A Midsummer Night's Dream

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter the clowns: Bottom, Quince, Snout, Starveling,

Flute, and Snug


Are we all met?
clown (n.) yokel, rustic, country bumpkin; also: low comic character [in a play]


Pat, pat; and here's a marvellous convenient place
convenient (adj.) fitting, suitable, appropriate
marvellous (adv.) very, extremely, exceedingly See Topics: Frequency count
pat (adv.) 2 spot on, on the dot, very timely

for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this

hawthorn brake our tiring-house, and we will do it in
brake (n.) 1 bush, thicket
tiring-house (n.) dressing-room, theatrical green room

action as we will do it before the Duke.


Peter Quince!


What sayest thou, Bully Bottom?
bully (n./adj.) [especially as a warm form of address] fine fellow, good friend See Topics: Address forms


There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and

Thisbe that will never please. First, Pyramus must draw

a sword to kill himself, which the ladies cannot abide.

How answer you that?


By 'r lakin, a parlous fear!
parlous (adj.) 1 perilous, dangerous, hazardous


I believe we must leave the killing out,

when all is done.


Not a whit. I have a device to make all well.

Write me a prologue, and let the prologue seem to say

we will do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus

is not killed indeed; and for the more better assurance,
assurance (n.) 1 security, certainty, confidence

tell them that I, Pyramus, am not Pyramus, but Bottom

the weaver. This will put them out of fear.


Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall

be written in eight and six.


No, make it two more: let it be written in eight

and eight.


Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?
afeard (adj.) afraid, frightened, scared See Topics: Frequency count


I fear it, I promise you.


Masters, you ought to consider with yourself, to

bring in – God shield us – a lion among ladies is a most

dreadful thing; for there is not a more fearful wildfowl

than your lion living; and we ought look to't.


Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a



Nay, you must name his name, and half his face

must be seen through the lion's neck, and he himself

must speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect:
defect (n.) 2 malapropism for ‘effect’

‘ Ladies ’, or ‘ Fair ladies – I would wish you ’, or ‘ I would

request you ’, or ‘ I would entreat you – not to fear, not to

tremble. My life for yours: if you think I come hither

as a lion, it were pity of my life. No. I am no such
pity (n.) bad thing, sad fate, calamity [for]

thing. I am a man, as other men are ’ – and there indeed

let him name his name, and tell them plainly he is Snug

the joiner.


Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things:

that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber – for, you

know, Pyramus and Thisbe meet by moonlight.


Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?


A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanac –

find out moonshine, find out moonshine!


Yes, it doth shine that night.


Why, then, may you leave a casement of the
casement (n.) 2 moveable section of a window, light

Great Chamber window – where we play – open, and

the moon may shine in at the casement.


Ay; or else one must come in with a bush of

thorns and a lantern, and say he comes to disfigure or to
disfigure (v.) stand for, disguise, alter the appearance of

present the person of Moonshine. Then there is another

thing. We must have a wall in the Great Chamber; for

Pyramus and Thisbe, says the story, did talk through the

chink of a wall.


You can never bring in a wall. What say you,



Some man or other must present Wall; and let

him have some plaster, or some loam, or some roughcast

about him to signify Wall; and let him hold his fingers

thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisbe



If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down

every mother's son, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus,

you begin. When you have spoken your speech, enter

into that brake; and so everyone according to his cue.
brake (n.) 1 bush, thicket

Enter Puck
hempen (adj.) 2 in clothing made of hemp, rustically attired
homespun (n.) wearer of home-made clothing, rustic, yokel


What hempen homespuns have we swaggering here

So near the cradle of the Fairy Queen?
cradle (n.) 1 place of repose, resting place

What, a play toward! I'll be an auditor –
toward (adv.) impending, forthcoming, in preparation

An actor too, perhaps, if I see cause.


Speak, Pyramus! Thisbe, stand forth!

BOTTOM as Pyramus

Thisbe, the flowers of odious savours sweet –


Odours – odours!

BOTTOM as Pyramus

...odours savours sweet.

So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisbe dear.

But hark, a voice. Stay thou but here awhile,

And by and by I will to thee appear.



A stranger Pyramus than e'er played here.



Must I speak now?


