Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lovers and Other Remains

To end the year on something fun:
The Associated Press reported in April that archaeologists think they may be close to locating the graves of Cleopatra and Mark Antony in a temple west of Alexandria, Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra killed themselves in a suicide pact when their bid to seize the Roman Empire from Caesar Augustus failed in 30 BC. I wondered, if I were Cleopatra, what I might think of that.

Cleopatra Heaps Scorn on the Archaeologists

They think they will find us, my love,
those men with their radar
with their picks and shovels.

They think they will conquer us again
with their greed
with their need to see us defeated
not only by armies but by death too

I can hear their cheers
Look! Here lie the mortal remains
of two great lovers who betrayed

each other and betrayed their nations
mere hide and bone now
all that’s left of their immortal love

I will not be flaunted by our enemies
I be not found in such a state of dishabille
I will not stand for it, Antony

I had to fight Rome for you
I had to war with your own heroic

I would not give you up in life
I will not give you up in death
Lie still, my beloved,
in the circle of my arms
Lie still

Credits: Photo by Keith Schengili-Roberts

Painting by Lawrence Alma-Tadema


the walking man said...

What I like about this the most Chris is that you gave Cleopatra the dominant voice.

If I had written this piece though I think I would have not versed it and left it as prose soliloquy. that is not a criticism, just the way I would have done this.

Madison said...

It's so odd when something that happened 2,000 years ago comes to life. I hope nobody is trying to find us in 4010. There's something to be said for cremation.

Karen said...

I'm with Cleopatra! I hope they're never found! (Aside: Have you read Margaret George's Cleopatra? It's a really good historical fiction.

Dave King said...

Very imaginatively done. An enjoyable read. A Happy New Year to you.

Shadow said...

after your poem, i'd like them to remain where they are, secure in their love for each other, undisturbed...

Brian Miller said...

even in death a revolution...smiles. history is so fascinating...i hope you have an amazing new year!

Berowne said...

>> "I would not give you up in life
I will not give you up in death
Lie still, my beloved,
in the circle of my arms lie still." <<

And in death she goes to meet him. To her, death is not something to be feared, it is:
"As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle. O Antony!" (Act 5)

Tall Kay said...

This made me smile! You have such a great way of looking at things. I can imagine she really doesn't want to be found either!

Lou said...

We recently Netflixed the HBO series "Rome." More riveting than any fiction I've seen! I felt like I understood Cleopatra better after watching it, and your poem of her seems spot on.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...


Dianne said...

You captured the love that is more potent with struggle. That has been my experience.
See ya!

lakeviewer said...

I read the comments as well, adding more interpretations and connotations to the original. How delightful to catch you in this mood, creating a time immemorial for the timeless couple, giving Cleo the upper hand. We learn what's important in our lives every minute of every day, even past our lives.

BlueJayEye said...

beautiful sentiments, i too want the romance to perfume their secrets through eternity...

Monkey Man said...

to find them may not be such a travisty. perhaps but an opportunity to remind of the strength we can have in love. This was very powerful, Chris.

big Jenn said...

I love how your mind works! Very nice1 jeNN

Fireblossom said...

I liked this very much. Got to love Cleopatra.

Syd said...

Nice Chris. I have always been fascinated by archaeology. I wonder what people of the future will think of our civilization if such a thing still exists in a couple of millenia.

Anonymous said...

Oh that is so well done.