Queen Mab

From “Romeo and Juliet,” Act I. Sc. 4. 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 fore-finger of an alderman, Drawn with a team of little atomies Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep: Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs; The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers; The traces, of the smallest spider’s web; The collars, of the moonshine’s watery beams; Her whip, of cricket’s bone; the lash, of film; Her wagoner, a small gray-coated gnat, Not half so big as a round little worm Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid: Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut, Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub, Time out of mind the fairies’ coach-makers. And in this state she gallops night by night Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love; On courtiers’ knees, that dream on court’sies 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: Sometime 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 dreams he of another benefice: Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck, And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats, Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades, Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon Drums in his ear, at which he starts, and wakes; And, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two, And sleeps again. This is that very Mab That plats 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.

English
Year Written: 
1584
Year Rounded: 
1 500
Sub Title: 
Poems of Fancy: II. Fairies: Elves: Sprites
Year Estimate Only: 

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