Act I, Scene I
Athens. The palace of THESEUS.
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, and PHILOSTRATE.
Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires.
Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth.
Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph and with revelling.
Enter EGEUS, HERMIA, LYSANDER, and DEMETRIUS
Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!
Thanks, good Egeus: what's the news with thee?
Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke,
This man hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child;
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
And interchanged love-tokens with my child:
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,
With feigning voice verses of feigning love.
With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart,
Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me,
To stubborn harshness: and, my gracious duke,
Be it so she will not here before your grace
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,
As she is mine, I may dispose of her:
Which shall be either to this gentleman
Or to her death.
What say you, Hermia? be advised fair maid:
To you your father should be as a god;
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
So is Lysander.
In himself he is;
But in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
The other must be held the worthier.
I would my father look'd but with my eyes.
Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.
I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold,
But I beseech your grace that I may know
The worst that may befall me in this case,
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
Either to die the death or to abjure
Forever the society of men.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires;
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.
Take time to pause; and, by the next new moon--
The sealing-day betwixt my love and me--
Upon that day either prepare to die
For disobedience to your father's will,
Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;
Or on Diana's altar to protest
For aye austerity and single life.
Relent, sweet Hermia: and, Lysander, yield
Thy crazed title to my certain right.
You have her father's love, Demetrius;
Let me have Hermia's: do you marry him.
Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love,
And what is mine my love shall render him.
And she is mine, and all my right of her
I do estate unto Demetrius.
I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
As well possess'd; my love is more than his;
And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
I am beloved of beauteous Hermia:
Why should not I then prosecute my right?
Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,
Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
Upon this spotted and inconstant man.
And come, Egeus; you shall go with me,
I have some private schooling for you both.
For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
To fit your fancies to your father's will;
Or else the law of Athens yields you up
To death, or to a vow of single life.
Come, my Hippolyta: what cheer, my love?
Exeunt all but LYSANDER and HERMIA
How now, my love! why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?
Belike for want of rain, which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.
Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.
If then true lovers have been ever cross'd,
It stands as an edict in destiny:
As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,
Wishes and tears.
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 lovest me then,
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night;
And in the wood, a league without the town,
There will I stay for thee.
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,
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.
Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.
God speed fair Helena! whither away?
Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!
Sickness is catching: O, 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.
O, teach me how you look, and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.
I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!
I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
O that my prayers could such affection move!
The more I hate, the more he follows me.
The more I love, the more he hateth me.
His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.
None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine!
Take comfort: he no more shall see my face;
Lysander and myself will fly this place.
Helen, to you our minds we will unfold:
Through Athens' gates have we devised to steal.
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.
I will, my Hermia.
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you!
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:
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind:
For ere Demetrius look'd on Hermia's eyne,
He hail'd 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.