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 Theme 10: Metaphysics, Folklore and Other Transformations
Poem 1: Over Hill, over Dale >
poem

<     William Shakespeare    > 


from A Midsummer Nights Dream Act II, Scene i
(1623, d7)
composed around 1595 (31)

OVER hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moonč's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be; 
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Farewell thou lob of spirits: I'll be gone
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.

pale: fence    orbs: rings, the reference is to so-called 'fairy rings'    pensioners: the Queen's pensioners. The German traveller Paul Hentzner writes that the queen at Greenwich 'was guarded on each side by the gentlemen pensioners, fifty in number, with gilt battle-axes'. (Journey into England,1598)    lob: clown


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