Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
V. Death and Bereavement
Antony and Cleopatra
William Haines Lytle (1826–1863)
 
 “I am dying, Egypt, dying.”
—SHAKESPEARE’S Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV. Sc. 13.    

I AM dying, Egypt, dying,
  Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast,
And the dark Plutonian shadows
  Gather on the evening blast;
Let thine arms, O Queen, enfold me,        5
  Hush thy sobs and bow thine ear;
Listen to the great heart-secrets,
  Thou, and thou alone, must hear.
 
Though my scarred and veteran legions
  Bear their eagles high no more,        10
And my wrecked and scattered galleys
  Strew dark Actium’s fatal shore,
Though no glittering guards surround me,
  Prompt to do their master’s will,
I must perish like a Roman,        15
  Die the great Triumvir still.
 
Let not Cæsar’s servile minions
  Mock the lion thus laid low;
’T was no foeman’s arm that felled him,
  ’T was his own that struck the blow:        20
His who, pillowed on thy bosom,
  Turned aside from glory’s ray,
His who, drunk with thy caresses,
  Madly threw a world away.
 
Should the base plebeian rabble        25
  Dare assail my name at Rome,
Where my noble spouse, Octavia,
  Weeps within her widowed home,
Seek her; say the gods bear witness—
  Altars, augurs, circling wings—        30
That her blood, with mine commingled,
  Yet shall mount the throne of kings.
 
As for thee, star-eyed Egyptian!
  Glorious sorceress of the Nile!
Light the path to Stygian horrors        35
  With the splendors of thy smile.
Give the Cæsar crowns and arches,
  Let his brow the laurel twine;
I can scorn the Senate’s triumphs,
  Triumphing in love like thine.        40
 
I am dying, Egypt, dying;
  Hark! the insulting foeman’s cry.
They are coming—quick, my falchion!
  Let me front them ere I die.
Ah! no more amid the battle        45
  Shall my heart exulting swell;
Isis and Osiris guard thee!
  Cleopatra—Rome—farewell!
 
 
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