
Nought shall go ill; the man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.
Exeunt Fairies. Puck squeezes the juice on Lysander’s eyes and goes out. Curtain.

Early next morning. Tytania with Bottom, and the four lovers lying asleep.
Puck and Oberon appear.
OBERON: [Observing Tytania] My gentle Robin; see’st thou this sweet sight? Her dotage now I do
begin to pity:
And now I have the boy, I will undo
This hateful imperfection of her eyes: Be as thou wast wont to be; see as thou wast
wont to see: Dian’s bud o’er Cupid’s flower
Hath such force and blessed power. Now, my Tytania; wake you, my sweet queen.
TYTANIA: [Wakes] My Oberon! what visions have I seen!
Methought I was enamour’d of an ass.
OBERON: There lies your love.
TYTANIA: How came these things to pass?
O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now!
OBERON: Silence awhile. Robin, take off this head. Tytania music call; and strike more dead than
common sleep of all these five the sense.
TYTANIA: Music, ho! music, such as charmeth sleep!
Enter some fairies.
OBERON: Sound, music! Come, my queen, take hands with me. [They dance]
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.
Now thou and I are new in amity,
And will to-morrow midnight solemnly
Dance in Duke Theseus’ house triumphantly,
And bless it to all fair prosperity:
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, Tytania, and the Fairies disappear, still dancing.
DEMETRIUS: [Waking] Helena!
HELENA: Demetrius!
HERMIA: Lysander!
ALL: We are awake.
HELENA: And so I have found Demetrius, like a jewel, mine own and not mine own.
DEMETRIUS: And I have found fair Helen, like a jewel, mine own and not mine own.
HERMIA: And I have found Lysander, like a jewel, mine own and not mine own.
LYSANDER: And I have found sweet Hermia, like a jewel, mine own and not mine own.
ALL: Why then we are awake; let’s go and by the way, let us recount our dreams.
They go, the last lines sung offstage. Bottom slowly wakes.
BOTTOM: When my cue comes, call me, and I will
answer: my next is, ‘Most fair Pyramus.’ Heigh-ho!
Peter Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout,
the tinker! Starveling! [He hunts around] God’s my life, stolen
hence, and left me asleep! I have had a most rare
vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to
say: Methought I was—there is no man can tell what. Methought I was …and
methought I had… but man is but an ass, if he can 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.
By now the lights are up in Theseus’ Palace, Theseus and Hippolyta enter with their court.
THESEUS: Now fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour draws on apace: this happy ay brings in another
moon: but oh, methinks, how slow this old moon wanes; she lingers my desires like to a
step dame or a dowager, long withering out a young man’s revenewe.
HIPPOLYTA: This day will quickly steep itself in night, This night will quickly dream away the time:
And then the Moon like to a silver bow Now bent in heaven, shall behold the night Of
our solemnities.
THESEUS: Hippolyta, I woo’d thee with my sword and won thy love doing thee injuries: But I wed
thee in another key, With pomp with triumph, and with reveling.

Enter Helena, Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius.

THESEUS: Come now, what masques, what dances shall we have, to while away this long age of
three hours, Between our after supper and bedtime.
Enter Quince with playbill. He hands it to Hippolyta and bows.
HIPPOLYTA: A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus and his love Thisby; very tragical mirth.
DEMETRIUS: Merry and tragical? Tedius and brief?
LYSANDER: That is hot ice, and wonderous strange snow.
THESEUS: What are they that do play it?
HIPPOLYTA: Hard handed men that work in Athens here, Which never labour’d in their minds till
THESEUS: I will hear that play.
Exit Quince.
For never anything can be amiss when simpleness and duty tender it. Take your places,
Enter the prologue (all Rustics). Theseus, Hippolyta, and the Court take their places.
ALL RUSTICS: If we offend, it is with our good will. That you should think we come not to offend, but
with good will. To show our simple skill, That is the true beginning of our end. Consider
then, we come but in despite. We do not come, as minding to 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, You shall know all that you are like to know.
THESEUS: These fellows do not stand upon points.
HIPPOLYTA: Their speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired but all disordered.
LYSANDER: They have rid their Prologue like a rough colt: They know not the stop.
DEMETRIUS: Indeed they have played on their prologue like a child on a recorder.
HELENA: A sound but not in government.
HERMIA: It is not enough to speak but to speak true.
QUINCE: Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
This beauteous lady Thisby is certain.
This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;
This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,
Presenteth Moonshine; this grisly beast, which Lion hight by name. For all the rest, let
Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain at large discourse, while here they do remain.

