Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare II by Edith Nesbit Stories from Shakespeare II by Edith Nesbit    

Lesson 36: A Midsummer Night's Dream Act V, Scene i

Performer: Librivox - Group

ACT V, SCENE i. Athens. An apartment in the palace of THESEUS.
ACT V, SCENE i. An apartment in the palace of THESEUS, Duke of Athens.
'Tis strange my Theseus,
that these lovers speak of.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
It's strange, Theseus,
what the lovers told us.
More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
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:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
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,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Far more strange than true. I don't believe in fables or fairy tales.
Lovers and madmen have some crazy brains.
Sane people will never be able to
understand their strange fantasies.
Lunatics, lovers, and poets all have wild imaginations.
Lunatics imagine more devils than even hell can hold.
Lovers see beauty where none exists.
Poets are always writing in a frenzy,
confusing imaginary heavenly
spirits with real earthly bodies.
These people have such vivid imaginations,
that they believe spirits bring them happiness
and at night, that a bush is a bear.
But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigured so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
But they all tell the same story.
Although strange, their stories are very consistent.
Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.
Joy, gentle friends! joy and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Here come the happy and joyous lovers.
I wish you great joy my good friends! May love and joy be with you always!
More than to us Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!
LYSANDER (Loves Hermia)
We wish you even more love and joy in return, during your royal walks, while you feast, and in the bedroom!
Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have,
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after-supper and bed-time?
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.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
What masked balls and dances should will have,
to fill the three hours
between supper and bedtime?
Where is our manager of festivities?
What fun is in store for us? Isn't there a play,
to make these three boring hours entertaining?
Get Philostrate for me.
Here, mighty Theseus.
PHILOSTRATE (Master of Celebrations)
I'm here, mighty Theseus.
Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?
What masque? what music? How shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight?
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
What have you scheduled this evening?
What plays? What music? How shall we spend
our time, if we are not entertained?
There is a brief how many sports are ripe:
Make choice of which your highness will see first.
PHILOSTRATE (Master of Celebrations)
We have many things planned.
Pick which your highness wants to see first.
Giving a paper, THESEUS reads
PHILOSTRATE gives THESEUS a paper, and THESEUS reads
'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,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.'
That is an old device; and it was play'd
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,
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
'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?
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
'The battle of Hercules with the Centaurs, to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.'
Not that one. I already told
the story of Hercules to Hippolyta.
'The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.'
That's an old tale, and it was already performed
when I returned from conquering Thebes.
'The nine Muses mourning for the death
of learning, late deceased in beggary.'
Now that's some clever satire,
but hardly appropriate for a wedding.
'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.'
Funny and tragic! Tedious and short!
That's like hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
What will we think of the harmony of the strife?
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.
PHILOSTRATE (Master of Celebrations)
The play is about ten words long,
the shortest play ever.
But the play is ten words too long,
making it tedious. During the entire play,
there isn't an appropriate word or character.
It is tragic, my lord,
for Pyramus kills himself.
When I saw the scene rehearsed,
I confess I became teary-eyed.
But my tears were of laughter, not sorrow.
What are they that do play it?
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Who is acting in the play?
Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
Which never labor'd in their minds till now,
And now have toil'd their unbreathed memories
With this same play, against your nuptial.
PHILOSTRATE (Master of Celebrations)
Athenian tradesmen, who may work their bodies, but
before this, have never worked their minds.
Now they've worked their minds
to put on this play for your wedding.
And we will hear it.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Sounds good.
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,
Extremely stretch'd and conn'd with cruel pain,
To do you service.
PHILOSTRATE (Master of Celebrations)
Please no, lord.
You won't like this play.
I watched the whole play,
and it is absolutely dreadful.
Unless you find their awful acting funny,
you won't like it.
I will hear that play;
For never anything can be amiss,
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in: and take your places, ladies.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
I want to see the play.
It can't be that bad,
as the simple and dutiful are putting it on.
Bring in the actors. Please sit, ladies.
I love not to see wretchedness o'er charged
And duty in his service perishing.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
I'm not looking forward to seeing these simple and dutiful people fail at the play.
Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Sweetheart, you'll see no such thing.
He says they can do nothing in this kind.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
Philostrate said they'll be terrible actors.
The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
Our sport shall be to take what they mistake:
And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
Takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practiced 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 pick'd a welcome;
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most, to my capacity.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Even if they do poorly, we'll kindly thank them.
We'll find their mistakes funny.
We must give the poor respect for trying hard,
