Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Macbeth
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act I
Scene II
[A camp near Forres]
Alarum within. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Captain

  Dun.  What bloody man is that? He can report,
As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt
The newest state.
  Mal.        This is the sergeant        4
Who like a good and hardy soldier fought
’Gainst my captivity. Hail, brave friend!
Say to the King the knowledge of the broil
As thou didst leave it.        8
  Cap.        Doubtful it stood,
As two spent swimmers that do cling together
And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald—
Worthy to be a rebel, for to that 1        12
The multiplying villainies of nature
Do swarm upon him—from the Western Isles
Of kerns 2 and gallowglasses 3 is suppli’d;
And Fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,        16
Show’d like a rebel’s whore. 4 But all’s too weak;
For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—
Disdaining Fortune, with his brandish’d steel,
Which smok’d with bloody execution,        20
Like Valour’s minion 5 carv’d out his passage
Till he fac’d the slave;
Which 6 ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam’d him from the nave to the chaps, 7        24
And fix’d his head upon our battlements.
  Dun.  O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!
  Cap.  As whence the sun gins his reflection
Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break,        28
So from that spring 8 whence comfort seem’d to come
Discomfort swells. Mark, King of Scotland, mark!
No sooner justice had, with valour arm’d,
Compell’d these skipping kerns to trust their heels,        32
But the Norweyan lord, surveying vantage, 9
With furbish’d arms and new supplies of men
Began a fresh assault.
  Dun.        Dismay’d not this        36
Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
  Cap.        Yes;
As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion.
If I say sooth, I must report they were        40
As cannons overcharg’d with double cracks; so they
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe.
Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds,
Or memorize another Golgotha, 10        44
I cannot tell.
But I am faint, my gashes cry for help.
  Dun.  So well thy words become thee as thy wounds;
They smack of honour both. Go get him surgeons.  [Exit Captain, attended.]        48
Enter Ross and ANGUS

Who comes here?
  Mal.        The worthy thane of Ross.
  Len.  What a haste looks through his eyes! So should he look
That seems to speak things strange.        52
  Ross.        God save the King!
  Dun.  Whence cam’st thou, worthy thane?
  Ross.        From Fife, great king;
Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky        56
And fan our people cold. Norway himself,
With terrible numbers,
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor,
The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict;        60
Till that Bellona’s 11 bridegroom, lapp’d in proof, 12
Confronted him with self-comparisons, 13
Point against point, rebellious arm ’gainst arm,
Curbing his lavish 14 spirit; and, to conclude,        64
The victory fell on us;—
  Dun.        Great happiness!
  Ross.        That now
Sweno, the Norways’ king, craves composition; 15        68
Nor would we deign him burial of his men
Till he disbursed at Saint Colme’s inch 16
Ten thousand dollars to our general use.
  Dun.  No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive        72
Our bosom interest. 17Go pronounce his present death,
And with his former title greet Macbeth.
  Ross.  I’ll see it done.
  Dun.  What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.  Exeunt.        76
Note 1. To that end. [back]
Note 2. Light-armed foot-soldiers. [back]
Note 3. Heavy-armed foot-soldiers. [back]
Note 4. I. e., fickle. [back]
Note 5. Favorite. [back]
Note 6. I. e., Macbeth. [back]
Note 7. Ripped him up from navel to jaws. [back]
Note 8. Source. [back]
Note 9. Noticing a favorable opportunity. [back]
Note 10. Make a scene of slaughter as memorable as Calvary. [back]
Note 11. The goddess of war. [back]
Note 12. Clothed in tested armor. [back]
Note 13. Opposed him with a strength equal to his own. [back]
Note 14. Insolent. [back]
Note 15. Terms of peace. [back]
Note 16. Island. [back]
Note 17. Intimate affection. [back]


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