Macbeth: “Speak, if you can: what are you?”

Image: Lady Macbeth – Macbeth’s wife, and later Queen of Scotland, representing Tragedy: Shakespeare Memorial by Lord Ronald Gower. 1888. Bancroft Gardens, Stratford-upon-Avon.

From: The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, probably first performed in 1606:


A heath near Forres.

Thunder. Enter the three Witches.

 First Witch 

Where hast thou been, sister?

 Second Witch 

Killing swine.

 Third Witch 

Sister, where thou?

 First Witch 

A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap,

 And munch’d, and munch’d, and munch’d:–

 ‘Give me,’ quoth I:

 ‘Aroint thee, witch!’ the rump-fed ronyon cries.

 Her husband’s to Aleppo gone, master o’ the Tiger:

 But in a sieve I’ll thither sail,

 And, like a rat without a tail,

 I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do.

 Second Witch 

I’ll give thee a wind.

 First Witch 

Thou’rt kind.

 Third Witch 

And I another.

First Witch 

I myself have all the other,

And the very ports they blow,

All the quarters that they know

I’ the shipman’s card.

I will drain him dry as hay:

Sleep shall neither night nor day

Hang upon his pent-house lid;

He shall live a man forbid:

Weary se’n nights nine times nine

Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:

Though his bark cannot be lost,

Yet it shall be tempest-tost…”

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