Exploring The Waste Land - Supplementary text

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra

Act II - Scene II

William Shakespeare

A selected portion of scene II


MAECENAS. Welcome from Egypt, sir.

ENOBARBUS. Half the heart of Caesar, worthy Maecenas! My honourable friend, Agrippa!

AGRIPPA. Good Enobarbus!

MAECENAS. We have cause to be glad that matters are so well digested. You stay'd well by't in Egypt.

ENOBARBUS. Ay, sir; we did sleep day out of countenance and made the night light with drinking.

MAECENAS. Eight wild boars roasted whole at a breakfast, and but twelve persons there. Is this true?

ENOBARBUS. This was but as a fly by an eagle. We had much more monstrous matter of feast, which worthily deserved noting.

MAECENAS. She's a most triumphant lady, if report be square to her.

ENOBARBUS. When she first met Mark Antony she purs'd up his heart, upon the river of Cydnus.

AGRIPPA. There she appear'd indeed! Or my reporter devis'd well for her.

ENOBARBUS. 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'erpicturing that Venus where we see The fancy out-work 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!

ENOBARBUS. Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides, So many mermaids, tended her i' th' 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, Enthron'd i' th' 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.

AGRIPPA. Rare Egyptian!

ENOBARBUS. 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 ploughed her, and she cropp'd.

ENOBARBUS. 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, pow'r breathe forth.

MAECENAS. Now Antony must leave her utterly.

ENOBARBUS. 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.

MAECENAS. If beauty, wisdom, modesty, can settle The heart of Antony, Octavia is A blessed lottery to him.

AGRIPPA. Let us go. Good Enobarbus, make yourself my guest Whilst you abide here.

ENOBARBUS. Humbly, sir, I thank you.


Exploring The Waste Land - [Home] [E-mail] File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002