A Midsummer Night's Dream

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate

and Attendants


Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour

Draws on apace. Four happy days bring in
apace (adv.) quickly, speedily, at a great rate See Topics: Frequency count

Another moon – but O, methinks how slow
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires,
linger (v.) 1 delay, put off, keep waiting

Like to a stepdame or a dowager

Long withering out a young man's revenue.
revenue (n.) 1 income, yield, profit
wither out (v.) cause to dwindle, make less


Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;

Four nights will quickly dream away the time:

And then the moon – like to a silver bow

New-bent in heaven – shall behold the night

Of our solemnities.


                         Go, Philostrate,

Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments.

Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth.
pert (adj.) lively, brisk, sprightly

Turn melancholy forth to funerals:

The pale companion is not for our pomp.
companion (n.) 1 rogue, rascal, fellow
pomp (n.) 1 pageant, ceremony, procession

Exit Philostrate

Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword,

And won thy love doing thee injuries;

But I will wed thee in another key:

With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.
triumph (n.) 1 public festivity, pageant, display of celebration, tournament

Enter Egeus and his daughter Hermia, and Lysander,

and Demetrius


Happy be Theseus, our renowned Duke.


Thanks, good Egeus. What's the news with thee?


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,

This man hath bewitched the bosom of my child.

Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,

And interchanged love-tokens with my child.

Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung

With feigning voice verses of feigning love,

And stolen the impression of her fantasy.
fantasy (n.) 5 ardent desire, amorous fancy

With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits,
conceit (n.) 7 trinket, fancy article, bauble
gaud (n.) gaudy toy, showy plaything, trinket

Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats – messengers
knack (n.) trifle, knick-knack, ornament

Of strong prevailment in unhardened youth –
prevailment (n.) prevailing action, power, influence

With cunning hast thou filched my daughter's heart,

Turned 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:

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.
immediately (adv.) directly, instantly, without delay


What say you, Hermia? Be advised, fair maid:

To you your father should be as a god;

One that composed your beauties – yea, and one
compose (v.) 1 make up, produce, fashion

To whom you are but as a form in wax

By him imprinted, and within his power

To leave the figure or disfigure it.

Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.


So is Lysander.


                         In himself he is;

But in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
kind (n.) 7 respect, regard, particular
voice (n.) 2 support, approval, good word

The other must be held the worthier.
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count


I would my father looked but with my eyes.


Rather your eyes must with his judgement look.


I do entreat your grace to pardon me.

I know not by what power I am made bold,
power (n.) 4 force, strength, might

Nor how it may concern my modesty
concern (v.) 3 befit, suit with, accord with

In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;

But I beseech your grace that I may know

The worst that may befall me in this case

If I refuse to wed Demetrius.


Either to die the death, or to abjure

For ever the society of men.

Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,

Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]
know (v.) 1 acknowledge, remember, think [of] See Topics: Discourse markers

Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,

You can endure the livery of a nun,
aye (adv.) always, ever, for eternity
livery (n.) 1 uniform, costume, special clothing See Topics: Frequency count

For aye to be in shady cloister mewed,
mew (v.) coop up, confine, shut up

To live a barren sister all your life,

Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
cold (adj.) 1 chaste, modest, lacking sensual passion

Thrice blessed they that master so their blood
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]

To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;

But earthlier happy is the rose distilled,

Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,

Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.


So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,

Ere I will my virgin patent up
patent (n.) 1 privilege, right, title

Unto his lordship whose unwished yoke

My soul consents not to give sovereignty.


Take time to pause, and by the next new moon –

The sealing day betwixt my love and me
sealing day (n.) day for confirming a contract, wedding-day

For everlasting bond of fellowship –

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

For aye austerity and single life.
aye (adv.) always, ever, for eternity


Relent, sweet Hermia; and, Lysander, yield

Thy crazed title to my certain right.
crazed (adj.) flawed, unsound, impaired
title (n.) 1 [legal] right, claim, entitlement


You have her father's love, Demetrius –

Let me have Hermia's. Do you marry him.


Scornful Lysander – true, he hath my love;

And what is mine my love shall render him;

And she is mine, and all my right of her

I do estate unto Demetrius.
estate (v.) endow, settle upon, bestow (up)on


I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
derived (adj.) descended, in lineage

As well possessed. My love is more than his,
possessed (adj.) 2 propertied, affluent, provided for

My fortunes every way as fairly ranked –

If not with vantage – as Demetrius'.
vantage (n.) 2 advantageous position, place of vantage, superiority

And – which is more than all these boasts can be –

I am beloved of beauteous Hermia.

Why should not I then prosecute my right?

Demetrius – I'll avouch it to his head –
avouch (v.) 1 declare, assert, affirm
head, to one's to one's face, frankly, openly

Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,

And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,

Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry

Upon this spotted and inconstant man.
spotted (adj.) 1 stained, blemished


I must confess that I have heard so much,

And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;

But, being overfull of self affairs,

My mind did lose it. But Demetrius, come;
lose (v.) 3 lose sight of, forget

And come, Egeus. You shall go with me.

I have some private schooling for you both.
schooling (n.) admonition, reproof, counsel

For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
arm (v.) 1 prepare, get ready

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 –
extenuate (v.) mitigate, lessen, tone down

To death or to a vow of single life.

Come, my Hippolyta. What cheer, my love?

Demetrius and Egeus, go along;
go along come along, come with me

I must employ you in some business

Against our nuptial, and confer with you

Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.
concern (v.) 1 be important to, be the concern of
nearly (adv.) closely, particularly, especially


With duty and desire we follow you.

Exeunt all but Lysander and Hermia


How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale?

How chance the roses there do fade so fast?


