A Midsummer Night's Dream (excerpts): Lovers and mad men have such seething brains

Original Text: 

Mr William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies (London: Printed by Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623), sig. O2r (p. 177) / STC (2nd ed.) 22273

4The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
6One sees more devils than vast hell can hold:
7That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,
9The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
10Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
11And as imagination bodies forth
12The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
13Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
14A local habitation and a name.
15Such tricks hath strong imagination
16That if it would but apprehend some joy,
17It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
18Or in the night, imagining some fear,
19How easy is a bush suppos'd a bear?


1] Theseus reflects upon the capacity of human imagination in Act 5. Back to Line
2] apprehend: perceive, conceive Back to Line
3] comprehends: encompasses, includes Back to Line
5] compact: likewise composed Back to Line
8] Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt: the legendary beauty of Helen of Troy in the face of a mere gyspy Back to Line
Publication Notes: 

The play was earlier published in quartos of 1600 and 1619.

RPO poem Editors: 
Christopher Matusiak