Male and female characters enter a labyrinthine wood on a quest

for something of value which is ultimately won.

Act 1

Man and woman enter the forest and find something of value

Trope 1: Aeneas and Dido

Aeneas and Dido, hunting in the woods, are driven by bad weather to take refuge in a cave, where they find love.

(Text: Aeneid IV, Dryden’s translation)

„Mine,“ said imperial Juno, „be the care;

Time urges, now, to perfect this affair:

Attend my counsel, and the secret share.

When next the Sun his rising light displays,

And gilds the world below with purple rays,

The queen, Aeneas, and the Tyrian court

Shall to the shady woods, for sylvan game, resort.

There, while the huntsmen pitch their toils around,

And cheerful horns from side to side resound,

A pitchy cloud shall cover all the plain

With hail, and thunder, and tempestuous rain;

The fearful train shall take their speedy flight,

Dispers’d, and all involv’d in gloomy night;

One cave a grateful shelter shall afford

To the fair princess and the Trojan lord.

I will myself the bridal bed prepare,

If you, to bless the nuptials, will be there:

So shall their loves be crown’d with due delights,

And Hymen shall be present at the rites.“

Meantime, the gath’ring clouds obscure the skies:

From pole to pole the forky lightning flies;

The rattling thunders roll; and Juno pours

A wintry deluge down, and sounding show’rs.

The company, dispers’d, to converts ride,

And seek the homely cots, or mountain’s hollow side.

The rapid rains, descending from the hills,

To rolling torrents raise the creeping rills.

The queen and prince, as love or fortune guides,

One common cavern in her bosom hides.

Then first the trembling earth the signal gave,

And flashing fires enlighten all the cave;

Hell from below, and Juno from above,

And howling nymphs, were conscious of their love.

Trope 2: True Thomas

Thomas of Erceldoune is led by the Queen of Elfland to an enchanted orchard where he falls into a deep sleep in her lap and is given the gift of poetic inspiration.

(Text: “True Thomas”, Child ballad 37)

‘Light down, light down, now, True Thomas,

And lean your head upon my knee;

Abide and rest a little space,

And I will shew you ferlies three.

‘O see ye not yon narrow road,

So thick beset with thorns and briers?

That is the path of righteousness,

Tho after it but few enquires.

‘And see not ye that braid braid road,

That lies across that lily leven?

That is the path of wickedness,

Tho some call it the road to heaven.

‘And see not ye that bonny road,

That winds about the fernie brae?

That is the road to fair Elfland,

Where thou and I this night maun gae.

Syne they came on to a garden green,

And she pu’d an apple frae a tree:

‘Take this for thy wages, True Thomas,

It will give the tongue that can never lie.’

‘My tongue is mine ain,’ True Thomas said;

‘A gudely gift ye wad gie to me!

I neither dought to buy nor sell,

At fair or tryst where I may be.

‘I dought neither speak to prince or peer,

Nor ask of grace from fair ladye:’

‘Now hold thy peace,’ the lady said,

‘For as I say, so must it be.’

Trope 3: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Lysander and Hermia, Demetrius and Helena, wander through the Wood of Attica, eventually sinking down to sleep exhausted, where they are enchanted by Puck and find new loves.

(Text: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, II, 1-2)


Fare thee well, nymph: ere he do leave this grove,

Thou shalt fly him and he shall seek thy love.

Re-enter PUCK

Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.


Ay, there it is.


Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove:

A sweet Athenian lady is in love

With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes;

But do it when the next thing he espies

May be the lady: thou shalt know the man

By the Athenian garments he hath on.

Effect it with some care, that he may prove

More fond on her than she upon her love:

And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.


Fear not, my lord, your servant shall do so.



Fair love, you faint with wandering in the wood;

And to speak troth, I have forgot our way:

We’ll rest us, Hermia, if you think it good,

And tarry for the comfort of the day.


Be it so, Lysander: find you out a bed;

For I upon this bank will rest my head.


One turf shall serve as pillow for us both;

One heart, one bed, two bosoms and one troth.


Nay, good Lysander; for my sake, my dear,

Lie further off yet, do not lie so near.


O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!

Love takes the meaning in love’s conference.

I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit

So that but one heart we can make of it;

Two bosoms interchained with an oath;

So then two bosoms and a single troth.

Then by your side no bed-room me deny;

For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.


Lysander riddles very prettily:

Now much beshrew my manners and my pride,

If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied.

But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy

Lie further off; in human modesty,

Such separation as may well be said

Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid,

So far be distant; and, good night, sweet friend:

Thy love ne’er alter till thy sweet life end!


Amen, amen, to that fair prayer, say I;

And then end life when I end loyalty!

Here is my bed: sleep give thee all his rest!


With half that wish the wisher’s eyes be press’d!

They sleep

Enter PUCK


Through the forest have I gone.

But Athenian found I none,

On whose eyes I might approve

This flower’s force in stirring love.

Night and silence.–Who is here?

Weeds of Athens he doth wear:

This is he, my master said,

Despised the Athenian maid;

And here the maiden, sleeping sound,

On the dank and dirty ground.

Pretty soul! she durst not lie

Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy.

Churl, upon thy eyes I throw

All the power this charm doth owe.

When thou wakest, let love forbid

Sleep his seat on thy eyelid:

So awake when I am gone;

For I must now to Oberon.


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