Ay, marry must you; for you must understand he

goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come


FLUTE as Thisbe

Most radiant Pyramus, most lilywhite of hue,

Of colour like the red rose on triumphant briar,

Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew,
brisky (adj.) brisk, lively, sprightly
eke (adv.) [archaism] also, moreover, too See Topics: Archaisms
juvenal (n.) youth, young man

As true as truest horse that yet would never tire,

I'll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb –


‘ Ninus' tomb ’, man! – Why, you must not speak

that yet. That you answer to Pyramus. You speak all

your part at once, cues and all. Pyramus, enter – your

cue is past. It is ‘ never tire.’



( as Thisbe)

As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.

Enter Puck, and Bottom with an ass's head

BOTTOM as Pyramus

If I were fair, fair Thisbe, I were only thine.


O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted! Pray,

masters! Fly, masters! Help!

Exeunt Quince, Snug, Flute, Snout, and Starveling


I'll follow you, I'll lead you about a round,
round (n.) 1 circle dance, ring

Thorough bog, thorough bush, thorough brake, thorough briar,
brake (n.) 1 bush, thicket

Sometime a horse I'll be, sometime a hound,
sometime (adv.) 2 sometimes, now and then

A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire,
fire (n.) 3 will o' the wisp

And neigh, and bark, and grunt and roar and burn

Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire at every turn.



Why do they run away? This is a knavery of
knavery (n.) 1 roguish trick, rouguery, trickery

them to make me afeard.
afeard (adj.) afraid, frightened, scared See Topics: Frequency count

Enter Snout


O Bottom, thou art changed. What do I see on



What do you see? You see an ass head of your

own, do you?

Exit Snout

Enter Quince
translate (v.) 1 transform, change, alter


Bless thee, Bottom! Bless thee! Thou art




I see their knavery! This is to make an ass of me,
knavery (n.) 1 roguish trick, rouguery, trickery

to fright me, if they could; but I will not stir from this
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify See Topics: Frequency count

place, do what they can. I will walk up and down here,

and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid.

(sings) The ousel cock so black of hue,

With orange-tawny bill,

The throstle with his note so true,

The wren with little quill.
little (adj.) 2 [of voices] small, tiny
quill (n.) musical pipe, voice, note



What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?



The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,

The plainsong cuckoo grey,
plainsong (adj.) lacking in ornament, melodically simple

Whose note full many a man doth mark
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

And dares not answer ‘ Nay ’

– for, indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird?
set (v.) 2 rate, stake, gamble
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

Who would give a bird the lie, though he cry ‘ cuckoo ’

never so?


I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again!
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind

Mine ear is much enamoured of thy note.

So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape,

And thy fair virtue's force perforce doth move me
virtue (n.) 1 quality, accomplishment, ability

On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee.


Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep

little company together nowadays – the more the pity

that some honest neighbours will not make them friends.

– Nay, I can gleek upon occasion.
gleek (v.) make a pointed joke, jest, gibe


Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.


Not so, neither; but if I had wit enough to get
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

out of this wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn.


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.
rate (n.) 4 worth, value, merit

The summer still doth tend upon my state,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

And I do love thee. Therefore go with me.

I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee,
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]

And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,

And sing while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep;

And I will purge thy mortal grossness so
grossness (n.) 2 material nature, bodily form

That thou shalt like an airy spirit go.

Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed!

Enter the four Fairies




And I!


And I!


And I!

ALL Fairies

Where shall we go?


Be kind and courteous to this gentleman.

Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes;

Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,
dewberry (n.) species of blackberry

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-worms' 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.


Hail, mortal!








I cry your worships mercy, heartily. I beseech

your worship's name.




I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good
desire (v.) 1 request, wish, ask [for]

Master Cobweb – if I cut my finger I shall make bold

with you! – Your name, honest gentleman?




I pray you commend me to Mistress Squash,
commend (v.) 1 convey greetings, present kind regards See Topics: Frequency count

your mother, and to Master Peascod, your father. Good

Master Peaseblossom, I shall desire you of more acquaintance,
desire (v.) 1 request, wish, ask [for]

too. – Your name, I beseech you, sir?




Good Master Mustardseed, I know your

patience well. That same cowardly, giantlike Oxbeef

hath devoured many a gentleman of your house. I

promise you, your kindred hath made my eyes water

ere now. I desire your more acquaintance, good Master



Come, wait upon him. Lead him to my bower.

The moon methinks looks with a watery eye;
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,

Lamenting some enforced chastity.
enforced (adj.) 2 violated, assaulted, ravished

Tie up my lover's tongue; bring him silently.

Exit Titania with Bottom and the Fairies

  Previous scene     Next scene