WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Sogno di una notte di mezza estate, Atto V, scena 1


Scene I. Athens. The palace of Theseus.

Enter Pyramus and Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine, and Lion


Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;

But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.

This man is Pyramus, if you would know;

This beauteous lady Thisby is certain.

This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present

Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;

And through Wall’s chink, poor souls, they are content

To whisper. At the which let no man wonder.

This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,

Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,

By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn

To meet at Ninus’ tomb, there, there to woo.

This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name,

The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,

Did scare away, or rather did affright;

And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall,

Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.

Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,

And finds his trusty Thisby’s mantle slain:

Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,

He bravely broach’d his boiling bloody breast;

And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade,

His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,

Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain

At large discourse, while here they do remain.

Exeunt Prologue, Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine


I wonder if the lion be to speak.


No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.


In this same interlude it doth befall

That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;

And such a wall, as I would have you think,

That had in it a crannied hole or chink,

Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,

Did whisper often very secretly.

This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show

That I am that same wall; the truth is so:

And this the cranny is, right and sinister,

Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.


Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?


It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.

Enter Pyramus


Pyramus draws near the wall: silence!


O grim-look’d night! O night with hue so black!

O night, which ever art when day is not!

O night, O night! alack, alack, alack,

I fear my Thisby’s promise is forgot!

And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,

That stand’st between her father’s ground and mine!

Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,

Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne!

Wall holds up his fingers

Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for this!

But what see I? No Thisby do I see.

O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss!

Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!


The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.


No, in truth, sir, he should not. ‘Deceiving me’ is Thisby’s cue: she is to enter now, and I am to spy her through the wall. You shall see, it will fall pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.

Enter Thisbe


O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,

For parting my fair Pyramus and me!

My cherry lips have often kiss’d thy stones,

Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.


I see a voice: now will I to the chink,

To spy an I can hear my Thisby’s face. Thisby!


My love thou art, my love I think.


Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace;

And, like Limander, am I trusty still.


And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.


Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.


As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.


O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!


I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.


Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?


’Tide life, ’tide death, I come without delay.

Exeunt Pyramus and Thisbe


Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;

And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.



Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.


No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear without warning.


This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.


The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them.


It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.


If we imagine no worse of them than they of themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.

Enter Lion and Moonshine


You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear

The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,

May now perchance both quake and tremble here,

When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.

Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am

A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam;

For, if I should as lion come in strife

Into this place, ’twere pity on my life.


A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.


The very best at a beast, my lord, that e’er I saw.


This lion is a very fox for his valour.


True; and a goose for his discretion.


Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his discretion; and the fox carries the goose.


His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour; for the goose carries not the fox. It is well: leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.


This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;—


He should have worn the horns on his head.


He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the circumference.


This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;

Myself the man i’ the moon do seem to be.


This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else the man i’ the moon?


He dares not come there for the candle; for, you see, it is already in snuff.


I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!


It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he is in the wane; but yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay the time.


Proceed, Moon.


All that I have to say, is, to tell you that the lanthorn is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.


Why, all these should be in the lanthorn; for all these are in the moon. But, silence! here comes Thisbe.

Enter Thisbe


This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?

[Enter Lion, Roaring]


[Thisbe runs off]


Well roared, Lion.


Well run, Thisbe.


Well shone, Moon. Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.

The Lion shakes Thisbe’s mantle, and exits


Well moused, Lion.


And so the lion vanished.


And then came Pyramus.

Enter Pyramus


Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;

I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright;

For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams,

I trust to take of truest Thisby sight.

But stay, O spite!

But mark, poor knight,

What dreadful dole is here!

Eyes, do you see?

How can it be?

O dainty duck! O dear! 

Thy mantle good,

What, stain’d with blood!

Approach, ye Furies fell!

O Fates, come, come,

Cut thread and thrum;

Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!


This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man look sad.


Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.


O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?

Since lion vile hath here deflower’d my dear:

Which is—no, no—which was the fairest dame

That lived, that loved, that liked, that look’d with cheer.

Come, tears, confound;

Out, sword, and wound

The pap of Pyramus;

Ay, that left pap,

Where heart doth hop:

Stabs himself

Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.

Now am I dead,

Now am I fled;

My soul is in the sky:

Tongue, lose thy light;

Moon take thy flight:

Exit Moonshine

Now die, die, die, die, die.



No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.


Less than an ace, man; for he is dead; he is nothing.


With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover, and prove an ass.


How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?


She will find him by starlight. Here she comes; and her passion ends the play.

Re-enter Thisbe


Methinks she should not use a long one for such a

Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.


A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the better; he for a man, God warrant us; she for a woman, God bless us.


She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.


And thus she means, videlicet:—


Asleep, my love?

What, dead, my dove?

O Pyramus, arise!

Speak, speak. Quite dumb?

Dead, dead? A tomb

sweet eyes. Must cover thy

These lily lips,

This cherry nose,

cheeks, These yellow cowslip

Are gone, are gone:

Lovers, make moan:

leeks. His eyes were green as

O Sisters Three,

Come, come to me,

milk; With hands as pale as

Lay them in gore,

Since you have shore

silk. With shears his thread of

Tongue, not a word:

Come, trusty sword;

imbrue: Come, blade, my breast

[Stabs herself]

And, farewell, friends;

Thus Thisby ends:

adieu. Adieu, adieu,



Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.


Ay, and Wall too.


[Starting up] No assure you; the wall is down that parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance between two of our company?


No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all dead, there needs none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus and hanged himself in Thisbe’s garter, it would have been a fine tragedy: and so it is, truly; and very notably discharged. But come, your Bergomask: let your epilogue alone.

A dance

The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve:

Lovers, to bed; ’tis almost fairy time.

I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn

As much as we this night have overwatch’d.

This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled

The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.

A fortnight hold we this solemnity,

In nightly revels and new jollity.


Enter Puck


Now the hungry lion roars,

And the wolf behowls the moon;

Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,

All with weary task fordone.

Now the wasted brands do glow,

Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,

Puts the wretch that lies in woe

In remembrance of a shroud.

Now it is the time of night

That the graves all gaping wide,

Every one lets forth his sprite,

In the church-way paths to glide:

And we fairies, that do run

By the triple Hecate’s team,

From the presence of the sun,

Following darkness like a dream,

Now are frolic: not a mouse

Shall disturb this hallow’d house:

I am sent with broom before,

To sweep the dust behind the door.

Enter Oberon and Titania with their train


Through the house give gathering light,

By the dead and drowsy fire:

Every elf and fairy sprite

Hop as light as bird from brier;

And this ditty, after me,

Sing, and dance it trippingly.


First, rehearse your song by rote

To each word a warbling note:

Hand in hand, with fairy grace,

Will we sing, and bless this place.

Song and dance


Now, until the break of day,

stray. Through this house each fairy

To the best bride-bed will we,

be; Which by us shall blessed

And the issue there create

Ever shall be fortunate.

So shall all the couples three

Ever true in loving be;

And the blots of Nature’s hand

Shall not in their issue stand;

Never mole, hare lip, nor scar,

Nor mark prodigious, such as are

Despised in nativity,

upon their children be. Shall

With this field-dew consecrate,

his gait; Every fairy take

And each several chamber bless,

peace; Through this palace, with sweet

And the owner of it blest

Ever shall in safety rest.

Trip away; make no stay;

Meet me all by break of day.

Exeunt Oberon, Titania, and train


If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber’d here

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream,

Gentles, do not reprehend:

If you pardon, we will mend:

And, as I am an honest Puck,

If we have unearned luck

Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,

We will make amends ere long;

Else the Puck a liar call;

So, good night unto you all.

Give me your hands, if we be friends,

And Robin shall restore amends.