Passage: A Midsummer Night's Dream, 5.1.1-22.

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Table of Contents: Course Two

HIPPOLYTA: 'Tis strange my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.
THESEUS: More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend                                               [5]
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,                                    [10]
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen                                    [15]
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;                                             [20]
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

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Table of Contents: Course Two


This page last updated on 1 January 2003.

Send queries to Michael Best, English Department, University of Victoria, Victoria B.C. V8W 3W1, Canada.

mbest1@uvic.ca