Curse You, Macbeth Witches

So this morning on the way out the door to school, my oldest daughter showed me a Halloween poem that was pinned to the school-stuff wall.  As she read it in the sing-songy poem voice that little kids are so good at, I noticed it is very similar to the obvious, from Macbeth.  I told her that I’d get that one for her to bring to school. Problem #1:

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one

Somebody break those last two lines down for me, so that they a) rhyme and b) scan?  It looks like the Toad line doesn’t have enough syllables, and despite all our discussions on counting and timing and such, I can’t figure out how to break it up to keep the rhythm.   Problem #2:

For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Pretty sure nobody’s gonna like me teaching “hell” to 7yr olds.  Looking for something I can swap in there to keep the general idea but not push the boundaries. Problem #3:

Liver of blaspheming Jew,

Pretty sure no version of that’s gonna make the final cut. :)  Here’s the edited version that I’m working on.  Doesn’t need to be particularly long, it’s more important to whittle it down to something that 7th graders would be allowed to recite without getting strange looks.  I may just chop the first verse and go with the middle (“Fillet of…”) plus the bumpers.  But then I still need to swap out “hell broth”.

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone   [ <—problem 1]
Days and nights has thirty-one 
Swelter’d 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.  <– #2

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

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

Related Posts

4 thoughts on “Curse You, Macbeth Witches

  1. 1. A possible solution is to pronounce the e's at the end of stone and one: ston-e and on-e. Because it is a witch's cant, it can have unusual stresses.

    2. swamp-broth. It keeps the meaning and removes the religious imagery.

    Good luck

  2. It's possible that the pronunciation of the time led to "cow'lld" (co-wulled) –if the "l" sound is fully voiced from the outset -held onto slightly–finishing with the "d" (the tongue already in position to sound, then hop off the d quickly, it will add the beat for you.
    It sounds "witchy" that way anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *