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The meaning and origin of the expression: Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble

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Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble

What's the origin of the phrase 'Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble'?

Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubbleFrom Shakespeare's Macbeth, 1605.

The line is from the celebrated Witches Song, where the three hags sit around a boiling cauldron summoning up an enchantment on Macbeth:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.


Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron 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 howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Shakespeare, whose plays relied heavily on rhyme, was clearly enjoying himself with the rich rhyming of the four-accented lines:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.

The poem uses repetition, simple rhyming couplets, alliteration (lizard's leg, gall of goat etc.) and imagery to conjure up a dreamlike atmosphere.

See other - phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.