A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

ROBIN

390My fairy lord, this must be done with haste.
For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger,
At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards. Damnèd spirits all,
395That in crossways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone.
For fear lest day should look their shames upon,
They willfully themselves exile from light
And must for aye consort with black-browed night.

ROBIN

We’ve got to act fast, my lord of the fairies. Night’s fading quickly, and in the distance the morning star is shining, warning us that dawn is coming. At dawn, the ghosts that have been wandering around all night go home to the graveyards. The souls of people who weren’t buried in holy ground, but instead lie rotting by the side of the road or at the bottom of a river, have already gone back to their wormy graves. They weren’t buried in a real graveyard because they committed suicide, and they don’t want their shame to be seen in daylight, so they avoid sunlight and stay forever in the darkness of night.

OBERON

400But we are spirits of another sort.
I with the morning’s love have oft made sport,
And like a forester the groves may tread
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery red,
Opening on Neptune with fair blessèd beams,
405Turns into yellow gold his salt green streams.
But notwithstanding, haste. Make no delay.
We may effect this business yet ere day.

OBERON

But we’re not like that. We’re a different kind of spirit, and we don’t have to run away from the sunlight. I like the morning. I often wander around in the woods like a forest ranger until the sun rises in the fiery red sky over the ocean, turning the salty green water to gold. But you should hurry anyway. Don’t delay. We still have time to get all of this done before daybreak.
Exit OBERON
OBERON exits.

ROBIN

 Up and down, up and down,
 I will lead them up and down.
 I am feared in field and town.
 Goblin, lead them up and down.
Here comes one.

ROBIN

Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down.
The people fear me in the country and the town.
Goblin, lead them up and down.
Here comes one of them now.
Enter LYSANDER
LYSANDER enters.

LYSANDER

Where art thou, proud Demetrius? Speak thou now.

LYSANDER

Where are you, Demetrius, you arrogant bastard? Say something.