Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 5




          Enter MACBETH, SEYTON, and Soldiers,
          with Drum and Colours.

       MACBETH
  1    Hang out our banners on the outward walls.
  2    The cry is still "They come!" Our castle's strength
  3    Will laugh a siege to scorn; here let them lie
4. the ague: a disease that causes chills and fever.
  4    Till famine and the ague eat them up:
5. forced: reinforced. those that should be ours: i.e., troops who had revolted against Macbeth. 6. dareful: boldly, confidently.
  5    Were they not forced with those that should be ours,
  6    We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
  7    And beat them backward home.

          A cry within of women.

                                                        What is that noise?

       SEYTON
  8    It is the cry of women, my good lord.

          [Exit.]

       MACBETH
  9    I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
10. cool'd: chilled [with terror].
 10    The time has been, my senses would have cool'd
11. my fell of hair: i.e., all my hair.
 11    To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair
12. at a dismal treatise: in response to a horror story.
 12    Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
13. As life were in't: as if it [i.e., Macbeth's "fell of hair"] had a life of its own.
 13    As life were in't. I have supp'd full with horrors;
 14    Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
15. Cannot once start me: cannot ever startle me.
 15    Cannot once start me.

          [Re-enter SEYTON.]

                                        Wherefore was that cry?

       SEYTON
 16    The queen, my lord, is dead.

       MACBETH
17. She should have died hereafter: she would certainly have died some day[?]; she should have waited to die later[?] 18. such a word: such news.
 17    She should have died hereafter;
 18    There would have been a time for such a word.
 19    Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
 20    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
 21    To the last syllable of recorded time,
 22    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
 23    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
 24    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
 25    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
 26    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
 27    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
 28    Signifying nothing.

          Enter a Messenger.

                                      Thou comest to use thy tongue;
 29    Thy story quickly.

       Messenger
                                    Gracious my lord,
 30    I should report that which I say I saw,
 31    But know not how to do't.

       MACBETH


Birnam Wood by David Farquhason
Image Source: CHOISARTE
                                             Well, say, sir.

       Messenger
 32    As I did stand my watch upon the hill,
 33    I look'd toward Birnam, and anon, methought,
 34    The wood began to move.

       MACBETH
                                               Liar and slave!

       Messenger
 35    Let me endure your wrath, if't be not so:
 36    Within this three mile may you see it coming;
 37    I say, a moving grove.

       MACBETH
                                         If thou speak'st false,
 38    Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive,
39. cling: shrivel. sooth  true.
 39    Till famine cling thee; if thy speech be sooth,
 40    I care not if thou dost for me as much.
41. I pull in resolution: i.e., I am losing my resolution to defy the enemy. 42. doubt: be suspicious of.
 41    I pull in resolution, and begin
 42    To doubt the equivocation of the fiend
 43    That lies like truth. "Fear not, till Birnam wood
 44    Do come to Dunsinane," and now a wood
45. Arm, arm, and out!: This looks like a call to Macbeth's followers to arm themselves and go out to meet the enemy, but there are no followers, and, as he says in the next lines, if the wood is moving it's not safe to go out or stay in. 48. gin: begin. 49. estate o' the world: established order of the world. <More.> 50. wrack: ruin.
 45    Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out!
 46    If this which he avouches does appear,
 47    There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here.
 48    I gin to be aweary of the sun,
 49    And wish the estate o' the world were now undone.
 50    Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! come, wrack!
51. harness: armor.
 51    At least we'll die with harness on our back.

          Exeunt.