A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Act 3 Scene 2b
Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand;
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover’s fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
What fools these mortals be!
Stand aside: the noise they make
Will cause Demetrius to awake.
Then will two at once woo one;
That must needs be sport alone;
And those things do best please me
That befal preposterously.
[Enter LYSANDER and HELENA]
Why should you think that I should woo in scorn?
Scorn and derision never come in tears:
Look, when I vow, I weep; and vows so born,
In their nativity all truth appears.
How can these things in me seem scorn to you,
Bearing the badge of faith, to prove them true?
You do advance your cunning more and more.
When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray!
These vows are Hermia’s: will you give her o’er?
Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh:
Your vows to her and me, put in two scales,
Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.
I had no judgment when to her I swore.
Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o’er.
Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.
[Awaking] O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!
To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?
Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!
That pure congealed white, high Taurus snow,
Fann’d with the eastern wind, turns to a crow
When thou hold’st up thy hand: O, let me kiss
This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!
O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
To set against me for your merriment:
Can you not hate me, as I know you do,
But you must join in souls to mock me too?
To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts,
When I am sure you hate me with your hearts.
You both are rivals, and love Hermia;
And now both rivals, to mock Helena:
A trim exploit, a manly enterprise,
To conjure tears up in a poor maid’s eyes
With your derision! none of noble sort
Would so offend a virgin, and extort
A poor soul’s patience, all to make you sport.
You are unkind, Demetrius; be not so;
For you love Hermia; this you know I know:
And here, with all good will, with all my heart,
In Hermia’s love I yield you up my part;
And yours of Helena to me bequeath,
Whom I do love and will do till my death.
Never did mockers waste more idle breath.
Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none:
If e’er I loved her, all that love is gone.
My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourn’d,
And now to Helen is it home return’d,
There to remain.
Helen, it is not so.
Disparage not the faith thou dost not know,
Lest, to thy peril, thou aby it dear.
Look, where thy love comes; yonder is thy dear.
Thou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found;
Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound
But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?
Why should he stay, whom love doth press to go?
What love could press Lysander from my side?
Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide,
Fair Helena, who more engilds the night
Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light.
Why seek’st thou me? could not this make thee know,
The hate I bear thee made me leave thee so?
You speak not as you think: it cannot be.
Lo, she is one of this confederacy!
Now I perceive they have conjoin’d all three
To fashion this false sport, in spite of me.
Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!
Have you conspired, have you with these contrived
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters’ vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us,–O, is it all forgot?
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?
And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly:
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
Though I alone do feel the injury.
I am amazed at your passionate words.
I scorn you not: it seems that you scorn me.
Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,
To follow me and praise my eyes and face?
And made your other love, Demetrius,
Who even but now did spurn me with his foot,
To call me goddess, nymph, divine and rare,
Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this
To her he hates? and wherefore doth Lysander
Deny your love, so rich within his soul,
And tender me, forsooth, affection,
But by your setting on, by your consent?
What though I be not so in grace as you,
So hung upon with love, so fortunate,
But miserable most, to love unloved?
This you should pity rather than despise.
I understand not what you mean by this.
Ay, do, persever, counterfeit sad looks,
Make mouths upon me when I turn my back;
Wink each at other; hold the sweet jest up:
This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.
If you have any pity, grace, or manners,
You would not make me such an argument.
But fare ye well: ’tis partly my own fault;
Which death or absence soon shall remedy.
Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse:
My love, my life my soul, fair Helena!
Sweet, do not scorn her so.
If she cannot entreat, I can compel.
Thou canst compel no more than she entreat:
Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers.
Helen, I love thee; by my life, I do:
I swear by that which I will lose for thee,
To prove him false that says I love thee not.
I say I love thee more than he can do.
If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.
Lysander, whereto tends all this?
Away, you Ethiope!
No, no. He’ll
Seem to break loose; take on as you would follow,
But yet come not: you are a tameman, go!
Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent!
Why are you grown so rude? what change is this?
Thy love! out, tawny Tartar, out!
Out, loathed medicine! hated potion, hence!
Do you not jest?
Yes, sooth; and so do you.
Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
I would I had your bond, for I perceive
A weak bond holds you: I’ll not trust your word.
What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I’ll not harm her so.
What, can you do me greater harm than hate?
Hate me! wherefore? O me! what news, my love!
Am not I Hermia? are not you Lysander?
I am as fair now as I was erewhile.
Since night you loved me; yet since night you left
me: Why, then you left me–O, forbid!–
In earnest, shall I say?
Ay, by my life;
And never did desire to see thee more.
Therefore be out of hope, of question, of doubt;
Be certain, nothing truer; ’tis no jest
That I do hate thee and love Helena.
O me! you juggler! you canker-blossom!
You thief of love! what, have you come by night
And stolen my love’s heart from him?
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet, you!
Puppet? why so? ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures; she hath urged her height;
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail’d with him.
And are you grown so high in his esteem;
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? speak;
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.
I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me: I was never curst;
I have no gift at all in shrewishness;
I am a right maid for my cowardice:
Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think,
Because she is something lower than myself,
That I can match her.
Lower! hark, again.
Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
Did ever keep your counsels, never wrong’d you;
Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
I told him of your stealth unto this wood.
He follow’d you; for love I follow’d him;
But he hath chid me hence and threaten’d me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too:
And now, so you will let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back
And follow you no further: let me go:
You see how simple and how fond I am.
Why, get you gone: who is’t that hinders you?
A foolish heart, that I leave here behind.
What, with Lysander?
Be not afraid; she shall not harm thee, Helena.
No, sir, she shall not, though you take her part.
O, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd!
She was a vixen when she went to school;
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
‘Little’ again! nothing but ‘low’ and ‘little’!
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
Let me come to her.
Get you gone, you dwarf;
You minimus, of hindering knot-grass made;
You bead, you acorn.
You are too officious
In her behalf that scorns your services.
Let her alone: speak not of Helena;
Take not her part; for, if thou dost intend
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it.
Now she holds me not;
Now follow, if thou darest, to try whose right,
Of thine or mine, is most in Helena.
Follow! nay, I’ll go with thee, cheek by jole.
[Exeunt LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS]
You, mistress, all this coil is ‘long of you:
Nay, go not back.
I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray,
My legs are longer though, to run away.
I am amazed, and know not what to say.
(OBERON kicks PUCK off the video screen, by special effect)
This is thy negligence: still thou mistakest,
Or else committ’st thy knaveries wilfully.
Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
Did not you tell me I should know the man
By the Athenian garment be had on?
And so far blameless proves my enterprise,
That I have ‘nointed an Athenian’s eyes;
And so far am I glad it so did sort
As this their jangling I esteem a sport.
Thou see’st these lovers seek a place to fight:
Hie therefore, bring them back amidst the night.
I go, I go; look how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow.