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Macbeth

Macbeth Translation Act 4, Scene 1

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A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron. Thunder. The three WITCHES enter.

FIRST WITCH

Thrice the brinded cat hath mewed.

FIRST WITCH

The striped cat has meowed three times.

SECOND WITCH

Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whined.

SECOND WITCH

Three times. And the hedgehog has whined once.

THIRD WITCH

Harpier cries, “‘Tis time, ’tis time.”

THIRD WITCH

My familiar spirit Harpier cries out: “It’s time, it’s time!”

FIRST WITCH

Round about the cauldron go, In the poisoned entrails throw. Toad, that under cold stone Days and nights has thirty-one Sweltered venom sleeping got, Boil thou first i’ th’ charmèd pot.

FIRST WITCH

Dance around the cauldron, and throw in the poisoned entrails. This toad—which has slept under a cold rock, sweating venom for thirty-one days—will be the first to boil in this magic cauldron.

ALL

Double, double toil and trouble,Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

ALL

Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

SECOND WITCH

Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake. Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

SECOND WITCH

A fillet of swamp snake to boil and bake in the cauldron. And a newt’s eye; a frog’s toe; a bat's fur; a dog's tongue; an adder's forked tongue; a blindworm's venomous tongue; a lizard's leg; and an owl's wing. For a charm of powerful trouble, boil and bubble like a broth of hell.

ALL

Double, double toil and trouble,Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

ALL

Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

THIRD WITCH

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf Of the ravined salt-sea shark, Root of hemlock digged i’ th’ dark, Liver of blaspheming Jew, Gall of goat and slips of yew Slivered in the moon’s eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe Ditch-delivered by a drab, Make the gruel thick and slab. Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron, For the ingredients of our cauldron.

THIRD WITCH

A dragon's scale; a wolf's tooth; a mummified witch; a ravenous shark's gullet and stomach; a root of hemlock dug up in the dark; a blaspheming Jew's liver; a goat’s gallbladder; twigs of yew taken during a lunar eclipse; a Turk’s nose; a Tartar’s lips; and the finger of a baby strangled just after a prostitute gave birth to it in a ditch. Make this potion sticky and thick. And now let’s add a tiger's entrails to the ingredients in our cauldron.

ALL

Double, double toil and trouble,Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

ALL

Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

SECOND WITCH

Cool it with a baboon’s blood,Then the charm is firm and good.

SECOND WITCH

We’ll cool the mixture with a baboon’s blood. Then the charm will be done.

HECATE enters with three other WITCHES.

HECATE

Oh well done! I commend your pains, And every one shall share i’ th’ gains . And now about the cauldron sing, Like elves and fairies in a ring, Enchanting all that you put in.

HECATE

Well done! I praise your work, and every one of you will share the rewards. Now, come sing around the cauldron in a ring like elves and fairies, enchanting everything you put in.

Music plays. The six WITCHES sing a song called “Black Spirits.” HECATE exits.

SECOND WITCH

By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. Open, locks, Whoever knocks.

SECOND WITCH

I can tell by the tingling in my thumbs: something wicked is coming. Open the doors for whoever is knocking.

MACBETH enters.

MACBETH

How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?What is ’t you do?

MACBETH

What’s going on here, you secret, dark, midnight hags? What is it that you’re doing here?

ALL

A deed without a name.

ALL

Something that has no name.

MACBETH

I conjure you by that which you profess— Howe’er you come to know it—answer me. Though you untie the winds and let them fight Against the churches, though the yeasty waves Confound and swallow navigation up, Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down, Though castles topple on their warders’ heads, Though palaces and pyramids do slope Their heads to their foundations, though the treasure Of nature’s germens tumble all together, Even till destruction sicken, answer me To what I ask you.

MACBETH

I command you by the demonic powers you serve to answer my questions, no matter how you come to know those answers. I don’t care if you unleash violent winds that tear down churches; cause the foaming waves to rise up and destroy all ships and sailors; flatten crops and trees with storms; make castles fall down on the heads of their inhabitants; cause palaces and pyramids to topple; or create so much chaos in nature that destruction gets tired of itself. Just give me answers.

FIRST WITCH

Speak.

FIRST WITCH

Speak.

SECOND WITCH

Demand.

SECOND WITCH

Demand.

THIRD WITCH

We’ll answer.

THIRD WITCH

We’ll answer.

FIRST WITCH

Say, if th’ hadst rather hear it from our mouths,Or from our masters’.

FIRST WITCH

Tell us: would you rather hear the answers from our mouths or from our masters’?

MACBETH

Call ‘em. Let me see ‘em.

MACBETH

Call them. Let me see them.

FIRST WITCH

Pour in sow’s blood, that hath eaten Her nine farrow; grease that’s sweaten From the murderer’s gibbet throw Into the flame.

FIRST WITCH

Pour in the blood of a sow that has eaten her nine offspring. Take the liquefied fat from the corpse of a murderer hanged on the gallows, and throw it into the flame.

ALL

Come, high or low; Thyself and office deftly show!

ALL

Come, spirit, high or low. Show yourself and your function.

Thunder. The FIRST APPARITION appears, in the form of a head wearing a helmet.

MACBETH

Tell me, thou unknown power—

MACBETH

Tell me, you unknown power—

FIRST WITCH

He knows thy thought.Hear his speech but say thou nought.

FIRST WITCH

He knows your thoughts. Listen to what he says, but don’t say a thing.

FIRST APPARITION

Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff.Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.

FIRST APPARITION

Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff. Beware the Thane of Fife. Release me. Enough.

The FIRST APPARITION descends.

MACBETH

Whate’er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks.Thou hast harped my fear aright. But one word more—

MACBETH

Whatever you are, thanks for your good advice. You have described exactly what I feared. But one more thing—

FIRST WITCH

He will not be commanded. Here’s anotherMore potent than the first.

FIRST WITCH

You can not command him. Here’s another, stronger than the first.

Thunder. The SECOND APPARITION appears, in the form of a bloody child.

SECOND APPARITION

Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!—

SECOND APPARITION

Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!

MACBETH

Had I three ears, I’d hear thee.

MACBETH

If I had three ears, I’d use all three to listen.

SECOND APPARITION

Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn The power of man, for none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth.

SECOND APPARITION

Be violent, bold, and determined. Mock the strength of other men, because no man born from a woman will ever harm Macbeth.

The SECOND APPARITION descends.

MACBETH

Then live, Macduff. What need I fear of thee? But yet I’ll make assurance double sure, And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live, That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies, And sleep in spite of thunder.

MACBETH

Then live, Macduff. Why should I fear you? Yet, I’ll make doubly sure and guarantee my fate. You will die, Macduff, and by killing you I will defeat my fear and always sleep easily.

Thunder. The THIRD APPARITION appears, in the form of a child wearing a crown and holding a tree in his hand.

MACBETH

What is this That rises like the issue of a king, And wears upon his baby-brow the round And top of sovereignty?

MACBETH

What is this spirit that appears like the child of a king, wearing a royal crown on his young head?

ALL

Listen but speak not to ’t.

ALL

Listen, but do not speak to it.

THIRD APPARITION

Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are. Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him.

THIRD APPARITION

Be as courageous and proud as a lion. Don’t worry about who dislikes you, who resents you, and who conspires against you. Macbeth will never be beaten until Great Birnam Wood comes to fight you at Dunsinane Hill.

The THIRD APPARITION descends.

MACBETH

That will never be. Who can impress the forest, bid the tree Unfix his earthbound root? Sweet bodements! Good! Rebellious dead, rise never till the wood Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart Throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if your art Can tell so much: shall Banquo’s issue ever Reign in this kingdom?

MACBETH

That will never happen. Who can command the forest so that the trees lift their roots from the earth? Sweet prophecies! Good! My murders will never rise until the forest of Birnam rises, and I will live a full life and die only of old age, as is customary. But my heart still throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if your dark powers can see it: will Banquo’s sons ever reign in this kingdom?

ALL

Seek to know no more.

ALL

Do not try to learn more.

MACBETH

I will be satisfied. Deny me this, And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know.Why sinks that cauldron? And what noise is this?

MACBETH

I demand to be satisfied. If you deny me, may an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know. Why is that cauldron sinking? And what is that sound?

Oboes play music for a ceremonial procession.

FIRST WITCH

Show.

FIRST WITCH

Show.

