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I have remembered that today is, in fact, Wednesday, which I try to remember so as to have "Wednesdays with the Bard", although I am sorry to say I often fail.

Although it is not technically midsummer, it is hot enough outside to feel like it, so I thought to bring you a little something from A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's a fairy song from Act II, scene 1 of the play. At the start of the scene, Puck enters from one side of the stage and a fairy from the other. Puck greets the fairy saying "How now, spirit? Whither wander you?"

This song is the fairy's reply:

Over hill, over dale,
   Thorough* bush, thorough* brier,
Over park, over pale,
   Thorough* flood, thorough* fire,
I do wander everywhere
Swifter than the moonè'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.

*The word "thorough" is, in today's parlance, "through". And lady moon not only had an "e" on the end (hence, "moone" as above), but it was expected that the schwa-like "e" would be pronounced. In modern productions or recitations, the word is rendered in today's language as "moon's", as you might expect.

Form and discussion: The poem is written in rhymed couplets in a form of accentual verse, with each line containing 4 accented syllables, except for the very last line of the song, which is in iambic pentameter. Shakespeare shifts deftly between two forms of poetic feet, with some lines containing four iambs (ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM) and some containing four trochees (DUM-ta DUM-ta DUM-ta DUM(-ta), with the last foot sometimes being truncated to result in a seven-syllable line, and sometimes not). He always keeps four stressed syllables per line until the very last line of the poem, which has five stressed syllables because it is in iambic pentameter, with the extra two-syllables used to slow the song or poem down into resolution.

In case you're wondering what happens next, the fairy then delivers a few lines to Puck and is off to prepare the way for the rest of the fairies to arrive.

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