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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5, Scene 1 (Part 2)


Previously on Sketchbook, the newly married couples, Theseus and Hippolyta, Lysander and Hermia, and Demetrius and Helena, were gathered at the court of Theseus to celebrate. To pass the hours before bedtime, Theseus selected Peter Quince’s play, The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe.

Dim the lights.

Enter Philostrate.


So please your grace, the Prologue is addressed.


Let him approach.

A flourish of trumpets.

Enter Prologue.


If we offend, it is with our good will.

That you should think, we come not to offend,

But with good will. To show our simple skill,

That is the true beginning of our end.

Consider then we come but in despite.

We do not come as minding to contest you,

Our true intent is. All for your delight

We are not here. That you should here repent you,

The actors are at hand and by their show

You shall know all that you are like to know.


This fellow doth not stand upon points.


He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he knows not the stop. A good moral, my lord. It is not enough to speak, but to speak true.


Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child on a recorder; a sound, but not in government.


His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?

Enter Bottom as Pyramus, Flute as Thisbe, Snout as Wall, Starveling as Moonshine, and Snug as Lion.

Quince, as Prologue

Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show,

But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.

This man is Pyramus, if you would know.

This beauteous lady Thisbe is certain.

This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present

Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;

And through Wall’s chink, poor souls, they are content

To whisper. At the which let no man wonder.

This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,

Presenteth Moonshine, for, if you will know,

By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn

To meet at Ninus’ tomb, there, there to woo.

This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name,

The trusty Thisbe, coming first by night,

Did scare away, or rather did afright;

And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall,

Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.

Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,

And finds his trusty Thisbe’s mantle slain.

Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,

He bravely broached his boiling bloody breast;

And Thisbe, tarrying in mulberry shade,

His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,

Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain

At large discourse, while here they do remain.

Thisbe, Lion, Moonshine, and Prologue exit.


I wonder if the lion be to speak.


No wonder, my lord. One lion may, when many asses do.

Snout, as Wall

In this same interlude it doth befall

That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;

And such a wall, as I would have you think,

That had in it a crannied hole or chink,

Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe,

Did whisper often very secretly.

This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show

That I am that same wall. The truth is so.

And this the cranny is, right and sinister,

Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.


Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?


It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.

Enter Pyramus.


Pyramus draws near the wall. Silence.

Bottom, as Pyramus

O grim-looked night! O night with hue so black!

O night, which ever art when day is not!

O night, O night! Alack, alack, alack,

I fear my Thisbe’s promise is forgot.

And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,

That stand’st between her father’s ground and mine!

Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,

Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne!

Thanks, courteous wall. Jove shield thee well for this!

But what see I? No Thisbe do I see.

O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss!

Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!


The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.


No, in truth, sir, he should not. “Deceiving me” is Thisbe’s cue. She is to enter now, and I am to spy her through the wall. You shall see, it will fall pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.

Enter Thisbe.

Flute, as Thisbe

O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,

For parting my fair Pyramus and me!

My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones,

Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.

Bottom, as Pyramus

I see a voice. Now will I to the chink,

To spy an I can hear my Thisbe’s face. Thisbe!

Flute, as Thisbe

My love thou art, my love I think.

Bottom, as Pyramus

Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace.

And, like Limander, am I trusty still.

Flute, as Thisbe

And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.

Bottom, as Pyramus

Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.

Flute, as Thisbe

As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.

Bottom, as Pyramus

O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!

Flute, as Thisbe

I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.

Bottom, as Pyramus

Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?

Flute, as Thisbe

’Tide life, ’tide death, I come without delay.

Pyramus and Thisbe exit.

Snout, as Wall

Thus have I, Wall, my part dischargéd so,

And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.

Wall exits.


Now is the wall down between the two neighbours.


No remedy, my lord, when walls are so willful to hear without warning.


This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.


The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them.


It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.


If we imagine no worse of them than they of themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.

Enter Moonshine and Lion.

Snug, as Lion

You, ladies, you whose gentle hearts do fear

The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,

May now perchance both quake and tremble here,

When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.

Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am

A lion fell, nor else no lion’s dam.

For, if I should as lion come in strife

Into this place, ’twere pity on my life.


