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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Act 5, scene 1

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Scene 1
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, and 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,
5 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:
10 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,
15 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
20 That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
143

145
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
ACT 5. SC. 1

 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,
25 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.

Enter Lovers: Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena.

THESEUS 
 Here come the lovers full of joy and mirth.—
30 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
35 have
 To wear away this long age of three hours
 Between our after-supper and bedtime?
 Where is our usual manager of mirth?
 What revels are in hand? Is there no play
40 To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
 Call Philostrate.
PHILOSTRATE, coming forward  Here, mighty Theseus.
THESEUS 
 Say what abridgment have you for this evening,
 What masque, what music? How shall we beguile
45 The lazy time if not with some delight?
PHILOSTRATE, giving Theseus a paper 
 There is a brief how many sports are ripe.
 Make choice of which your Highness will see first.

147
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ACT 5. SC. 1

THESEUS 
 The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
 By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.
50 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 played
55 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.
60 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 
65 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.
70 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.
THESEUS 
75 What are they that do play it?
PHILOSTRATE 
 Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
 Which never labored in their minds till now,
 And now have toiled their unbreathed memories
 With this same play, against your nuptial.

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ACT 5. SC. 1

THESEUS 
80 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,
85 Extremely stretched and conned 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.
90 Go, bring them in—and take your places, ladies.
Philostrate exits.
HIPPOLYTA 
 I love not to see wretchedness o’ercharged,
 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 
95 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 purposèd
100 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,
105 Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
 Out of this silence yet I picked a welcome,
 And in the modesty of fearful duty,
 I read as much as from the rattling tongue
 Of saucy and audacious eloquence.

151
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ACT 5. SC. 1

110 Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
 In least speak most, to my capacity.

Enter Philostrate.

PHILOSTRATE 
 So please your Grace, the Prologue is addressed.
THESEUS Let him approach.

Enter the Prologue.

PROLOGUE 
 If we offend, it is with our goodwill.
115  That you should think we come not to offend,
 But with goodwill. 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,
120 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.
Prologue exits.
THESEUS 125This 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
130 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 (Bottom), and Thisbe (Flute), and
Wall (Snout), and Moonshine (Starveling), and Lion
(Snug), and Prologue (Quince).


QUINCE, as Prologue 
 Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show.

153
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ACT 5. SC. 1

135  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 roughcast doth present
  “Wall,” that vile wall which did these lovers
140  sunder;
 And through Wall’s chink, poor souls, they are
 content
  To whisper, at the which let no man wonder.
 This man, with lantern, dog, and bush of thorn,
145  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
150 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.
155 Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
  He bravely broached 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
160 At large discourse, while here they do remain.
THESEUS I wonder if the lion be to speak.
DEMETRIUS No wonder, my lord. One lion may when
 many asses do.
Lion, Thisbe, Moonshine, and Prologue exit.
SNOUT, as Wall 
 In this same interlude it doth befall
165 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,

155
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ACT 5. SC. 1

 Did whisper often, very secretly.
170 This loam, this roughcast, 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
175 better?
DEMETRIUS It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard
 discourse, my lord.
THESEUS Pyramus draws near the wall. Silence.
BOTTOM, as Pyramus 
 O grim-looked night! O night with hue so black!
180  O night, which ever 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
185  mine,
 Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,
  Show me thy chink to blink through with mine
  eyne.
 Thanks, courteous wall. Jove shield thee well for
190 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!
THESEUS The wall, methinks, being sensible, should
195 curse again.
BOTTOM 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.

Enter Thisbe (Flute).

