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The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
Hip. But all the story of the night told over,
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
The. Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.—
Enter LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HERMIA, and HELENA. Joy, gentle friends! joy, and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!
More than to us
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!
The. Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have, To wear away this long age of three hours,
Between our after-supper and bedtime ?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play,
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
The. Say, what abridgment have you for this evening?
Philost. There is a brief,1 how many sports are ripe ;
[Giving a paper. The. [Reads.] The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung, By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.'
We'll none of that: that have I told my love,
"The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.'
That is an old device, and it was play'd
"The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
That is some satire, keen and critical,
'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus,
Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
Philost. A play there is, my lord, some ten words long;
Which is as brief as I have known a play;
Which, when I saw rehears'd, I must confess,
The. What are they that do play it?
Philost. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here, Which never labour'd in their minds till now;
And now have toil'd their unbreath'd memories
With this same play, against your nuptial.
The. And we will hear it.
No, my noble lord,
Extremely stretch'd, and conn'd with cruel pain,
I will hear that play;
For never anything can be amiss,
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in; and take your places, ladies.
Hip. I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharg'd,
The. Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
The. The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity,
Philost. So please your grace, the prologue is address'd.
[Flourish of trumpets.
If we offend, it is with our good-will.
That you should think, we come not to offend,
All for your delight,
Our true intent is.
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.
The. This fellow doth not stand upon points.
Lys. 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.
Hip. Indeed he hath played on this prologue like a child on a recorder; a sound, but not in government.
The. His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?
Enter PYRAMUS and THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, and LION, as in dumb show.3
Prol. Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall;
Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain:
And finds his trusty Thisby's mantle slain :
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
[Exeunt Prologue, THISBE, LION, and MOONSHINE.
The. I wonder if the lion be to speak.
Dem. No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
This lime, this rough-cast, and this stone, doth shew
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.
The. Would you desire lime and hair to speak better? Dem. It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.
The. Pyramus draws near the wall: silence!
O grim-look'd 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 Thisby's promise is forgot!—
That stand'st between her father's ground and mine;
Shew me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne.
[Wall holds up his fingers.