OBERON Ill met...

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Act 2 Scene 1


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Athens, sixteenth-century
Act 2 Scene 1

Scene Context

Oberon, the King of the fairies, and Titania, his queen, have met in the woods outside of Athens.

Scene Text


Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.


What, jealous Oberon! Fairies, skip hence;

I have forsworn his bed and company.


Tarry, rash wanton: am not I thy lord?


Then I must be thy lady; but I know

When thou hast stol'n away from fairy-land,

And in the shape of Corin sat all day,

Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love

To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,

Come from the farthest steep of India,

But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,

Your buskin'd mistress and your warrior love,

To Theseus must be wedded; and you come

To give their bed joy and prosperity.


How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,

Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,

Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?

Didst not thou lead him through the glimmering night

From Perigenia, whom he ravish'd?

And make him with fair Aegle break his faith,

With Ariadne and Antiopa?


These are the forgeries of jealousy:

And never, since the middle summer's spring,

Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,

By pavèd fountain, or by rushy brook,

Or on the beachèd margent of the sea,

To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,

But with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport.

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,

As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea

Contagious fogs; which, falling in the land,

Hath every pelting river made so proud

That they have overborne their continents:

The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,

The ploughman lost his sweat; and the green corn

Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard:

The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,

And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;

The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud;

And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,

For lack of tread, are undistinguishable:

The human mortals want their winter here;

No night is now with hymn or carol blest:—

Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,

Pale in her anger, washes all the air,

That rheumatic diseases do abound:

And thorough this distemperature we see

The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts

Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;

And on old Hyem's thin and icy crown

An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds

Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,

The childing autumn, angry winter, change

Their wonted liveries; and the maz'd world,

By their increase, now knows not which is which:

And this same progeny of evils comes

From our debate, from our dissension:

We are their parents and original.


Do you amend it, then: it lies in you:

Why should Titania cross her Oberon?

I do but beg a little changeling boy

To be my henchman.


Set your heart at rest;

The fairy-land buys not the child of me.

His mother was a vot'ress of my order:

And, in the spicèd Indian air, by night,

Full often hath she gossip'd by my side;

And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,

Marking the embarkèd traders on the flood;

When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive,

And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;

Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait

Following,—her womb then rich with my young squire,—

Would imitate; and sail upon the land,

To fetch me trifles, and return again,

As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.

But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;

And for her sake do I rear up her boy:

And for her sake I will not part with him.


How long within this wood intend you stay?


Perchance till after Theseus' wedding-day.

If you will patiently dance in our round,

And see our moonlight revels, go with us;

If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.


Give me that boy and I will go with thee.


Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies, away:

We shall chide downright if I longer stay.

William Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 2, sc.2

[Full text is available on Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1514/1514-h/1514-h.htm#A2S1]