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

O THEN, I see, Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife; and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies        5
Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep:
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs;
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
The traces, of the smallest spider’s web;
The collars, of the moonshine’s watery beams;        10
Her whip, of cricket’s bone; the lash, of film;
Her wagoner, a small gray-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid:
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut,        15
Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub,
Tune out of mind the fairies’ coach-makers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
On courtiers’ knees, that dream on court’sies straight;        20
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;
O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometimes she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,        25
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail,
Tickling a parson’s nose as he lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice:
Sometimes she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,        30
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts, and wakes,
And, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two,        35
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plaits the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.
 
 
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