ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
By Don Marquis
From “Sonnets to a Red-Haired Lady (By a Gentleman with a Blue Beard), and Famous Love Affairs,” 1922
Cleopatra Ptolemy’s fad
Was playing Aphrodite;
From Hind to Italy she had
The name of being flighty;
She’d often send a bid to say:
“On Friday is, my wedding!
Come . . . and stop till Saturday
And witness the beheading.”
Scarce a beau could keep his bean
Safe from axe or sickle. . . .
Egypt smiled and said, “Our Queen
Is just a trifle fickle!”
Antony, the lucky wight,
Was a Roman winner,
Ladies used to scheme and fight
To get the gink for dinner;
Old medallions show him where
He prances through the Corso,
With his glad, pomatumed hair
And his noble torso.
Waking one day sad with debt
And blue with katzenjammer
He mused, “I’ve not seen Egypt yet. . . .
I’ll go; I need some drammer!”
He found the Queen attending, bored,
A morning tiger party,
A farewell to a former lord . . .
The guests were doing hearty. . . .
She saw him . . . he saw her . . . the rest,
For neither was ascetic,
Was Robert Chambers at his best
Some folks are so magnetic!
Says she, “You stay in Egypt, kid,
And can them Latin minxes —
I’ll deed to you a pyramid
And half a dozen Sphinxes!”
Says he, “You keep your trinkets, ma’am,
I am not mercenary . . .
I do not give a diadam
For aught but you, my fairy!”
Though Fate is skulking in the wings,
Our Strong-Arm Tony clasps her . . .
Oh! let’s be brief with tragic things . . .
Fate enters next, and asps her!