Page images
PDF
EPUB

Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say,— Behold !!
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.

Her. If then true lovers have been ever crossed,
It stands as an edíct in destiny:
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross
As due to love as thoughts, and dreams, and sighs,
Wishes, and tears, poor fancy's followers.
Lys. A good persuasion: therefore, hear me,

Hermia.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great revenue, and she hath no child :
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues ;
And she respects me as her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Cannot pursue us.

If thou lov'st me, then,
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night,
And in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee.

Her.

My good Lysander ! I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow; By his best arrow with the golden head ; By the simplicity of Venus' doves; By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves ; And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen, When the false Trojan under sail was seen ; By all the vows that ever men have broke, In number more than ever women spoke ; In that same place thou hast appointed me, To-morrow truly will I meet with thee. Lys. Keep promise, love.—Look, here comes

Helena

Enter HELENA Her. God speed fair Helena! Whither away?

Hel. Call you me fair? that fair again unsay. Demetrius loves your fair : 0 happy fair ! Your eyes are lode-stars, and your tongue's sweet

air More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear. Sickness is catching : 0, were favour so, Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go; My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye, My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.

Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I'd give to be to you translated.
O, teach me how you look, and with what art
You
sway

the motion of Demetrius' heart. Her. I frown upon him, yet he loves me still. Hel. O, that your frowns would teach my smiles

such skill ! Her. I give him curses, yet he gives me love. Hel. O, that my prayers could such affection

move ! Her. The more I hate, the more he follows me. Hel. The more I love, the more he hateth me. Her. His folly, Helena, 's no fault of mine. Hel. None, but your beauty : would that fault

were mine! Her. Take comfort: he no more shall see my

face;
Lysander and myself will fly this place.
Before the time I did Lysander see,
Seemed Athens as a paradise to me :
O, then, what graces in my love do dwell,
That he hath turned a heaven unto a hell !

Lys. Helen, to you our minds we will unfold :
To-morrow night, when Phæbe doth behold
Her silver visage in the watery glass,
Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass,--

A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal, Through Athens' gates have we devised to steal.

Her. And in the wood, where often you and I Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie, Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet, There my Lysander and myself shall meet; And thence, from Athens turn away our eyes, To seek new friends and stranger companies. Farewell, sweet playfellow: pray thou for us, And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius Keep word, Lysander : we must starve our sight From lovers' food, till morrow deep midnight. Lys. I will, my Hermia. [Exit HERM]

Helena, adieu : As you on him, Demetrius dote on you ! [Exit.

Hel. How happy some o'er other some can be ! Through Athens I am thought as fair as she ; But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so ; He will not know what all but he do know; And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes, So I, admiring of his qualities. Things base and vile, holding no quantity, Love can transpose to form and dignity : Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind : Nor hath Love's mind of any judgment taste;

Wings and no eyes, figure unheedy haste :
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forgwear,
So the boy Love is perjured every where ;
For ere Demetrius looked on Hermia's eyne,
He hailed down oaths that he was only mine ;
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt. –
I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight:
Then to the wood will he to-morrow night
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense :
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again. [Exit.

SCENE II.-Athens. A Room in QUINCE's House

Enter QUINCE, SNUG, BOTTOM, FLUTE, Snout, and

STARVELING

Quin. Is all our company here?

Bot. You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip.

Quin. Here is the scroll of every man's name,

« PreviousContinue »