A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

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Look, when I vow, I weep. And vows so born,
In their nativity all truth appears.
How can these things in me seem scorn to you,
Bearing the badge of faith to prove them true?
Look, when I swear that I love you, I cry, and when someone cries while he’s making a promise, he’s usually telling the truth. How can it seem like I’m making fun of you, when my tears prove that I’m sincere?

HELENA

130You do advance your cunning more and more.
When truth kills truth, O devilish holy fray!
These vows are Hermia’s. Will you give her o'er?
Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh.
Your vows to her and me, put in two scales,
135Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.

HELENA

You get trickier and trickier. You’ve made the same promises to me and to Hermia—they can’t both be true! They must both be false. The promises you’re making to me belong to Hermia. Will you abandon her? If you weighed the promises you made to me against the promises you made to her, they’d come out the same—they both weigh nothing. They’re lies.

LYSANDER

I had no judgment when to her I swore.

LYSANDER

I wasn’t thinking clearly when I made those promises to her.

HELENA

Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o'er.

HELENA

And I don’t believe you’re thinking clearly now, as you break those promises.

LYSANDER

Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.

LYSANDER

Demetrius loves her, and he doesn’t love you.

DEMETRIUS

(waking) O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!
140To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?
Crystal is muddy. Oh, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!
That pure congealèd white, high Taurus' snow,
Fanned with the eastern wind, turns to a crow
145When thou hold’st up thy hand. Oh, let me kiss
This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!

DEMETRIUS

(waking up) Oh Helena, you goddess, you divine and perfect nymph! What can I compare your eyes to? Crystal isn’t as clear as they are. Oh, your lips are as ripe as a pair of tempting cherries touching each other! The pure white of the snow on a mountaintop seems black as a crow’s wing next to the whiteness of your hands. Oh, let me kiss your beautiful white hand. It’ll make me so happy!

HELENA

O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
To set against me for your merriment.
If you were civil and knew courtesy,
150You would not do me thus much injury.
Can you not hate me, as I know you do,
But you must join in souls to mock me too?
If you were men, as men you are in show,
You would not use a gentle lady so

HELENA

Damn it! I see you’re all determined to gang up on me for a few laughs. If you had any manners at all, you wouldn’t treat me like this. Can’t you just hate me, as I know you do? Do you have to get together to humiliate me too? If you were real men, as you pretend to be, you wouldn’t treat a lady this way, making vows and promises and praising my beauty when I know you’re really both disgusted by me. You’re competing for