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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, Scene 1 (Part 2)

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Previously on Sketchbook, Quince the carpenter, Snug the joiner, Bottom the weaver, Flute the bellows-mender, Snout the tinker, and Starveling the tailor met in the woods near Athens for a secret rehearsal of their play, The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe. Unseen, the knavish sprite Robin Goodfellow joined them.

The rehearsal continues.

Quince

Speak, Pyramus. Thisbe, stand forth.

Bottom

Thisbe, the flowers of odious savours sweet —

Quince

Odours, odours!

Bottom

— odours savours sweet.

So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisbe dear.

But hark, a voice! Stay thou but here awhile,

And by and by I will to thee appear.

Exit Bottom.

Robin

A stranger Pyramus than e’er played here.

Exit Robin, following Bottom.

Flute

Must I speak now?

Quince

Ay, marry, must you. For you must understand he goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again.

Flute

Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,

Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier,

Most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew,

As true as truest horse that yet would never tire.

I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb.

Quince

Ninus’ tomb, man! Why, you must not speak that yet. That you answer to Pyramus. You speak all your part at once, cues and all. Pyramus, enter. Your cue is past. It is “never tire.”

Flute

O! — As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.

Enter Bottom and Robin, Bottom with the head of an ass.

Bottom

If I were fair, Thisbe, I were only thine.

Quince

O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted. Pray, masters, fly, masters! Help!

Exit Quince, Snug, Flute, Snout, and Starveling.

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 hound,

A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire,

And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,

Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.

Exit Robin.

Bottom

Why do they run away? This is a knavery of them to make me afeard.

Enter Snout.

Snout

O Bottom, thou art changed! What do I see on thee?

Bottom

What do you see? You see an ass-head of your own, do you?

Exit Snout.

Enter Quince.

Quince

Bless thee, Bottom! Bless thee! Thou art translated!

Exit Quince.

Bottom

I see their knavery. This is to make an ass of me, to fright me if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can. I will walk up and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid.

Bottom sings.

The ousel cock so black of hue,

With orange-tawny bill,

The throstle with his note so true,

The wren with little quill —

Next time: morning in Athens.

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