Queen of beauty, through all ages,
Queen of love in storied pages,--
Cleopatra,--star of Egypt,--blazing through the mists of time;
Down long centuries descending,
Thy wild witcheries are blending
With half that poets sing to us of glory, love, and crime.
Through the battle's red wreck springing
Hark! that royal pæan ringing:
"Enchantress of the Nile!" beloved of heroes and of kings;
Germ of a sumptuous power,--
Alexandria's passion flower,--
To Egypt's weird old ruin still thy mystic splendor clings.
Queen of beauty! crowned of nations,
Fame still pours her bright libations
To one whose witcheries were like the potent spells of wine;
Turned from triumphs rich with beauty,
Heroes--drunk upon thy beauty--
Tore off their laurel crowns to wear the myrtles plucked from thine.
Where the lotus blooms are sleeping,
There are subtle memories steeping
The scented deeps of Eastern gloom starred by their blossoms pale;
Memories of one fragrant hour,
When the breath of every flower
Was lost amid the odors swept from off thy silken sail.
And the harps tuned to thy glory,
And the bards who sang thy story,
Left a mystic echoed music to haunt the classic marge
Of that far-off Eastern river,
Where will linger on forever
A shadow of the splendors trailed behind thy royal barge.
Dark-browed sorceress! subtlest woman,
There was one most noble Roman
Who mocked the wiles which erst enslaved Rome's purple royalty;
Who had shown thee to the million,
His fair captive,--as Aurelian,
The Assyrian queen,--but thou didst scorn to grace his victory.
When paled thy star of destiny,
When Egypt and Mark Antony
Were lost to thee, the future was too dark to lure thee on;
Cleopatra! fairest woman,
Too frail, too proud, too human
To live with glory vanishing and love forever gone.