even if they fail.
During my adventures
great scholars have greeted me with rehearsed welcomes.
They've shivered and looked pale,
stopped in the middle of sentences,
spoke in high-pitched, squeaky voices due to fear
and have trailed off without coming to a conclusion
and forgetting to actually welcome me.
Trust me, sweetheart,
I can find the welcome in their silence.
In their modesty and fear,
I get as much welcome from those who are nervous
as from those who are smooth and well-spoken.
Sometimes the tongue-tied simplicity of love
says the most, in my experience.
So please your grace, the Prologue is address'd.
PHILOSTRATE (Master of Celebrations)
If you please your grace, the person giving the play's introduction is ready to begin.
Let him approach.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Let him come forward.
Flourish of trumpets
Trumpets blare
Enter Prologue
QUINCE enters to give the introduction to the play
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 contest 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.
[Giving the introduction without proper punctuation]
If we offend you, it with our good intentions.
We don't want you to think we wish to offend you,
but we do wish to offend you with our good intentions.
We want to show our little bit of talent
but it may result in our demise.
Please remember we're here to spite you.
We aren't here to delight you.
The actors are ready to come out and make you sorry you're watching this play.
By watching this show, you'll know everything you're likely to know.
This fellow doth not stand upon points.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
This fellow messed up the punctuation.
He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he knows
not the stop. A good moral, my lord: it is not
enough to speak, but to speak true.
LYSANDER (Loves Hermia)
He rode that introduction like it was a wild colt. He has no idea where to pause. A good lesson, my lord. It is not enough to just recite a speech, but you must recite it accurately.
Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child
on a recorder; a sound, but not in government.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
Indeed, he played that introduction
like a child playing a recorder.
He made sounds, but
not in proper order.
His speech, was like a tangled chain;
nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
His speech was like a tangled chain. Not broken, but all knotted up. Who's next?
Enter PYRAMUS, and THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, and LION, as in dumb show
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 Thisbe is certain.
This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;
And through Wall's chink, poor souls, they are content
To whisper. At the which let no man wonder.
This man, with lanthorn, 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,
The trusty Thisbe, coming first by night,
Did scare away, or rather did affright;
And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall,
Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.
Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
And finds his trusty Thisbe's mantle slain:
Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast;
And Thisbe, tarrying in mulberry shade,
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain
At large discourse, while here they do remain.
(Prologue) Gentlemen, perhaps you are wondering so far at this show.
Keep on wondering, until things become clear.
This man is Pyramus.
This beautiful lady, is most certainly Thisbe.
This man, wearing the limestone and cement,
represents the awful wall which separates these lovers.
The lovers, poor souls, must be content
to whisper through holes in the wall.
And no person should wonder at this.
This man with the lantern, his dog
and a thorn bush is Moonshine.
If you wish to know, the lovers meet
for wooing in the moonlight at Ninus' tomb.
This grisly beast is Lion.
Lion scares Thisbe in the night.
As she runs, she drops her cloak,
and the Lion stains it with his bloody mouth.
Tall youth Pyramus comes along and finds Thisbe's bloody cloak.
Thinking Thisbe dead, he stabs his chest with his sword.
Thisbe, hiding in the shade of a mulberry,
takes Pyramus' dagger and kills herself.
For the remainder of the story, Lion, Moonshine,
Wall, and the lovers discuss what happened.
Exeunt Prologue, Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine
I wonder if the lion be to speak.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
I wonder whether the lion has any lines.
No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
I wouldn't be surprised, my lord. If all these donkeys can speak, surely a lion can too.
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,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast 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.
SNOUT (playing Wall)
At this time, I,
named Snout, play a wall.
And this wall has a hole, through which
lovers Pyramus and Thisbe secretly whisper.
This earth and cement I wear
shows that I am that wall.
This is the hole through which
the fearful lovers whisper.
Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Could limestone and hair speak any better?
It is the wittiest partition that ever
I heard discourse, my lord.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
It is the funniest partition
I've ever heard talk, my lord.
Pyramus draws near the wall: silence!
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Pyramus is nearing the wall. Quiet!
Enter Pyramus
BOTTOM (Playing Pyramus) enters
O grim-look'd night! O night with hue so black!
O night, whichever 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 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!
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
Oh grim-looking night! Oh black-hued night!
Oh night, as it is whenever it is not day!
Oh night, oh night! Woe, woe, woe,
I fear Thisbe forgot her promise.
And you, oh wall, oh sweet, oh lovely wall,
that separates my land from her father's!
You wall, oh wall, oh sweet and lovely wall,
Show me your hole that I can look through!
Wall holds up his fingers
SNOUT (playing Wall) holds up two fingers to make a hole
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!
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
Thank you, kind wall. May Jupiter, the Greek god of lightning and thunder, protect you for this!
What do I see through the hole?
I don't see Thisbe.
You horrible wall, I see nothing beautiful through you.
I curse your stones for tricking me!
The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
I think the wall should curse back at him.
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 you.
Yonder she comes.
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
No, sir Theseus, he should not. 'Deceiving me,' is Thisbe's cue
