Antony and Octavius. Scenes for the Study - Scene the Second

[Before the battle of Actium 31 B.C.]


Soothsayer . Our lord Antonius wafts away all doubt
Of his success.
Cleopatra . What! against signs and tokens?
Soothsayer . Even so!
Cleopatra . Perhaps he trusts himself to Hercules,
Become of late progenitor to him.
Soothsayer . Ah! that sweet smile might bring him back; he once
Was flexible to the bland warmth of smiles.
Cleopatra . If Hercules is hail'd by men below
For strength and goodness, why not Antony?
Why not succede as lawful heir? why not
Exchange the myrtle for the poplar crown?

A NTONY enters . Soothsayer goes .

Cleopatra . Antony! is not Caesar now a god?
Antony . We hear so.
Cleopatra . Nay, we know it. Why not thou?
Men would not venture then to strike a blow
At thee: the laws declare it sacrilege.
Antony . Julius, if I knew Julius, had been rather
First among men than last among the Gods.
Cleopatra . At least put on thy head a kingly crown.
Antony . I have put on a laurel one already;
As many kingly crowns as should half-cover
The Lybian desert are not worth this one.
Cleopatra . But all would bend before thee.
Antony . 'Twas the fault
Of Caesar to adopt it; 'twas his death.
Cleopatra . Be then what Caesar is.
O Antony!
To laugh so loud becomes not state so high.
Antony . He is a star, we see; so is the hair
Of Berenice: stars and Gods are rife.
What worth, my love, are crowns? Thou givest pearls,
I give the circlet that encloses them.
Handmaidens don such gear, and valets snatch it
Sportively off, and toss it back again.
Cleopatra . But graver men gaze up with awful eyes . .
Antony . And never gaze at that artificer
Who turns his wheel and fashions out his vase
From the Nile clay! 'Tis easy work for him;
Easy was mine to turn forth kings from stuff
As vile and ductile: he stil plies his trade,
But mine, with all my customers, is gone.
Ever by me let enemies be awed,
None else: bring round me many, near me few,
Keeping afar those shaven knaves obscene
Who lord it with humility, who press
Men's shoulders down, glue their two hands together,
And cut a cubit off, and tuck their heels
Against the cushion mother Nature gave.
Cleopatra . Incomprehensible! incorrigible!
O wretch! if queens were ever taught to blush,
I should at such unseemly phrase as thine.
I think I must forgive it.
What! and take
Before I grant? Again! You violent man!
Will you for ever drive me thus away?
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.