Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON THE STATUE OF CLEOPATRA, MADE INTO A FOUNTAIN BY LEO X, by BALDASSARRE CASTIGLIONE



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ON THE STATUE OF CLEOPATRA, MADE INTO A FOUNTAIN BY LEO X, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Whoe'er thou art whom this fair statue
Last Line: Whose shining scene with rich hesperia vies.
Subject(s): Cleopatra, Queen Of Egypt (69-30 B.c.); Fountains; Statues


CLEOPATRA SPEAKS

Whoe're thou art whom this fair statue charms,
These curling aspicks, and these wounded arms,
Who view'st these eyes for ever fixt in death,
Think not unwilling I resign'd my breath.
What, shou'd a Queen, so long the boast of fame,
Have stoop'd to serve an haughty Roman dame?
Shou'd I have liv'd, in Coesar's triumph born,
To grace his conquests and his pomp adorn?
I, whom the blest AEgyptian climate bore
To the soft joys of Nile's delightful shore.
Whom prostrate Kings beheld unrival'd shine,
And the wide East ador'd with rites divine!
Deny'd to reign, I stood resolv'd to die,
Such charms has death when join'd with liberty.
Let future times of Cleopatra tell,
Howe're she liv'd none ever dy'd so well.
No chains I felt, but went a glorious ghost,
Free, and a Princess, to the Stygian coast.
Th' eluded victor, envious of my fate,
Vex'd with vain rage, and impotently great,
To Jove's high Capitol ignobly led
The mournful image of a Princess dead.
Yet not content with this to feast his eyes,
Lest kinder time should hide our miseries,
Lest the last age our fortunes shou'd not know,
This breathing stone immortaliz'd my woe:
This with the noblest force of sculpture grac'd,
In Rome's proud Forum young Octavius plac'd,
And in the midst of that majestic band
Of Gods and heroes, made a Woman stand;
But in the rock my flowing tears supprest,
Those tears, which only cou'd have have eas'd my breast.
Not that I'd ask a single drop to mourn
A fate so glorious, and so nobly born,
(Not death it self from me cou'd force a tear,
Or teach the soul of Cleopatra fear)
But for my Antony -- to whom these eyes
Give all his rites, and all his obsequies!
To his dear ashes and his honour'd shade,
My tears eternal tribute shou'd be paid:
My tears the want of off'rings had supply'd;
But these, ev'n these, remorseless Rome deny'd!
But thou great Leo! in whose golden days
Revive the honours of Rome's ancient praise;
If Heav'n, to pity human woes inclin'd,
Has sent thee down in mercy to mankind,
And boundless pow'r with boundless virtue join'd;
If all the Gods entrust thee to bestow
With bounteous hands their blessings here below;
Let not a suppliant Queen entreat in vain,
The only wretch beneath thy happy reign!
Sure just and modest this request appears,
Nor is it much to give me back my tears;
Release my eyes, and let them freely flow;
'Tis all the comfort fate has left me now!
The haughty Niobe whose impious pride
Scorn'd Heaven it self, and durst the Gods deride,
Still, tho' a rock, can thus relieve her woe,
And tears eternal from the marble flow.
No guilt of mine the rage of Heav'n cou'd move;
I knew no crime, if 'tis no crime to love.
Then as a lover give me leave to weep;
Lull'd by these fountains the distress may sleep;
And while the Dogstar burns the thirsty field,
These to the birds refreshing streams may yield;
The birds shall sport amidst the bending sprays,
And fill the shade with never ceasing lays;
New greens shall spring, new flow'rs around me grow,
And on each tree the golden apples glow;
Here, where the fragrant Orange groves arise,
Whose shining scene with rich Hesperia vies.





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