Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
Poems of Tragedy: X. Scotland
The Murder
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
From “Macbeth,” Act II. Sc. 2.

SCENE in the Castle.  Enter LADY MACBETH.

  LADY MACBETH.—That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold,
What hath quenched them hath given me fire. Hark!—Peace!
It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman,
Which gives the stern’st good night. He is about it:
The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms        5
Do mark their charge with snores: I have drugged their possets,
That death and nature do contend about them,
Whether they live or die.
  MACBETH  (within).—Who ’s there? What, ho!
  LADY MACBETH.—Alack, I am afraid they have awaked        10
And ’t is not done:—the attempt and not the deed
Confounds us.—Hark!—I laid their daggers ready;
He could not miss them.—Had he not resembled
My father, as he slept, I had done ’t.—My husband!
(Enter MACBETH.)
  MACBETH.—I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?
  LADY MACBETH.—I heard the owl scream, and the crickets cry.
Did not you speak?
  LADY MACBETH.—        Now.
  MACBETH.—                    As I descended?
  MACBETH.—Hark!—        20
        Who lies i’ the second chamber?
  LADY MACBETH.—            Donalbain.
  MACBETH  (looking on his hands).—This is a sorry sight.
  LADY MACBETH.—A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
  MACBETH.—There ’s one did laugh in ’s sleep, and one cried, “Murder!”
That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:        25
But they did say their prayers, and addressed them
Again to sleep.
  LADY MACBETH.—There are two lodged together.
  MACBETH.—One cried, “God bless us!” and, “Amen,” the other;
As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands.        30
Listening their fear, I could not say, “Amen,”
When they did say, “God bless us.”
  LADY MACBETH.—Consider it not so deeply.
  MACBETH.—But wherefore could not I pronounce “Amen”?
I had most need of blessing, and “Amen”        35
Stuck in my throat.
  LADY MACBETH.—These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
  MACBETH.—Methought I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep,”—the innocent sleep,        40
Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast,—
  LADY MACBETH.—        What do you mean?
  MACBETH.—Still it cried, “Sleep no more!” to all the house:        45
“Glamis hath murdered sleep; and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more,—Macbeth shall sleep no more!”
  LADY MACBETH.—Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
You do unbend your noble strength, to think
So brainsickly of things.—Go, get some water,        50
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there: go carry them; and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.
  MACBETH.—                I ’ll go no more!
I am afraid to think what I have done;        55
Look on ’t again, I dare not.
  LADY MACBETH.—            Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers: the sleeping, and the dead,
Are but as pictures: ’t is the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
I ’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal;        60
For it must seem their guilt.  [Exit. Knocking within.
  MACBETH.—Whence is that knocking?
How is ’t with me, when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here! Ha! they pluck out mine eyes!
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood        65
Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green—one red.
(Re-enter LADY MACBETH.)
  LADY MACBETH.—My hands are of your color; but I shame
To wear a heart so white.  (Knocking.)  I hear a knocking        70
At the south entry:—retire we to our chamber:
A little water clears us of this deed:
How easy is it then! Your constancy
Hath left you unattended.  (Knocking.)  Hark, more knocking.
Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us,        75
And show us to be watchers:—be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts.
  MACBETH.—To know my deed, ’t were best not know myself.  (Knocking.)
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst.

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