“Just” a list: Ingredients for a toxic brew

Just in time for the annual appearance of children dressed up as ghosts, goblins, wizards, and witches, this “‘Just’ a list” post is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth (Act IV, scene 1), in which the three witches cook up a stew for conjuring apparitions of the dead. Suggesting the idea of a list as a container, the First Witch begins by mentioning the container for the brew; its ingredients follow.[1]

First Witch
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
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.

Second Witch
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]

The Third Witch follows with some “powerful trouble” of gruesome ingredients and poisonous ideas. But we leave the list/cauldron here to instead wish our readers a Happy Halloween full of lists without the “toil and trouble.”

[1] For lists as containers, see our post “What is a List?” (May 6, 2018).

[2] William Shakespeare. MacBeth IV.1.4-19. Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine (Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 2013).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: