Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 2
Enter MACBETH'S LADY and a SERVANT.
1Is Banquo gone from court?
2Ay, madam, but returns again tonight.
3Say to the king, I would attend his leisure
4For a few words.
Madam, I will.
Nought's had, all's spent,
5. content: contentment.
5Where our desire is got without content;
6'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
7. doubtful: apprehensive.
7Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
8How 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.
9Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
10Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
11With them they think on? Things without all remedy
12Should be without regard: what's done is done.
13. scorch'd: [merely] slashed.
13We 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.
14She'll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice
15Remains in danger of her former tooth.
16. let ... suffer: let the whole structure of the universe fall apart, both heaven and earth be destroyed.
16But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds
17. ere: before.
17Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep
18In the affliction of these terrible dreams
19That 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.
20Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
21Than on the torture of the mind to lie
22In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;
23. fitful: agitated.
23After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
24Treason 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].
25Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
26Can touch him further.
27. Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks: my noble lord, smooth over your rough looks.
27Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;
28Be bright and jovial among your guests tonight.
29So 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.
30Let your remembrance apply to Banquo;
31Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue.
32Unsafe the while, that we
33Must lave our honours in these flattering streams,
34And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
35Disguising what they are.
You must leave this.
36O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
37Thou 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.
38But 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.
39There's comfort yet; they are assailable;
40Then 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].
41His cloister'd flight, ere to black Hecate's summons
42The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums
43Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done
44A deed of dreadful note.
What's to be done?
45. chuck: chick. This a term of endearment.
45Be 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.
46Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,
47Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;
48And with thy bloody and invisible hand
49Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
50Which 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|
51Makes wing to the rooky wood:
52Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
53While night's black agents to their preys do rouse.
54Thou marvell'st at my words, but hold thee still;
55Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
56So, prithee, go with me.