A Midsummer Night's Dream

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter a Fairy at one door, and Puck (Robin Goodfellow)

at another


How now, spirit; whither wander you?


Over hill, over dale,

Thorough bush, thorough brier,

Over park, over pale,
pale (n.) 2 fenced land, park, enclosure
park (n.) hunting ground

Thorough flood, thorough fire –

I do wander everywhere

Swifter than the moon's sphere,
sphere (n.) 1 celestial globe in which a heavenly body was thought to move, orbit See Topics: Cosmos

And I serve the Fairy Queen,

To dew her orbs upon the green.
dew (v.) bedew, moisten, water
orb (n.) 5 fairy ring, circle

The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
pensioner (n.) gentleman of the royal bodyguard

In their gold coats spots you see –

Those be rubies, fairy favours;
favour (n.) 5 mark of favour, gift, token [often a love-token]

In those freckles live their savours.

I must go seek some dewdrops here,

And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.

Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I'll be gone.
lob (n.) clown, country lout, yokel

Our Queen and all our elves come here anon.
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count


The King doth keep his revels here tonight.

Take heed the Queen come not within his sight,

For Oberon is passing fell and wrath
fell (adj.) 1 cruel, fierce, savage
passing (adv.) very, exceedingly, extremely

Because that she as her attendant hath

A lovely boy stolen from an Indian king.

She never had so sweet a changeling,
changeling (n./adj.) 1 child taken by fairies, stolen child

And jealous Oberon would have the child

Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild.
trace (v.) 3 range over, pass through, traverse

But she perforce withholds the loved boy,
perforce (adv.) 1 forcibly, by force, violently See Topics: Frequency count
withhold (v.) 2 detain, keep in possession

Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy.

And now they never meet – in grove or green,

By fountain clear or spangled starlight sheen –
sheen (n.) brightness, shining, radiance

But they do square, that all their elves for fear
square (v.) 1 quarrel, fall out, disagree

Creep into acorn cups and hide them there.


Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
making (n.) physical appearance, bodily form, build

Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
shrewd (adj.) 5 wily, cunning, mischievous

Called Robin Goodfellow. Are not you he

That frights the maidens of the villagery,
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify See Topics: Frequency count
villagery (n.) villages

Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern,
quern (n.) hand-mill for grinding corn

And bootless make the breathless housewife churn,
bootless (adv.) fruitlessly, uselessly, unsuccessfully, in vain

And sometime make the drink to bear no barm,
barm (n.) froth on the top of fermenting ale

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.

Are not you he?


                         Thou speakest aright:

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,
beguile (v.) 1 cheat, deceive, trick

Neighing in likeness of a filly foal;

And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl
gossip (n.) 4 old woman, gossiping woman

In very likeness of a roasted crab;
crab (n.) crab-apple, sour apple

And when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
bob (v.) 2 knock, bump, bang

And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
dewlap, dewlop (n.) folds of loose skin hanging about the neck

The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale
aunt (n.) 1 old woman, gossip
sad (adj.) 1 serious, grave, solemn See Topics: Frequency count

Sometime for threefoot stool mistaketh me;

Then slip I from her bum. Down topples she,

And ‘ Tailor ’ cries, and falls into a cough;

And then the whole choir hold their hips and laugh,
choir, quire (n.) 1 company, group, assembly

And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear
neeze (v.) sneeze
waxen (v.) increase, grow

A merrier hour was never wasted there.
waste (v.) 1 pass, spend, while away

But room, Fairy: here comes Oberon.


And here my mistress. Would that he were gone!

Enter Oberon, the King of Fairies, at one door, with

his train; and Titania, the Queen, at another with hers


Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania!
ill (adv.) 1 badly, adversely, unfavourably See Topics: Frequency count


What, jealous Oberon? Fairy, skip hence.

I have forsworn his bed and company.
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 2 abandon, renounce, reject, give up See Topics: Frequency count


Tarry, rash wanton! Am not I thy lord?
tarry (v.) 1 stay, remain, linger
wanton (n.) 4 wilful creature, obstinate individual


Then I must be thy lady. But I know

When thou hast stolen away from Fairyland

And in the shape of Corin sat all day

Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love

To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here

Come from the farthest step of India
forsooth (adv.) in truth, certainly, truly, indeed See Topics: Frequency count
step (n.) 1 limit, distance, reach

But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,

Your buskined mistress and your warrior love,
buskined (adj.) wearing high hunting boots [buskins]

To Theseus must be wedded? – and you come

To give their bed joy and prosperity.


How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,

Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
glance at (v.) 2 pick on, snipe at, cast aspersions on

Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?

Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night

From Perigenia, whom he ravished,

And make him with fair Aegles break his faith,

With Ariadne and Antiopa?


These are the forgeries of jealousy;

And never since the middle summer's spring
spring (n.) 1 first moment, dawn, break

Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
mead (n.) meadow

By paved fountain or by rushy brook,
paved (adj.) with a paved base, pebbled

Or in the beached margent of the sea
beached (adj.) having a beach, shingly, sandy
margent (n.) 2 margin, edge, border

To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
ringlet (n.) fairy dance in a ring, circular dance

But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,

As in revenge have sucked up from the sea

Contagious fogs which, falling in the land,
contagious (adj.) 1 pestilential, harmful, noxious

Have every pelting river made so proud
pelting (adj.) paltry, petty, worthless, insignificant
proud (adj.) 6 swollen, high, in flood

That they have overborne their continents.
continent (n.) 5 bank, embankment, course
overbear (v.) 1 overwhelm, overcome, overpower

The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,

The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn

Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.

The fold stands empty in the drowned field,

And crows are fatted with the murrion flock.
murrion (adj.) infected with plague [murrain], diseased

The nine men's morris is filled up with mud,
morris, nine men's area marked out in squares for playing nine men's morris [a type of open-air game using nine ‘men’ on each side]

And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
green (n.) 1 greenery, grass, vegetation
maze (n.) 1 arrangement of paths, network of tracks
quaint (adj.) 3 intricate, elaborate
wanton (adj.) 11 luxuriant, flourishing, lush, profuse in growth

For lack of tread are undistinguishable.
undistinguishable (adj.) unrecognizable, undetectable, impossible to pick out

The human mortals want their winter cheer.
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.
carol (n.) 2 song of joy

Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
governess (n.) ruler, mistress

Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
wash (v.) make damp, moisten, wet

That rheumatic diseases do abound;
rheumatic (adj.) 1 with symptoms of rheum [watery discharge], catarrhal, cold-like

And thorough this distemperature we see
distemperature (n.) 2 disordered condition, inclement state [of weather]

The seasons alter; hoary-headed frosts

Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,

And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
Hiems (n.) winter [personified]

An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
chaplet (n.) garland, wreath

Is as in mockery set. The spring, the summer,

The childing autumn, angry winter change
change (v.) 1 exchange, trade
childing (adj.) fertile, fruitful, teeming

Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world
livery (n.) 1 uniform, costume, special clothing See Topics: Frequency count
mazed (adj.) bewildered, confused, perplexed
wonted (adj.) accustomed, usual, customary

By their increase now knows not which is which.
increase (n.) 1 produce, growth, yield, crop

And this same progeny of evils

Comes from our debate, from our dissension.
debate (n.) quarrel, wrangling, strife

We are their parents and original.
original (n.) point of origin, cause, source


Do you amend it, then! It lies in you.

Why should Titania cross her Oberon?

I do but beg a little changeling boy
changeling (n./adj.) 1 child taken by fairies, stolen child

To be my henchman.
henchman (n.) squire, page of honour


                         Set your heart at rest.

The fairy land buys not the child of me.

His mother was a votaress of my order,
votaress (n.) woman under vow, votary, devotee [of an order]

And in the spiced Indian air by night

Full often hath she gossiped by my side,
gossip (v.) 1 be a close companion, talk together

And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands

Marking th' embarked traders on the flood,
flood (n.) 1 sea, deep, waves, rushing water
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count
trader (n.) trading ship, merchant vessel

When we have laughed to see the sails conceive

And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
wanton (adj.) 5 sexually hot, passionate, sportive

Which she with pretty and with swimming gait

Following – her womb then rich with my young squire –
squire (n.) 2 lad, fellow, youngster

Would imitate, and sail upon the land

To fetch me trifles, and return again

As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.

But she, being mortal, of that boy did die,

And for her sake do I rear up her boy;

And for her sake I will not part with him.


How long within this wood intend you stay?


Perchance till after Theseus' wedding day.
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count

If you will patiently dance in our round
round (n.) 1 circle dance, ring

And see our moonlight revels, go with us.

If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
spare (v.) 2 avoid, shun, keep away from


Give me that boy and I will go with thee.


Not for thy fairy kingdom! Fairies, away.

We shall chide downright if I longer stay.
chide (v.), past form chid 3 quarrel, wrangle, fight
downright (adv.) 2 outright, totally, utterly

Exit Titania with her train


Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this grove

Till I torment thee for this injury.
injury (n.) 2 insult, affront, slight

My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememberest
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

Since once I sat upon a promontory

And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back

Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
breath (n.) 2 voice, song, sound
dulcet (adj.) sweet, mild, pleasant, agreeable

That the rude sea grew civil at her song,
rude (adj.) 3 [of wind or water] stormy, turbulent, harsh

And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
sphere (n.) 1 celestial globe in which a heavenly body was thought to move, orbit See Topics: Cosmos

To hear the sea-maid's music?
sea-maid (n.) mermaid, sea-nymph


                         I remember.


That very time I saw – but thou couldst not –

Flying between the cold moon and the earth

Cupid all armed. A certain aim he took
certain (adj.) 3 sure, unerring, accurate

At a fair vestal throned by the west,
vestal (n.) woman vowed to chastity, virgin, priestess

And loosed his loveshaft smartly from his bow
loveshaft (n.) love-causing arrow

As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts;

But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft

Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon,

And the imperial votaress passed on
votaress (n.) woman under vow, votary, devotee [of an order]

In maiden meditation, fancy-free.

Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
bolt (n.) 1 [short and thick, crossbow] arrow
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

It fell upon a little western flower,

Before, milk-white; now purple with love's wound:

And maidens call it ‘ love in idleness.’

Fetch me that flower – the herb I showed 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.

Fetch me this herb, and be thou here again

Ere the leviathan can swim a league.
leviathan (n.) sea-monster, whale


I'll put a girdle round about the earth

In forty minutes!



                         Having once this juice

I'll watch Titania when she is asleep,

And drop the liquor of it in her eyes.

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.
soul (n.) 1 driving force, animating principle

And ere I take this charm from off her sight –

As I can take it with another herb –

I'll make her render up her page to me.

But who comes here? I am invisible,

And I will overhear their conference.

Enter Demetrius, Helena following him


I love thee not, therefore pursue me not.

Where is Lysander, and fair Hermia?

The one I'll slay; the other slayeth me.

Thou toldest me they were stolen unto this wood,

And here am I, and wood within this wood
wood (adj.) mad, wild, furious

Because I cannot meet my Hermia.

Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more!


You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant!
adamant (n.) legendary substance of great hardness and magnetism

But yet you draw not iron: for my heart

Is true as steel. Leave you your power to draw,

And I shall have no power to follow you.


Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair?
fair (adv.) 1 kindly, encouragingly, courteously

Or rather do I not in plainest truth

Tell you I do not nor I cannot love you?


And 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,
spurn (v.) 2 kick, strike, stamp [on], dash

Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,

Unworthy as I am, to follow you.

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?


Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit;

For I am sick when I do look on thee.
sick (adj.) 5 full of loathing, full of repugnance


And I am sick when I look not on you.


You do impeach your modesty too much,
impeach (v.) 2 discredit, disparage, call into question

To leave the city and commit yourself

Into the hands of one that loves you not;

To trust the opportunity of night

And the ill counsel of a desert place
ill (adj.) 1 bad, adverse, unfavourable See Topics: Frequency count

With the rich worth of your virginity.


Your virtue is my privilege. For that
virtue (n.) 1 quality, accomplishment, ability

It is not night when I do see your face,

Therefore I think I am not in the night;

Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,

For you in my respect are all the world.
respect (n.) 3 regard, admiration, favour, opinion

Then how can it be said I am alone

When all the world is here to look on me?


I'll run from thee and hide me in the brakes,
brake (n.) 1 bush, thicket

And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.


The wildest hath not such a heart as you.

Run when you will. The story shall be changed:

Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase;
hold (v.) 1 keep, maintain, observe

The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
griffin (n.) fabulous beast, part lion part eagle
hind (n.) 3 female deer

Makes speed to catch the tiger – bootless speed,
bootless (adj.) useless, worthless, fruitless, unavailing

When cowardice pursues, and valour flies.


I will not stay thy questions. Let me go;
stay (v.) 1 wait (for), await

Or if thou follow me, do not believe

But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.


Ay – in the temple, in the town, the field,

You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius,

Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex.

We cannot fight for love, as men may do;

We should be wooed, and were not made to woo.

Exit Demetrius

I'll follow thee, and make a heaven of hell,

To die upon the hand I love so well.

Exit Helena


Fare thee well, nymph. Ere he do leave this grove

Thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek thy love.

Enter Puck

Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.


Ay, there it is.


                         I pray thee give it me.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
blow (v.) 1 blossom, bloom, flower

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
woodbine (n.) 1 honeysuckle See Topics: Plants

With sweet muskroses and with eglantine.
sweet (adj.) 1 perfumed, scented, fragrant

There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,

Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight.

And there the snake throws her enamelled skin,
enamelled (adj.) brightly coloured, multi-coloured, kaleidoscopic
throw (v.) 1 throw off, cast, discard

Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.
weed (n.) 2 garment, piece of clothing

And with the juice of this I'll streak her eyes

And make her full of hateful fantasies.
fantasy (n.) 1 imagining, delusion, hallucination

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.

Effect it with some care, that he may prove

More fond on her than she upon her love.
fond (adj.) 4 infatuated, doting, passionate

And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.


Fear not, my lord; your servant shall do so.

Exeunt Oberon and Puck

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