Act III - Scene 2

Scene II. Another part of the wood.


Enter Oberon


Oberon I wonder if Titania be awaked;

Then, what it was that next came in her eye,

Which she must dote on in extremity.


Enter Puck


Here comes my messenger.

How now, mad spirit!

What night-rule now about this haunted grove?


Puck My mistress with a monster is in love.

Near to her close and consecrated bower,

While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,

A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,

That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,

Were met together to rehearse a play

Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial-day.

The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,

Who Pyramus presented, in their sport

Forsook his scene and enter’d in a brake

When I did him at this advantage take,

An ass’s nole I fixed on his head:

Anon his Thisbe must be answered,

And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,

As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,

Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,

Rising and cawing at the gun’s report,

Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky,

So, at his sight, away his fellows fly;

And, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls;

He murder cries and help from Athens calls.

Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong,

Made senseless things begin to do them wrong;

For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch;

Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things catch.

I led them on in this distracted fear,

And left sweet Pyramus translated there:

When in that moment, so it came to pass,

Titania waked and straightway loved an ass.


Oberon This falls out better than I could devise.

But hast thou yet latch’d the Athenian’s eyes

With the love-juice, as I did bid thee do?


Puck I took him sleeping — that is finish’d too —

And the Athenian woman by his side:

That, when he waked, of force she must be eyed.


Enter Hermia and Demetrius


Oberon Stand close: this is the same Athenian.


Puck This is the woman, but not this the man.


Demetrius O, why rebuke you him that loves you so?

Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.


Hermia Now I but chide; but I should use thee worse,

For thou, I fear, hast given me cause to curse,

If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep,

Being o’er shoes in blood, plunge in the deep,

And kill me too.

The sun was not so true unto the day

As he to me: would he have stolen away

From sleeping Hermia? I’ll believe as soon

This whole earth may be bored and that the moon

May through the centre creep and so displease

Her brother’s noontide with Antipodes.

It cannot be but thou hast murder’d him;

So should a murderer look, so dead, so grim.


Demetrius So should the murder’d look, and so should I,

Pierced through the heart with your stern cruelty:

Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear,

As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere.


Hermia What’s this to my Lysander? where is he?

Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?


Demetrius I had rather give his carcass to my hounds.


Hermia Out, dog! out, cur! thou drivest me past the bounds

Of maiden’s patience. Hast thou slain him, then?

Henceforth be never number’d among men!

O, once tell true, tell true, even for my sake!

Durst thou have look’d upon him being awake,

And hast thou kill’d him sleeping? O brave touch!

Could not a worm, an adder, do so much?

An adder did it; for with doubler tongue

Than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.


Demetrius You spend your passion on a misprised mood:

I am not guilty of Lysander’s blood;

Nor is he dead, for aught that I can tell.


Hermia I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.


Demetrius An if I could, what should I get therefore?


Hermia A privilege never to see me more.

And from thy hated presence part I so:

See me no more, whether he be dead or no.




Demetrius There is no following her in this fierce vein:

Here therefore for a while I will remain.

So sorrow’s heaviness doth heavier grow

For debt that bankrupt sleep doth sorrow owe:

Which now in some slight measure it will pay,

If for his tender here I make some stay.


Lies down and sleeps


Oberon What hast thou done? thou hast mistaken quite

And laid the love-juice on some true-love’s sight:

Of thy misprision must perforce ensue

Some true love turn’d and not a false turn’d true.


Puck Then fate o’er-rules, that, one man holding troth,

A million fail, confounding oath on oath.


Oberon About the wood go swifter than the wind,

And Helena of Athens look thou find:

All fancy-sick she is and pale of cheer,

With sighs of love, that costs the fresh blood dear:

By some illusion see thou bring her here:

I’ll charm his eyes against she do appear.


Puck I go, I go; look how I go,

Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow.




Oberon   Flower of this purple dye,

Hit with Cupid’s archery,

Sink in apple of his eye.

When his love he doth espy,

Let her shine as gloriously

As the Venus of the sky.

When thou wakest, if she be by,

Beg of her for remedy.


Re-enter Puck


Puck   Captain of our fairy band,

Helena is here at hand;

And the youth, mistook by me,

Pleading for a lover’s fee.

Shall we their fond pageant see?

Lord, what fools these mortals be!


Oberon Stand aside: the noise they make

Will cause Demetrius to awake.


Puck Then will two at once woo one;

That must needs be sport alone;

And those things do best please me

That befall preposterously.


Enter Lysander and Helena


Lysander Why should you think that I should woo in scorn?

Scorn and derision never come in tears:

Look, when I vow, I weep; and vows so born,

In their nativity all truth appears.

How can these things in me seem scorn to you,

Bearing the badge of faith, to prove them true?


Helena You do advance your cunning more and more.

When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray!

These vows are Hermia’s: will you give her o’er?

Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh:

Your vows to her and me, put in two scales,

Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.


Lysander I had no judgment when to her I swore.


Helena Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o’er.


Lysander Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.


Demetrius[Awaking] O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!

To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?

Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show

Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!

That pure congealed white, high Taurus snow,

Fann’d with the eastern wind, turns to a crow

When thou hold’st up thy hand: O, let me kiss

This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!


Helena O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent

To set against me for your merriment:

If you were civil and knew courtesy,

You would not do me thus much injury.

Can you not hate me, as I know you do,

But you must join in souls to mock me too?

If you were men, as men you are in show,

You would not use a gentle lady so;

To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts,

When I am sure you hate me with your hearts.

You both are rivals, and love Hermia;

And now both rivals, to mock Helena:

A trim exploit, a manly enterprise,

To conjure tears up in a poor maid’s eyes

With your derision! none of noble sort

Would so offend a virgin, and extort

A poor soul’s patience, all to make you sport.


Lysander You are unkind, Demetrius; be not so;

For you love Hermia; this you know I know:

And here, with all good will, with all my heart,

In Hermia’s love I yield you up my part;

And yours of Helena to me bequeath,

Whom I do love and will do till my death.


Helena Never did mockers waste more idle breath.


Demetrius Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none:

If e’er I loved her, all that love is gone.

My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourn’d,

And now to Helen is it home return’d,

There to remain.


Lysander Helen, it is not so.


Demetrius Disparage not the faith thou dost not know,

Lest, to thy peril, thou aby it dear.

Look, where thy love comes; yonder is thy dear.


Re-enter Hermia


Hermia Dark night, that from the eye his function takes,

The ear more quick of apprehension makes;

Wherein it doth impair the seeing sense,

It pays the hearing double recompense.

Thou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found;

Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound

But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?


Lysander Why should he stay, whom love doth press to go?


Hermia What love could press Lysander from my side?


Lysander Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide,

Fair Helena, who more engilds the night

Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light.

Why seek’st thou me? could not this make thee know,

The hate I bear thee made me leave thee so?


Hermia You speak not as you think: it cannot be.


Helena Lo, she is one of this confederacy!

Now I perceive they have conjoin’d all three

To fashion this false sport, in spite of me.

Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!

Have you conspired, have you with these contrived

To bait me with this foul derision?

Is all the counsel that we two have shared,

The sisters’ vows, the hours that we have spent,

When we have chid the hasty-footed time

For parting us — O, is it all forgot?

All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?

We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,

Have with our needles created both one flower,

Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,

Both warbling of one song, both in one key,

As if our hands, our sides, voices and minds,

Had been incorporate. So we grow together,

Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,

But yet an union in partition;

Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;

So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;

Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,

Due but to one and crowned with one crest.

And will you rent our ancient love asunder,

To join with men in scorning your poor friend?

It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly:

Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,

Though I alone do feel the injury.


Hermia I am amazed at your passionate words.

I scorn you not: it seems that you scorn me.


Helena Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,

To follow me and praise my eyes and face?

And made your other love, Demetrius,

Who even but now did spurn me with his foot,

To call me goddess, nymph, divine and rare,

Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this

To her he hates? and wherefore doth Lysander

Deny your love, so rich within his soul,

And tender me, forsooth, affection,

But by your setting on, by your consent?

What though I be not so in grace as you,

So hung upon with love, so fortunate,

But miserable most, to love unloved?

This you should pity rather than despise.


Hermia I understand not what you mean by this.


Helena Ay, do, persever, counterfeit sad looks,

Make mouths upon me when I turn my back;

Wink each at other; hold the sweet jest up:

This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.

If you have any pity, grace, or manners,

You would not make me such an argument.

But fare ye well: ’tis partly my own fault;

Which death or absence soon shall remedy.


Lysander Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse:

My love, my life my soul, fair Helena!


Helena O excellent!


Hermia   Sweet, do not scorn her so.


Demetrius If she cannot entreat, I can compel.


Lysander Thou canst compel no more than she entreat:

Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers.

Helen, I love thee; by my life, I do:

I swear by that which I will lose for thee,

To prove him false that says I love thee not.


Demetrius I say I love thee more than he can do.


Lysander If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.


Demetrius Quick, come!


Hermia Lysander, whereto tends all this?


Lysander Away, you Ethiope!


Demetrius   No, no; he’ll

Seem to break loose; take on as you would follow,

But yet come not: you are a tame man, go!


Lysander Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! vile thing, let loose,

Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent!


Hermia Why are you grown so rude? what change is this?

Sweet love  —


Lysander Thy love! out, tawny Tartar, out!

Out, loathed medicine! hated potion, hence!


Hermia Do you not jest?


Helena Yes, sooth; and so do you.


Lysander Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.


Demetrius I would I had your bond, for I perceive

A weak bond holds you: I’ll not trust your word.


Lysander What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?

Although I hate her, I’ll not harm her so.

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