The Witches’ Brew – A Halloween Incantation

It’s Halloween night! In the gathering gloom the streets of our little town are filling up with trick-or-treaters. Cute youngsters dressed up as ghouls and monsters and gnarly witches are spooking up the neighborhood and the houses are draped with spiders’ webs and howling sounds of evil spirits and the ominous shrieking of ravens or flying raptors.

I completed the New York Times crossword puzzle today where the theme was taken from the Witches’ Brew scene in the play, Macbeth, the great Shakespearean tragedy classic. The scene is a dark cave with a cauldron boiling in the middle to the sound of howling winds and thunder. Four shriveled hags are tending to the witches’ brew in the cauldron and throwing in ingredients as they shriek their evil portents and incantations. Four of the answers in the puzzle were Ingredients in the witches’ brew:

    • tooth of wolf
    • blind worm’s sting, and
    • lizard’s legs
    • slips of yew

A delightful puzzle indeed for Halloween night. Setting the right mood for the morbid delights of this holiday that seemingly celebrates evil and brings us in a benign way with the objects of our fear and the dark side of the world.

Shakespeare’s lines for the witches are beautiful – in rhyme and meter suitable for incantation and the ingredients are all the scary images of the Elizabethan mind. Here’s an excerpt:

WITCH #1.  Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
WITCH #2.  Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
WITCH #3.  Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
ALL.  Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
WITCH #2.  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 owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
ALL.  Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
WITCH #3.  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
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips.

So this is what you put in a witches’ brew: Eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.   Adders’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizards’s leg and owlet’s wing….

Even some politically incorrect stuff: Liver of a blaspheming Jew??

I love it. How delicious! Only Shakespeare can invoke such dark imagery.

In this spirit I thought it might be fun to come up with my own incantation on what terrifies me on this Halloween night. Shakespeare I’m not, but here goes (and certainly I’m not hiding my lack of political correctness):

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
WITCH #1: In three debates all slick and shrewd
A grim charade have we viewed
WITCH #2: Thrust and parry, lie, intrude
Play with facts, be loud and rude
WITCH #3: And now election doth come nigh
Whose snake oil will the nation buy?

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

WITCH #1: A carrion-rippin’ raptor’s beak
Vacuous, sneering Palin-speak
Infrastructures’ slimy rust
Workers’ savings going bust
Wiggling vermin in your creel
Healthcare Law –  loud repeal
Spend and borrow, beg or steal
Private capital, vulture deal!
Mafia bosses in the pews
Blatant theft of Union Dues
False debates and jaundiced views
Outright lies on Fox News

WITCH #2: Workers’ burden – broken backs
Minimum wage, social cracks
Greedy poor – lazy blacks
Quick, pledge the rich – no new tax!
No science, please they’re flat earthers
Paranoid – blatant birthers!
They Sing “America” full of smiles
And stash the loot in Cayman Isles!

OK. You get the drift. Write your own Halloween scary verse. Post it here and let everyone get a good scare!

This entry was posted in Current Events, Education, Evolution, Halloweeen, Healthcare, Innovation, Money, Politics, Vacation. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Witches’ Brew – A Halloween Incantation

  1. Gita Vaish says:

    You are quite amazing Ashok. Well written as a prelude to the upcoming election! Gita

  2. Arun says:

    WITCH 1
    A natural tempest rages,
    Politicians rewrite pages,
    Blurry minds freshly askew,
    They didn’t drink my brew!

    WITCH 2
    Old habits hardly new
    They only cackle and spew
    If only they knew
    It’s just smoke up the flue

    WITCH 1
    Nary a soul
    Without some inner ghoul
    That wishes to end
    This great pretend

    WITCH 2
    Ghouls be damned
    We wretches are slammed
    Wanting but not needing
    Festering but not bleeding

    WITCH 1
    How delightfully morbid
    The pleasures of the sordid
    Our time has come
    Joy in global glum

    WITCH 2
    So screwed we are
    It’s a new noir
    Finally the world is ours
    Fun in dark hours

    WITCH 1
    Such glee may be premature
    The sensible may endure
    Should that come to pass
    The unions might save our ass

  3. nasima says:

    Ashok, Thanks for a good chuckle – which gives new energy to tackle all those problems….Nasima

  4. Krish says:

    Iambic pentameter, par excellence. Bravo.

  5. Bala Raj says:

    Hi Ashok,
    Great piece. Humor is the most powerful tool to make your point.
    I particularly loved this line: “No science, please they’re flat earthers.”
    By the way, I’m personally happy that Bloomberg endorsed Obama
    with ‘environment’ in the same breath – that ‘flat earthers’ must have
    been jinxed.

  6. Shabd says:

    Awesome Tauji.

    You’re brilliant.

  7. Kumar says:

    Your depth of talent amazes me. You made your points with great humor. Well done.

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