Act 1 Scene 1, lines 20 to 177

  1. Enter Egeus, his daughter Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius.

  2. Egeus:

    Happy be Theseus, our renowned Duke.         [20]

  3. Theseus:

    Thanks good Egeus. What’s the news with thee?

  4. Egeus:

    Full of vexation come I, with complaint
    Against my child, my daughter Hermia. –
    Stand forth, Demetrius. – My noble lord,
    This man hath my consent to marry her. –                 [25]
    Stand forth, Lysander. - And my gracious Duke,
    This man hath bewitch’d the bosom of my child
    Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
    And interchanged love-tokens with my child.
    Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung               [30]
    With feigning voice verses of feigning love.
    And stol’n the impression of her fantasy
    With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits,
    Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats (messengers
    Of strong prevailment in unharden’d youth).              [35]
    With cunning hast thou filched my daughter’s heart,
    Turned her obedience (which is due to me)
    To stubborn harshness. And, my gracious Duke,
    Be it so she will not here, before your Grace,
    Consent to marry with Demetrius,                             [40]
    I beg the ancient privilege of Athens.
    As she is mine, I may dispose of her,
    Which shall be either to this gentleman,
    Or to her death, according to our law
    Immediately provided in that case.                           [45]

  5. Theseus:

    What say you, Hermia? Be advised fair maid.
    To you your father should be as a god.
    One that composed your beauties, yea and one
    To whom you are but as a form in wax
    By him imprinted, and within his power               [50]
    To leave the figure or disfigure it.
    Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.

  6. Hermia:

    So is Lysander.

  7. Theseus:

                             In himself he is.
    But in this kind, wanting your father’s voice,

    The other must be held the worthier.           [55]

  8. Hermia:

    I would my father looked but with my eyes.

  9. Theseus:

    Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.

  10. Hermia:

    I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
    I know not by what power I am made bold,
    Nor how it may concern my modesty,               [60]
    In such a presence, here to plead my thoughts.
    But I beseech your Grace that I may know
    The worst that may befall me in this case,
    If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

  11. Theseus:

    Either to die the death, or to abjure                        [65]
    For ever the society of men.
    Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
    Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
    Whether (if you yield not to your father’s choice)
    You can endure the livery of a nun.                      [70]
    For aye to be in shady cloister mewed,
    To live a barren sister all your life,
    Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
    Thrice-blessed they that master so their blood,
    To undergo such maiden pilgrimage,                   [75]
    But earthlier happy is the rose distilled,
    Than that which withering on the virgin thorn,
    Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.

  12. Hermia:

    So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
    Ere I will my virgin patent up
    Unto his lordship, whose unwishèd yoke           [80]
    My soul consents not to give sovereignty.

  13. Theseus:

    Take time to pause, and, by the next new moon,
    (The sealing-day betwixt my love and me
    For everlasting bond of fellowship)
    Upon that day either prepare to die                [85]
    For disobedience to your father’s will,
    Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would,
    Or on Diana’s altar to protest
    For aye, austerity and single life.

  14. Demetrius:

    Relent, sweet Hermia, and Lysander, yield            [90]
    Thy crazèd title to my certain right.

  15. Lysander:

    You have her father’s love, Demetrius,
    Let me have Hermia’s. Do you marry him.

  16. Egeus:

    Scornful Lysander! True, he hath my love,
    And what is mine, my love shall render him.           [95]
    And she is mine, and all my right of her
    I do estate unto Demetrius.

  17. Lysander:

    I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
    As well possessed. My love is more than his.
    My fortunes every way as fairly ranked                   [100]
    (If not with vantage) as Demetrius’.
    And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
    I am beloved of beauteous Hermia.
    Why should not I then prosecute my right?
    Demetrius, I’ll avouch it to his head,                [105]
    Made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena,
    And won her soul. And she, sweet lady, dotes,
    Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
    Upon this spotted and inconstant man.

  18. Theseus:

    I must confess that I have heard so much,               [110]
    And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof.
    But being over-full of self-affairs,
    My mind did lose it. But Demetrius come,
    And come Egeus, you shall go with me,
    I have some private schooling for you both.              [115]
    For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
    To fit your fancies to your father’s will,
    Or else the law of Athens yields you up
    (Which by no means we may extenuate)
    To death, or to a vow of single life.                   [120]
    Come my Hippolyta, what cheer, my love?
    Demetrius and Egeus go along,
    I must employ you in some business
    Against our nuptial, and confer with you
    Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.        [125]

  19. Egeus:

    With duty and desire we follow you.

  20. They all exit, except Lysander and Hermia.

  21. Lysander:

    How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale?
    How chance the roses there do fade so fast?

  22. Hermia:

    Belike for want of rain, which I could well
    Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.           [130]

  23. Lysander:

    Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,
    Could ever hear by tale or history,
    The course of true love never did run smooth,
    But either it was different in blood—

  24. Hermia:

    O cross! Too high to be enthralled to low.          [135]

  25. Lysander:

    Or else misgraffèd in respect of years—

  26. Hermia:

    O spite! Too old to be engaged to young.

  27. Lysander:

    Or else it stood upon the choice of friends—

  28. Hermia:

    O hell! To choose love by another’s eyes.

  29. Lysander:

    Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,                     [140]
    War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,
    Making it momentary as a sound,
    Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
    Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
    That, in a spleen, unfolds both heav’n and earth,      [145]
    And ere a man hath power to say “Behold!”
    The jaws of darkness do devour it up.
    So quick bright things come to confusion.

  30. Hermia:

    If then true lovers have been ever crossed,
    It stands as an edict in destiny.                            [150]
    Then let us teach our trial patience,
    Because it is a customary cross,
    As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,
    Wishes and tears, poor Fancy’s followers.

  31. Lysander:

    A good persuasion. Therefore hear me, Hermia,                [155]
    I have a widow aunt, a dowager
    Of great revenue, and she hath no child.
    From Athens is her house remote se’en leagues,
    And she respects me as her only son.
    There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee,                        [160]
    And to that place the sharp Athenian law
    Cannot pursue us. If thou lov’st me, then
    Steal forth thy father’s house tomorrow night,
    And in the wood, a league without the town,
    (Where I did meet thee once with Helena               [165]
    To do observance to a morn of May)
    There will I stay for thee.

  32. Hermia:

                                    My good Lysander,
    I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow,
    By his best arrow with the golden head,
    By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,                     [170]
    By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
    And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen
    When the false Troyan under sail was seen,
    By all the vows that ever men have broke,
    (In number more than ever women spoke),              [175]
    In that same place thou hast appointed me,
    Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee.