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SCENE I. Athens. An Apartment in the Palace of THESEUS.


[Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, Lords, and Attendants.]


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


THESEUS
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 a 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?


HIPPOLYTA
But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigur'd so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.


[Enter LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HERMIA, and HELENA.]


THESEUS
Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.--
Joy, gentle friends! joy and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!


LYSANDER
More than to us
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!


THESEUS
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.


PHILOSTRATE
Here, mighty Theseus.


THESEUS
Say, what abridgment have you for this evening?
What masque? what music? How shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight?


PHILOSTRATE
There is a brief how many sports are ripe;
Make choice of which your highness will see first.


[Giving a paper.]


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 deceas'd 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?


PHILOSTRATE
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 rehears'd, I must confess,
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.


THESEUS
What are they that do play it?


PHILOSTRATE
Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
Which never labour'd in their minds till now;
And now have toil'd their unbreath'd memories
With this same play against your nuptial.


THESEUS
And we will hear it.


PHILOSTRATE
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.


THESEUS
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.


[Exit PHILOSTRATE.]


HIPPOLYTA
I love not to see wretchedness o'er-charged,
And duty in his service perishing.


THESEUS
Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.


HIPPOLYTA
He says they can do nothing in this kind.


THESEUS
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 practis'd 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.


[Enter PHILOSTRATE.]


PHILOSTRATE
SO please your grace, the prologue is address'd.


THESEUS
Let him approach.


[Flourish of trumpets. Enter PROLOGUE.]


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
    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,'


THESEUS
This fellow doth not stand upon points.


LYSANDER
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.


HIPPOLYTA
Indeed he hath played on this prologue like a child on a recorder; a sound, but not in government.


THESEUS
His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?


[Enter PYRAMUS and THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, and LION, as in dumb show.]


PROLOGUE
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 Thisby 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 by name Lion hight,
The trusty Thisby, 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 Thisby's mantle slain;
Whereat with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
    He bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast;
And Thisby, 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.


[Exeunt PROLOGUE, THISBE, LION, and MOONSHINE.]


THESEUS
I wonder if the lion be to speak.


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


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,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
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.


THESEUS
Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?


DEMETRIUS
It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.


THESEUS
Pyramus draws near the wall; silence.


[Enter PYRAMUS.]


PYRAMUS
O grim-look'd 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 Thisby'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.


[WALL holds up his fingers.]


Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for this!
    But what see what see I? No Thisby do I see.
O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss,
    Curs'd be thy stones for thus deceiving me!


THESEUS
The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.


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


[Enter THISBE.]


THISBE
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.


PYRAMUS
I see a voice; now will I to the chink,
To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face.
Thisby!


THISBE
My love! thou art my love, I think.


PYRAMUS
Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace;
And like Limander am I trusty still.


THISBE
And I like Helen, till the fates me kill.


PYRAMUS
Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.


THISBE
As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.


PYRAMUS
O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.


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


PYRAMUS
Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?


THISBE
'Tide life, 'tide death, I come without delay.


WALL
Thus have I, wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.


[Exeunt WALL, PYRAMUS and THISBE.]


THESEUS
Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.


DEMETRIUS
No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear without warning.


HIPPOLYTA
This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.


THESEUS
The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them.


HIPPOLYTA
It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.


THESEUS
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.


[Enter LION and MOONSHINE.]


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,
    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.


THESEUS
A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience.


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


LYSANDER
This lion is a very fox for his valour.


THESEUS
True; and a goose for his discretion.


DEMETRIUS
Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his discretion, and the fox carries the goose.


THESEUS
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.


MOONSHINE
This lanthorn doth the horned moon present:


DEMETRIUS
He should have worn the horns on his head.


THESEUS
He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the circumference.


MOONSHINE
This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;
Myself the man i' the moon do seem to be.


THESEUS
This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man should be put into the lantern. How is it else the man i' the moon?


DEMETRIUS
He dares not come there for the candle: for, you see, it is already in snuff.


HIPPOLYTA
I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!


THESEUS
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.


LYSANDER
Proceed, moon.


MOON
All that I have to say, is to tell you that the lantern is the moon; I, the man i' the moon; this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.


DEMETRIUS
Why, all these should be in the lantern; for all these are in the moon. But silence; here comes Thisbe.


[Enter THISBE.]


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


LION
Oh!


[The LION roars.--THISBE runs off.]


DEMETRIUS
Well roared, lion.


THESEUS
Well run, Thisbe.


HIPPOLYTA
Well shone, moon.--Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.


[The LION tears THISBE'S Mantle, and exit.]


THESEUS
Well moused, lion.


DEMETRIUS
And so comes Pyramus.


LYSANDER
And then the lion vanishes.


[Enter PYRAMUS.]


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 streams,
    I trust to take of truest Thisby's 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! stained with blood?
      Approach, ye furies fell!
          O fates! come, come;
          Cut thread and thrum;
      Quail, rush, conclude, and quell!


THESEUS
This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man look sad.


HIPPOLYTA
Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.


PYRAMUS
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 liv'd, that lov'd, that lik'd, that look'd with cheer.
          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.
          Now am I dead,
          Now am I fled;
      My soul is in the sky:
          Tongue, lose thy light!
          Moon, take thy flight!
      Now die, die, die, die, die.


[Dies. Exit MOONSHINE.]


DEMETRIUS
No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.


LYSANDER
Less than an ace, man; for he is dead; he is nothing.


THESEUS
With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover and prove an ass.


HIPPOLYTA
How chance moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?


THESEUS
She will find him by starlight.--Here she comes; and her passion ends the play.


[Enter THISBE.]


HIPPOLYTA
Methinks she should not use a long one for such a Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.


DEMETRIUS
A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the better.


LYSANDER
She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.


DEMETRIUS
And thus she moans, videlicet.--


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;
          And farewell, friends:--
          Thus Thisbe ends;
      Adieu, adieu, adieu.


[Dies.]


THESEUS
Moonshine and lion are left to bury the dead.


DEMETRIUS
Ay, and wall too.


BOTTOM
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?


THESEUS
No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all dead there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus, and hang'd 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 beguil'd
The heavy gait of night.--Sweet friends, to bed.--
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
In nightly revels and new jollity.


[Exeunt.]



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