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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Songs and Their Settings
Puck
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
From ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream

Scene: A Wood near Athens.  Enter a Fairy and Puck at opposite doors.

PUCK—How now, spirit! whither wander you?
  Fairy—      Over hill, over dale,
      Thorough bush, thorough brier,
        Over park, over pale,
      Thorough flood, thorough fire,        5
      I do wander everywhere,
      Swifter than the moonè’s sphere;
      And I serve the fairy queen,
      To dew her orbs upon the green.
      The cowslips all her pensioners be:        10
      In their gold cups spots you see;
      Those be rubies, fairy favors,
      In those freckles live their savors.
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.        15
Farewell, thou lob of spirits: I’ll be gone.
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.
  Puck—The king doth keep his revels here to-night.
Take heed the queen come not within his sight:
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,        20
Because that she, as her attendant, hath
A lovely boy, stol’n from an Indian king;
She never had so sweet a changeling:
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild;        25
But she perforce withholds the lovèd boy,
Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy:
And now they never meet in grove, or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
But they do square; that all their elves, for fear,        30
Creep into acorn cups, and hide them there.
  Fairy—Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Called Robin Goodfellow. Are you not he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;        35
Skims milk, and sometimes labors in the quern,
And bootless makes the breathless housewife churn;
And sometimes makes the drink to bear no barm;
Misleads night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,        40
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Are not you he?
  Puck—                Fairy, thou speak’st aright:
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon, and make him smile,
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,        45
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal.
And sometimes lurk I in a gossip’s bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab;
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.        50
The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me:
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And “tailor” cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,        55
And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.—
But room, Fairy: here comes Oberon.
  Oberon—My gentle Puck, come hither: thou remember’st
Since once I sat upon a promontory,        60
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.
  Puck—                        I remember.
        65
  Oberon—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
At a fair vestal thronèd by the west,
And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow,        70
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,
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.        75
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,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
Fetch me that flower,—the herb I showed thee once:        80
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid,
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that is seen.
Fetch me this herb; and be thou here again
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.        85
  Puck—I’d put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.
 
 
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