By William Shakespeare
Athens and a wood near it
ACT I. SCENE I.
Athens. The palace of THESEUS
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, and ATTENDANTS
THESEUS. Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon; but, O, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame or a dowager,
Long withering out a young mans revenue.
HIPPOLYTA. Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.
THESEUS. Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
Turn melancholy forth to funerals;
The pale companion is not for our pomp. Exit PHILOSTRATE
Hippolyta, I wood thee with my sword,
And won thy love doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.
Enter EGEUS, and his daughter HERMIA, LYSANDER,
EGEUS. Happy be Theseus, our renowned Duke!
THESEUS. Thanks, good Egeus; whats the news with thee
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.
Stand forth, Lysander. And, my gracious Duke,
This man hath bewitchd the bosom of my child.
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
And interchangd love-tokens with my child;
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,
With feigning voice, verses of feigning love,
And stoln the impression of her fantasy
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats- messengers
Of strong prevailment in unhardened youth;
With cunning hast thou filchd my daughters heart;
Turnd 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,
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.
THESEUS. What say you, Hermia Be advisd, fair maid.
To you your father should be as a god;
One that composd your beauties; yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax,
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure, or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
HERMIA. So is Lysander.
THESEUS. In himself he is;
But, in this kind, wanting your fathers voice,
The other must be held the worthier.
HERMIA. I would my father lookd but with my eyes.
THESEUS. Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.
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
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.
THESEUS. Either to die the death, or to abjure
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 fathers choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun,
For aye to be shady cloister mewd,
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 s
uch maiden pilgrimage;
But earthlier happy is the rose distilld
Than that which withering on the virgin thorn
Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.
HERMIA. So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.
THESEUS. Take time to pause; and by the next new moon-