Act II - Scene II

[Another part of the wood]

Enter Titania, Queen of Fairies, with her train

Come now, a roundel and a fairy song;
Then, for the third part of a minute, hence:
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds;
Some war with rere-mice for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves coats; and some keep back(5)
The clamorous owl that nightly hoots and wonders
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep;
Then to your offices, and let me rest.

The Fairies Sing

You spotted snakes with double tongue,(10)
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,
Come not near our fairy Queen.

Philomel with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby.(15)
Lulla, lulla, lullaby; lulla, lulla, lullaby.
Never harm
Nor spell nor charm
Come our lovely lady nigh.
So good night, with lullaby.(20)

Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legg'd spinners, hence.
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail do no offence.

Philomel with melody, &c.(25)

Hence away; now all is well.
One aloof stand sentinel.

[Exeunt Fairies, Titania] Sleeps

Enter Oberon [and squeezes the flower on Titania's eyelids]

What thou seest when thou dost wake,
Do it for thy true-love take;
Love and languish for his sake.(30)
Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
In thy eye that shall appear
When thou wakest, it is thy dear.
Wake when some vile thing is near.(35)


Enter Lysander and Hermia

Fair love, you faint with wandering in the wood;
And, to speak troth, I have forgot our way;
We'll rest us, Hermia, if you think it good,
And tarry for the comfort of the day.
Be it so, Lysander: find you out a bed,(40)
For I upon this bank will rest my head.
One turf shall serve as pillow for us both;
One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one troth.
Nay, good Lysander; for my sake, my dear,
Lie further off yet; do not lie so near.(45)
O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!
Love takes the meaning in love's conference.
I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit,
So that but one heart we can make of it;
Two bosoms interchained with an oath,(50)
So then two bosoms and a single troth.
Then by your side no bed-room me deny,
For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.
Lysander riddles very prettily.
Now much beshrew my manners and my pride,(55)
If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied!
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy
Lie further off, in human modesty;
Such separation as may well be said
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid,(60)
So far be distant; and good night, sweet friend.
Thy love ne'er alter till thy sweet life end!
Amen, amen, to that fair prayer say I;
And then end life when I end loyalty!
Here is my bed; sleep give thee all his rest!(65)
With half that wish the wisher's eyes be press'd!

They sleep

Enter Puck

Through the forest have I gone,
But Athenian found I none,
On whose eyes I might approve
This flower's force in stirring love.
Night and silence.—Who is here?(70)
Weeds of Athens he doth wear:
This is he, my master said,
Despised the Athenian maid;
And here the maiden, sleeping sound,
On the dank and dirty ground.(75)
Pretty soul! she durst not lie
Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy.
Churl, upon thy eyes I throw
All the power this charm doth owe:
When thou wakest let love forbid(80)
Sleep his seat on thy eyelid.
So awake when I am gone;
For I must now to Oberon.


Enter Demetrius and Helena, running

Stay, though thou kill me, sweet Demetrius.
I charge thee, hence, and do not haunt me thus.(85)
O, wilt thou darkling leave me? Do not so.
Stay on thy peril; I alone will go.

Exit Demetrius

O, I am out of breath in this fond chase!
The more my prayer, the lesser is my grace.
Happy is Hermia, wheresoe'er she lies,(90)
For she hath blessed and attractive eyes.
How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears;
If so, my eyes are oft'ner wash'd than hers.
No, no, I am as ugly as a bear,
For beasts that meet me run away for fear;(95)
Therefore no marvel though Demetrius
Do, as a monster, fly my presence thus.
What wicked and dissembling glass of mine
Made me compare with Hermia's sphery eyne?
But who is here? Lysander! on the ground!(100)
Dead, or asleep? I see no blood, no wound.
Lysander, if you live, good sir, awake.
[Waking] And run through fire I will for thy sweet
Transparent Helena! Nature shows art,(105)
That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart.
Where is Demetrius? O, how fit a word
Is that vile name to perish on my sword!
Do not say so, Lysander; say not so.
What though he love your Hermia?(110)
Lord, what though?
Yet Hermia still loves you; then be content.
Content with Hermia! No: I do repent
The tedious minutes I with her have spent.
Not Hermia but Helena I love:(115)
Who will not change a raven for a dove?
The will of man is by his reason sway'd,
And reason says you are the worthier maid.
Things growing are not ripe until their season;
So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason;(120)
And touching now the point of human skill,
Reason becomes the marshal to my will,
And leads me to your eyes, where I o'erlook
Love's stories, written in Love's richest book.
Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born?(125)
When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?
Is't not enough, is't not enough, young man,
That I did never, no, nor never can,
Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius' eye,
But you must flout my insufficiency?(130)
Good troth, you do me wrong, good sooth, you do,
In such disdainful manner me to woo.
But fare you well; perforce I must confess
I thought you lord of more true gentleness.
O, that a lady of one man refused(135)
Should of another therefore be abused!


She sees not Hermia. Hermia, sleep thou there;
And never mayst thou come Lysander near!
For, as a surfeit of the sweetest things
The deepest loathing to the stomach brings,(140)
Or as the heresies that men do leave
Are hated most of those they did deceive,
So thou, my surfeit and my heresy,
Of all be hated, but the most of me!
And, all my powers, address your love and might(145)
To honor Helen, and to be her knight!


[Awaking] Help me, Lysander, help me; do thy best
To pluck this crawling serpent from my breast.
Ay me, for pity! What a dream was here!
Lysander, look how I do quake with fear.(150)
Methought a serpent eat my heart away,
And you sat smiling at his cruel prey.
Lysander! What, removed? Lysander! lord!
What, out of hearing? gone? No sound, no word?
Alack, where are you? Speak, an if you hear;(155)
Speak, of all loves! I swoon almost with fear.
No? Then I well perceive you are not nigh.
Either death or you I'll find immediately.



  1. Hermia dreams that a snake steals her heart, and she awakens to find that Lysander has deserted her at some point during her slumber with “no sound, no word.” The cunning snake in Hermia’s dream can be seen as a symbol of betrayal; the heart, symbol of love. Hermia’s love has indeed been stolen from her, but because of magic and not Lysander’s betrayal.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Hermia says that she and Lysander should lay further apart to be “virtuous,” and behave according to societal expectations. However, recall that women during Shakespeare’s time were expected to adhere to a different set of social rules regarding chastity and marriage than men were. While it was considered respectful for men to remain chaste until marriage, it certainly was not expected in the same way that it was for women, and men did not face the same consequences of social ridicule or ruin for premarital sex that women did.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Oberon’s magical scheme in a sense places him in the role of playwright, thus further emphasizing the theme of the play within a play. As the flower’s potion ensures that the being that is most “near” to Titania will become her “dear,” her love is determined by proximity rather than romance. The rhyming of “near” and “dear” is also important as it produces a playful tone rather than one of malice, illustrating that Oberon’s plot against Titania is not evil in nature, but more of an impish prank or game.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. A “philomel” is another name for a nightingale and comes from the name of a minor character in Greek mythology who is transformed into a nightingale after getting vengeance on the man (Tereus) who raped her and cut out her tongue.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Titania begins to instruct her fairies to perform certain duties in her part of the forest. One of the duties is to kill the “cankers,” an archaic word for caterpillars who are in the “musk-rose buds.” The musk rose is usually white with varieties of pink and pale yellow. It was very popular among Elizabethans because of its unique scent among the rose family. Since she wants the caterpillars removed from these flowers in particular, we can infer that these are among her favorite flowers.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor