Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
Cleopatra
By Ramsay Morris (b. 1858)
 
[Born in New York, N. Y., 1858.]

[In the Metropolitan Museum of Art.]

TO-DAY you see me here in stone—
  A pulseless queen,
A sculptor’s vain imagining
  Of what I’ve been.
He gave to me a form of grace,        5
  A regal air:
He fashioned me with artist’s skill
  Beyond compare,
 
Yet hath he missed me for all that—
  His art is cold;        10
His chiselled likeness halts at life,
  Does not unfold.
I dream in this one attitude
  Through all my days,
While countless eyes pause, where I rest,        15
  With lingering gaze.
 
Could they but see me as I was
  In Egypt’s land—
My queenly state, my ebon guards,
  My armies grand,        20
The robes which draped my perfect form
  With matchless grace,
The gems which flashed on all my limbs—
  And, ah, my face!—
 
That face which conquered Anthony        25
  With potent wile,
Which made me famed from end to end
  The golden Nile,—
The eyes which poets sung were stars
  Of glorious light,        30
Which wielded power greater far
  Than warriors’ might!
 
Oh, sculptor, give me back my life,
  To reign once more,
To lead my retinue along        35
  Nile’s tawny shore.
To find again my Anthony,
  To feel his arms,
To rest secure within their fold
  From earth’s alarms.        40
 
Oh, change me from this icy thing
  To living queen!
I long to show to all the world
  What I have been.
Breathe soul into this shapely form,        45
  Return my voice:
The multitude will praise your skill,
  And loud rejoice.
 
Is it not sad that I, who ruled
  By beauty’s right,        50
Should vanquished be by death, and roam
  Through Stygian night?
I wander, desolate and lone,
  Through midnight lands—
Oh, give me life, and Anthony,        55
  And Egypt’s sands.
 
 
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