RE: Dreams - Queen Mab (public domain)

Cover Image

Romeo: I dreamt a dream tonight.

Mercutio: And so did I.

Romeo: Well, what was yours?

Mercutio: That dreamers often lie.

Romeo: In bed asleep while they do dream things true.

Mercutio: O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.

She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes

In shape no bigger than an agate stone

On the forefinger of an alderman,

Drawn with a team of little atomi

Over men's noses as they lie sleep.

Her chariot is an empty hazelnut

Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,

Time out o'mind the fairies' coachmakers;

Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners' legs,

The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,

Her traces of the smallest spiderweb,

Her collars of the moonshine's watery beams,

Her whip of cricket's bone, the lash of film,

Her wagoner a small grey-coated gnat,

Not half so big as a round little worm

Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.

And in this state she gallops night by night

Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;

On courtiers' knees, that dream on curtsies straight;

O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees;

O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,

Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,

Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.

Sometimes she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,

And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;

And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail,

Tickling a parson's nose as 'a lies asleep;

Then he dreams of another benefice.

Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,

And then he dreams of cutting foreign throats,

Of breaches, ambuscados, Spanish blades,

Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon

Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,

And thus being frighted, swears a prayer or two

And sleeps again. This is that very Mab

That plaits the manes of horses in the night,

And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs,

Which once untangled much misfortune bodes.

This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,

That presses them and learns them first to bear,

Making them women of good carriage.

Then she is-

Romeo: Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace,

Thou talk'st of nothing.

Mercutio: True, I talk of dreams.


I thought this might be good for remixing - there's so much imagery in here, it could be its own short film. This also got me thinking about bringers of dreams. It's interesting how Mab makes the dreamers see what they want to see, but she is obviously a figure of menace (with her whip and lash). Towards the end of the speech there's the hint that the dreams are violent and that Mab is malevolent. It says something about what Mercutio thinks of dreams, that they are unfulfilling and perhaps taunting, and that Mab isn't to be trusted. 

Created: Apr 23, 2014

Tags: shakespeare, metered, poetry, queen mab, script, romeo and juliet, dialogue, public domain

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