Macbeth for Kids'

November 28, 1999|By Lois Burdett

Editor's note: This excerpt from Shakespeare's play about the misguided nobleman explores Macbeth's pivotal meeting with three witches who can see into the future.

Macbeth sat brooding, his thoughts far away. "The Thane of Fife didn't come today.

I wonder if he's hatching some plot.

My spies will discover what I cannot.

Tomorrow I'll meet the witches three, and ask what they can predict for me."

The sisters were hidden in a cavern deep;

Around the cauldron, they did creep.

With their hands so crinkled with time,

They stirred a stinking putrid slime. "Double, double, toil and trouble,

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake.

Adder's fork and blind worm's sting,

Lizard's leg and howlet's wing.

A horrid smell it does secrete,

Cool it now and the spell's complete.

By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes."

Macbeth strode in, "Answer my demand!

You secret hags. Where does my life stand?"

The witches shrieked, "Come, cauldron froth,

Shades of evil enchant this broth."

From the simmering pot arose an armored head, "Macbeth, beware Macduff!" it said.

The spirit dissolved into the steam.

A newborn child appeared like a dream, "Be bloody, bold, fear not your death.

None of woman born shall harm Macbeth." "Not of woman born? That's impossible you see.

Then the Thane of Fife has no power over me."

The image faded and in its place,

There was another unusual face.

It was a child in a regal gown,

A branch in his hand and wearing a crown. "Macbeth shall never vanquished be until

Great Birnam Wood meets Dunsinane Hill." "I am invincible! All foes I'll confound!

We all know trees can't move around!

These powerful visions do assure

That, as King of Scotland, I am secure. I'm deeply indebted and deeply impressed,

But I do have one final request.

Will Banquo's children rule after me?" "Seek no more!" cried the witches three.

"Reveal it at once! I insist."

The hags conceded and together hissed, "Show his eyes and grieve his heart,

Come like shadows, so depart."

Majestic kings appeared in a row,

Carrying sceptres, their crowns aglow.

In single file, they marched past Macbeth.

His smile faded. He gasped for breath. "They're all Banquo's. How can this be?

Four, five, six, that's seven I see.

Oh horrible sight! This I can't stand."

Then in came the eighth, a mirror in its hand.

Kings and more kings were reflected there. "Does it ever end?" Macbeth cried in despair.

Banquo's ghost loomed at the end of the line.

He smiled as if saying, "These kings are all mine!"

This was exactly what Macbeth had feared,

Then the witches and cauldron all disappeared.

From MACBETH FOR KIDS by Lois Burdett. Copyright c 1996 by Lois Burdett. Published by arrangement with Firefly Books, Inc.

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