Read The Tempest‘s ‘Ye Elves of Hills’ monologue below with modern a English translation and analysis, plus a performance:
Spoken by Prospero, Act 5 Scene 1
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ’em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.
‘Ye Elves of Hills’ Monologue Translation
You elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves, and you that on the sands with printless foot do chase the ebbing Neptune, and flee from him when he comes back; you fairies that by moonshine make the green sour grass rings that the sheep won’t graze on, and you whose pastime is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice to hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid – powerless fellows as you are – I have dimmed the noontide sun, called up the mutinous winds, and between the green sea and the blue sky, set roaring war. I have given fire to the dread rattling thunder, and rifted Jove’s stout oak with his own bolt; the strong-based promontory have I made shake, and by the roots plucked up the pine and the cedar; graves at my command have waked their sleepers, opened and let them out. But this rough magic I here renounce; and when I have required some heavenly music – which I do even now – to work my ends upon their senses, that this airy spell is for, I’ll break my wand, bury it certain fathoms in the earth and deeper than has ever been measured, I’ll drown my book.
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