A Midsummer Night's Dream

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



'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.


More strange than true. I never may believe

These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
antic, antick(e), antique (adj.) 3 old-fashioned, old-world, antiquated
toy (n.) 7 foolish story, old wives' tale

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,

Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
apprehend (v.) 4 imagine, conceive, invent
fantasy (n.) 1 imagining, delusion, hallucination
shaping (adj.) imaginative, inventive, creative

More than cool reason ever comprehends.

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet

Are of imagination all compact.
compact (adj.) 2 made up, composed

One sees more devils than vast hell can hold.

That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,

Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt.
brow (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven.

And as imagination bodies forth
body forth (v.) make available to the mind, give mental shape to

The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen

Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name.

Such tricks hath strong imagination

That if it would but apprehend some joy,
apprehend (v.) 4 imagine, conceive, invent

It comprehends some bringer of that joy.
comprehend (v.) 1 take in, include, incorporate

Or in the night, imagining some fear,

How easy is a bush supposed a bear?


But all the story of the night told over,

And all their minds transfigured so together,

More witnesseth than fancy's images,
fancy (n.) 3 imagination, creativity, inventiveness
witness (v.) 1 bear witness to, attest, testify to

And grows to something of great constancy;
constancy (n.) 1 consistency, agreement, uniformity

But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
admirable (adj.) wondrous, marvellous, extraordinary

Enter the lovers: Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and



Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.

Joy, gentle friends, joy and fresh days of love
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count

Accompany your hearts.


                         More than to us

Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed.


Come now, what masques, what dances shall we have

To wear away this long age of three hours

Between our after-supper and bedtime?
after-supper (n.) period of time immediately after dessert [eaten after the main course of the evening meal]

Where is our usual manager of mirth?

What revels are in hand? Is there no play

To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?

Call Philostrate.


                         Here, mighty Theseus.


Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?
abridgement (n.) 1 pastime, short entertainment, means of shortening the time

What masque, what music? How shall we beguile

The lazy time if not with some delight?


(giving a paper)
brief (n.) 1 summary, short account
ripe (adj.) 3 ready, fully prepared
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

There is a brief how many sports are ripe.

Make choice of which your highness will see first.


The Battle with the Centaurs, ‘ to be sung

By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.’

We'll none of that. That have I told my love

In glory of my kinsman, Hercules.

The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
bacchanal (n.) 2 devotee of Bacchus See Topics: Gods and goddesses

Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.

That is an old device, and it was played
device (n.) 10 show, performance, production

When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.

The thrice three Muses mourning for the death

Of learning, late deceased in beggary.

That is some satire keen and critical,
critical (adj.) censorious, judgemental, faultfinding

Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
sort (v.) 1 suit, be fitting, be appropriate

A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus

And his love Thisbe; ‘ very tragical mirth.’

Merry and tragical? Tedious and brief?

That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.

How shall we find the concord of this discord?


A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,

Which is as ‘ brief ’ as I have known a play.

But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,

Which makes it ‘ tedious.’ For in all the play

There is not one word apt, one player fitted.

And ‘ tragical ’, my noble lord, it is,

For Pyramus therein doth kill himself,

Which when I saw rehearsed, I must confess,

Made mine eyes water: but more ‘ merry ’ tears

The passion of loud laughter never shed.


What are they that do play it?


Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,

Which never laboured in their minds till now,

And now have toiled their unbreathed memories
toil (v.) exhaust, tire out, fatigue
unbreathed (adj.) unpractised, inexperienced, inexpert

With this same play against your nuptial.


And we will hear it.


                         No, my noble lord,

It is not for you. I have heard it over,

And it is nothing, nothing in the world,

Unless you can find sport in their intents,
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

Extremely stretched, and conned with cruel pain,
con (v.) 1 learn by heart, commit to memory
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count
pain (n.) effort, endeavour, exertion, labour

To do you service.


                         I will hear that play,

For never anything can be amiss

When simpleness and duty tender it.
simpleness (n.) 1 unpretentiousness, unaffected behaviour, unassuming simplicity

Go bring them in; and take your places, ladies.

Exit Philostrate


I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharged,
overcharged (adj.) 1 overburdened, overtaxed, overwrought
wretchedness (n.) humble people, the poor, the lowly

And duty in his service perishing.


Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind


He says they can do nothing in this kind.


The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.

Our sport shall be to take what they mistake;
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count
take (v.) 5 take in, comprehend, understand

And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
respect (n.) 3 regard, admiration, favour, opinion

Takes it in might, not merit.

Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
clerk (n.) 1 scholar, sage, man of learning

To greet me with premeditated welcomes,

Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,

Make periods in the midst of sentences,
period (n.) 3 rhetorical pause, sentence ending, termination

Throttle their practised accent in their fears,

And in conclusion dumbly have broke off,

Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,

Out of this silence yet I picked a welcome,
pick (v.) 2 extract, make out, detect

And in the modesty of fearful duty
duty (n.) 2 reverence, due respect, proper attitude

I read as much as from the rattling tongue

Of saucy and audacious eloquence.

Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
simplicity (n.) 1 sincerity, unpretentiousness, artlessness

In least speak most, to my capacity.
capacity (n.) intelligence, understanding, capability

Enter Philostrate
address (v.) 1 prepare, make ready, poise to act


So please your grace, the Prologue is addressed.


Let him approach.

Flourish of trumpets

Enter Quince as Prologue


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
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count

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.
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count


This fellow doth not stand upon points.
point (n.) 5 trifle, triviality, minor matter
stand upon (v.) 1 make an issue of, insist upon, bother about


He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he
ride (v.) 2 manage, conduct, control

knows not the stop. A good moral, my lord: it is not
stop (n.) 3 [in managing a horse] pulling-up, sudden checking of a career
stop (n.) 6 full-stop, period, full point

enough to speak, but to speak true.


Indeed, he hath played on his prologue like a

child on a recorder – a sound, but not in government.
government (n.) 1 control, charge, management


His speech was like a tangled chain: nothing

impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?

Enter Bottom as Pyramus, Flute as Thisbe, Snout as

Wall, Starveling as Moonshine, and Snug as Lion;

a trumpeter before them


Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
gentle (n.) 2 (plural) ladies and gentlemen, gentlefolk
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count

But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.

This man is Pyramus, if you would know;

This beauteous lady Thisbe is, certain.

This man with lime and roughcast doth present

Wall – that vile wall which did these lovers sunder;
sunder (v.) 1 separate, split up, part

And through Wall's chink, poor souls, they are content
content (adj.) 2 contented, patient, accepting, undisturbed

To whisper. At the which let no man wonder.

This man with lantern, dog, and bush of thorn

Presenteth Moonshine. For if you will know

By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn

To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.

This grisly beast – which Lion hight by name –
hight (v.) [archaism] is called See Topics: Archaisms

The trusty Thisbe coming first by night

Did scare away, or rather did affright.

And as she fled, her mantle she did fall,
fall (v.) 1 drop, descend, let fall

Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.

Anon comes Pyramus – sweet youth and tall –
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count
tall (adj.) 3 good, fine, capable

And finds his trusty Thisbe's mantle slain.

Whereat with blade – with bloody, blameful blade –

He bravely broached his boiling bloody breast.
bravely (adv.) 2 showily, with great display, with a fine flourish
broach (v.) 4 pierce, impale, spit

And Thisbe, tarrying in mulberry shade,
tarry (v.) 1 stay, remain, linger

His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,

Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain

At large discourse while here they do remain.
discourse (v.) 2 relate, talk about, recount
large, at 1 at length, in full, thoroughly

Exeunt Quince, Bottom, Flute, Snug, and Starveling


I wonder if the lion be to speak.


No wonder, my lord – one lion may, when many asses do.

SNOUT as Wall

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,
crannied (adj.) cracked, split, holed

Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe,

Did whisper often, very secretly.

This loam, this roughcast, and this stone doth show

That I am that same wall; the truth is so.

And this the cranny is, right and sinister,

Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.


Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?


It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard
partition (n.) 2 wall, dividing structure; also: section of a learned book
witty (adj.) 2 intelligent, ingenious, sensible

discourse, my lord.
discourse (v.) 1 talk, chat, converse

Enter Bottom as Pyramus


Pyramus draws near the wall. Silence!

BOTTOM as Pyramus

O grim-looked 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 Thisbe's promise is forgot.

And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,

That standest 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.
eyne (n.) [archaism] eyes See Topics: Archaisms

Wall holds up his fingers

Thanks, courteous wall; Jove shield thee well for this.

But what see I? No Thisbe do I see.

O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss:

Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!


The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count
sensible (adj.) 1 sensitive, responsive, capable of feeling

again (adv.) 1 in return, back [in response]


No, in truth sir, he should not. ‘Deceiving me' is

Thisbe's cue. She is to enter now, and I am to spy her

through the wall. You shall see – it will fall pat as I told
pat (adv.) 3 precisely, just, exactly

you. Yonder she comes.

Enter Flute as Thisbe

FLUTE as Thisbe

O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans

For parting my fair Pyramus and me.

My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones,

Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.

BOTTOM as Pyramus

I see a voice. Now will I to the chink

To spy an I can hear my Thisbe's face.
and, an (conj.) 3 if, whether


FLUTE as Thisbe

                         My love! Thou art my love, I think?

BOTTOM as Pyramus

Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace,

And like Limander am I trusty still.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

FLUTE as Thisbe

And I like Helen till the Fates me kill.

