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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Act 2, scene 1

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Scene 1
Enter a Fairy at one door and Robin Goodfellow at
another.


ROBIN 
 How now, spirit? Whither wander you?
FAIRY 
 Over hill, over dale,
  Thorough bush, thorough brier,
 Over park, over pale,
5  Thorough flood, thorough fire;
 I do wander everywhere,
 Swifter than the moon’s sphere.
 And I serve the Fairy Queen,
 To dew her orbs upon the green.
10 The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
 In their gold coats spots you see;
 Those be rubies, fairy favors;
 In those freckles live their savors.

 I must go seek some dewdrops here
15 And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
 Farewell, thou lob of spirits. I’ll be gone.
 Our queen and all her elves come here anon.
ROBIN 
 The King doth keep his revels here tonight.
 Take heed the Queen come not within his sight,
35

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ACT 2. SC. 1

20 For Oberon is passing fell and wrath
 Because that she, as her attendant, hath
 A lovely boy stolen from an Indian king;
 She never had so sweet a changeling.
 And jealous Oberon would have the child
25 Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild.
 But she perforce withholds the lovèd boy,
 Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her
 joy.
 And now they never meet in grove or green,
30 By fountain clear or spangled starlight sheen,
 But they do square, that all their elves for fear
 Creep into acorn cups and hide them there.
FAIRY 
 Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
 Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
35 Called Robin Goodfellow. Are not you he
 That frights the maidens of the villagery,
 Skim milk, and sometimes labor in the quern
 And bootless make the breathless huswife churn,
 And sometime make the drink to bear no barm,
40 Mislead night wanderers, laughing at their harm?
 Those that “Hobgoblin” call you and “sweet Puck,”
 You do their work, and they shall have good luck.
 Are not you he?
ROBIN  Thou speakest aright.
45 I am that merry wanderer of the night.
 I jest to Oberon and make him smile
 When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
 Neighing in likeness of a filly foal.
 And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl
50 In very likeness of a roasted crab,
 And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob
 And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
 The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
 Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;

39
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ACT 2. SC. 1

55 Then slip I from her bum, down topples she
 And “Tailor!” cries and falls into a cough,
 And then the whole choir hold their hips and loffe
 And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
 A merrier hour was never wasted there.
60 But room, fairy. Here comes Oberon.
FAIRY 
 And here my mistress. Would that he were gone!

Enter Oberon the King of Fairies at one door, with his
train, and Titania the Queen at another, with hers.


OBERON 
 Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.
TITANIA 
 What, jealous Oberon? Fairies, skip hence.
 I have forsworn his bed and company.
OBERON 
65 Tarry, rash wanton. Am not I thy lord?
TITANIA 
 Then I must be thy lady. But I know
 When thou hast stolen away from Fairyland
 And in the shape of Corin sat all day
 Playing on pipes of corn and versing love
70 To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
 Come from the farthest steep of India,
 But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
 Your buskined mistress and your warrior love,
 To Theseus must be wedded, and you come
75 To give their bed joy and prosperity?
OBERON 
 How canst thou thus for shame, Titania,
 Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
 Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?
 Didst not thou lead him through the glimmering
80 night
 From Perigouna, whom he ravishèd,

41
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
ACT 2. SC. 1

 And make him with fair Aegles break his faith,
 With Ariadne and Antiopa?
TITANIA 
 These are the forgeries of jealousy;
85 And never, since the middle summer’s spring,
 Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
 By pavèd fountain or by rushy brook,
 Or in the beachèd margent of the sea,
 To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
90 But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.
 Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
 As in revenge have sucked up from the sea
 Contagious fogs, which, falling in the land,
 Hath every pelting river made so proud
95 That they have overborne their continents.
 The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,
 The plowman lost his sweat, and the green corn
 Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.
 The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,
100 And crows are fatted with the murrain flock.
 The nine-men’s-morris is filled up with mud,
 And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
 For lack of tread, are undistinguishable.
 The human mortals want their winter here.
105 No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.
 Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
 Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
 That rheumatic diseases do abound.
 And thorough this distemperature we see
110 The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
 Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
 And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown
 An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
 Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
115 The childing autumn, angry winter, change
 Their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world

43
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ACT 2. SC. 1

 By their increase now knows not which is which.
 And this same progeny of evils comes
 From our debate, from our dissension;
120 We are their parents and original.
OBERON 
 Do you amend it, then. It lies in you.
 Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
 I do but beg a little changeling boy
 To be my henchman.
TITANIA 125 Set your heart at rest:
 The Fairyland buys not the child of me.
 His mother was a vot’ress of my order,
 And in the spicèd Indian air by night
 Full often hath she gossiped by my side
130 And sat with me on Neptune’s yellow sands,
 Marking th’ embarkèd traders on the flood,
 When we have laughed to see the sails conceive
 And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
 Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait,
135 Following (her womb then rich with my young
 squire),
 Would imitate and sail upon the land
 To fetch me trifles and return again,
 As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.
140 But she, being mortal, of that boy did die,
 And for her sake do I rear up her boy,
 And for her sake I will not part with him.
OBERON 
 How long within this wood intend you stay?
TITANIA 
 Perchance till after Theseus’ wedding day.
145 If you will patiently dance in our round
 And see our moonlight revels, go with us.
 If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
OBERON 
 Give me that boy and I will go with thee.

