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Athens. The palace of THESEUS

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
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, 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
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; Or in the night, imagining some fear, How easy
is a bush suppos’d a bear? HIPPOLYTA But all the story of the night told over, And all
their minds transfigur’d so together, More witnesseth than fancy’s images, And grows
to something of great constancy, But howsoever strange and admirable.

THESEUS Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.

Joy, gentle friends, joy and fresh days of love Accompany your hearts!

LYSANDER More than to us Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!
THESEUS Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have, To wear away this
long age of three hours Between our after-supper and bed-time? Where is our usual
manager of mirth? What revels are in hand? Is there no play To ease the anguish of a
torturing hour? Call Philostrate.

PHILOSTRATE Here, mighty Theseus.

THESEUS Say, what abridgment have you for this evening? What masque? what
music? How shall we beguile The lazy time, if not with some delight? PHILOSTRATE
There is a brief how many sports are ripe; Make choice of which your Highness will see
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