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

[after the battle of Actium]


Antony . What demon urged thy flight?
Cleopatra . The demon Love.
I am a woman, with a woman's fears,
A mother's, and, alas O Antony!
More fears than these.
Antony . Of whom?
Cleopatra . Ask not of whom
But ask for whom, if thou must ask at all,
Nor knowest nor hast known. Yes, I did fear
For my own life . . ah! lies it not in thine?
How many perils compast thee around!
Antony . What are the perils that are strange to me?
Cleopatra . Mine thou couldst not have seen when swiftest oars,
Attracted by the throne and canopy,
Pounced at me only, numerous as the waves;
Couldst not have seen my maidens throwing down
Their fans and posies (piteous to behold!)
That they might wring their hands more readily.
I was too faint myself to still their cries.
Antony ( aside ). I almost thought her blameable.

( To C LEOPATRA .) The Gods
So will'd it. Thou despondest . . too aware
The day is lost.
Cleopatra . The day may have been lost,
But other days, and happier ones, will come.
Antony . Never: when those so high once fall, their weight
Keeps them for ever down.
Cleopatra . Talk reasonably,
And love me as . . til now . . it should be more,
For love and sorrow mingle where they meet.
Antony . It shall be more. Are these last kisses cold?
Cleopatra . Nor cold are they nor shall they be the last.
Antony . Promise me, Cleopatra, one thing more.
Cleopatra . 'Tis promist, and now tell me what it is.
Antony . Rememberest thou this ring?
Cleopatra . Dost thou remember
The day, my Antony, when it was given?
Antony . Day happiest in a life of many happy,
And all thy gift.
Cleopatra . 'Tis call'd the richest ruby,
The heaviest, and the deepest, in the world.
Antony . The richest certainly.
Cleopatra . And not the deepest
And broadest? Look! it hides all this large nail,
And mine are long ones, if not very wide;
Now let me see if it don't cover yours
As wide again! there! it would cover two.
Why smile you so?
Antony . Because I know its story.
Cleopatra . Ha! then you have not lost all memory quite.
I told it you. The king of Pontus sent it
When dying to my father, warning him
By letter that there was a charm in it
Not to be trifled with.
Antony . It shall not be.
Cleopatra . But tell me now the promise I must make;
What has the ring to do with it?
Antony . All, all.
Know, Cleopatra, this is not one ruby.
Cleopatra . The value then is smaller.
Antony . Say not so,
Remark the rim.
Cleopatra . The gold is thin, I see.
Antony . And seest thou it will open? It contains
Another jewel, richer than itself.
Cleopatra . Impossible! my Antony! for rubies
Are richer than all other gems on earth.
Antony . Now, my sweet trifler, for thy promise.
Cleopatra . Speak.
By all the Powers above and all below,
I will perform thy bidding, even to death.
Antony . To death it goes; not until after mine.
Cleopatra . I kiss the precious charm. Methinks an odor
Of almond comes from it. How sweet the flower
Of death!
Antony . 'Tis painless death, 'tis sudden too.
Cleopatra . Who could wish more, even were there more to wish?
With us there is not.
Antony . Generous, pious girl!
Daughter of Ptolemies! thou hast not won
A lower man than they. Thy name shall rise
Above the pyramids, above the stars,
Nations yet wild shall that name civilize,
And glorious poets shake their theaters,
And stagger kings and emperors with applause.
Cleopatra . I was not born to die; but I was born
To leave the world with Antony, and will.
Antony . The greatest of all eastern kings died thus,
The greater than all eastern kings thus died.
O glorious forgeman who couldst rivet down
Refractory crowds by thousands, and make quake
Scepters like reeds! we want not here thy voice
Or thy example. Antony alone
And queenly pride, tho' Love were dumb, would do.
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