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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century


<--Samuel Daniel

Fresco thought to depict Cleopatra, from Herculaneum

A decorative border from Grosart

The Tragedie of Cleopatra title from Grosart

VVHat hath my face yet power to win a Lover?
   Can this torn remnant serve to grace me so,
That it can Caesar's secret plots discover,
What he intends with me and mine to do?
Why then poor beauty thou hast done thy last,
And best good service thou could'st do unto me;
For now the time of death reveal'd thou hast,
Which in my life didst serve but to undo me.
    Here Dolabella far forsooth in love,
Writes, how that Caesar means forthwith, to send
Both me and mine, th'air of Rome to prove:
There [h]is Triumphant Chariot to attend.
I thank the man, both for his love and letter;
The one comes fit to warn me thus before,
But for th'other I must die his debtor,
For Cleopatra now can love no more.
    But having leave, I must go take my leave
And last farewell of my dead Anthony :
Whose dearly honour'd tomb must here receive
This sacrifice, the last before I die.
    O sacred ever-memorable stone,
That hast without my tears, within my flame;
Receive th'oblation of the wofull'st moan
That ever yet from sad affliction came.
And you dear relics of my Lord and Love.
(The sweetest parcels of the faithfull'st liver,)
O let no impious hand dare to remove
You out from hence, but rest you here for ever.
Let Egypt now give peace unto you dead,
That living, gave you trouble and turmoil:
Sleep quiet in this ever-lasting bed,
In foreign land preferr'd before your soil.
And O, if that the spirits of men remain
After their bodies, and do never die,
Then hear thy ghost, thy captive spouse complain
And be attentive to her misery.
But if that laboursome mortality
Found this sweet error, only to confine
The curious search of idle vanity,
That would the depth of darkness undermine:
Or rather, to give rest unto the thought
Of wretched man, with th'after-coming joy
Of those conceivèd fields, whereon we dote,
To pacify the present world's annoy.
If it be so, why speak I then to the air?
But 'tis not so, my Antony doth hear:
His ever-living ghost attends my prayer,
And I do know his hovering sprite is near.
And I will speak, and pray, and mourn to thee.
O pure immortal soul that deign'st to hear,
I feel thou answer'st my credulity
With touch of comfort, finding none elsewhere.
Thou know'st these hands entombed thee here of late,
Free and unforc'd, which now must servile be,
Reserv'd for bands to grace proud Caesar's state,
Who seeks in me to triumph over thee.
O if in life we could not severed be,
Shall Death divide our bodies now asunder?
Must thine in Egypt, mine in Italy,
Be kept the Monuments of Fortune's wonder?
If any powers be there whereas thou art,
(Sith our country gods betray our case,)
O work they may their gracious help impart,
To save thy woeful wife from such disgrace.
Do not permit she should in triumph show
The blush of her reproach, joined with thy shame:
But (rather) let that hateful tyrant know,
That thou and I had power t'avoid the same.
But what do I spend breath and idle wind,
In vain invoking a conceivèd aide ?
Why do I not myself occasion find
To break the bounds wherein myself am stayed?
Words are for them that can complain and live,
Whose melting hearts composed of baser frame,
Can to their sorrows, time and leisure give,
But Cleopatra may not do the same.
No Antony, thy love requireth more:
A lingering death, with thee deserves no merit;
I must myself force open wide a door
To let out life, and so unhouse my spirit.
These hands must break the prison of my soul
To come to thee, there to enjoy like state,
As doth the long-pent solitary Soul,
That hath escaped her cage, and found her mate.
This sacrifice to sacrifice my life,
Is that true incense that doth best beseem
These rites may serve a life-desiring wife,
Who doing them, t'have done enough doth deem.
My heart blood should the purple flowers have been,
Which here upon thy tomb to thee are offered,
No smoke but dying breath should here be seen,
And this it had been too, had I been suffered.
But what have I save these bare hands to do it?
And these weak fingers are not iron-pointed:
They cannot pierce the flesh being put unto it
And I of all means else am disappointed.
But yet I must a way and means seek, how
To come unto thee, whatsoe'er I do.
O Death, art thou so hard to come by now,
That we must pray, entreat, and seek thee too?
But I will find thee wheresoe'er thou lie,
For who can stay a mind resolved to die?
    And now I go to work th'effect indeed,
I'll never send more words or sighs to thee:
I'll bring my soul myself, and that with speed,
My self will bring my soul to Antony.
Come, go my Maids, my fortune's sole attenders,
That minister to misery and sorrow:
Your Mistress you unto your freedom renders,
And will discharge your charge yet ere tomorrow.
    And now by this, I think the man I sent,
Is near return'd that brings me my dispatch.
God grant his cunning sort to good event,
And that his skill may well beguile my watch:
So shall I shun disgrace, leave to be sorry,
Fly to my love, 'scape my foe, free my soul;
So shall I act the last of life with glory,
Die like a Queen, and rest without control.    Exit.












Transcribed and modernized by Anniina Jokinen from
Daniel, Samuel. The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Samuel Daniel. vol 3.
A. B. Grosart, ed. New York: Rusell & Russell, Inc., 1885, Reissued in 1963. 71-75.

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on June 4, 1997. Last updated on May 16, 2023.


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