A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Begin these woodbirds but to couple now?
Are you lovebirds only starting to pair up now?
LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA kneel
LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA all kneel.

LYSANDER

Pardon, my lord.

LYSANDER

Forgive us, my lord.

THESEUS

  I pray you all, stand up.

THESEUS

Please, all of you, stand up.
LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA stand
LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA get up.
(to LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS)
I know you two are rival enemies.
130How comes this gentle concord in the world,
That hatred is so far from jealousy
To sleep by hate and fear no enmity?
(to LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS) I know you two are enemies. Has the world really become so gentle and peaceful that people who hate each other have started to trust each other and sleep beside each other without being afraid?

LYSANDER

My lord, I shall reply amazèdly,
Half sleep, half waking. But as yet, I swear,
135I cannot truly say how I came here.
But as I think—for truly would I speak,
And now do I bethink me, so it is—
I came with Hermia hither. Our intent
Was to be gone from Athens, where we might,
140Without the peril of the Athenian law—

LYSANDER

My lord, what I say may be a little confused, since I’m half asleep and half awake. I swear, at the moment I really couldn’t tell you how I ended up here. But I think—I want to tell you the truth, and now that I think about it, I think this is true—I came here with Hermia. We were planning to leave Athens to escape the Athenian law and—

EGEUS

(to THESEUS) Enough, enough, my lord. You have enough!
I beg the law, the law, upon his head.—
They would have stol'n away, they would, Demetrius,
Thereby to have defeated you and me,
145You of your wife and me of my consent,
Of my consent that she should be your wife.

EGEUS

(to THESEUS) Enough, enough, my lord. You’ve heard enough evidence! I insist that the law punish him—They were going to run away, Demetrius, they were running away to defeat us, robbing you of your wife and me of my fatherly right to decide who my son-in-law will be.

DEMETRIUS

(to THESEUS) My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,
Of this their purpose hither to this wood.
And I in fury hither followed them,
150Fair Helena in fancy following me.

DEMETRIUS

(to THESEUS) My lord, the beautiful Helena told me about their secret plan to escape into this forest. I was furious and followed them here, and the lovely Helena was so in love with me that she followed me.