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.
 
Cleopatra’s Resolution
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 

  Iras.—Royal Egypt! Empress!
  Cleopatra.—No more, but e’en a woman; and commanded
By such poor passion as the maid that milks,
And does the meanest chores. It were for me
To throw my sceptre at the injurious gods,        5
To tell them that this world did equal theirs,
Till they had stolen our jewel.
Then is it sin
To rush into the secret house of death
Ere death dare come to us?        10
Our lamp is spent, it’s out. Good sirs, take heart:
We’ll bury him: and then, what’s brave, what’s noble,
Let’s do it after the high Roman fashion,
And make death proud to take us. Come away,
The case of that huge Spirit now is cold.        15
 
My desolation does begin to make
A better life. ’Tis paltry to be Cæsar;
Not being Fortune, he’s but Fortune’s knave,
A minister of her will. And it is great
To do that thing that ends all other deeds,        20
Which shackles accidents, and bolts up change;
Which sleeps, and never palates more the dung,
The beggar’s nurse and Cæsar’s.
 
 
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