FLUTE, as Thisbe 
200 O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans

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ACT 5. SC. 1

  For parting my fair Pyramus and me.
 My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones,
  Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.
BOTTOM, as Pyramus 
 I see a voice! Now will I to the chink
205  To spy an I can hear my Thisbe’s face.
 Thisbe?
FLUTE, as Thisbe 
 My love! Thou art my love, I think.
BOTTOM, as Pyramus 
  Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace,
 And, like Limander, am I trusty still.
FLUTE, as Thisbe 
210 And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.
BOTTOM, as Pyramus 
 Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.
FLUTE, as Thisbe 
 As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.
BOTTOM, as Pyramus 
 O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.
FLUTE, as Thisbe 
 I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.
BOTTOM, as Pyramus 
215 Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?
FLUTE, as Thisbe 
 ’Tide life, ’tide death, I come without delay.
Bottom and Flute exit.
SNOUT, as Wall 
 Thus have I, Wall, my part dischargèd so,
 And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.He exits.
THESEUS Now is the wall down between the two
220 neighbors.
DEMETRIUS No remedy, my lord, when walls are so
 willful to hear without warning.
HIPPOLYTA This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.
THESEUS The best in this kind are but shadows, and

159
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ACT 5. SC. 1

225 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
230 themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here
 come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.

Enter Lion (Snug) and Moonshine (Starveling).

SNUG, as Lion 
 You ladies, you whose gentle hearts do fear
  The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on
  floor,
235 May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
  When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
 Then know that I, as Snug the joiner, am
 A lion fell, nor else no lion’s dam;
 For if I should as lion come in strife
240 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 245This lion is a very fox for his valor.
THESEUS True, and a goose for his discretion.
DEMETRIUS Not so, my lord, for his valor cannot carry
 his discretion, and the fox carries the goose.
THESEUS His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his
250 valor, for the goose carries not the fox. It is well.
 Leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the
 Moon.
STARVELING, as Moonshine 
 This lanthorn doth the hornèd moon present.
DEMETRIUS He should have worn the horns on his
255 head.
THESEUS He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible
 within the circumference.

161
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ACT 5. SC. 1

STARVELING, as Moonshine 
 This lanthorn doth the hornèd moon present.
 Myself the man i’ th’ moon do seem to be.
THESEUS 260This is the greatest error of all the rest; the
 man should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else
 “the man i’ th’ moon”?
DEMETRIUS He dares not come there for the candle,
 for you see, it is already in snuff.
HIPPOLYTA 265I 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 270Proceed, Moon.
STARVELING, as Moonshine  All that I have to say is to tell
 you that the lanthorn is the moon, I the man i’ th’
 moon, this thornbush my thornbush, and this dog
 my dog.
DEMETRIUS 275Why, all these should be in the lanthorn,
 for all these are in the moon. But silence. Here
 comes Thisbe.

Enter Thisbe (Flute).

FLUTE, as Thisbe 
 This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?
SNUG, as Lion O!
The Lion roars. Thisbe runs off,
dropping her mantle.

DEMETRIUS 280Well roared, Lion.
THESEUS Well run, Thisbe.
HIPPOLYTA Well shone, Moon. Truly, the Moon shines
 with a good grace.
Lion worries the mantle.
THESEUS Well moused, Lion.

Enter Pyramus (Bottom).


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ACT 5. SC. 1

DEMETRIUS 285And then came Pyramus.
Lion exits.
LYSANDER And so the lion vanished.
BOTTOM, as 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 gleams,
290  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!
295  How can it be!
  O dainty duck! O dear!
  Thy mantle good—
  What, stained with blood?
  Approach, ye Furies fell!
300  O Fates, come, come,
  Cut thread and thrum,
  Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!
THESEUS This passion, and the death of a dear friend,
 would go near to make a man look sad.
HIPPOLYTA 305Beshrew my heart but I pity the man.
BOTTOM, as Pyramus 
 O, wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame,
  Since lion vile hath here deflowered my dear,
 Which is—no, no—which was the fairest dame
  That lived, that loved, that liked, that looked with
310  cheer?
  Come, tears, confound!
  Out, sword, and wound
  The pap of Pyramus;
  Ay, that left pap,
315  Where heart doth hop.Pyramus stabs himself.
  Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
  Now am I dead;

165
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ACT 5. SC. 1

  Now am I fled;
  My soul is in the sky.
320  Tongue, lose thy light!
  Moon, take thy flight!Moonshine exits.
  Now die, die, die, die, die.Pyramus falls.
DEMETRIUS No die, but an ace for him, for he is but
 one.
LYSANDER 325Less than an ace, man, for he is dead, he is
 nothing.
THESEUS With the help of a surgeon he might yet
 recover and yet prove an ass.
HIPPOLYTA How chance Moonshine is gone before
330 Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?
THESEUS She will find him by starlight.