Belike for want of rain, which I could well
belike (adv.) probably, presumably, perhaps, so it seems See Topics: Frequency count
want (n.) 1 lack, shortage, dearth

Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.
beteem, beteene (v.) allow, permit, let, grant


Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count

Could ever hear by tale or history,

The course of true love never did run smooth;

But either it was different in blood –
blood (n.) 7 nobility, breeding, gentility, good parentage


O cross! – too high to be enthralled to low.


Or else misgraffed in respect of years –
misgraffed (adj.) badly grafted, ill-matched, unsuited


O spite! – too old to be engaged to young.


Or else it stood upon the choice of friends –
stand upon (v.) 4 depend on, rely upon, hinge on


O hell! – to choose love by another's eyes.


Or if there were a sympathy in choice,
sympathy (n.) 1 accord, agreement, harmony

War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,

Making it momentany as a sound,
momentany (adj.) momentary, transitory, fleeting

Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,

Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
collied (adj.) 2 blackened, darkened, murky

That in a spleen unfolds both heaven and earth,
spleen (n.) 5 impulse, caprice, whim
spleen (n.) 1 temper, spirit, passion [part of the body seen as the source of both gloomy and mirthful emotions]
unfold (v.) 1 display, reveal, show

And – ere a man hath power to say ‘ Behold!’ –

The jaws of darkness do devour it up.

So quick bright things come to confusion.
quick (adj.) 1 living, vital, full of life


If then true lovers have been ever crossed
cross (v.) 1 prevent, thwart, forestall

It stands as an edict in 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.
fancy (n.) 1 love, amorousness, infatuation


A good persuasion. Therefore hear me, Hermia:
persuasion (n.) 1 conviction, principle, opinion

I have a widow aunt, a dowager,

Of great revenue; 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;
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind

And to that place the sharp Athenian law

Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me, then

Steal forth thy father's house tomorrow night,

And in the wood, a league without the town –

Where I did meet thee once with Helena

To do observance to a morn of May –
morn (n.) morning, dawn See Topics: Frequency count

There will I stay for thee.


                         My good Lysander,

I swear to thee by Cupid's strongest bow,

By his best arrow with the golden head,

By the simplicity of Venus' doves,
simplicity (n.) 2 innocence, harmlessness, guilelessness

By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,

And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen

When the false Trojan under sail was seen,
false (adj.) 2 disloyal, faithless, inconstant, unfaithful

By all the vows that ever men have broke –

In number more than ever women spoke, –

In that same place thou hast appointed me

Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee.


Keep promise, love. Look – here comes Helena.

Enter Helena


God speed, fair Helena! Whither away?


Call you me fair? that ‘ fair ’ again unsay.

Demetrius loves your fair. O happy fair!
fair (n.) 1 fair face, beauty

Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue's sweet air
air (n.) 1 melody, tune, strain
lodestar (n.) guiding star, beacon

More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear
tuneable (adj.) tuneful, musical, melodious

When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.

Sickness is catching. O, were favour so,
favour (n.) 1 [facial] appearance, countenance, features, looks

Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go.

My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,

My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.

Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
bate (v.) 3 except, omit, leave out of consideration

The rest I'd give to be to you translated.
translate (v.) 1 transform, change, alter

O, teach me how you look, and with what art

You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.


I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.


O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!


I give him curses, yet he gives me love.


O that my prayers could such affection move!


The more I hate, the more he follows me.


The more I love, the more he hateth me.


His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.


None but your beauty. Would that fault were mine!


Take comfort. He no more shall see my face.

Lysander and myself will fly this place.

Before the time I did Lysander see

Seemed Athens as a paradise to me.

O then, what graces in my love do dwell

That he hath turned a heaven unto a hell?


Helen, to you our minds we will unfold.

Tomorrow night, when Phoebe doth behold

Her silver visage in the watery glass,
glass (n.) 1 mirror, looking-glass See Topics: Frequency count
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass –
bladed (adj.) many-bladed, abounding in shoots

A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal –
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Through Athens gates have we devised to steal.


And in the wood, where often you and I

Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,
faint (adj.) 5 pale, lightly coloured
wont (v.) be accustomed, used [to], be in the habit of See Topics: Frequency count

Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,

There my Lysander and myself shall meet,

And thence from Athens turn away our eyes

To seek new friends and stranger companies.
company (n.) 3 companion, associate, comrade
stranger (n.) foreigner, alien, outsider

Farewell, sweet playfellow. Pray thou for us;

And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius.

Keep word, Lysander. We must starve our sight
starve (v.) 3 withhold [from], diet, be sparing with

From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight.
morrow (n.) morning See Topics: Frequency count


I will, my Hermia.

Exit Hermia

                         Helena, adieu!

As you on him, Demetrius dote on you.

Exit Lysander


How happy some o'er other some can be!

Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.

But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;

He will not know what all but he do know.

And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,

So I, admiring of his qualities.

Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
base (adj.) 3 poor, wretched, of low quality See Topics: Frequency count
quantity (n.) 2 equal amount, same proportion

Love can transpose to form and dignity.
transpose (v.) change, alter, transform

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,

And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

Nor hath Love's mind of any judgement taste;

Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
figure (v.) 1 symbolize, represent, portray
unheedy (adj.) unheedful, headstrong, reckless

And therefore is love said to be a child

Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 1 swear falsely, perjure [oneself], break one's word See Topics: Frequency count
waggish (adj.) playful, mischievous, impish

So the boy love is perjured everywhere;

For ere Demetrius looked on Hermia's eyne
eyne (n.) [archaism] eyes See Topics: Archaisms

He hailed down oaths that he was only mine,

And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,

So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.
dissolve (v.) 3 melt, liquefy

I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight.

Then to the wood will he tomorrow night

Pursue her; and for this intelligence
intelligence (n.) 1 information, news, communication

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.


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