Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Macbeth
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act V
 
Scene V
 
 
[Dunsinane. Within the castle]
Enter MACBETH, SEYTON, and Soldiers, with drum and colours

  Macb.  Hang out our banners on the outward walls;
The cry is still, “They come!” Our castle’s strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn; here let them lie
Till famine and the ague eat them up.        4
Were they not forc’d 1 with those that should be ours,
We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
And beat them backward home.  A cry of women within.
        What is that noise?        8
  Sey.  It is the cry of women, my good lord.
  Macb.  I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been, my senses would have cool’d
To hear a night-shriek, and my fell 2 of hair        12
Would at a dismal treatise 3 rouse and stir
As life were in ’t. I have supp’d full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
Cannot once start me.        16
 
[Re-enter SEYTON]

        Wherefore was that cry?
  Sey.  The Queen, my lord, is dead.
  Macb.  She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.        20
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools        24
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale        28
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
 
Enter a Messenger

Thou com’st to use thy tongue; thy story quickly.
  Mess.  Gracious my lord,        32
I should report that which I say I saw,
But know not how to do it.
  Macb.        Well, say, sir.
  Mess.  As I did stand my watch upon the hill,        36
I look’d toward Birnam, and anon, methought,
The wood began to move.
  Macb.        Liar and slave!
  Mess.  Let me endure your wrath, if ’t be not so.        40
Within this three mile may you see it coming;
I say, a moving grove.
  Macb.        If thou speak’st false,
Upon the next tree shall thou hang alive,        44
Till famine cling 4 thee; if thy speech be sooth,
I care not if thou dost for me as much.
I pull in resolution, and begin
To doubt the equivocation of the fiend        48
That lies like truth. “Fear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane;” and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out!
If this which he avouches does appear,        52
There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here.
I gin to be aweary of the sun,
And wish the estate o’ the world were now undone.
Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! come, wrack!        56
At least we’ll die with harness on our back.  Exeunt.
 
Note 1. Reinforced. [back]
Note 2. Covering of hair. [back]
Note 3. Story. [back]
Note 4. Shrivel. [back]
 

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