to come onstage.
I am to see her through the wall.
You will see, it will work out just like I say.
Here she comes.
Enter Thisbe
Thisbe enters
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.
FLUTE (playing Thisbe)
Oh wall, you have often heard me moaning,
because you keep beautiful Pyramus and me apart!
My red lips have often kissed your stones,
Your stones entangled with limestone and hair.
I see a voice: now will I to the chink,
To spy an I can hear my Thisbe's face. Thisbe!
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
I see a voice.
Now I will look through the hole,
To see if I hear my Thisbe's face.
My love thou art, my love I think.
FLUTE (playing Thisbe)
You are my love,
I think you are my love.
Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace;
And, like Limander, am I trusty still.
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
Think whatever you want,
I am your lover.
And, like Leander (a young man from Greek mythology), I am always faithful. [Note: The bumbling Bottom and Thisbe mistakenly call Limander and Helen, Leander and Hero.]
And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.
FLUTE (playing Thisbe)
I will be faithful to you
like Hero (priestess of Aphrodite and Leander's lover) until I am fated to die.
Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
I'm more faithful to you than the Greek hero Cephalus was to his wife, Procris.[Note: Bottom and Thisbe continue to make mistakes, mispronouncing Cephalus as Shafalus and Procris as Procrus.]
As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.
FLUTE (playing Thisbe)
And I'm even more faithful than the Athenian princess Procris was to her husband, Cephalus.
O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
Oh kiss me through the hole in this nasty wall!
I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.
FLUTE (playing Thisbe)
I can only kiss the hole, not your lips.
Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
Will you meet me right away at Ninny's tomb?
[Note: Once again, it should be 'Ninus' tomb']
'Tide life, 'tide death, I come without delay.
FLUTE (playing Thisbe)
Even life and death can't stop me from coming immediately.
Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.
SNOUT (playing Wall)
Now I, Wall, have finished my part
,and being done, the Wall goes away.
Exeunt Wall, Pyramus, and Thisbe
SNOUT (playing Wall), BOTTOM (playing Pyramus), and FLUTE (playing Thisbe) leave
Now is the mural down between the two neighbors.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
So now the wall comes down after the lovers leave.
No remedy, my lord, when walls are so willful to hear
without warning.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
There's no cure, my lord.
When walls listen in without warning.
This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
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.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
The very best plays of this kind are illusions.
The worst are no worse, if you use your imagination.
It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.
If we imagine no worse of them than they of themselves,
they may pass for excellent men.
Here come two noble beasts in, a moon and a lion.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
If we can see them as they see themselves,
they're doing a great job.
Here come two noble beasts, a moon and a lion.
Enter Lion and Moonshine
SNUG (playing Lion) and STARVELING (playing Moonshine) enter
You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am
A lion-fell, nor else no lion's dam;
For, if I should as lion come in strife
Into this place, 'twere pity on my life.
SNUG (playing Lion)
You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
The tiniest mouse creeping across the floor,
You may shake and tremble here,
When the raging lion roars.
Please know I am only Snug, the carpenter.
I am not really a lion or a lioness.
If I was really a lion,
I'd get into trouble and could lose my life.
A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
A gentle beast, with a good conscience.
The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
The very best beast I ever saw acted, my lord.
This lion is a very fox for his valor.
LYSANDER (Loves Hermia)
This lion has the bravery of a fox.
True; and a goose for his discretion.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
True, the discretion of a goose.
Not so, my lord; for his valor cannot carry his discretion;
and the fox carries the goose.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
Not so, my lord; for he's not brave enough to be discreet.
His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valor;
for the goose carries not the fox. It is well:
leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Well, he's not discreet enough to be brave either.
Let's drop this and listen to the moon.
This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;--
STARVELING (playing Moonshine)
This lantern is the crescent moon.
He should have worn the horns on his head.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
He should wear the horns on his head.
He is no crescent, and his horns are
invisible within the circumference.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
He's not a crescent moon,
so his horns must be invisible within the circumference.
This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;
Myself the man i' the moon do seem to be.
STARVELING (playing Moonshine)
This lantern is the crescent moon.
I, myself, am the man in the moon.
This is the greatest error of all the rest:
the man should be put into the lanthorn.
How is it else the man i' the moon?
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
This is the funniest error yet.
So the man belongs inside the lantern.
How else could the man get in the moon?
He dares not come there for the candle;
for, you see, it is already in snuff.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
He dares get into the lantern because of the candle.
For you see, it is already lit.
I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
I'm tired of this moon.
I wish he would disappear.
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.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
It appears, that he's getting smaller
but yet, to be courteous,
we must wait to find out.
Proceed, Moon.
LYSANDER (Loves Hermia)
Continue, moon.
All that I have to say, is, 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.
STARVELING (playing Moonshine)
All I have to say, to tell you,
is that the lantern is the moon,
I am the man in the moon,
this is my thorn bush,
and this is my dog.
Why, all these should be in the lanthorn;
for all these are in the moon.
But, silence! here comes Thisbe.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
All of these things should be in the lantern,
