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 tailTickling a parson’s nose as he lies asleep,Then he dreams 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 anonDrums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,And being thus frighted swears a prayer or twoAnd sleeps again. This is that very MabThat plaits the manes of horses in the nightAnd bakes the elflocks 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.This is she—She rides over courtiers' knees, and they dream about curtsying. She rides over lawyers' fingers, and right away, they dream about their fees. She rides over ladies' lips, and they immediately dream of kisses. Queen Mab often puts blisters on their lips because their breath smells like candy, which makes her mad. Sometimes she rides over a courtier’s lips, and he dreams of making money off of someone. Sometimes she tickles a priest’s nose with a tithe-pigs tail, and he dreams of a large donation. Sometimes she rides over a soldier’s neck, and he dreams of cutting the throats of foreign enemies, of breaking down walls, of ambushes, of Spanish swords, and of enormous cups of liquor. And then, drums beat in his ear and he wakes up. He’s frightened, so he says a couple of prayers and goes back to sleep. She is the same Mab who tangles the hair in horses' manes at night and makes the tangles hard in the dirty hairs, which bring bad luck if they’re untangled. Mab is the old hag who gives false sex dreams to virgins and teaches them how to hold a lover and bear a child. She’s the one—
Act 1 Scene 4 continuedOriginal TextModern TextROMEOPeace, peace, Mercutio, peace!Thou talk’st of nothing.MERCUTIOTrue, I talk of dreams,Which are the children of an idle brain,Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,Which is as thin of substance as the airAnd more inconstant than the wind, who woosEven now the frozen bosom of the north,And, being angered, puffs away from thence,Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.BENVOLIOThis wind you talk of, blows us from ourselves.Supper is done, and we shall come too late.ROMEOEnough, enough! Mercutio, be quiet. You’re talking nonsense.MERCUTIOTrue. I’m talking about dreams, which are the products of a brain that’s doing nothing. Dreams are nothing but silly imagination, as thin as air, and less predictable than the wind, which sometimes blows on the frozen north and then gets angry and blows south.