Alas, Poor Country

From Act 4, scene 3.

An excerpt, with an ellipsis in the middle.

Text cut and pasted from MIT’s Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

ROSS

Alas, poor country!
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be call’d our mother, but our grave; where nothing,
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
Are made, not mark’d; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy; the dead man’s knell
Is there scarce ask’d for who; and good men’s lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere they sicken.

MACDUFF

O, relation
Too nice, and yet too true!

MALCOLM

What’s the newest grief?

ROSS

That of an hour’s age doth hiss the speaker:
Each minute teems a new one.

[…] But I have words
That would be howl’d out in the desert air,
Where hearing should not latch them.

MACDUFF

What concern they?
The general cause? or is it a fee-grief
Due to some single breast?

ROSS

No mind that’s honest
But in it shares some woe; though the main part
Pertains to you alone.

MACDUFF

If it be mine,
Keep it not from me, quickly let me have it.

ROSS

Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
That ever yet they heard.

MACDUFF

Hum! I guess at it.

ROSS

Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes
Savagely slaughter’d: to relate the manner,
Were, on the quarry of these murder’d deer,
To add the death of you.

MALCOLM

Merciful heaven!
What, man! ne’er pull your hat upon your brows;
Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.

MACDUFF

My children too?

ROSS

Wife, children, servants, all
That could be found.

MACDUFF

And I must be from thence!
My wife kill’d too?

ROSS

I have said.

MALCOLM

Be comforted:
Let’s make us medicines of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.

MACDUFF

He has no children. All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?