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The Death of Cleopatra

Poems: Descriptive, Dramatic, Legendary, and Contemplative (New York: Redfield, 1853), Volume II

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Art & Architecture


So lovely grew her counterfeit. O'er all, Her splendor, and her soul's magnificence, The pomp that crown'd her state—luxurious shows— Where Beauty, grown subservient to a sway That made Art her first vassal—these, so twinn'd With her voluptuous weakness—did become Her well, and took from her the hideous hues That else had made men loathe !I would have seen This princess ere she died ! How looks she now!

DOLABELLA. As one who lives, but sleeps; no change to move The doubts of him who sees, yet nothing knows, Of that sly, subtle enemy, which still Keeps harbor round her heart. Charmian, her maid, Had, ere I enter'd, lidded up the eyes, That had no longer office ; and she lay, With each sweet feature harmonizing still, As truly with the nature as at first, When Beauty's wide-world wonder she went forth Spelling both art and worship ! Never did sleep More slumberous, more infant-like, give forth Its delicate breathings. You might see the hair Wave, in stray ringlets, as the downy breath Lapsed through the parted lips ; .and dream the leaf, Torn from the rose and laid upon her mouth, Was wafted by that zephyr of the soul That still kept watch within—waiting on life In ever anxious ministry. Lips and brow— The one most sweetly parted as for song— The other smooth and bright, even as the pearls That, woven in fruit-like clusters, hung above, Starring the raven curtains of her lair Declared such calm of happiness as never Her passionate life had known. No show of pain—

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