. It is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus
, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta
. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors, who are manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set.
Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;Four nights will quickly dream away the time;And then the moon, like to a silver bow New bent in heaven, shall behold the nightOf our solemnities.
But earthly happier is the rose distill’dThan that, which, withering on the virgin thorn,Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.
Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,Could ever hear by tale or history,The course of true love never did run smooth.
O, hell! to choose love by another’s eye.
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,Brief as the lightning in the collied night,That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,And ere a man hath power to say, — Behold!The jaws of darkness do devour it up:So quick bright things come to confusion.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind.
Masters, spread yourselves.
This is Ercles’ vein.
Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming
I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice.