Halloween poem: 'Double, double, toil and trouble'

31 October 2016

In keeping with the spirit of All Hallow's Eve, here's the song of the Witches from Macbeth, one of William Shakespeare's darkest and most famous tragedies.

The mysterious witches who have prophesied Macbeth’s ascent to the throne of Scotland chant this haunting rhyme while brewing a potion. Their spells and prophecies cause Macbeth more harm than good, for at the end of the play both the villainous Macbeth and his power-hungry wife suffer grisly fates.
 

by William Shakespeare

A cavern. In the middle, a caldron boiling. Thunder.
Enter the three witches.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
 
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
 
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
 
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
 
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
 

From Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I
 
The new Macmillan Collector's Library edition of William Shakespeare's Macbeth is out now. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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