Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Cassius
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
(See full text.)

WELL, honor is the subject of my story.—
I cannot tell, what you and other men
Think of this life; but, for my single self
I had as lief not be, as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.        5
I was born free as Cæsar; so were you:
We both have fed as well; and we can both
Endure the winter’s cold, as well as he.
For once upon a raw and gusty day,
The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,        10
Cæsar said to me, “Dar’st thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood,
And swim to yonder point?” Upon the word,
Accoutred as I was, I plungèd in,
And bade him follow: so, indeed, he did.        15
The torrent roared, and we did buffet it
With lusty sinews; throwing it aside,
And stemming it with hearts of controversy.
But ere we could arrive the point proposed,
Cæsar cried, “Help me, Cassius, or I sink.”        20
I, as Æneas, our great ancestor,
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulders
The old Anchises bear, so, from the waves of Tiber
Did I the tired Cæsar: and this man
Is now become a god; and Cassius is        25
A wretched creature, and must bend his body,
If Cæsar carelessly but nod on him.
He had a fever when he was in Spain;
And when the fit was on him, I did mark
How he did shake: ’tis true, this god did shake:        30
His coward lips did from their color fly;
And that same eye, whose bend doth awe the world,
Did lose his lustre; I did hear him groan:
Ay, and that tongue of his, that bade the Romans
Mark him, and write his speeches in their books,        35
Alas! it cried, “Give me some drink, Titinius,”
As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me,
A man of such a feeble temper should
So get the start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone.        40
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world,
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates;        45
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Brutus and Cæsar: What should be in that Cæsar?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a name;        50
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with them,
Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Cæsar.
Now in the names of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat doth this our Cæsar feed,        55
That he is grown so great? Age, thou art shamed:
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
When went there by an age, since the great flood,
But it was famed with more than with one man?
When could they say, till now, that talked of Rome,        60
That her wide walls encompassed but one man?
Now is it Rome indeed, and room enough,
When there is in it but one only man,
O! you and I have heard our fathers say,
There was a Brutus once, that would have brooked        65
The eternal devil to keep his state in Rome,
As easily as a king.
 
 
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