Enter Theseus, Hippolita, Egeus and his Lords.
Hip. 'Tis strange my Theseus, y these louers speake of
The. More strange then true. I neuer may beleeue These anticke fables, nor these Fairy toyes, Louers and mad men haue such seething braines, Such shaping phantasies, that apprehend more Then coole reason euer comprehends. The Lunaticke, the Louer, and the Poet, Are of imagination all compact. One sees more diuels then vaste hell can hold; That is the mad man. The Louer, all as franticke, Sees Helens beauty in a brow of Egipt. The Poets eye in a fine frenzy rolling, doth glance From heauen to earth, from earth to heauen. And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things Vnknowne; the Poets pen turnes them to shapes, And giues to aire nothing, a locall habitation, And a name. Such tricks hath strong imagination, That if it would but apprehend some ioy, It comprehends some bringer of that ioy. Or in the night, imagining some feare, Howe easie is a bush suppos'd a Beare? Hip. But all the storie of the night told ouer, And all their minds transfigur'd so together, More witnesseth than fancies images, And growes to something of great constancie; But howsoeuer, strange, and admirable. Enter louers, Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena.
The. Heere come the louers, full of ioy and mirth: Ioy, gentle friends, ioy and fresh dayes Of loue accompany your hearts
Lys. More then to vs, waite in your royall walkes, your boord, your bed
The. Come now, what maskes, what dances shall we haue, To weare away this long age of three houres, Between our after supper, and bed-time? Where is our vsuall manager of mirth? What Reuels are in hand? Is there no play, To ease the anguish of a torturing houre? Call Egeus
Ege. Heere mighty Theseus
The. Say, what abridgement haue you for this euening? What maske? What musicke? How shall we beguile The lazie time, if not with some delight? Ege. There is a breefe how many sports are rife: Make choise of which your Highnesse will see first
Lis. The battell with the Centaurs to be sung By an Athenian Eunuch, to the Harpe
The. Wee'l none of that. That haue I told my Loue In glory of my kinsman Hercules
Lis. The riot of the tipsie Bachanals, Tearing the Thracian singer, in their rage? The. That is an old deuice, and it was plaid When I from Thebes came last a Conqueror
Lis. The thrice three Muses, mourning for the death of learning, late deceast in beggerie
The. That is some Satire keene and criticall, Not sorting with a nuptiall ceremonie
Lis. A tedious breefe Scene of yong Piramus, And his loue Thisby; very tragicall mirth
The. Merry and tragicall? Tedious, and briefe? That is, hot ice, and wondrous strange snow. How shall wee finde the concord of this discord? Ege. A play there is, my Lord, some ten words long, Which is as breefe, as I haue knowne a play; But by ten words, my Lord, it is too long; Which makes it tedious. For in all the play, There is not one word apt, one Player fitted. And tragicall my noble Lord it is: for Piramus Therein doth kill himselfe. Which when I saw Rehearst, I must confesse, made mine eyes water: But more merrie teares, the passion of loud laughter Neuer shed
Thes. What are they that do play it? Ege. Hard handed men, that worke in Athens heere, Which neuer labour'd in their mindes till now; And now haue toyled their vnbreathed memories With this same play, against your nuptiall