|Cyrano de Bergerac|
Cyrano de Bergerac
by Edmond Rostand
translated into English Verse by Brian Hooker
Copyright © 1923 by Henry Holt and Company
|The First Act|
His sword is one half of the shears of Fate!
Let me hear one more word of that same song,
And I destroy you all!
Who might you be?
Precisely. Would you kindly lend me
Fair ladiesshine upon us like the sun,
Blossom like the flowers around usbe our songs,
Heard in a dream Make sweet the hour of death,
Smiling upon us as you close our eyes
Inspire, but do not try to criticise!
My nose! . . . You pug, you knob, you button-head,
Know that I glory in this nose of mine,
For a great nose indicates a great man
Genial, courteous, intellectual,
Viril, courageousas I amand such
As youpoor wretchwill never dare to be
Even in imagination.
I carry my adornments on my soul.
I do not dress up like a popinjay;
But inwardly, I keep my daintiness.
I do not bear with me, by any chance,
An insult not yet washed awaya conscience
Yellow with unpurged bilean honor frayed
To rags, a set of scruples badly worn.
I go caparisoned in gems unseen,
Trailing white plumes of freedom, garlanded
With my good nameno figure of a man,
But a soul clothed in shining armor, hung
With deeds for decorations, twirlingthus
A bristling wit, and swinging at my side
Courage, and on the stones of this old town
Making the sharp truth ring, like golden spurs!
But I have no gloves! A pity too!
I had onethe last one of an old pair
And lost that. Very careless of me. Some
Gentleman offered me an impertinence.
I left itin his face.
Dolt, bumpkin, fool,
Insolent puppy, jobbernowl!
What a fool!
Butwhat a gesture!
|The Second Act|
Windmills, remember, if you fight with them
My enemies change, then, with every wind?
May swing round their huge arms and cast you down
Into the mire.
Or upamong the stars!
What would you have me do?
Seek for the patronage of some great man,
And like a creeping vine on a tall tree
Crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone?
No thank you! Dedicate, as others do,
Poems to pawnbrokers? Be a buffoon
In the vile hope of teasing out a smile
On some cold face? No thank you! Eat a toad
For breakfast every morning? Make my knees
Callous, and cultivate a supple spine,
Wear out my belly grovelling in the dust?
No thank you! Scratch the back of any swine
That roots up gold for me? Tickle the horns
Of Mammon with my left hand, while my right
Too proud to know his partners business,
Takes in the fee? No thank you! Use the fire
God gave me to burn incense all day long
Under the nose of wood and stone? No thank you!
Never to make a line I have not heard
In my own heart; yet, with all modesty
To say: My soul, be satisfied with flowers,
With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them
In the one garden you may call your own.
So, when I win some triumph, by some chance,
Render no share to Caesarin a word,
I am too proud to be a parasite,
And if my nature wants the germ that grows
Towering to heaven like the mountain pine,
Or like the oak, sheltering multitudes
I stand, not high it may bebut alone!
|The Third Act||
And so she ran off with a Musketeer!
I was ruinedI was alone Remained
Nothing for me to do but hang myself,
So I did that. Presently along come
Monsieur de Bergerac, and cuts me down,
And makes me steward to his cousin.
Your words to-night
Through the warm summer gloom
They grope in darkness toward the light of you.
My words, well aimed, find you more readily.
My heart is open wide and waits for them
Too large a mark to miss! My words fly home,
Heavy with honey like returning bees,
To your small secret ear. Moreoveryours
Fall to me swiftly. Mine more slowly rise.
Yet not so slowly as they did at first.
They have learned the way, and you have welcomed them.
Am I so far above you now?
If you let fall upon me one hard word,
Out of that heightyou crush me!
[...] Shall we insult Nature, this night,
These flowers, this momentshall we set all these
To phrases from a letter by Voltaire?
Look once at the high stars that shine in heaven,
And put off artificiality!
Have you not seen great gaudy hothouse flowers,
Barren, without fragrance?Souls are like that:
Forced to show all, they soon become all show
The means to Natures end ends meaningless!
And what is a kiss, when all is done?
A promise given under seala vow
Taken before the shrine of memory
A signature acknowledgeda rosy dot
Over the i of Lovinga secret whispered
To listening lips aparta moment made
Immortal, with a rush of wings unseen
A sacrament of blossoms, a new song
Sung by two hearts to an old simple tune
The ring of one horizon around two souls
Together, all alone!
|The Fourth Act|
Always the clever answer!
Always the answeryes! Let me die so
Under some rosy-golden sunset, saying
A good thing, for a good cause! By the sword,
The point of honorby the hand of one
Worthy to be my foeman, let me fall
Steel in my heart, and laughter on my lips!
[...] Now let the fife, that dry old warrior,
Dream, while over the stops your fingers dance
A minuet of little birdslet him
Dream beyond ebony and ivory;
Let him remember he was once a reed
Out of the river, and recall the spirit
Of innocent, untroubled country
Listen, you Gascons! Now it is no more
The shrill fife It is the flute, through woodlands far
Away, callingno longer the hot battle-cry,
But the cool, quiet pipe our goatherds play!
Listenthe forest glens . . . the hills . . . the
The green sweetness of night on the
Listen, you Gascons! It is all
You make them weep
For homesicknessa hunger
More noble than that hunger of the flesh;
It is their hearts now that are starving.
But you melt down their manhood.
You think so?
Let them be. There is iron in their blood
Not easily dissoved in tears.
A counterfeit! Never you trust that man
Because we Gascons, look you, are all mad
This fellow is reasonable nothing more
Dangerous than a reasonable Gascon!
Henry of Navarre
Being outnumbered, never flung away
His white plume.
My device was a success,
Possibly . . . An officer
Does not lightly resign the privilege
Of being a target.
Now, if I had been there
Your courage and my own differ in this
When your scarf fell, I should have put it on.
A Gascons gun never recoils!
|The Fifth Act|
His satires make a host of enemies
He attacks the false nobles, the false saints,
The false heroes, the false artistsin short,
Do you know, when a man wins
Everything in this world, when he succeeds
Too muchhe feels, having done nothing wrong
Especially, Heaven knows!he feels somehow
A thousand small displeasures with himself,
Whose whole sum is not quite Remorse, but rather
A sort of vague disgust . . . The ducal robes
Mounting up, step by step, to pride and power,
Somewhere among their folds draw after them
A rustle of dry illusions, vain regrets,
As your veil, up the stairs here, draws along
The whisper of dead leaves.
Perfect Venetian red! Look at them fall.
Yesthey know how to die. A little way
From the branch to the earth, a little fear
Of mingling with the common dustand yet
They go down gracefullya fall that seems
text checked (see note) Apr 2005; Mar 2006; Oct 2009