A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 7

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Where I did meet thee once with Helena
To do observance to a morn of May—
There will I stay for thee.
You remember the place—I met you there once with Helena to celebrate May Day.—I’ll wait for you there.

HERMIA

    My good Lysander!
I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow,
170By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicity of Venus' doves,
By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen
When the false Troyan under sail was seen,
175By all the vows that ever men have broke
(In number more than ever women spoke),
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee.

HERMIA

Oh, Lysander, I swear I’ll be there tomorrow. I swear by Cupid’s strongest bow and his best gold-tipped arrow, by the Goddess of Love’s innocent doves, by everything that ties lovers together, by the bonfire where Queen Dido burned herself to death when her lover Aeneas jilted her, and by all the promises that men have broken (and men have broken more promises than women have ever made). I give you my word, I will meet you at that spot tomorrow.

LYSANDER

Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.

LYSANDER

Keep your promise, my love. Look, here comes Helena.
Enter HELENA
HELENA enters.

HERMIA

180Godspeed, fair Helena! Whither away?

HERMIA

Hello, beautiful Helena! Where are you going?

HELENA

Call you me “fair”? That “fair” again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair. O happy fair!
Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue’s sweet air
More tunable than lark to shepherd’s ear
185When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching. Oh, were favor 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.
190Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I’d give to be to you translated.

HELENA

Did you just call me “beautiful”? Take it back. You’re the beautiful one as far as Demetrius is concerned. Oh, you’re so lucky! Your eyes are like stars, and your voice is more musical than a lark’s song is to a shepherd in the springtime. Sickness is contagious—I wish beauty were contagious too! I would catch your good looks before I left. My ear would be infected by your voice, my eye by your eye, and my tongue would come down with a bad case of your melodious speech. If the world were mine, I’d give it all up—everything except Demetrius—to be you.