Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
 
Poems of Tragedy: II. Rome
Mark Antony, over the Body of Cæsar
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
From “Julius Cæsar,” Act III. Sc. 2.

  ANTONY.—O mighty Cæsar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure?—Fare thee well.—
(To the people.)
  Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.        5
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones;
So let it be with Cæsar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Cæsar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;        10
And grievously hath Cæsar answered it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
(For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men,)
Come I to speak in Cæsar’s funeral.        15
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransom did the general coffers fill:        20
Did this in Cæsar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Cæsar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honorable man.        25
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honorable man.        30
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once,—not without cause!
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him?
O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,        35
And men have lost their reason!—Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Cæsar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
*        *        *        *        *
  But yesterday, the word of Cæsar might
Have stood against the world! now lies he there        40
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters! if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honorable men:        45
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself, and you,
Than I will wrong such honorable men.
But here ’s a parchment, with the seal of Cæsar,—
I found it in his closet,—’t is his will.        50
Let but the commons hear this testament,
(Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read,)
And they would go and kiss dead Cæsar’s wounds,
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood:
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,        55
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it, as a rich legacy,
Unto their issue.
  4 CITIZEN.—We ’ll hear the will: read it, Mark Antony.
  CITIZENS.—The will, the will! we will hear Cæsar’s will.        60
  ANTONY.—Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Cæsar loved you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, hearing the will of Cæsar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad:        65
’T is good you know not that you are his heirs,
For if you should, O, what would come of it!
  4 CITIZEN.—Read the will; we ’ll hear it, Antony;
You shall read us the will,—Cæsar’s will.
  ANTONY.—Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?        70
I have o’ershot myself to tell you of it.
I fear I wrong the honorable men
Whose daggers have stabbed Cæsar; I do fear it.
  4 CITIZEN.—They were traitors: honorable men!
  CITIZENS.—The will! the testament!        75
  2 CITIZEN.—They were villains, murderers: the will! read the will!
  ANTONY.—You will compel me, then, to read the will!
Then make a ring about the corse of Cæsar,
And let me show you him that made the will.
Shall I descend? and will you give me leave?        80
  CITIZENS.—Come down.
  ANTONY.—Nay, press not so upon me; stand far off.
  CITIZENS.—Stand back; room; bear back.
  ANTONY.—If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle: I remember        85
The first time ever Cæsar put it on;
’T was on a summer’s evening, in his tent;
That day he overcame the Nervii:—
Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through:
See what a rent the envious Casca made:        90
Through this the well-belovèd Brutus stabbed;
And, as he plucked his cursèd steel away,
Mark how the blood of Cæsar followed it,
As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knocked, or no;        95
For Brutus, as you know, was Cæsar’s angel:
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Cæsar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Cæsar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,        100
Quite vanquished him: then burst his mighty heart;
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey’s statua,
Which all the while ran blood, great Cæsar fell.
O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!        105
Then I, and you, and all of us fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourished over us.
O, now you weep; and I perceive you feel
The dint of pity: these are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what, weep you when you but behold        110
Our Cæsar’s vesture wounded? Look you here,
Here is himself, marred, as you see, with traitors.
*        *        *        *        *
  Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honorable;—        115
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it;—they are wise and honorable,
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts;
I am no orator, as Brutus is;        120
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him:
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,        125
To stir men’s blood: I only speak right on;
I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
Show you sweet Cæsar’s wounds, poor, poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony        130
Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue
In every wound of Cæsar, that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.
  ALL.—We ’ll mutiny.
  1 CITIZEN.—We ’ll burn the house of Brutus.        135
  3 CITIZEN.—Away, then! come, seek the conspirators.
  ANTONY.—Yet hear me, countrymen; yet hear me speak.
  ALL.—Peace, ho! Hear Antony, most noble Antony.
  ANTONY.—Why, friends, you go to do you know not what.
Wherein hath Cæsar thus deserved your loves?        140
Alas, you know not!—I must tell you, then.
You have forgot the will I told you of.
  ALL.—Most true;—the will!—let ’s stay and hear the will.
  ANTONY.—Here is the will, and under Cæsar’s seal:—
To every Roman citizen he gives,        145
To every several man, seventy-five drachmas.
  2 CITIZEN.—Most noble Cæsar!—we ’ll revenge his death.
  3 CITIZEN.—O royal Cæsar!
  ANTONY.—Hear me with patience.
  CITIZEN.—Peace, ho!        150
  ANTONY.—Moreover, he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbors, and new-planted orchards
On this side Tiber; he hath left them you,
And to your heirs forever,—common pleasures,
To walk abroad, and recreate yourselves.        155
Here was a Cæsar! when comes such another?
  1 CITIZEN.—Never, never!—Come away, away!
We ’ll burn his body in the holy place,
And with the brands fire the traitors’ houses.
Take up the body ……        160
[Exeunt Citizens, with the body.]
  ANTONY.—Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt.
 
 
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