Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
Compliment to Queen Elizabeth
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
(See full text.)

MY gentle Puck, come hither, thou remember’st
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song;        5
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid’s music.
That very time, I saw, but thou couldst not,
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all armed: a certain aim he took        10
At a fair vestal, throned by the west;
And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts:
But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon,        15
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.
Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell;
It fell upon a little western flower,—
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,—        20
And maidens call it Love-in-idleness.
Fetch me that flower; the herb I showed thee once.
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid
Will make a man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.        25
Fetch me this herb: and be thou here again,
Ere the Leviathan can swim a league.
  Puck.—I’ll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.
*        *        *        *        *
  Oberon.—Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.        30
  Puck.—Ay, there it is.
  Oberon.—I pray thee, give it me.
I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
Where ox-lips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with lush woodbine,        35
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania, some time of the night,
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamelled skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in:        40
And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes,
And make her full of hateful fantasies.

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