A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Robin Goodfellow

Act 2 Scene 1 ROBIN: How now, spirit? Whither wander you?
FAIRY: …Our queen and all our elves come here anon ROBIN: The king doth keep his revels here tonight. Take heed the queen come not within his sight. For Oberon is passing fell and wrath because that she, as her attendant hath a lovely boy stolen from an Indian king. She never had so sweet a changeling. And jealous Oberon would have the child Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild. But she perforce withholds the lovèd boy, crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy. And now they never meet in grove or green, by fountain clear or spangled starlight sheen. But they do square, that all their elves for fear creep into acorn cups and hide them there.
FAIRY: …You do their work, and they shall have good luck. Are not you he? ROBIN: Thou speak’st aright. I am that merry wanderer of the night. I jest to Oberon and make him smile, sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me. Then slip I from her bum, down topples she, and “Tailor!: cries, and falls into a cough, and then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh, and waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear a merrier hour was never wasted there. But, room, fairy! Here comes Oberon.
OBERON: …And certain stars shot madly from their spheres to hear the seamaid’s music? ROBIN: I remember.
OBERON: Fetch me this herb, and he thou here again ere the leviathan can swim a league. ROBIN: I’ll put a gridle round about the Earth in fourty minutes.
OBERON: Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer. ROBIN: Ay, there it is.
OBERON: More fond on her than she upon her love. And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow. ROBIN: Fear not, my lord. Your servant shall do so.
HERMIA: With half that wish the wisher’s eyes be pressed! ROBIN: Through the forest have I gone. But Athenian found I none, on whose eyes I might approve this flower’s force in stirring love. Night and silence! Who is here? Weeds of Athens he doth wear. This is he, my master said, despisèd the Athenian maid. And here the maiden, sleeping sound on the dank and dirty ground. Pretty soul! She durst not lie near this lack-love, this kill-courtosy. Churl, upon thy eyes I throw all the power this charm doth ow. When thou wakest, let love forbid sleep his seat on they eyelid. So awake when I am gone, for I must now to Oberon.
QUINCE: When you have spoken your speech, enter into that brake. – And so everyone according to his cue. ROBIN: (aside) What hempen homespuns have we swaggering here, so near the cradle of the fairy queen? What, a play toward? I’ll be an auditor. An actor too, perhaps, if I see cause.
BOTTOM: Stay thou but here awhile, and by and by I will to thee appear. ROBIN: (aside) A stranger Pyramus than e’er played here.
QUINCE: Oh, monstrous! Oh, strange! We are haunted. Pray, masters! Fly, masters! Help! ROBIN: I’ll follow you. I’ll lead you about a round through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier. Sometime a horse I’ll be, sometime a fire. And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn, like a horse, hound, hog, hear, fire, at every turn.
OBERON: Here comes my messenger. – How now, mad spirit? What night-rule now about this haunted grove? ROBIN: My mistress with a monster is in love. Neaer to her close and consecrated bower, while she was in her dull and sleeping hour, a crew of patches, rude mechanicals that work for bread upon Athenian stalls, were met toogether to rehearse a play intended for great Theseus’ nuptial day. The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort, who Pyramus presented in their sport, forsook his scene and entered in a brake, when I did him at his advantage take, an ass’s hole I fixèd on his head. Anon his Tisbe must be answerèd, and forth my mimic comes. So at his sight away his fellows fly; and, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls. He “Murder!” cries and help from Athens calls. Their scene thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong, made senseless things begin to do them wrong. For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch, come cleeves, come 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.
OBERON: This 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? ROBIN: I took him sleeping – that is finished too – and the Athenian woman by his side, that, when he waked, of force she must be eyed.
OBERON: (aside to ROBIN) Stand close. This is the same Athenian. ROBIN: (aside to OBERON) This is the woman, but not this the man.
OBERON: (to ROBIN) What has thou done? Thou hast mistaken quite, and laid the love juice on some true love’s sight. Of thy misprision must perforce ensue some tru love turned, and not a false turned true. ROBIN: Then rote o’errules that, on man holding troth, a million fail, confounding oath on oath.
OBERON: About the wood go swifter than the wind, and Helena of Athens look thou find – all fancy-sick she is and pale of cheer, with sight of love, that costs the fresh blood dear. By some illusion see thou bring her here. I’ll charm his eyes against she do appear. ROBIN: I go, I go. Look how I go, swifter than the arrow from the Tartar’s bow.
OBERON: …when thou wakest, if she be by, beg of her for remedy. ROBIN: Captain of our fairy band, Helena is here at hand, and the youth, mistook by me, pleading for a lover’s fee. Shall we their fond pageant see? Lord, what fools these mortals be!
OBERON: Stand aside. The noise they make will cause Demetrius to awake. ROBIN: Then will two at once woo one. That must needs be sport alone. And those things do best please me that befall preposterously.
OBERON: (to ROBIN) This is thy negligence. Still thou mistakest, or else committ’st they knaveries willfully. ROBIN: Believe me, King of Shadows, I mistook. did not you tell me I should know the man by the Athenian garment he had on? And so far blameless proves my enterprise, that I have ‘nointed an Athenian’s eyes. And so far am I glad it so did sort, as this their jangling I esteem a sport.
OBERON: …and then I will her charmèd eye release from monster’s view, and all things shall be peace. ROBIN: My fairy lord, this must be done with haste. For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast, and yoder shines Aurora’s harbinger.
OBERON: Make no delay. We may effect this business yet ere day. ROBIN: Up and down, up and down, I will lead them up and down. I am feared in field and town. Goblin, lead them up and down. Here comes one.
LYSANDER: I will be with thee straight. ROBIN: (as DEMETRIUS) Follow me then to plainer ground.
DEMETRIUS: Lysander, speak again! Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled? Speak! In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy head? ROBIN: (as LYSANDER) Thou coward, art thou bragging to the stars, telling the bushes that thou look’st for wars, and wilt not come? Come, recreant. Come, thou child! I’ll whip thee with a rod. He is defiled that draws a sword on thee.
DEMETRIUS: Yea, art thou there? ROBIN: (as LYSANDER) Follow my voice. We’ll try no manhood here.
LYSANDER: …For if but once thou show me thy grey light, I’ll find Demetrius and revenge this spite. (sleeps) ROBIN: (as LYSANDER to DEMETRIUS) Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why comest thou not?
DEMETRIUS: Abide me, if thou darest! For well I wot thou runn’st before me, shifting every place, and darest not stand nor look me in the face. Where art thou now? ROBIN: (as LYSANDER) Come hither. I am here.
HELENA: …And sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow’s eye, steal me awhile from mine own company. (lies down and sleeps) ROBIN: Yet but three? Come one more. Two of both kinds make up four. Here she comes, cursed and sad. cupid is a knavish lad thus to make poor females mad.
HERMIA: …Heavens shield Lysander if they mean a fray! ROBIN: On the ground sleep sound. I’ll apply to your eye. Gentle lover, remedy. (squeeze flower juice into LYSANDER’s eyes) When thou wakest thou takest true delight in the sight of thy former lady’s eye. And the country proverb known – that every man should take his own – in your waking shall be shown. Jack shall have Jill. Naught shall go ill. The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.
TITANIA: Music, ho! Music such as charmeth sleep! ROBIN: (taking the ass’s head off BOTTOM) Now when thou wakest, with thine own fool’s eyes peep.
OBERON: …There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity. ROBIN: Fairy King, attend, and mark. I do hear the morning lark.
THESEUS: A fortnight hold we this solemnity, in nightly revels a new jollity. ROBIN: And we fairies, that do run by the triple Hecate’s team from the presence of the sun, following darkness like a dream, now are frolic. Not a mouse shall disturb this hallowed house. I am sent with broom before to sweep the best behind the door.
OBERON: …Trip away. Make no stay. Meet me all by break of day. ROBIN: If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended – That you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend. And, as I am an honest Puck, if we have unearnèd luck now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue, we will make amends ere long. Else the Puck a liar call. So good night unto you all. Give me your hands if we be friends, and Robin shall restore amends.

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