Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Cleopatra on the Cydnus

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Asia Minor: Cydnus, the River

Cleopatra on the Cydnus

By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

ENOBARBUS.The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne,

Burn’d on the water; the poop was beaten gold;

Purple the sails, and so perfumed that

The winds were lovesick with them: the oars were silver;

Which to the time of flutes kept stroke, and made

The water, which they beat, to follow faster,

As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,

It beggared all description: she did lie

In her pavilion (cloth of gold, of tissue)

O’er-picturing that Venus, where we see

The fancy outwork nature: on each side her

Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,

With diverse-colour’d fans, whose wind did seem

To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,

And what they undid, did.
AGRIPPA.O, rare for Antony!

ENO.Her gentlewomen, like the Nereids,

So many mermaids, tended her i’ the eyes,

And made their bends adornings; at the helm

A seeming mermaid steers; the silken tackle

Smell with the touches of those flower-soft hands,

That yarely frame the office. From the barge

A strange invisible perfume hits the sense

Of the adjacent wharves. The city cast

Her people out upon her; and Antony,

Enthron’d i’ the market-place, did sit alone,

Whistling to th’ air; which, but for vacancy,

Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,

And made a gap in nature.