A 17th Century Ode to Cleopatra of Egypt

Ah, Cleopatra, a woman who has inspired countless plays, poems, books, and films…

Statue of Cleopatra, Hampton Court Palace. Photo: Andrea Zuvich

Statue of Cleopatra, Hampton Court Palace. Photo: Andrea Zuvich

As found in John Dunton’s “The Ladies Dictionary” of 1694:

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt:

The Wealth she wore about her seem’d to hide,

Not to adorn her Native Beauty’s Pride,

Tho there bright Pearls from

the Or’ential shoars,

From all th’Assyrian Lakes,

and wealthy Stores

Of Silves Ganges and Hy-

daspes shone,

From Egypt’s Eastern Isles

the Gold like Stone,

and cheerful Emeraulds ga-

ther’d from the Green

Arabian Rocks, were in full

splendor seen,

Pale Onyx, Jasper, of a va-

rious dye,

And Diamonds darken’d by

her brighter Eye;

The Saphires blew by her

more Azure veins,

Hung not to boast, but to

confess their stains,

And bushing Rubies seem’d

to lose their dye,

When her more Ruby Lips

were moving by;

It seem’d so well became her

what she wore,

She had not Robb’d at all

the Creatures store,

But had been Nature’s self,

there to have show’d,

What she on Creatures cou’d,

or had bestow’d.

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