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Contents > Author > William Shakespeare > A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V, Sc.1 1564- 1616
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William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V, Sc.1
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Act V, Scene 1
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 4
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. 8
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, 12
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 16
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,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush suppos?d a bear! 24

But all the story of the night told o'er,
And all their minds transfigur?d so together,
More witnesseth than fancy?s images,
And grows to something of great constancy, 28
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.

Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.


Joy, gentle friends! joy, and fresh days of love 32
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, 36
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, 40
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
Call Philostrate.

Here, mighty Theseus.

Say, what abridgment have you for this evening? 44
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. (Gives a paper.) 48

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. 52
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. 56
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. 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 wonderous strange snow. 64
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, 68
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. 72
Which when I saw rehears?d, I must confess,
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.

What are they that do play it? 76

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. 80

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; 84
Unless you can find sport in their intents,
Extremely stretch?d and conn?d with cruel pain,
To do you service.

I will hear that play; 88
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-charg?d, 92
And duty in his service perishing.

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. 96
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 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 practis?d accent in their fears, 104
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 108
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. 112


So please your Grace, the Prologue is address?d.

Let him approach.

(Flourish of trumpets)

(Enter QUINCE for the Prologue.) 116

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. 120
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, 124
The actors are at hand; and, by their show,
You shall 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. 128

Indeed he hath played on his 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?

dumb show.)

Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show; 132
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 rough-cast, doth present 136
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, 140
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, 144
The trusty Thisbe, 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. 148
Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
And finds his trusty Thisbe?s mantle slain:
Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely broach?d his boiling bloody breast; 152
And Thisbe, 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.


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 wall; 160
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. 164
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. 168

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!

(Re-enter PYRAMUS.) 172

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 Thisbe?s promise is forgot. 176
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) 180
Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for this!
But what see I? No Thisbe do I see.
O wicked wall! through whom I see no bliss;
Curs?d be thy stones for thus deceiving me! 184

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

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.

(Re-enter THISBE.)

O wall! full often hast thou heard my moans, 188
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.

I see a voice: now will I to the chink, 192
To spy an I can hear my Thisbe?s face.

My love! thou art my love, I think.

Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover?s grace; 196
And, like Limander, am I trusty still.

And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.

Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.

As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you. 200

O! kiss me through the hole of this vile wall.

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

PYRAMUSWilt thou at Ninny?s tomb meet me straightway?

?Tide life, ?tide death, I come without delay.
(Exeunt PYRAMUS and THISBE.) 204

Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go. (Exit.)

Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.

No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear without warning. 208

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 man and a lion. 212

(Re-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, 216
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 220
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. 224

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;? 228

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. 232

This is the greatest error of all the rest. The man should be put into
the lanthorn: how is it else the man i? the moon?

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

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. 236

Proceed, Moon.

All that I have to say, is, to tell you that the lanthorn is the moon; I, the
man in the moon; this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.

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

(Re-enter THISBE.) 240

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

LION (Roaring.) Oh?.

(THISBE runs off.)

Well roared, Lion.

Well run, Thisbe. 244

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

(The LION tears THISBE?S mantle, and exits.)

Well moused, Lion.

And then came Pyramus.

And so the lion vanished. 248

(Re-enter PYRAMUS.)

Sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright,
For, by the gracious, golden, glittering streams, 252
I trust to taste of truest Thisbe?s sight.
But stay, O spite!
But mark, poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here! 256
Eyes, do you see?
How can it be?
O dainty duck! O dear!
Thy mantle good, 260
What! stain?d with blood!
Approach, ye Furies fell!
O Fates, come, come,
Cut thread and thrum; 264
Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!

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

Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.

O! wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame? 268
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; 272
Out, sword, and wound
The pap of Pyramus:
Ay, that left pap,
Where heart doth hop: 276
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus. (Stabs himself.)
Now am I dead,
Now am I fled;
My soul is in the sky: 280
Tongue, lose thy light!
Moon, take thy flight! (Exit MOONSHINE.)
Now die, die, die, die, die. (Dies.)

No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one. 284

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 lover?

She will find him by starlight. Here she comes; and her passion
ends the play. 288

(Re-enter THISBE.)

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

A 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.

She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes. 292

And thus she moans, videlicet:?

Asleep, my love?
What, dead, my dove?
O Pyramus, arise! 296
Speak, speak! Quite dumb?
Dead, dead! A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These lily lips, 300
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,
Are gone, are gone:
Lovers, make moan! 304
His eyes were green as leeks.
O, Sisters Three,
Come, come to me,
With hands as pale as milk; 308
Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore
With shears his thread of silk.
Tongue, not a word: 312
Come, trusty sword:
Come, blade, my breast imbrue: (Stabs herself.)
And farewell, friends;
Thus Thisbe ends: 316
Adieu, adieu, adieu. (Dies.)

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? 320

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
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. (A dance.)
The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve;
Lovers, to bed; ?tis almost fairy time.
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn, 324
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, 328
In nightly revels, and new jollity. (Exeunt.)

(from "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Act 5, Scene 1)

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