Enter Thisbe (Flute).

 Here she comes, and her passion ends the play.
HIPPOLYTA Methinks she should not use a long one for
 such a Pyramus. I hope she will be brief.
DEMETRIUS 335A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus,
 which Thisbe, is the better: he for a man, God
 warrant us; she for a woman, God bless us.
LYSANDER She hath spied him already with those
 sweet eyes.
DEMETRIUS 340And thus she means, videlicet
FLUTE, as Thisbe 
  Asleep, my love?
  What, dead, my dove?
  O Pyramus, arise!
  Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
345  Dead? Dead? A tomb
  Must cover thy sweet eyes.
  These lily lips,
  This cherry nose,
  These yellow cowslip cheeks
350  Are gone, are gone!

167
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  Lovers, make moan;
  His eyes were green as leeks.
  O Sisters Three,
  Come, come to me
355  With hands as pale as milk.
  Lay them in gore,
  Since you have shore
  With shears his thread of silk.
  Tongue, not a word!
360  Come, trusty sword,
  Come, blade, my breast imbrue!
Thisbe stabs herself.
  And farewell, friends.
  Thus Thisbe ends.
  Adieu, adieu, adieu.
Thisbe falls.
THESEUS 365Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the
 dead.
DEMETRIUS Ay, and Wall too.
Bottom and Flute arise.
BOTTOM No, I assure you, the wall is down that
 parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the
370 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
375 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.
Dance, and the players exit.
380 The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve.
 Lovers, to bed! ’Tis almost fairy time.
 I fear we shall outsleep the coming morn
 As much as we this night have overwatched.

169
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ACT 5. SC. 1

 This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled
385 The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.
 A fortnight hold we this solemnity
 In nightly revels and new jollity.They exit.

Enter Robin Goodfellow.

ROBIN 
 Now the hungry lion roars,
  And the wolf behowls the moon,
390 Whilst the heavy plowman 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
395  In remembrance of a shroud.
 Now it is the time of night
  That the graves, all gaping wide,
 Every one lets forth his sprite
  In the church-way paths to glide.
400 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
405 Shall disturb this hallowed house.
 I am sent with broom before,
 To sweep the dust behind the door.


Enter Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of Fairies,
with all their train.


OBERON 
 Through the house give glimmering light,
  By the dead and drowsy fire.
410 Every elf and fairy sprite,
  Hop as light as bird from brier,
 And this ditty after me,
 Sing and dance it trippingly.


171
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TITANIA 
 First rehearse your song by rote,
415 To each word a warbling note.
 Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
 Will we sing and bless this place.

Oberon leads the Fairies in song and dance.
OBERON 
 Now, until the break of day,
 Through this house each fairy stray.
420 To the best bride-bed will we,
 Which by us shall blessèd be,
 And the issue there create
 Ever shall be fortunate.
 So shall all the couples three
425 Ever true in loving be,
 And the blots of Nature’s hand
 Shall not in their issue stand.
 Never mole, harelip, nor scar,
 Nor mark prodigious, such as are
430 Despisèd in nativity,
 Shall upon their children be.
 With this field-dew consecrate
 Every fairy take his gait,
 And each several chamber bless,
435 Through this palace, with sweet peace.
 And the owner of it blest,
 Ever shall in safety rest.
 Trip away. Make no stay.
 Meet me all by break of day.

All but Robin exit.
ROBIN 
440 If we shadows have offended,
 Think but this and all is mended:
 That you have but slumbered here
 While these visions did appear.
 And this weak and idle theme,

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445 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 unearnèd luck
450 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,
455 And Robin shall restore amends.

He exits.