matt's poetry pocketbook:
poems and poets

Act 2, scene 2 from Anthony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare

Agrippa There she appeared indeed;
or my reporter devised well for her.
 
Enobarbas I will tell you.
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 love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar'd 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 divers-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!
 
Enobarbas Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides,
So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes,
And made their bends adornings: at the helm
A seeming mermaid steers: the silken tackle
Swell 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 wharfs. The city cast
Her people out upon her; and Antony,
Enthroned i' the market-place, did sit alone,
Whistling to the air; which, but for vacancy,
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
And made a gap in nature.
 
Agrippa Rare Egyptian!
 
Enobarbas Upon her landing, Antony sent to her,
Invited her to supper: she replied,
It should be better he became her guest;
Which she entreated: our courteous Antony,
Whom ne'er the word of 'No' woman heard speak,
Being barber'd ten times o'er, goes to the feast,
And for his ordinary pays his heart
For what his eyes eat only.
 
Agrippa Royal wench!
She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed:
He plough'd her, and she cropp'd.
 
Enobarbas I saw her once
Hop forty paces through the public street;
And having lost her breath, she spoke, and panted,
That she did make defect perfection,
And, breathless, power breathe forth.
 
Mecaenas Now Antony must leave her utterly.
 
Enobarbas Never; he will not:
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed: but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies; for vilest things
Become themselves in her: that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish.
 
Mecaenas If beauty, wisdom, modesty, can settle
The heart of Antony, Octavia is
A blessed lottery to him.
 
Agrippa Let us go.
Good Enobarbas, make yourself my guest
Whilst you abide here.
 
Enobarbas Humbly, sir, I thank you.
 
Exeunt