Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 2

            Enter MACBETH'S LADY and a SERVANT.

  1    Is Banquo gone from court?

  2    Ay, madam, but returns again tonight.

  3    Say to the king, I would attend his leisure
  4    For a few words.

                                  Madam, I will.


                                                        Nought's had, all's spent,
5. content: contentment.
  5    Where our desire is got without content;
  6    'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
7. doubtful: apprehensive.
  7    Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.

            Enter MACBETH.

  8    How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,
9. Of ... making: i.e., constantly going over your most wretched fantasies. <More.> 10. Using: i.e., returning again and again to. 11-12. Things without all remedy / Should be without regard: things that are beyond any possible remedy should kept beyond thought.
  9    Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
 10    Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
 11    With them they think on? Things without all remedy
 12    Should be without regard: what's done is done.

13. scorch'd: [merely] slashed.
 13    We have scorch'd the snake, not kill'd it:
14. close: heal. 14-15. whilst ... tooth: while our feeble enmity is still in danger from the same [poisonous] fang.
 14    She'll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice
 15    Remains in danger of her former tooth.
16. let ... suffer: let the whole structure of the universe fall apart, both heaven and earth be destroyed.
 16    But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds
17. ere: before.
 17    Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep
 18    In the affliction of these terrible dreams
 19    That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead,
20. to gain our peace, have sent to peace: to gain the secure satisfaction of our desires, have sent to the peace of death. 21. the torture: the rack. 22. ecstasy: frenzy.
 20    Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
 21    Than on the torture of the mind to lie
 22    In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;
23. fitful: agitated.
 23    After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
 24    Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
25. Malice domestic: i.e., treason or civil war. foreign levy: the raising of foreign troops [to make war against Scotland].
 25    Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
 26    Can touch him further.

                                           Come on;
27. Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks: my noble lord, smooth over your rough looks.
 27    Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;
 28    Be bright and jovial among your guests tonight.

 29    So shall I, love; and so, I pray, be you:
30. Let ... Banquo: i.e., let the advice you have just given to me be applied to your treatment of Banquo. 31. Present ... tongue: i.e., show him special favor, with both looks and speech. 32-34. Unsafe ... hearts: for the time being we are unsafe, so we must wash our reputation in these streams of flattery, and make our faces masks of our hearts. 35. You must leave this: i.e., you must quit talking and thinking this way. Macbeth has just said that they must be hypocritical in their treatment of Banquo. Lady Macbeth not opposed to hypocrisy, but her husband's tone seems to alarm her.
 30    Let your remembrance apply to Banquo;
 31    Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue.
 32    Unsafe the while, that we
 33    Must lave our honours in these flattering streams,
 34    And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
 35    Disguising what they are.

                                               You must leave this.

 36    O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
 37    Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.

38. in them nature's copy's not eterne: their lease on life is not perpetual. A "copy" is a copyhold, which is a lease subject to cancellation.
 38    But in them nature's copy's not eterne.

39. There's comfort yet: [in that thought] there is still some comfort. 40. jocund: lighthearted. ere: before.
 39    There's comfort yet; they are assailable;
 40    Then be thou jocund; ere the bat hath flown
41. cloister'd: invisible(?). A monk who is cloistered stays inside the monastery, out of sight of the world. ere: before. Hecate: Hecate dwells in the underworld and is the protectoress of witches. 42. shard-borne: held aloft on shards [horny wing cases].
 41    His cloister'd flight, ere to black Hecate's summons
 42    The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums
 43    Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done
 44    A deed of dreadful note.

                                             What's to be done?

45. chuck: chick. This a term of endearment.
 45    Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
46. seeling: blinding. Seeling is the practice of sewing shut the eyes of hawks in order to tame them. 47. Scarf up: blindfold. pitiful: pitying, compassionate. 49. that great bond: i.e., Banquo's lease on life.
 46    Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,
 47    Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;
 48    And with thy bloody and invisible hand
 49    Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
 50    Which keeps me pale! Light thickens; and the crow
51. rooky: full of rooks. Rooks are larger relatives of crows; they nest in large colonies which may have thousands of rooks.
Image Source: Country diary: Buckenham Carrs, Norfolk
 51    Makes wing to the rooky wood:
 52    Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
 53    While night's black agents to their preys do rouse.
 54    Thou marvell'st at my words, but hold thee still;
 55    Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
 56    So, prithee, go with me.