Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  Antony to Cleopatra

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

Antony to Cleopatra

By William Haines Lytle (1826–1863)

[Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1826. Fell at the Battle of Chickamauga, Tenn., 1863. From The Poets and Poetry of the West. Edited by William T. Coggeshall. 1860.]

I AM dying, Egypt, dying!

Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast,

And the dark Plutonian shadows

Gather on the evening blast;

Let thine arm, oh Queen, support me,

Hush thy sobs and bow thine ear,

Listen to the great heart secrets

Thou, and thou alone, must hear.

Though my scarred and veteran legions

Bear their eagles high no more,

And my wrecked and scattered galleys

Strew dark Actium’s fatal shore;

Though no glittering guards surround me,

Prompt to do their master’s will,

I must perish like a Roman—

Die the great Triumvir still.

Let not Cæsar’s servile minions

Mock the lion thus laid low:

’Twas no foeman’s hand that felled him,

’Twas his own that struck the blow:

His who, pillowed on thy bosom,

Turned aside from glory’s ray—

His who, drunk with thy caresses,

Madly threw a world away.

Should the base plebeian rabble

Dare assail my name at Rome,

Where the noble spouse, Octavia,

Weeps within her widowed home—

Seek her; say the gods bear witness—

Altars, augurs, circling wings—

That her blood, with mine commingled,

Yet shall mount the thrones of kings.

And for thee, star-eyed Egyptian—

Glorious sorceress of the Nile!

Light the path to Stygian darkness,

With the splendor of thy smile;

Give the Cæsar crowns and arches,

Let his brow the laurel twine;

I can scorn the senate’s triumphs,

Triumphing in love like thine.

I am dying, Egypt, dying!

Hark! the insulting foeman’s cry;

They are coming—quick, my falchion!

Let me front them ere I die.

Ah! no more amid the battle

Shall my heart exulting swell;

Isis and Osiris guard thee—