BOTTOM as Pyramus

Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.

FLUTE as Thisbe

As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.

BOTTOM as Pyramus

O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!

FLUTE as Thisbe

I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.

BOTTOM as Pyramus

Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straight way?

FLUTE as Thisbe

Tide life, tide death, I come without delay.

Exeunt Bottom and Flute

SNOUT as Wall

Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;

And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.



Now is the mural down between the two
mural (n.) [disputed reading] wall



No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful

to hear without warning.


This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.


The best in this kind are but shadows; and the

worst are no worse, if imagination amend them.


It must be your imagination then, and not



If we imagine no worse of them than they of

themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here come

two noble beasts in: a man and a lion.

Enter Snug as Lion and Starveling as Moonshine
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind

SNUG as Lion

You, ladies – you whose gentle hearts do fear

The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor –

May now, perchance, both quake and tremble here,
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count

When Lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.

Then know that I as Snug the joiner am

A lion fell, nor else no lion's dam,
fell (adj.) 1 cruel, fierce, savage

For if I should as lion come in strife

Into this place, 'twere pity on my life.


A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind


The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I.



This lion is a very fox for his valour.


True; and a goose for his discretion.


Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry

his discretion; and the fox carries the goose.


His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his

valour; for the goose carries not the fox. It is well: leave

it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.

STARVELING as Moonshine

This lanthorn doth the horned moon present.


He should have worn the horns on his head.


He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible
crescent (n.) waxing moon, growing person

within the circumference.

STARVELING as Moonshine

This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;

Myself the man i'th' moon do seem to be.


This is the greatest error of all the rest; the man

should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else the man

i'th' moon?


He dares not come there, for the candle. For,

you see, it is already in snuff.
snuff, in in need of snuffing out; also: in a rage


I am aweary of this moon. Would he would change.

I am aweary of this moon. Would he would


It appears by his small light of discretion that

he is in the wane. But yet in courtesy, in all reason, we

must stay the time.


Proceed, Moon.


All that I have to say is to tell you that the

lantern is the moon, I the man i'th' moon, this thorn

bush my thorn bush, and this dog my dog.


Why, all these should be in the lantern; for

all these are in the moon. But, silence: here comes Thisbe.

Enter Flute as Thisbe

FLUTE as Thisbe

This is old Ninny's tomb. Where is my love?

SNUG as Lion


Lion roars. Flute as Thisbe runs off


Well roared, Lion!


Well run, Thisbe!


Well shone, Moon! Truly, the moon shines

with a good grace.

Lion tears Thisbe's mantle. Exit


Well moused, Lion!


And then came Pyramus.


And so the lion vanished.

Enter Bottom as Pyramus

BOTTOM as Pyramus

Sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;

I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright;

For by thy gracious, golden, glittering beams

I trust to take of truest Thisbe sight.

But stay – O spite!

But mark, poor Knight,
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

What dreadful dole is here?
dole (n.) 1 grief, sorrow, sadness

Eyes, do you see? –

How can it be?

O dainty duck, O dear!

Thy mantle good –

What, stained with blood!

Approach, ye Furies fell.

O Fates, come, come,

Cut thread and thrum,
thrum (n.) unwoven end of a warp-thread on a loom

Quail, crush, conclude, and quell.
quail (v.) 1 overpower, destroy, make an end
quell (v.) 2 kill, destroy, slay


This passion, and the death of a dear friend,
passion (n.) 5 passionate outburst, emotional passage

would go near to make a man look sad.
sad (adj.) 1 serious, grave, solemn See Topics: Frequency count


Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
beshrew, 'shrew (v.) 1 curse, devil take, evil befall See Topics: Frequency count

BOTTOM as Pyramus

O wherefore, nature, didst thou lions frame,

Since lion vile hath here deflowered my dear?

Which is – no, no, which was – the fairest dame
dame (n.) 3 lady, mistress, woman of rank

That lived, that loved, that liked, that looked with cheer.
cheer (n.) 4 face, look, expression

Come tears, confound;

Out sword, and wound

The pap of Pyramus.

Ay, that left pap,

Where heart doth hop.

Thus die I – thus, thus, thus.

He stabs himself

Now am I dead,

Now am I fled;

My soul is in the sky;

Tongue, lose thy light;

Moon, take thy flight;

Exit Starveling as Moonshine

Now die, die, die, die, die.

He dies


No die, but an ace for him; for he is but one.
ace (n.) one [lowest score on a dice]
die (n.) one of a pair of dice


Less than an ace, man; for he is dead. He is

nothing (n.) 1 [state of] nothingness, oblivion, extinction


With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover,
surgeon (n.) doctor, physician

and prove an ass.


How chance Moonshine is gone before

Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?


She will find him by starlight. Here she comes;

and her passion ends the play.
passion (n.) 5 passionate outburst, emotional passage

Enter Flute as Thisbe
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count


Methinks she should not use a long one for

such a Pyramus. I hope she will be brief.


A mote will turn the balance which Pyramus,
mote (n.) speck of dust, tiny particle, trifle
warrant (v.) 6 protect, preserve, keep safe See Topics: Swearing

which Thisbe is the better – he for a man, God warrant

us; she for a woman, God bless us.


She hath spied him already, with those sweet



And thus she means, videlicet:
mean (v.) 3 lament, mourn, make complaint

FLUTE as Thisbe

Asleep, my love?

What, dead, my dove?

O Pyramus, arise.

Speak, speak. Quite dumb?

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.

O sisters three,

Come, come to me

With hands as pale as milk;

Lay them in gore,

Since you have shore

With shears his thread of silk.

Tongue, not a word!

Come, trusty sword,

Come blade, my breast imbrue.
imbrue, embrue (v.) pierce, stab, stain with blood

She stabs herself

And farewell friends.

Thus Thisbe ends.

Adieu, adieu, adieu!

She dies


Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.


Ay, and Wall too.


(starting up)

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?


No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no

excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all dead,
excuse (v.) 1 explain, give reasons [for]

there needs none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it

had played Pyramus and hanged himself in Thisbe's

garter, it would have been a fine tragedy. And so it is,

truly, and very notably discharged. But come, your
discharge (v.) 2 play, perform, execute

Bergomask; let your epilogue alone.

A dance. Exeunt Bottom and his fellows

The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve.
tell (v.) 1 count out, number, itemize

Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.

I fear we shall outsleep the coming morn
morn (n.) morning, dawn See Topics: Frequency count
outsleep (v.) sleep beyond [a time], sleep in

As much as we this night have overwatched.
overwatch (v.) stay up late, remain awake

This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled
palpable-gross (adj.) obviously clumsy, plainly ignorant

The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.
gait (n.) 1 manner of walking, bearing, movement
heavy (adj.) 7 slow-moving, sluggish, laggard

A fortnight hold we this solemnity

In nightly revels and new jollity.
nightly (adj.) 1 of the night, active at night

Exeunt Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate,

Demetrius, Helena, Lysander, Hermia,

Lords, and Attendants

Enter Puck


Now the hungry lion roars

And the wolf behowls the moon,
behowl (v.) howl at, bay, cry out to

Whilst the heavy ploughman snores
heavy (adj.) 4 weary, exhausted, worn out

All with weary task fordone.
foredone (adj.) exhausted, tired out, worn out

Now the wasted brands do glow
wasted (adj.) 1 spent, consumed, burnt-out

Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,

Puts the wretch that lies in woe

In remembrance of a shroud.
remembrance (n.) 1 memory, bringing to mind, recollection See Topics: Frequency count

Now it is the time of night

That the graves, all gaping wide,

Every one lets forth his sprite

In the churchway 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
frolic (adj.) frolicsome, merry, frisky

Shall disturb this hallowed house.

I am sent with broom before

To sweep the dust behind the door.

Enter Oberon and Titania, with all their train


Through the house give glimmering light

By the dead and drowsy fire;

Every elf and fairy sprite

Hop as light as bird from briar,

And this ditty after me

Sing, and dance it trippingly.


First rehearse your song by rote,
rehearse (v.) 2 pronounce, speak, utter

To each word a warbling note.

Hand in hand with fairy grace

Will we sing and bless this place.

Song and dance


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
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

Ever shall be fortunate.

So shall all the couples three

Ever true in loving be,

And the blots of nature's hand

Shall not in their issue stand.

Never mole, harelip, nor scar,

Nor mark prodigious, such as are
mark (n.) 6 birthmark, discolouration, blemish
prodigious (adj.) 1 ominous, portentous, promising evil

Despised in nativity,

Shall upon their children be.

With this field dew consecrate
consecrate (adj.) consecrated, blessed, sanctified

Every fairy take his gait,
gait (n.) 2 proceedings, course, doings, steps

And each several chamber bless
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count

Through this palace with sweet peace;

And the owner of it blessed

Ever shall in safety rest.

Trip away; make no stay.

Meet me all by break of day.

Exeunt Oberon, Titania, and their train


(to the audience)

If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended:

That you have but slumbered here

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,
weak (adj.) 1 of little worth, wanting, deficient

No more yielding but a dream,

Gentles, do not reprehend.
gentle (n.) 2 (plural) ladies and gentlemen, gentlefolk
reprehend (v.) 1 reprove, censure, rebuke

If you pardon, we will mend.

And, as I am an honest Puck,

If we have unearned luck

Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count

We will make amends ere long,

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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