SECOND WITCH

Show.

SECOND WITCH

Show.

THIRD WITCH

Show.

THIRD WITCH

Show.

ALL

Show his eyes and grieve his heart.Come like shadows; so depart!

ALL

Show him so his heart grieves. Come like shadows and depart as shadows too!

Eight kings parade across the stage, the last one holds a mirror in his hand, followed by BANQUO.

MACBETH

Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo. Down! Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs. And thy hair, Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first. A third is like the former. —Filthy hags! Why do you show me this? A fourth? Start, eyes! What, will the line stretch out to th’ crack of doom? Another yet? A seventh? I’ll see no more. And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass Which shows me many more, and some I see That twofold balls and treble scepters carry. Horrible sight! Now I see ’tis true; For the blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me And points at them for his.

MACBETH

[To BANQUO] You look too much like Banquo's ghost. Be gone! 

[To the first king] Your crown hurts my eyes. 

[To the second king] Your golden hair, which looks itself like a crown, resembles the hair on the first king. And this third king looks just like the second one.

[To himself] Filthy hags! Why do you show me this? A fourth! My eyes bulge from their sockets! Will this line of kings stretch on to infinity? Yet another one? And a seventh? I want to see no more. And yet an eighth appears, holding a mirror in which I see many more kings. And some of those kings carry double orbs and triple scepters! Horrible sight! Now I see it’s true: blood-splattered Banquo smiles at me and points at them, identifying them as his descendants.

The spirits of the kings and BANQUO vanish.

MACBETH

What, is this so?

MACBETH

What? Is this true?

FIRST WITCH

Ay, sir, all this is so. But why Stands Macbeth thus amazedly? Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites, And show the best of our delights. I’ll charm th’ air to give a sound, While you perform your antic round. That this great king may kindly say, Our duties did his welcome pay.

FIRST WITCH

Yes, it’s all true. But why do you stand there so amazed? Come, sisters, let’s conjure up some spirits and show him what we can do. I’ll charm the air to make music while you perform your wild dance. Then this noble king will say that our ceremonies repaid his friendly welcome.

Music plays. The WITCHES dance and then vanish.

MACBETH

Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour Stand aye accursèd in the calendar! Come in, without there.

MACBETH

Where are they? Gone? Let this evil hour be marked as cursed in the calendar. 

[Calling to someone offstage] You outside, come in!

LENNOX enters.

LENNOX

What’s your grace’s will?

LENNOX

What does your Grace command?

MACBETH

Saw you the weird sisters?

MACBETH

Did you see the weird sisters?

LENNOX

No, my lord.

LENNOX

No, my lord.

MACBETH

Came they not by you?

MACBETH

They didn’t pass by you?

LENNOX

No, indeed, my lord.

LENNOX

No, indeed, my lord.

MACBETH

Infected be the air whereon they ride,And damned all those that trust them! I did hear The galloping of horse. Who was ’t came by?

MACBETH

The air they ride on is infected. Damn all those who trust them! I heard the galloping of horses. Who was it that came this way?

LENNOX

‘Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you wordMacduff is fled to England.

LENNOX

My lord, two or three men came, bringing word that Macduff has fled to England.

MACBETH

Fled to England?

MACBETH

Fled to England?

LENNOX

Ay, my good lord.

LENNOX

Yes, my good lord.

MACBETH

Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits. The flighty purpose never is o’ertook Unless the deed go with it. From this moment The very firstlings of my heart shall be The firstlings of my hand. And even now, To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done: The castle of Macduff I will surprise, Seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool. This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool. But no more sights! —Where are these gentlemen? Come, bring me where they are.

MACBETH

[To himself] Time, you stand in the way of my terrifying plans. Unless you immediately do what you planned, you never get the chance to do it. From this moment on, I will act as soon as I want to do something. I will begin right now to follow my thoughts immediately with action. I’ll launch a surprise attack against Macduff’s castle; seize the town of Fife; and kill his wife, his children, and anyone else unfortunate enough to bear even a trace of his blood. No more boasting like a fool. I will do this deed before my sense of purpose dulls. And no more hallucinations!

[To LENNOX] Where are these messengers? Come, lead me to them.

They exit.

Macbeth
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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.