A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.


The very best at a beast, my lord, that e’er I saw.


This lion is a very fox for his valour.


True, and a goose for his discretion.


Not so, my lord, for his valour cannot carry his discretion, and the fox carries the goose.


His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour, for the goose carries not the fox. It is well. Leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.

Starveling, as Moonshine

This lanthorn doth the hornéd moon present —


He should have worn the horns on his head.


He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the circumference.

Starveling, as Moonshine

This lanthorn doth the hornéd moon present.

Myself the man i’ the moon do seem to be.


This is the greatest error of all the rest. The man should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else the man i’ the moon?


He dares not come there for the candle. For, you see, it is already in snuff.


I am aweary of this moon. Would he would change!


It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he is in the wane. But, yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay the time.


Proceed, Moon.

Starveling, as Moonshine

All that I have to say is to tell you that the lanthorn is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.


Why, all these should be in the lanthorn; for all these are in the moon. But, silence! here comes Thisbe.

Enter Thisbe.

Flute, as Thisbe

This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?

Snug, as Lion


Thisbe runs off.


Well roared, Lion.


Well run, Thisbe.


Well shone, Moon. Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.

Lion worries Thisbe’s mantle, and then he exits.


Well moused, Lion.


And so the lion vanished.


And then came Pyramus.

Enter Pyramus.

Bottom, as Pyramus

Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams.

I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright.

For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams,

I trust to take of truest Thisbe sight.

But stay. O spite!

But mark, poor knight,

What dreadful dole is here!

Eyes, do you see?

How can it be?

O dainty duck! O dear!

Thy mantle good,

What, stain’d with blood?

Approach, ye Furies fell!

O Fates, come, come,

Cut thread and thrum.

Quail, crush, conclude, and quell.


This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man look sad.


Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.

Bottom, as Pyramus

O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?

Since lion vile hath here deflower’d my dear.

Which is — no, no, which was the fairest dame

That lived, that loved, that liked, that look’d

with cheer.

Come, tears, confound;

Out, sword, and wound

The pap of Pyramus.

Ay, that left pap,

Where heart doth hop.

Pyramus stabs himself.

Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.

Now am I dead,

Now am I fled.

My soul is in the sky.

Tongue, lose thy light.

Moon take thy flight.

Moonshine exits.

Now die, die, die, die, die.

Pyramus falls.


No die, but an ace for him, for he is but one.


Less than an ace, man, for he is dead. He is nothing.


With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover, and prove an ass.


How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?


She will find him by starlight. Here she comes, and her passion ends the play.

Enter Thisbe.


Methinks she should not use a long one for such a Pyramus. I hope she will be brief.


A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the better; he for a man, God warrant us, she for a woman, God bless us.


She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.


And thus she means, videlicet

Flute, as Thisbe

Asleep, my love?

What, dead, my dove?

O Pyramus, arise!

Speak, speak. Quite dumb?

Dead, dead? A tomb

Must cover thy sweet eyes.

These my lips,

This cherry nose,

These yellow cowslip cheeks,

Are gone, are gone.

Lovers, make moan.

His eyes were green as leeks.

O Sisters Three,

Come, come to me,

With hands as pale as milk.

Lay them in gore,

Since you have shore

With shears his thread of silk.

Tongue, not a word.

Come, trusty sword.

Come, blade, my breast imbrue.

Thisbe stabs herself.

And, farewell, friends.

Thus Thisbe ends.

Adieu, adieu, adieu.

Thisbe falls.


Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.


Ay, and Wall too.

Bottom and Flute rise.


No, assure you, the wall is down that parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance between two of our company?


No epilogue, I pray you, for your play needs no excuse. Never excuse. For when the players are all dead, there needs none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus and hanged himself in Thisbe’s garter, it would have been a fine tragedy. And so it is, truly, and very notably discharged. But come, your Bergomask. Let your epilogue alone.

A dance.

The players exit.

The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve.

Lovers, to bed. ’Tis almost fairy time.

I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn

As much as we this night have overwatch’d.

This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled

The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.

A fortnight hold we this solemnity,

In nightly revels and new jollity.

All exit.



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