1. SCENE I. Athens. A room in the Palace of THESEUS.
What say you, Hermia? be advis'd, fair maid:
To you your father should be as a god;
One that compos'd your beauties: yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax,
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure, or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
So is Lysander.
In himself he is:
But, in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
The other must be held the worthier.
I would my father look'd but with my eyes.
Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.
I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold,
Nor how it may concern my modesty
In such a presence here to plead my thoughts:
But I beseech your grace that I may know
The worst that may befall me in this case
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
Either to die the death, or to abjure
For ever the society of men.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun;
For aye to be shady cloister mew'd,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold, fruitless moon.
Thrice-blessed they that master so their blood
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage:
But earthlier happy is the rose distill'd
Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.
So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.
Take time to pause; and by the next new moon,--
The sealing-day betwixt my love and me
For everlasting bond of fellowship,--
Upon that day either prepare to die
For disobedience to your father's will;
Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;
Or on Diana's altar to protest
For aye austerity and single life.