A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

He “Murder!” cries and help from Athens calls.
Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong,
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong.
For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch,
30Some sleeves, some hats—from yielders all things catch.
I led them on in this distracted fear
And left sweet Pyramus translated there.
When in that moment so it came to pass,
Titania waked and straightway loved an ass.
Pyramus there, transformed into someone with a donkey’s head. At that exact moment, Titania woke up and immediately fell in love with him, an ass.
35This falls out better than I could devise.
But hast thou yet latched the Athenian’s eyes
With the love juice, as I did bid thee do?
This is going even better than I planned. But have you put the love juice from the flower on the eyes of that Athenian, as I asked you to do?
I took him sleeping—that is finished too—
And the Athenian woman by his side,
40That, when he waked, of force she must be eyed.
Yes, I found him when he was asleep—so that’s taken care of too—and the Athenian woman was sleeping near him. When he woke up, he must have seen her.
(aside to ROBIN) Stand close. This is the same Athenian.
(speaking so that only ROBIN can hear) Step aside. Here’s the Athenian coming now.
(aside to OBERON) This is the woman, but not this the man.
(speaking so that only OBERON can hear) That’s definitely the woman I saw, but it’s not the same man.
Oh, why rebuke you him that loves you so?
Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.
Why are you so rude to someone who loves you so much? Save that kind of harsh language for your worst enemy.
45Now I but chide, but I should use thee worse.
For thou, I fear, hast given me cause to curse.
If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep,
Being o'er shoes in blood, plunge in the deep,
And kill me too.
I’m only scolding you now, but I should treat you much worse, because I’m afraid you’ve given me good reason to curse you. If you killed Lysander while he was sleeping, then you’re already up to your ankles in blood. You might as well jump right into a bloodbath and kill me, too.