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utter sweet breath; and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy. No more words: away! go, away!
SCENE I. Athens. The palace of THESEUS.
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, Lords, and
Hip. 'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.
The. More strange than true: I never may believe 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. 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, 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 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, 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 supposed a bear!
Hip. But all the story of the night told over, And all their minds transfigured so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images
Enter LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HERMIA, and HELENA.
30 Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed! The. Come now; what masques, what dances shall we
Here, mighty Theseus.
40 The lazy time, if not with some delight ?
Phil. There is a brief how many sports are ripe: Make choice of which your highness will see first.
[Giving a paper. The. [Reads] ‘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. [Reads] “The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals, Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.' That is an old device; and it was play'd
50 When I from Thebes came last a conqueror. [Reads] ‘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.
[Reads] 'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
70 The. What are they that do play it?
Phil. Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
The. And we will hear it.
No, my noble lord;
80 To do you service. The.
I will hear that play ;
[Exit Philostrate, Hip. I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharged And duty in his service perishing.
The. Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
The. The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing. Our sport shall be to take what they mistake:
90 And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect Takes it in might, not merit. Where I have come, great clerks have purposed To greet me with premeditated welcomes; Where I have seen them shiver and look pale, Make periods in the midst of sentences, Throttle their practised 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 tongue Of saucy and audacious eloquence. Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity In least speak most, to my capacity.
Re-enter PHILOSTRATE. Phil. So please your grace, the Prologue is address'd. The. Let him approach.
[Flourish of trumpets.
Enter QUINCE for the Prologue. Pro. 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 You shall know all that you are like to know.
The. This fellow doth not stand upon points.
Lys. 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.
Hip. Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child on a recorder; a sound, but not in government.
The. His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?
Enter PYRAMUS and THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, and Lion. Pro. 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 130
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,
Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,
To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.
And finds his trusty Thisby's mantle slain: Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast;
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
150 (Exeunt Prologue, Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine. The. I wonder if the lion be to speak.
Dem. No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.
Wall. In this same interlude it doth befall That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;