A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth:

War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,
Making it momentary as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;
Brief as the lightning in the collied night
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth
And ere a man hath power to say, Behold!
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.

And by that fire which burn’d the Carthage queen,
When the false Trojan under sail was seen,—
By all the vows that ever men have broke,
In number more than women ever spoke,—

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind.

That will ask some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will move storms.

How now, spirit! Whither wander you?

the maz’d world

And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin’s back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song,
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid’s music.

It is not night when I do see your face,
Therefore I think I am no in the night:
Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company;
For you , in my respect, are all the world:
Then how can it be said I am alone
When all the world is here to look on me?

And leads me to your eyes, where I o’erlook
Love’s stories, written in love’s richest book.

So sorrow’s heaviness doth heavier grow
For debt that bankrupt sleep doth sorrow owe

Fair Helena, —who more engilds the night
Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light.

I, thou painted maypole? You minimus, you acorn!

My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast;
And yonder shines Aurora’s harbringer,
At whose approach ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards: damned spirits all,
That in cross-ways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone;
For fear lest day should look their shames upon
They willfully exile themselves from light
And must for aye consort with black-brow’d night.
But we are spirits of another sort:
I with the morning’s love have oft made sport;
And, like a forester, the groves may tread
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery-red,
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
Turns into yellow gold his salt-green streams.

My legs can keep no pace with my desires.

More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables, nore these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
the lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold;
That is the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.