To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
—Theseus' warning to Hermia of what could become of her if she doesn't agree to marry the man her father has chosen for her. (A "barren sister" is a nun.)
But earthlier happy is the rose distilled
Than that which withering on the virgin thorn
Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.
—Theseus' reminder to Hermia that here on earth married women are happier than unmarried ones.
The course of true love never did run smooth.
—Lysander tells Hermia that they are not the only true lovers who have had troubles.
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;
Brief as the lightning in the collied night.
—Lysander describes to Hermia how quickly true love can be destroyed.
So quick bright things come to confusion.
—Lysander again speaks to Hermia of the fragility of happiness. ("Confusion" means darkness and destruction.)
Masters, spread yourselves.
—Bottom's order to his mates to quit crowding around Peter Quince.
This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein.
—Having just given a sample of his ability to deliver a ranting speech, Bottom explains what kind of speech it is. ("Ercles" is Hercules.)
Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.
—Flute's reaction when he is assigned the part of Thisby.
I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you, as 'twere any nightingale.
—Bottom's explanation of how he could play the part of the Lion in such a way that it would not frighten the ladies.
a sweet-face man; a proper man, as one shall see in a summer's day.
—Peter Quince's description of Pyramus. (He is trying to persuade Bottom that only he can play the part of Pyramus.)
Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere.
—A fairy's answer to Puck's question, "whither wander you?"
The cowslips tall...