ON THIS DAY in 30 B.C., Cleopatra pressed an asp to her bosom, bringing Egyptian history to an end until 1952. In honor of this solemn anniversary, we reprint the Asp’s Aria from Irving Vanderblock-Wheedle’s libretto to the Ruthven Mophandle Heyser opera The Death of Cleopatra:

It was not generally made public until recently that the libretto to Heyser’s well-received new opera, The Death of Cleopatrawas written by the eminent novelist and poet Irving Vanderblock-Wheedle. The Asp’s Aria, sung by Julietta della Fripperia to Heyser’s haunting cacophony of bassoons and kazoos, has been singled out for especial praise.

[Lento arigato.]

Excuse me, please, but did I overhear
A queen’s lament, with many a bitter tear?
You’ll find a true friend lurking very near:
I am (and please try not to gasp)
An asp.

Has it occurred to you what quick relief
Would comfort you and silence all your grief—
How short your cares would be, your tears how brief,
If to your bosom you should clasp
An asp?

I happen to have made my little nest
Right here, in this bejeweled little chest
(For you’ll agree that little chests are best):
Now just pull out the bolt and grasp
The hasp.

I’ll be your passp-
Ort to eternity and lasting fame:
Soon girls from Glassp-
Ort to Sewickley will usurp your name,
If you will lift the hasp
And just reach in and grasp
And to your bosom clasp
(Forgive my vocal rasp)
An asp.