SCENE I. Athens. An Apartment in the Palace of THESEUS.
[Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, Lords, and Attendants.]
'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.
More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold;
is the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
tricks hath strong imagination,
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
some bringer of that joy;
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
transfigur'd so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
[Enter LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HERMIA, and HELENA.]
Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.--
Joy, gentle friends! joy and
fresh days of love
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 bed-time?
Where is our usual manager of
What revels are in hand? Is there no play
To ease the anguish of a torturing
Here, mighty 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?
There is a brief how many sports are ripe;
Make choice of which your
highness will see first.
[Giving a paper.]
'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
'The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in
That is an old device, and it was play'd
When I from Thebes came last a
'The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, late deceas'd
That is some satire, keen and critical,
Not sorting with a nuptial
'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
And his love Thisbe; very tragical
Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
That is hot ice and wondrous strange
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 rehears'd, I must
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never
What are they that do play it?
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.
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,
stretch'd and conn'd with cruel pain,
To do you service.
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.
I love not to see wretchedness o'er-charged,
And duty in his service
Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
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:
And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes it in might, not
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
To greet me with premeditated
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of
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
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
least speak most to my capacity.
SO please your grace, the prologue is address'd.
Let him approach.
[Flourish of trumpets. Enter 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,
know all that you are like to know,'
This fellow doth not stand upon points.
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.
Indeed he hath played on this prologue like a child on a recorder; a
sound, but not in government.
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.]
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
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,
bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast;
And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and
At large discourse while here they do remain.
[Exeunt PROLOGUE, THISBE, LION, and MOONSHINE.]
I wonder if the lion be to speak.
No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.
In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a
And such a wall as I would have you think
That had in it a crannied hole or
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very
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.
Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?
It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.
Pyramus draws near the wall; silence.
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
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!
The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.
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.
O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,
For parting my fair Pyramus
My cherry lips have often kiss'd thy stones:
Thy stones with lime and hair
knit up in thee.
I see a voice; now will I to the chink,
To spy an I can hear my Thisby's
My love! thou art my love, I think.
Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace;
And like Limander am I trusty
And I like Helen, till the fates me kill.
Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.
As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.
O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.
I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.
Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?
'Tide life, 'tide death, I come without delay.
Thus have I, wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done, thus Wall away doth
[Exeunt WALL, PYRAMUS and THISBE.]
Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.
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 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.
[Enter LION and MOONSHINE.]
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.
A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience.
The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.
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.
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 within the circumference.
This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;
Myself the man i' the moon do
seem to be.
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?
He dares not come there for the candle: for, you see, it is already in
I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!
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.
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.
Why, all these should be in the lantern; for all these are in the moon.
But silence; here comes Thisbe.
This is old Ninny's tomb. Where is my love?
[The LION roars.--THISBE runs off.]
Well roared, lion.
Well run, Thisbe.
Well shone, moon.--Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.
[The LION tears THISBE'S Mantle, and exit.]
Well moused, lion.
And so comes Pyramus.
And then the lion vanishes.
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!
What dreadful dole is here!
Eyes, do you see?
How can it
O dainty duck! O dear!
Thy mantle good,
What! stained with
Approach, ye furies fell!
O fates! come, come;
Cut thread and
Quail, rush, conclude, and quell!
This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man
Beshrew my heart, but I pity 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 liv'd, that
lov'd, that lik'd, that look'd with cheer.
Come, tears, confound;
The pap of Pyramus:
Ay, that left pap,
Where heart doth
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
Now am I dead,
Now am I fled;
soul is in the sky:
Tongue, lose thy light!
Moon, take thy flight!
die, die, die, die, die.
[Dies. Exit MOONSHINE.]
No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.
Less than an ace, man; for he is dead; he is nothing.
With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover and prove an ass.
How chance moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes back and finds her
She will find him by starlight.--Here she comes; and her passion ends the
Methinks she should not use a long one for such a Pyramus: I hope she will
A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the
She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.
And thus she moans, videlicet.--
Asleep, my love?
What, dead, my dove?
Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
Dead, dead? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet
These lily lips,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip
Are gone, are gone:
Lovers, make moan!
His eyes were green as
O Sisters Three,
Come, come to me,
With hands as pale as
Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore
With shears his thread of
Tongue, not a word:--
Come, trusty sword;
Come, blade, my breast
And farewell, friends:--
Thus Thisbe ends;
Adieu, adieu, adieu.
Moonshine and lion are left to bury the dead.
Ay, and wall too.
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 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
[Here a dance of Clowns.]
The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve:--
Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn,
As much as we this night have
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