for they are all in the moon.
But quiet! Here comes Thisbe.
Enter Thisbe
FLUTE (playing Thisbe) enters
This is old Ninny's tomb. Where is my love?
FLUTE (playing Thisbe)
This is old Ninny's tomb, so where is my love, Pyramus?
The lion roars.
SNUG (playing Lion) roars
Thisbe runs off
FLUTE (playing Thisbe) runs off
Well roared, Lion.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
Nice roar, Lion.
Well run, Thisbe.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Nice running, Thisbe.
Well shone, Moon.
Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
Good job shining, Moon.
Truly the moon shines quite gracefully.
The Lion tears Thisbe's mantle, and exit
SNUG (playing Lion) rips Thisbe's cloak and leaves
Well moused, Lion.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Get that cloak, Lion!
And so comes Pyramus.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
And here comes Pyramus.
And then the lion vanishes.
LYSANDER (Loves Hermia)
And the lion vanishes.
Enter Pyramus
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus) enters
Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright;
For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams,
I trust to take of truest Thisbe sight.
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!
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
Sweet moon, I thank you for your bright light.
I thank you, moon, for shining brightly now.
For by your glittering light,
I'll be able to see Thisbe well.
But wait! Oh no!
But see here! Poor me!
What awful thing is this?
Do my eyes deceive me?
How can it be?
Oh dainty duck! Oh dear!
This good cloak,
What, is it stained with blood?
Come here and help, Furies (three mythological Greek goddesses of vengeance),
Come here Fates (three mythological Greek goddesses who weave our destinies),
cut my life.
Cower, crush, end, and kill!
This passion, and the death of a dear friend,
would go near to make a man look sad.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Wow, with this passionate performance, if a dear friend died right now
this could almost make a man sad.
Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
Curse my heart, but I actually feel sorry for the man.
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
That lived, that loved, that liked, that look'd with cheer.
Come, tears, confound;
Out, sword, and wound
The pap of Pyramus;
Ay, that left pap,
Where heart doth hop:
[Stabs himself]
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
Now am I dead,
Now am I fled;
My soul is in the sky:
Tongue, lose thy light;
Moon take thy flight:
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
Oh nature, why did you create lions?
This vile lion here killed my sweetheart.
Which is--no, no--which was the most beautiful woman
that ever loved, like, looked with cheer.
Come tears, and drown me.
Get out sword, and wound my chest.
Yes, the left side of the chest,
where my heart beats.
[Stabs himself]
Thus I die, thus, thus, thus.
So now I'm dead.
My soul flees into the sky.
My tongue can no longer see.
Moon, go away.
Now die, die, die, die, die.
BOTTOM (playing Pyramus)
Now die, die, die, die, die.
[He dies]
Exit Moonshine
STARVELING (playing Moonshine) leaves
No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
No die (as in dice), but only an ace (card) for him; for he is only one.
Less than an ace, man;
for he is dead; he is nothing.
LYSANDER (Loves Hermia)
He's less than an ace card, man;
because he's dead. He's a zero now.
With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover,
and prove an ass.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
With a doctor's help he might recover and become a donkey again.
How chance Moonshine is gone
before Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
Why is Moonshine gone
before Thisbe comes back to find her lover dead?
She will find him by starlight.
Here she comes;
and her passion ends the play.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
She'll find him by starlight.
Here she comes, her misery will end the play.
Enter Thisbe
FLUTE (playing Thisbe) re-enters
Methinks she should not use a long one
for such a Pyramus:
I hope she will be brief.
HIPPOLYTA (Amazon Queen)
That Pyramus doesn't deserve much weeping.
I hope she's quick.
A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which
Thisbe, is the better.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
There isn't a tiny speck of difference between whether Pyramus or Thisbe is better.
She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.
LYSANDER (Loves Hermia)
She's spotted him with her sweet eyes.
And thus she moans, videlicet:--
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
And so she moans,
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:
And, farewell, friends;
Thus Thisbe ends:
Adieu, adieu, adieu.
FLUTE (playing Thisbe)
Are you asleep, my love?
What, are you dead, my dove?
Oh Pyramus, get up!
Please speak to me, can't you talk?
Are you really dead?
A coffin will cover your sweet eyes.
Your lily-white lips,
Your cherry-red nose,
your cowslip-yellow cheeks,
are gone, are gone!
Lovers, cry out.
His eyes were as green as leeks.
Oh, the three Fate sisters,
please come to me.
With your hands as white as milk,
cover them in gore,
since you have cut,
with scissors the silken thread of his life.
Don't say a word, tongue.
Come here, trustworthy sword.
Come here blade, and pierce my breast.
[Thisbe stabs herself]
Goodbye, my friends.
Now I die.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
[Thisbe dies]
Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Only Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the bodies.
Ay, and Wall too.
DEMETRIUS (Enchanted to love Helena)
Don't forget Wall. He can help too.
No 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?
BOTTOM (Weaver)
[Standing, even though his character is dead]
No, I assure you. The wall parting the fathers of Pyramus and Thisbe is down.
Do you want to see the final commentary,
or do you wish to hear an Italian dance
by two of the players?
No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse.
Never excuse; for when the players are all dead,
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 Bergomask: let your epilogue alone.
[Here a dance of clowns]
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.
This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled
The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
In nightly revels and new jollity.
THESEUS (Duke of Athens)
Please, no epilogue, your play needs no additional reflection.
Everyone is dead,
so no one is at fault.
If the play writer had played Pyramus
hanged himself using Thisbe's belt,
it would have been a great tragedy.
So it is a great tragedy, and very well played.
But come one, let's see the Italian dance. Forget the epilogue.
[The players dance]

