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Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, Death of Cleopatra

Cleopatra, San Francisco: Bancroft, 1889

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Death of Cleopatra

WHY tarries thus my Tribune ? The weighted hours drag on. Tis aeons; slave ! I tell you, since Antony is gone. Now, by the hide of Apis ! by Isas' sacred veil ! The walls of Rome shall totter before the Tribune fail! I fear not haughty Caesar; my heart his power disdains; The pale blood of Octavia creeps in her brother's veins, While he who once with Egypt has piled Love's altar high, Remembering her caresses, may Egypt's foes defy. Fling wide the casement, Iris! and, Charmian, bring the steel That once my Roman wielded; I would its sharpness feel. Ye gods ! that Pharaoh's daughter in place of son should stand, To fight like fettered tigress, while others draw the brand ! With lips, twin flames of passion, with eyes that shame the stars, With form of Grecian Helen, yet bear I heart of Mars! I'd fling my crown to Nilus, and kneel to sacred night, To know that haughty Caesar acknowledged Egypt's might. Hark to the clash of metal—the bray of trumpet loud— How dare the fools this tumult? What means this surging crowd ? Why droops Rome's stately standard—staffiesa, and stained, and torn ? Why lags the slave that bears it? Not thus should it be borne, But in the teeth of triumph, and floating on the wind, With victory around it, and conquered field behind. Off with the slave to torture, while you who cower nigh— Hist, hist ! 'tis "Actium ! " "Actium ! " 'tis "Antony ! " they cry. 'Tis news of triumph, surely I. none other dare he send— That banner was the Caesar's, or Lepidus', his friend. Perhaps e'en now the Tribune hastes hither to my feet; Bind up my tresses, Nea, are Antony I meet.

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