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At length 1 saw a lady within call,
Stiller than chisell'd marble, standing there;
A daughter of the gods, divinely tall,
And most divinely fair.
Her loveliness with shame and with surprise
Froze my swift speech: she turning on my face The star-like sorrows of immortal eyes,
Spoke slowly in her place.
"I had great beauty: ask thou not my name : No one can be more wise than destiny. Many drew swords and died. Where'er I came
I brought calamity."
"No marvel, sovereign lady: in fair field
Myself for such a face had boldly died,"
I answer'd free; and turning I appeal'd
To one that stood beside.
But she, with sick and scornful looks averse,
To her full height her stately stature draws; "My youth," she said, "was blasted with a curse:
This woman was the cause.
"I was cut off from hope in that sad place,
Which yet to name my spirit loathes and fears:
My father held his hand upon his face;
I, blinded with my tears,
"Still strove to speak: my voice was thick with sighs As in a dream. Dimly I could descry
The stern black-bearded kings with wolfish eyes, Waiting to see me die.
"The high masts flicker'd as they lay afloat;
The crowds, the temples, waver'd, and the
The bright death quiver'd at the victim's throat;
Touch'd; and I knew no more."
Whereto the other with a downward brow:
"I would the white cold heavy-plunging foam, Whirl'd by the wind, had roll'd me deep below,
Then when I left my home."
Her slow full words sank thro' the silence drear, As thunder-drops fall on a sleeping sea: Sudden I heard a voice that cried, "Come here, That I may look on thee."
I turning saw, throned on a flowery rise,
One sitting on a crimson scarf unroll'd;
A queen, with swarthy cheeks and bold black eyes, Brow-bound with burning gold.
She, flashing forth a haughty smile, began:
'I govern'd men by change, and so I sway'd All moods. 'Tis long since I have seen a man Once, like the moon, I made
"The ever-shifting currents of the blood
According to my humour ebb and flow.
I have no men to govern in this wood :
"Nay-yet it chafes me that I could not bend
One will; nor tame and tutor with mine eye That dull cold-blooded Cæsar. Prythee, friend. Where is Mark Antony?
"The man, my lover, with whom I rode sublime On Fortune's neck: we sat as God by God: The Nilus would have risen before his time
And flooded at our nod.
"We drank the Libyan Sun to sleep, and lit
Lamps which outburn'd Canopus. O my life
In Egypt! O the dalliance and the wit,
The flattery and the strife,
"And the wild kiss, when fresh from war's alarms,
My Hercules, my Roman Antony,
My mailed Bacchus leapt into my arms,
Contented there to die!
"And there he died: and when I heard my name
Sigh'd forth with life I would not brook my fear
Of the other: with a worm I balk'd his fame.
What else was left? look here!"
(With that she tore her robe apart, and half The polish'd argent of her breast to sight
Laid bare. Thereto she pointed with a laugh,
Showing the aspick's bite)