He pushes out the rustics, except Wall.
HELENA: I wonder if the lion be to speak.
DEMETRIUS: No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.
WALL (Snout): In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
[Wall holds up his finger]
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.
HERMIA: Would you desire lime and hair to sing better?
LYSANDER: It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse.
Enter Pyramus.
THESEUS: Pyramus draws near the wall: silence!
PYRAMUS (Bottom): 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, alack, alack,
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.]
Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for this!
But what see I? No Thisby do I see.
O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss!
Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!
THESEUS: The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.
BOTTOM: No, in truth, sir, he should not. ‘Deceiving me.’ Yonder she comes.
Enter Thisby.
THISBY (Flute): 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,
Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.
PYRAMUS: I see a voice: now will I to the chink,
To spy an I can hear my Thisby’s face. Thisby!

THISBY: My love thou art, my love I think.
PYRAMUS: Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace;
THISBY: My love thou art, my Love I think.
PYRAMUS: Think what thou wilt. O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!
THISBY: I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.
PYRAMUS: Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?
THISBY: ‘Tide life, ‘tide death, I come without delay.
Exeunt Pyramus and Thisby.
WALL: Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.
Exit Wall.
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. Here
come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.
Enter Lion and Moonshine.
LION: You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
Should know that I, one Snug the joiner, am
A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam.
HERMIA: A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.
DEMETRIUS : The very best at a beast, my lord, that e’er I saw.
THESEUS: But let us listen to the moon.
MOONSHINE: This lanthorn doth the horned moon present…
DEMETRIUS : He should have worn the horns on his head.
MOONSHINE: I Myself the man i’ the moon do seem to be.
DEMETRIUS : The man should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else the
man i’ the moon?
MOONSHINE: This lanthorn doth…
LYSANDER: He dares not come there for the candle;
THESEUS: Proceed, Moon.

MOONSHINE: All that I have 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.
HIPPOLYTA: I am weary of this moon, would he would change.
HIPPOLYTA: But, silence! here comes Thisby.
Enter Thisby.
THISBY: This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?
LION : [Roaring] Oh—
Lion chases Thisby. Thisby runs off. She drops her mantle.
DEMETRIUS: Well roared, Lion.
THESEUS: Well run, Thisbe.
LYSANDER: Well moused, Lion.
HERMIA: Well run, Thisby.
HIPPOLYTA : Well shone, Moon.
HELENA: Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.
Enter Pyramus.
PYRAMUS: Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright;
But stay, O spite! But mark, poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here!
Eyes, do you see? How can it be?
O dainty duck! O dear! Thy mantle good,
What, stain’d with blood! Approach, ye Furies fell!
O Fates, come, come, cut thread and thrum;
Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!
HIPPOLYTA: Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
PYRAMUS: O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?
Since lion vile hath here deflower’d my dear:
Which is—no, no—which was the fairest dame
Come, tears, confound; out, sword, and wound
The pap of Pyramus;
Stabs himself.
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus. [Pyramus dies]
Now am I dead, Now am I fled;
My soul is in the sky: Tongue, lose thy light;
Moon take thy flight:
Exit Moonshine.
Now die, die, die, die, die.
DEMETRIUS: With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover, and
prove an ass.
THESEUS: Here Thisby comes; and her passion ends the play.
HIPPOLYTA: I hope she will be brief.
Re-enter Thisby.
THISBY: Asleep, my love? What, dead, my dove?
O Pyramus, arise! Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
Dead, dead, dead? A tomb Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These lily lips, This cherry nose, These yellow cowslip cheeks,
Are gone, are gone: Lovers, make moan: His eyes were green as leeks. Tongue, not a
word: Come, trusty sword;
Come, blade, my breast imbrue:
She prepares to stab herself.
And, farewell, friends. Thus Thisby ends: Adieu, adieu, adieu.
She stabs herself.
THESEUS: Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.
LYSANDER: Ay, and Wall too.
BOTTOM: [From the ground] No I assure you; the wall is down that
parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the
epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance between two
of our company?
THESEUS: No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no
Midnight sounds. The Rustics bow deeply to the Duke, Hippolyta, and the Court, and leave. The others
THESEUS: The iron tongue of midnight hath told 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. Sweet friends, to bed.

HIPPOLYTA: Sweet friends to bed
LOVERS: Sweet friends to bed.
All exit. Enter Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed.
SOLO FAIRIES: Now the hungry lion roars, And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores, All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow, Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud, Puts the
wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night That the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run By the triple Hecate’s team,
From the presence of the sun, Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic: not a mouse Shall disturb this hallow’d house:
PUCK: I am sent with broom before, To sweep the dust behind the door.
Puck arrives with a broom and chases the fairies. Enter Oberon and Tytania with other Fairies.
OBERON: Through the house give glimm’ring light, Every elf and fairy sprite Sing this ditty, after
me, Sing, and dance it trippingly.
TITANIA : First, rehearse your song by rote To each word a warbling note:
Hand in hand, with fairy grace, Will we sing, and bless this place.
Now, until the break of day, through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we, which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three ever true in loving be;
With this field-dew consecrate, every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless, through this palace, with sweet peace;
Ever shall in safety rest. And the owner of it blest
trip away; make no stay; meet me all by break of day.
Exeunt all but Puck.
PUCK: If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

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