Act V - Scene IV

[Country near Birnam Wood.]

Drum and colors. Enter Malcolm, Siward, Macduff, Siward's son, Menteith, Caithness, Angus, and Soldiers marching.

MALCOLM:
Cousins, I hope the days are near at hand
That chambers will be safe.
MENTEITH:
We doubt it nothing.
SIWARD:
What wood is this before us?
MENTEITH:
The Wood of Birnam.(5)
MALCOLM:
Let every soldier hew him down a bough,
And bear't before him: thereby shall we shadow
The numbers of our host, and make discovery
Err in report of us.
SOLDIERS:
It shall be done.(10)
SIWARD:
We learn no other but the confident tyrant
Keeps still in Dunsinane, and will endure
Our setting down before't.
MALCOLM:
’Tis his main hope;
For where there is advantage to be given,(15)
Both more and less have given him the revolt,
And none serve with him but constrained things
Whose hearts are absent too.
MACDUFF:
Let our just censures
Attend the true event, and put we on(20)
Industrious soldiership.
SIWARD:
The time approaches
That will with due decision make us know
What we shall say we have and what we owe.
Thoughts speculative their unsure hopes relate,(25)
But certain issue strokes must arbitrate;
Towards which, advance the war.

Exeunt Marching.

Footnotes

  1. Pragmatic as ever, Macduff enters the conversation by expressing his belief that not all Macbeth's soldiers are likely going to desert, and that the battle will demand all of their effort. By "industrious soldiership," Macduff means that they must perform their roles as competent soldiers first and foremost.

    β€” Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. To hew means to cut something (typically wood or a tree) with an axe. With these orders to create bows to conceal the numbers of the army, Malcolm is actually fulfilling part of the witches' prophesy: That the Wood of Burnam would move against Macbeth.

    β€” Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. In this context, the word "cousins" means "kinsmen," and Malcolm uses it as a broad term of endearment to emphasize the close relationship and purpose they all share.

    β€” Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor