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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act I. Scene V.

Antony and Cleopatra

Alexandria.A Room in the Palace.




Cleo.Ha, ha!

Give me to drink mandragora.

Char.Why, madam?

Cleo.That I might sleep out this great gap of time

My Antony is away.

Char.You think of him too much.

Cleo.O! ’tis treason.

Char.Madam, I trust, not so.

Cleo.Thou, eunuch Mardian!

Mar.What’s your highness’ pleasure?

Cleo.Not now to hear thee sing; I take no pleasure

In aught a eunuch has. ’Tis well for thee,

That, being unseminar’d, thy freer thoughts

May not fly forth of Egypt. Hast thou affections?

Mar.Yes, gracious madam.


Mar.Not in deed, madam; for I can do nothing

But what in deed is honest to be done;

Yet have I fierce affections, and think

What Venus did with Mars.

Cleo.O Charmian!

Where think’st thou he is now? Stands he, or sits he?

Or does he walk? or is he on his horse?

O happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony!

Do bravely, horse, for wot’st thou whom thou mov’st?

The demi-Atlas of this earth, the arm

And burgonet of men. He’s speaking now,

Or murmuring ‘Where’s my serpent of old Nile?’

For so he calls me. Now I feed myself

With most delicious poison. Think on me,

That am with Phœbus’ amorous pinches black,

And wrinkled deep in time? Broad-fronted Cæsar,

When thou wast here above the ground I was

A morsel for a monarch, and great Pompey

Would stand and make his eyes grow in my brow;

There would he anchor his aspect and die

With looking on his life.


Alex.Sovereign of Egypt, hail!

Cleo.How much unlike art thou Mark Antony!

Yet, coming from him, that great medicine hath

With his tinct gilded thee.

How goes it with my brave Mark Antony?

Alex.Last thing he did, dear queen,

He kiss’d, the last of many doubled kisses,

This orient pearl. His speech sticks in my heart.

Cleo.Mine ear must pluck it thence.

Alex.‘Good friend,’ quoth he,

‘Say, the firm Roman to great Egypt sends

This treasure of an oyster; at whose foot,

To mend the petty present, I will piece

Her opulent throne with kingdoms; all the east,

Say thou, shall call her mistress.’ So he nodded,

And soberly did mount an arm-gaunt steed,

Who neigh’d so high that what I would have spoke

Was beastly dumb’d by him.

Cleo.What! was he sad or merry?

Alex.Like to the time o’ the year between the extremes

Of hot and cold; he was nor sad nor merry.

Cleo.O well-divided disposition! Note him,

Note him, good Charmian, ’tis the man; but note him:

He was not sad, for he would shine on those

That make their looks by his; he was not merry,

Which seem’d to tell them his remembrance lay

In Egypt with his joy; but between both:

O heavenly mingle! Be’st thou sad or merry,

The violence of either thee becomes,

So does it no man else. Mett’st thou my posts?

Alex.Ay, madam, twenty several messengers.

Why do you send so thick?

Cleo.Who’s born that day

When I forget to send to Antony,

Shall die a beggar. Ink and paper, Charmian.

Welcome, my good Alexas. Did I, Charmian,

Ever love Cæsar so?

Char.O! that brave Cæsar.

Cleo.Be chok’d with such another emphasis!

Say the brave Antony.

Char.The valiant Cæsar!

Cleo.By Isis, I will give thee bloody teeth,

If thou with Cæsar paragon again

My man of men.

Char.By your most gracious pardon,

I sing but after you.

Cleo.My salad days,

When I was green in judgment, cold in blood,

To say as I said then! But come, away;

Get me ink and paper:

He shall have every day a several greeting,

Or I’ll unpeople Egypt.[Exeunt.