An Unseely Midsummer
The Puck and Oberon stand over a headless corpse.]
Oberon. (laughing) Cruel Puck! Why hast thou ta’en this mortal’s head?
Puck. Because, my lord, he made no use of it
Himself; nor surfaced any fish of thought
Upon the poisoned waters of his brain.
Wherefore I judged it well abandoned, and,
As is my right should such be true, laid claim
To it as salvage.
Oberon. Fool! These mortals can
Not live without their heads!
Puck. Can they not so?
The more weak they! Methinks it very ill
For one so frail to walk in this fell wood.
Oberon. Where lies the head? Thou hast it not, I see.
Puck. I’ve giv’n it to the Grúagach, to make
Therefrom a gilded bone-pate cup, to grace
My Liege’s table.
Oberon. Thinkst thou then that nine
And ninety such are not enough?
Puck. Oh, no!
Your Majesty has never such as this!
The bowl the shallow brain-pan of this fool;
The stem the bones of pilot’s thumbs; the base
A stillborn’s pelvis bone. All gilded, as
I’ve said; and overall inlaid with stones
Oberon. A lovely thing, foul Puck. But still,
I have in mind another use for this
Poor fool. Restore his head to him at once!
Puck. But Majesty! The grúagach work fast.
The work is well in hand.
Oberon. No matter. Puck,
The man’s an ass, ’tis true. And yet he must
Be living for the purpose I intend.
Restore his head.
Oberon. Dost thou dare defy
Puck. Nay, Your Majesty knows well
That I do not.
Oberon. Well said. Ere close of day,
This fool will live, or I will twist your guts
So many times around your head that thou
Wilt see thine every meal pass thrice before
Thine eyes. By dusk the mortal has his head,
Or by the dawn Puck gutted is, and dead. [exit]
Puck. What shall I do? The grúagach would take
Three times as long to turn their work around
And make the cup a head once more. Poor Puck!
My master makes no idle threats. That fate
That he described, the very same, has been
The lot of many fairies of his court.
But wait! Methinks that in a grove not far
From here there lies the body of an ass,
Tormented to its death by fairies fell.
I’ll take its head and fix it to this man,
Who is, my master hath himself proclaimed,
An ass. If he’s an ass, an ass’s head
Is his; my master cannot argue that!
So Bottom, Weaver, stupid oaf, now thou
Shalt live, with long grey ears and furréd brow! [exit]