45
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ACT 2. SC. 1

TITANIA 
 Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies, away.
150 We shall chide downright if I longer stay.
Titania and her fairies exit.
OBERON 
 Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this grove
 Till I torment thee for this injury.—
 My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememb’rest
 Since once I sat upon a promontory
155 And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back
 Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
 That the rude sea grew civil at her song
 And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
 To hear the sea-maid’s music.
ROBIN 160 I remember.
OBERON 
 That very time I saw (but thou couldst not),
 Flying between the cold moon and the Earth,
 Cupid all armed. A certain aim he took
 At a fair vestal thronèd by the west,
165 And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow
 As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts.
 But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
 Quenched in the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon,
 And the imperial vot’ress passèd on
170 In maiden meditation, fancy-free.
 Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell.
 It fell upon a little western flower,
 Before, milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
 And maidens call it “love-in-idleness.”
175 Fetch me that flower; the herb I showed thee once.
 The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid
 Will make or man or woman madly dote
 Upon the next live creature that it sees.
 Fetch me this herb, and be thou here again
180 Ere the leviathan can swim a league.

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ACT 2. SC. 1

ROBIN 
 I’ll put a girdle round about the Earth
 In forty minutes.He exits.
OBERON  Having once this juice,
 I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep
185 And drop the liquor of it in her eyes.
 The next thing then she, waking, looks upon
 (Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
 On meddling monkey, or on busy ape)
 She shall pursue it with the soul of love.
190 And ere I take this charm from off her sight
 (As I can take it with another herb),
 I’ll make her render up her page to me.
 But who comes here? I am invisible,
 And I will overhear their conference.

Enter Demetrius, Helena following him.

DEMETRIUS 
195 I love thee not; therefore pursue me not.
 Where is Lysander and fair Hermia?
 The one I’ll stay; the other stayeth me.
 Thou told’st me they were stol’n unto this wood,
 And here am I, and wood within this wood
200 Because I cannot meet my Hermia.
 Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more.
HELENA 
 You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant!
 But yet you draw not iron, for my heart
 Is true as steel. Leave you your power to draw,
205 And I shall have no power to follow you.
DEMETRIUS 
 Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair?
 Or rather do I not in plainest truth
 Tell you I do not, nor I cannot love you?
HELENA 
 And even for that do I love you the more.

49
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210 I am your spaniel, and, Demetrius,
 The more you beat me I will fawn on you.
 Use me but as your spaniel: spurn me, strike me,
 Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave
 (Unworthy as I am) to follow you.
215 What worser place can I beg in your love
 (And yet a place of high respect with me)
 Than to be usèd as you use your dog?
DEMETRIUS 
 Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit,
 For I am sick when I do look on thee.
HELENA 
220 And I am sick when I look not on you.
DEMETRIUS 
 You do impeach your modesty too much
 To leave the city and commit yourself
 Into the hands of one that loves you not,
 To trust the opportunity of night
225 And the ill counsel of a desert place
 With the rich worth of your virginity.
HELENA 
 Your virtue is my privilege. For that
 It is not night when I do see your face,
 Therefore I think I am not in the night.
230 Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
 For you, in my respect, are all the world.
 Then, how can it be said I am alone
 When all the world is here to look on me?
DEMETRIUS 
 I’ll run from thee and hide me in the brakes
235 And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.
HELENA 
 The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
 Run when you will. The story shall be changed:
 Apollo flies and Daphne holds the chase;
 The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind

51
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ACT 2. SC. 1

240 Makes speed to catch the tiger. Bootless speed
 When cowardice pursues and valor flies!
DEMETRIUS 
 I will not stay thy questions. Let me go,
 Or if thou follow me, do not believe
 But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.
HELENA 
245 Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
 You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
 Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex.
 We cannot fight for love as men may do.
 We should be wooed and were not made to woo.
Demetrius exits.
250 I’ll follow thee and make a heaven of hell
 To die upon the hand I love so well.Helena exits.
OBERON 
 Fare thee well, nymph. Ere he do leave this grove,
 Thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek thy love.

Enter Robin.

 Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.
ROBIN 
255 Ay, there it is.
OBERON  I pray thee give it me.
Robin gives him the flower.
 I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
 Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
 Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
260 With sweet muskroses, and with eglantine.
 There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
 Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight.
 And there the snake throws her enameled skin,
 Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.
265 And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes
 And make her full of hateful fantasies.
 Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove.

53
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ACT 2. SC. 2

He gives Robin part of the flower.
 A sweet Athenian lady is in love
 With a disdainful youth. Anoint his eyes,
270 But do it when the next thing he espies
 May be the lady. Thou shalt know the man
 By the Athenian garments he hath on.
 Effect it with some care, that he may prove
 More fond on her than she upon her love.
275 And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.
ROBIN 
 Fear not, my lord. Your servant shall do so.
They exit.