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Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, Death of Cleopatra

Cleopatra, San Francisco: Bancroft, 1889


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O Isis and Osiris ! I heaped your altars high ! I fed the black bull Apis, laughing at triumph nigh. And swore, by sacred Nilus, by Typhon, and each god, To measure with the Consul my smile against his sword; Thus make him feel still Egypt was queen in more than came, And Cleopatra's sceptre more potent than his fame. For, as in arms of Venus the fiery Mars lies still, So knew I that this Romau would bow him to my will. In galley bravely gilded, with sails of Tyrian dye, And oars of silver sweeping to sound of melody, Reclined I on rich cushions spangled with stars of gold, Whose gleam my eyes' dark splendor outshone a thousand fold, While rose and sank my bosom e'en as the swelling tide, In languid, soft pulsation ; loose tresses ebon-dyed, Fell heavy o'er the pillows, as drapery o'er me fell, And veiled the curves voluptuous, which Caesar loved so well; Rare fragrance of burnt incense, with breath of cassia blent, Perfumed the airs that fanned me, with passion eloquent. More fair than Trojan Helen, I, Egypt's Empress, came, In all Astarte's glory, the Roman's pride to tame. The head of the Triumvirs, he, proudest of the three, Gazed on me but one moment—then bowed him down to me. Like as the snows on Atlas down. to the heated plain, Beneath the rays of Pboebus, in torrents rush amain,

So, melted by my beauty—the radiance of my smile— He poured his soul before me, Enchantress of the Nile ! And, as that Nile uprises and floods the thirsty field, So did I, Ethiop's sovereign, love to the Roman yield. As doth the amorous sunbeam the dewy flower-cup sip, Within his arms he held me, and feasted on my lip ; Draining Love's sweet elixir, I sank in his embrace ; Then with moist lips half-parted, I gazed upon his face ! Lips breaking into laughter, blood-red with passion's fire, Now, curved with scornful triumph—now, warm With strong desire; Laughing that Roma's proudest lay captive in my arms, Reveling in the lover won by a woman's charms, Exulting that though Caesar above his queen loved fame, This more impetuous soldier my kiss alone could tame,



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