The image that first got me hooked on Arthur Rackham and his Shakespeare illustrations.
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.
Puck’s speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5, scene i
In honor of the summer solstice (and to pair with my previous Tempest post) I decided to be a little bit brave and post an old poem I wrote in college in response to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I don’t remember what the assignment was, but I chose to play with Titania’s character. I always felt kind of bad for her at the end of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. All she was trying to do was take charge of the child of an old retainer and yet her husband chose to make an absolute fool of her.
(a response to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
Malicious sprite, darkly dancing,
shadow cast under a quicksilver moon.
Oh yes, these shadows have offended.
Spiky foxgloves stand and hiss.
Whispering falsehood and deceit
from full, rainbow-spotted throats.
Beware, beware. Capricious Robin
plays with truth, and breaks his toys.
He knows his herbs and potions—
houndstongue and hellebore,
wolfsbane and rosemary,
the bitter bite of wormwood—
He serves his lord and master well.
He made me a fool before my court,
My ladies laughed behind their hands.
He bathed my eyes in purple poison—
made me love unwillingly
and waste my favors on a hairy beast.
My eyes were cleansed,
I see truly now.
I can wait, I shall bide my time.
I can counterfeit a proper wife.
In their arrogance they believe,
that I, like some green willow,
would bend my will so easily.
Playful Puck, Oberon’s steward,
though it take me centuries,
I will be avenged.
Like The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is believed to have been written to celebrate an important wedding and is a mostly original story. (The play within a play is based on Greek mythology, as are the names of the rulers.) The super short version of the story is “Mix-and-match couples in the woods near Athens.” as Shakespeare for Dummies puts it! It’s a play about many things but basically all the ways love messes with people’s heads.