Songs in Macbeth: The witches sing a tune

Authors. Writers. Books. Poems. Literature History. Photo by Hashtag Melvin on

Who needs a more iconic moment in literature than Macbeth finding his way to the witches only to hear them sing their little tune? For me, it is the embodiment of the evil of witches and why one should tread lightly around their bulging (and sometimes missing) eyes and their appetite for children.

The following poem is from Macbeth (Macbeth Act IV, Scene I), and features a recital from the three evil shrews along with the immortal line “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” shortly before Macbeth enters the scene. But the song/poem they recite beforehand is a fantastic one and I believe it is a bit more fun in October (in fact, Macbeth is just fun in October).

Anyway, enjoy!

The Witches Poem/Song

Round about the cauldron go:
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweated venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

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,
Witch’s mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat; and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.