A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

THESEUS

  I will hear that play.
For never anything can be amiss
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in.—And take your places, ladies.

THESEUS

I’ll watch this play. Nothing can really be bad when it’s created by simple people who try hard. Come on, bring them in. And sit down, ladies.
Exit PHILOSTRATE
PHILOSTRATE exits.

HIPPOLYTA

I love not to see wretchedness o'er charged
80And duty in his service perishing.

HIPPOLYTA

I don’t like seeing poor people overburdened or looking bad when they’re trying to do something good.

THESEUS

Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.

THESEUS

You won’t see anything like that, sweetheart.

HIPPOLYTA

He says they can do nothing in this kind.

HIPPOLYTA

He just said that they’re no good at acting.

THESEUS

The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
Our sport shall be to take what they mistake.
85And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
Takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposèd
To greet me with premeditated welcomes,
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
90Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practiced accent in their fears,
And in conclusion dumbly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I picked a welcome,
95And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most, to my capacity.

THESEUS

Then we’re even kinder people for thanking them for something that they’re not good at. We’ll entertain ourselves by accepting their mistakes. When poor dutiful people can’t do certain things well, generous people can consider the effort they put into it rather than the effect that they produce. In my travels, great scholars have come up to me, meaning to greet me with well-rehearsed welcoming speeches, and I have seen them tremble and turn pale, and pause inappropriately in the middle of their sentences, and botch their well-rehearsed tones of voice because they’re so nervous, and then break off abruptly at the end, without actually welcoming me. Trust me, my sweet, I figured out that they were trying to welcome me even though they were silent, and that message was as clear from someone who was modest and nervously dutiful as it is from someone who is loud and audacious and eloquent. Therefore, love and tongue-tied simplicity can say the most even when they’re saying the least, in my opinion.
Enter PHILOSTRATE
PHILOSTRATE enters.