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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 1

page Act 2 Scene 1 Page 2

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And now they never meet in grove or green,
15By fountain clear or spangled starlight sheen.
But they do square, that all their elves for fear
Creep into acorn cups and hide them there.
And now Oberon and Titania refuse to speak to each other, or meet each other anywhere—neither in the forest nor on the plain, nor by the river nor under the stars. They always argue, and the little fairies get so frightened that they hide in acorn cups and won’t come out.


Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
20Called Robin Goodfellow. Are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery,
Skim milk, and sometimes labor in the quern
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn,
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm,
25Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that “Hobgoblin” call you, and “sweet Puck,”
You do their work, and they shall have good luck.
Are not you he?


Unless I’m mistaken, you’re that mischievous and naughty spirit named Robin Goodfellow. Aren’t you the one who goes around scaring the maidens in the village, stealing the cream from the top of the milk, screwing up the flour mills, and frustrating housewives by keeping their milk from turning into butter? Aren’t you the one who keeps beer from foaming up as it should, and causes people to get lost at night, while you laugh at them? Some people call you “Hobgoblin” and “sweet Puck,” and you’re nice to them. You do their work for them and give them good luck. That’s you, right?


  Thou speak’st aright.
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
30I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal.
And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
35And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me.
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
40And “Tailor!” cries, and falls into a cough,
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.
But, room, fairy! Here comes Oberon.


What you say is true. That’s me you’re talking about, the playful wanderer of the night. I tell jokes to Oberon and make him smile. I’ll trick a fat, well-fed horse into thinking that I’m a young female horse. Sometimes I hide at the bottom of an old woman’s drink disguised as an apple. When she takes a sip, I bob up against her lips and make her spill the drink all over her withered old neck. Sometimes a wise old woman with a sad story to tell tries to sit down on me, thinking I’m a three-legged stool. But I slip from underneath her and she falls down, crying, “Ow, my butt!” and starts coughing, and then everyone laughs and has fun. But step aside, fairy! Here comes Oberon.


45And here my mistress. Would that he were gone!


And here’s my mistress, Titania. I wish he’d go away!