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Macbeth Glossary

As whence the sun 'gins his reflection (1.2.28)

i.e., From where the sun begins to rise - the east.

In this passage the Sergeant (or Captain in some editions) reports to Duncan the good news of Macbeth's victory over the traitor Macdonwald, and the bad news that Norway planned to begin a "fresh assault" (30). Just as sometimes deadly storms can appear suddenly on a clear, sunny day, when everything seems fine, Norway regrouped just when Duncan's men thought they had the advantage: The following is a paraphrase of the entire passage:

Shakespeare's Passage

As whence the sun 'gins his reflection
Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break,
So from that spring whence comfort seem'd to come
Discomfort swells. Mark, king of Scotland, mark:
No sooner justice had with valour arm'd
Compell'd these skipping kerns to trust their heels,
But the Norweyan lord surveying vantage,
With furbish'd arms and new supplies of men
Began a fresh assault.

Like in spring time when the sun shines loveliest
and then, suddenly, terrible storms arise,
So too from that moment in the fight,
when we thought all was going well,
Trouble began for us. Hear this, king of Scotland, hear:
No sooner had Macbeth brought us justice
by driving the enemy troops away,
But the Norwegian lord (Sweno), seeing his chance,
With fresh weapons and new supplies of men
Began a new assault.

Back to Macbeth (1.2)

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Macbeth Glossary. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2009. < >.


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Notes on Macbeth

King Duncan of the Scots awaits news of the battle between his men and the rebels led by the Thane of Cawdor. The King and his sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, meet a soldier who is weak and bleeding. He reports that Macbeth and Banquo have performed valiantly in the fight. His admiration of the noble yet brutal Macbeth is deep indeed. Read on...


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