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Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, Death of Cleopatra

Cleopatra, San Francisco: Bancroft, 1889


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Ha, Charmian, some word passed thee and smote upon mine ear; Speak out. Why dost thou falter? Shall I, an empress, fear? The Circe of old Egypt, the serpent of the Nile, Though every god desert her, can Death himself beguile. Speak quick! again !—Thou liest! What, dead !—the Tribune dead ! Forsaking Cleopatra —,is that what thou has said? Out, out ! thou brazen liar ! Serapis' self might shrink To tear my lover from me. I'd snatch him from the brink Of that dark, awful region. I hear! 'tis true—again! "Fallen the Great Triumvir, on his own weapon slain !" I knew no paltry Caesar could lower this Roman's crest; His own steel drew the torrent—none other pierced his breast. He, o'er himself sole victor, hath gone with dauntless tread. For us a colder Cydmus in Stygian shades to spread, What could the gods grant better, 0 Antony, than this— To live in arms of Egypt, and die for Egypt's kiss ? Shall I survive my kingdom—a queen undone, discrowned? Shall minion of an upstart, a Ptolemy be found? What though Octavius seek me, it were in truth disgrace Should puppet of an empire usurp the sovereign's place. Old Egypt's proud Astarte hath held too high a sway— For whom one conqueror languished, one held a world at bay. Come hither, Charmian. ! Nea ! Prepare my regal state; I go to wake Serapis, and banquet with my mate. Bare once again my bosom; these smooth, warm limbs unveil; Perfume my dusky tresses; tinge where the rich hues pale; For even now Serapis his shadow o'er me flings; I'd go as fits the daughter of Egypt's mighty kings. There throw the gauze about me. Look, Iras, that I be Fair to myself at Tarsus, to meet Marc Antony. Now for the last caresses ! Ah, gods ! with closer clasp, And sweeter lip than lover's, clings to my breast the asp. The lotos scents oppress me—I see Canopus shine! So ! Death alone is royal, and only Love divine !



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