“Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are.
Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him.”
–Act 4, Scene 1
Bring me no more reports. Let them fly all.
Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane
I cannot taint with fear. Whatâ€™s the boy Malcolm?
Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know
All mortal consequences have pronounced me thus:
â€œFear not, Macbeth. No man thatâ€™s born of woman
Shall e’er have power upon thee.â€ Then fly, false thanes,
And mingle with the English epicures.
The mind I sway by and the heart I bear
Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear.
–Act 5, Scene 3
What wood is this before us?
Whatâ€™s the name of this forest behind us?
The wood of Birnam.
Let every soldier hew him down a bough
And bear â€™t before him. Thereby shall we shadow
The numbers of our host and make discovery
Err in report of us.
Tell every soldier to break off a branch and hold it in front of him. That way we can conceal how many of us there are, and Macbethâ€™s spies will give him inaccurate reports.
It shall be done.
–Act 5, Scene 4
â€œFear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane”; and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane.â€”Arm, arm, and out!â€”
If this which he avouches does appear,
There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here.
I ‘gin to be aweary of the sun,
And wish th’ estate o’ th’ world were now undone.â€”
Ring the alarum-bell!â€”Blow, wind! Come, wrack!
At least weâ€™ll die with harness on our back.
I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolmâ€™s feet,
And to be baited with the rabbleâ€™s curse.
Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane,
And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
And damned be him that first cries, â€œHold, enough!â€
–Act 5, Scene 5.
The Birnam Oak and its neighbour the Birnam Sycamore are thought to the sole surviving trees of the great forest that once straddled the banks and hillsides of the River Tay. This forest is celebrated in Shakespeareâ€™s Macbeth as the famous Birnam Wood.