Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Macbeth
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act II
Scene II

  Lady M.  That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold;
What hath quench’d them hath given me fire. Hark! Peace!
It was the owl that shriek’d, the fatal bellman,
Which gives the stern’st good-night. He is about it.        4
The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms
Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugg’d their possets, 1
That death and nature do contend about them,
Whether they live or die.        8

  Macb.  Who’s there? What, ho!
  Lady M.  Alack, I am afraid they have awak’d,
And ’tis not done. The attempt and not the deed 2
Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;        12
He could not miss ’em. Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done ’t.—My husband!
  Macb.  I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?
  Lady M.  I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.        16
Did not you speak?
  Macb.        When?
  Lady M.        Now.
  Macb.        As I descended?        20
  Lady M.  Ay.
  Macb.  Hark!
Who lies i’ the second chamber?
  Lady M.        Donalbain.        24
  Macb.  This is a sorry sight.  [Looking on his hands.]
  Lady M.  A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
  Macb.  There’s one did laugh in ’s sleep, and one cried “Murder!”
That they did wake each other. I stood and heard them;        28
But they did say their prayers, and address’d them
Again to sleep.
  Lady M.        There are two lodg’d together.
  Macb.  One cried, “God bless us!” and “Amen” the other,        32
As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands.
Listening their fear, I could not say “Amen,”
When they did say, “God bless us!”
  Lady M.        Consider it not so deeply.        36
  Macb.  But wherefore could not I pronounce “Amen”?
I had most need of blessing, and “Amen”
Stuck in my throat.
  Lady M.        These deeds must not be thought        40
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
  Macb.  Methought I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more! Macbeth
does murder sleep,”—the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave 3 of care,        44
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast,—
  Lady M.        What do you mean?        48
  Macb.  Still it cried, “Sleep no more!” to all the house;
“Glamis hath murder’d sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.”
  Lady M.  Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,        52
You do unbend your noble strength, to think
So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?        56
They must lie there. Go carry them; and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.
  Macb.        I’ll go no more.
I am afraid to think what I have done;        60
Look on ’t again I dare not.
  Lady M.        Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead
Are but as pictures; ’tis the eye of childhood        64
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
I’ll gild 4 the faces of the grooms withal;
For it must seem their guilt.  Exit. Knocking within.
  Macb.        Whence is that knocking?        68
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
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather        72
The multitudinous seas incarnadine, 5
Making the green one red.

  Lady M.  My hands are of your colour; but I shame
To wear a heart so white. (Knocking.) I hear a knocking        76
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.        80
Get on your nightgown, 6 lest occasion call us
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts.
  Macb.  To know my deed, ’t were best not know myself.  Knocking.        84
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!  Exeunt.
Note 1. A curdled drink containing milk, wine, etc. [back]
Note 2. I. e., an unsuccessful attempt. [back]
Note 3. Tangled raw silk. [back]
Note 4. Smear. [back]
Note 5. Make crimson. [back]
Note 6. Dressing-gown. [back]


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.