Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CLEOPATRA'S SOLILOQUY, by MARY BAYARD CLARK



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CLEOPATRA'S SOLILOQUY, by            
First Line: What care I for the tempest?
Last Line: I have won him, I have won him from caesar and his bride.
Alternate Author Name(s): Tenella
Subject(s): Cleopatra, Queen Of Egypt (69-30 B.c.)


WHAT care I for the tempest? What care I for the rain?
If it beat upon my bosom, would it cool its burning pain, --
This pain that ne'er has left me since on his heart I lay,
And sobbed my grief at parting as I'd sob my soul away?
O Antony! Antony! Antony! when in thy circling arms
Shall I sacrifice to Eros my glorious woman's charms,
And burn life's sweetest incense before his sacred shrine,
With the living fire that flashes from thine eyes into mine?
Oh, when shall I feel thy kisses rain down upon my face,
As a queen of love and beauty I lie in thine embrace,
Melting, melting, melting, as a woman only can
When she's a willing captive in the conquering arms of man,
As he towers a god above her -- and to yield is not defeat,
For love can own no victor if love with love shall meet!
I still have regal splendor, I still have queenly power,
And, more than all, unfaded is woman's glorious dower.
But what care I for pleasure? what's beauty to me now,
Since Love no longer places his crown upon my brow?
I have tasted its elixir, its fire has through me flashed,
But when the wine glowed brightest, from my eager lips't was dashed.
And I would give all Egypt but once to feel the bliss
Which thrills through all my being whene'er I meet his kiss.
The tempest wildly rages, my hair is wet with rain,
But it does not still my longing or cool my burning pain.
For Nature's storms are nothing to the raging of my soul
When it burns with jealous frenzy beyond a queen's control.
I fear not pale Octavia, that haughty Roman dame,
My lion of the desert, my Antony, can tame.
I fear no Persian beauty, I fear no Grecian maid;
The world holds not the woman of whom I am afraid.
But I'm jealous of the rapture I tasted in his kiss,
And I would not that another should share with me that bliss.
No joy would I deny him, let him cull it where he will,
So mistress of his bosom is Cleopatra still;
So that he feels forever, when he Love's nectar sips,
'T was sweeter, sweeter, sweeter when tasted on my lips;
So that all other kisses, since he has drawn in mine,
Shall be unto my loved as "water after wine."
A while let Caesar fancy Octavia's pallid charms
Can hold Rome's proudest consul a captive from these arms.
Her cold embrace but brightens the memory of mine,
And for my warm caresses he in her arms shall pine.
'T was not for love he sought her, but for her princely dower;
She brought him Caesar's friendship, she brought him kingly power.
I should have bid him take her, had he my counsel sought, --
I've but to smile upon him, and all her charms are nought;
For I would scorn to hold him by but a single hair
Save his own longing for me when I'm no longer there;
And I will show you, Roman, that for one kiss from me
Wife, fame, and even honor to him shall nothing be!

Throw wide the window, Isis, fling perfumes o'er me now,
And bind the lotus-blossoms again upon my brow.
The rain has ceased its weeping, the driving storm is past,
And calm are Nature's pulses that lately beat so fast.
Gone is my jealous frenzy, and Eros reigns serene,
The only god e'er worshipped by Egypt's haughty queen.
With Antony, my loved, I'll kneel before his shrine
Till the loves of Mars and Venus are nought to his and mine;
And down through coming ages, in every land and tongue,
With them shall Cleopatra and Antony be sung.
Burn sandal-wood and cassia; let the vapor round me wreathe,
And mingle with the incense the lotus-blossoms breathe;
Let India's spicy odors and Persia's perfumes rare
Be wafted on the pinions of Egypt's fragrant air.
With the singing of the night breeze, the river's rippling flow,
Let me hear the notes of music in cadence soft and low.
Draw round my couch its curtains; I'd bathe my soul in sleep;
I feel its gentle languor upon me slowly creep.
Oh, let me cheat my senses with dreams of future bliss,
In fancy feel his presence, in fancy taste his kiss,
In fancy nestle closely against his throbbing heart,
And throw my arms around him, no more, no more to part.
Hush! hush! his spirit's pinions are rustling in my ears;
He comes upon the tempest to calm my jealous fears;
He comes upon the tempest in answer to my call, --
Wife, fame, and even honor, for me he leaves them all;
And royally I'll welcome my lover to my side.
I have won him, I have won him from Caesar and his bride.





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