A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this grove
Till I torment thee for this injury.—(to ROBIN GOODFELLOW)
My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememberest
Since once I sat upon a promontory
135And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
That the rude sea grew civil at her song
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the seamaid’s music?
Well, go on your way, then. You won’t leave this grove until I’ve paid you back for this insult. (to ROBIN GOODFELLOW) My dear Puck, come here. You remember the time when I was sitting on a cliff, and I heard a mermaid sitting on a dolphin’s back sing such a sweet and harmonious song that it calmed the stormy sea and made stars shoot out of the sky so they could hear her better?
    I remember.
Yes, I remember.
140That very time I saw (but thou couldst not)
Flying between the cold moon and the Earth,
Cupid all armed. A certain aim he took
At a fair vestal thronèd by the west,
And loosed his love shaft smartly from his bow
145As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts.
But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
And the imperial votaress passèd on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.
150Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell.
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound.
And maidens call it “love-in-idleness.”
Fetch me that flower. The herb I showed thee once.
155The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb, and be thou here again
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.
That same night, I saw Cupid flying from the moon to the earth, with all of his arrows ready. (You couldn’t see him, but I could.) He took aim at a beautiful young virgin who was sitting on a throne in the western part of the world, and he shot his arrow of love well enough to have pierced a hundred thousand hearts. But I could see that Cupid’s fiery arrow was put out by watery, virginal moonbeams, so the royal virgin continued her virginal thoughts without being interrupted by thoughts of love. But I paid attention to where Cupid’s arrow fell. It fell on a little western flower, which used to be white as milk but now has turned purple from being wounded by the arrow of love. Young girls call it “love-in-idleness.” Bring me that flower. I showed it to you once. If its juice is put on someone’s eyelids while they’re asleep, that person will fall in love with the next living creature he or she sees. Bring me this plant, and get back here before the sea monster has time to swim three miles.
160I’ll put a girdle round about the Earth
In forty minutes.
I could go around the world in forty minutes.