Exeunt. Scene II.
BOTTOM and FLUTE leave. Scene II.
Enter PUCK
PUCK enters
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 its 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:
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.
PUCK (Trickster Fairy)
The hungry lion roars,
and the wolf howls at the moon.
While the plowman sleeps, snoring,
tired after his long day of work.
The burnt log embers of an old fire are red,
while the screech-owl screeches loudly,
making the poor, miserable man
ponder his own death.
It is now the time of night
that graves open wide,
freeing their spirits,
to glide among the church paths.
And we fairies,
like Hecate, the three-bodied Greek goddess of ghosts
run away from the sun
to follow darkness,
I won't let anything disturb this house, not even a mouse.
I've been sent with a broom,
to sweep the house.
Enter OBERON and TITANIA with their train
OBERON, TITANIA, and their FAIRIES enter
Through the house give gathering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing, and dance it trippingly.
OBERON (Fairy King)
Though the houses are still lit up
by the embers of the dying fire
every fairy
hop as lightly as a bird on a bush
and sing this song
and dance.
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.
[Song and dance]
TITANIA (Fairy Queen)
First, rehearse your song from memory, and
add lovely musical notes to the words.
Let's hold hands and sing
to bless this place with our fairy magic.
[Fairies sing and dance to bless the house.]
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;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
There shall it in safety rest,
And the owner of it blest
Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.
OBERON (Fairy King)
Now until morning
let every fairy wander through the house.
We will visit the bridal bed and bless it.
The children created by the Duke and Hippolyta
will always be lucky.
The three couples
will always be in love.
Their children will
not have blemishes
or deformities when born.
I consecrate this home with dew,
every fairy walk
through each room and
bless this whole palace with peace.
Bless the owner,
with everlasting safety.
Hurry now, don't delay.
We'll meet again in the morning.
Everyone leaves except for 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.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
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,
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.
PUCK (Trickster Fairy)
If we actors have offended you,
think on this to fix your anger,
you've been sleeping
while these visions occurred
and this silly story
is only a dream.
Gentlemen and Ladies, don't be angry,
if you forgive us, we'll make amends.
I am an honest fairy.
If we are lucky enough
that the audience hasn't hissed at us like a snake,
we will make up for everything soon,
or you can call me a liar.
So good night to everyone.
Let's hold hands as friends,
and I'll make it all up to you.
PUCK leaves

    Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare II by Edith Nesbit Stories from Shakespeare II by Edith Nesbit    

Lesson 36: A Midsummer Night's Dream Act V, Scene i

Performer: Librivox - Group


Study the assigned Shakespeare scene over the week.

Over the week:

  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read along while listening to the lesson audio recording.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


In Act V, Scene i of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' Theseus and Hippolyta and the two pairs of young lovers have been wedded and settle in for some celebratory entertainment. Theseus, Hippolyta, Lysander, and Demetrius enjoy poking fun at the silly performance of 'Pyramus and Thisbe.' After the play ends and the mortals sleep, the fairies return to bless the house of Theseus. Puck tells the audience if they didn't enjoy the play, they should pretend it was only a dream and that the fairies will make amends.


Activity 1: Recite the Play Information

  • Recite aloud the play title, the numbers of the act and scene, and the author of the play.

Activity 2: Narrate the Scene

  • After reading or listening to the scene, narrate the events aloud in your own words.

Activity 3: Read Aloud the Dramatis Personae of the Play

The Athenians

  • THESEUS, Duke of Athens
  • HIPPOLYTA, Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus
  • EGEUS, Father to Hermia
  • HERMIA, daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander
  • HELENA, in love with Demetrius
  • LYSANDER, in love with Hermia
  • DEMETRIUS, in love with Hermia
  • Attendants (servants) to Theseus and Hippolyta

Referred to as the Players, Clowns, or Mechanicals:

  • PHILOSTRATE, Master of the Revels to Theseus
  • QUINCE, the Carpenter
  • SNUG, the Joiner
  • BOTTOM, the Weaver
  • FLUTE, the Bellows-mender
  • SNOUT, the Tinker
  • STARVELING, the Tailor
  • PYRAMUS, THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, LION; Characters in the Interlude performed by the Players

The Fairies:

  • OBERON, King of the Fairies
  • TITANIA, Queen of the Fairies
  • COBWEB, Fairy
  • MOTH, Fairy
  • Other Fairies attending their King and Queen

Activity 4: Map the Play

  • The comedic play, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' takes place in and around the city of Athens, Greece.
  • Point to the location of Greece on the map of the world.
  • Which continent is east of Greece?

Activity 5: Read the Modern Translation Aloud

  • With family or friends, choose roles and read the modern translation of the scene aloud.

Activity 6: Read the Original Text Aloud

  • With family or friends, choose roles and read the original text of the scene aloud.

Activity 7: Discuss the Story

  • Discuss your thoughts on the play of Pyramus and Thisbe. Were the players successful in putting on a 'lamentable comedy?'
  • Did you like the ending, with all of the young lovers marrying alongside Oberon and Hippolyta?
  • Do you think Oberon should have kept Demetrius enchanted to love Helena, conceivably for the rest of his life? Why or why not?


  1. 'Shakespeare's Comedy of A Midsummer-Night's Dream,' by William Shakespeare and William Heath {1914, PD-US}. n.p.
  2. Illustrations from 'A Midsummer-Night's Dream for Young People,' by Lucy Fitch Perkins {1907, PD-US}. n.p.