A Play in 5 Acts
by Edmond Rostand
Cyrano de Bergerac: Characters | Act I | Act II | Act III | Act IV | Act V
Translated from the French by Gladys Thomas and Mary F. Guillemard
A Representation at the Hotel de Bourgogne.
The hall of the Hotel de Bourgogne, in 1640. A sort of tennis-court arranged and decorated for a theatrical performance.
The hall is oblong and seen obliquely, so that one of its sides forms the back of the right foreground, and meeting the left background makes an angle with the stage, which is partly visible.
On both sides of the stage are benches. The curtain is composed of two tapestries which can be drawn aside. Above a harlequin's mantle are the royal arms. There are broad steps from the stage to the hall; on either side of these steps are the places for the violinists. Footlights.
Two rows, one over the other, of side galleries: the highest divided into boxes. No seats in the pit of the hall, which is the real stage of the theater; at the back of the pit, i.e., on the right foreground, some benches forming steps, and underneath, a staircase which leads to the upper seats. An improvised buffet ornamented with little lusters, vases, glasses, plates of tarts, cakes, bottles, etc.
The entrance to the theater is in the center of the background, under the gallery of the boxes. A large door, half open to let in the spectators. On the panels of this door, in different corners, and over the buffet, red placards bearing the words, 'La Clorise.'
At the rising of the curtain the hall is in semi-darkness, and still empty. The lusters are lowered in the middle of the pit ready to be lighted.
The public, arriving by degrees. Troopers, burghers, lackeys, pages, a
pickpocket, the doorkeeper, etc., followed by the marquises. Cuigy,
Brissaille, the buffet-girl, the violinists, etc.
(A confusion of loud voices is heard outside the door. A trooper enters
THE DOORKEEPER (following him):
Hollo! You there! Your money!
I enter gratis.
Why? I am of the King's Household Cavalry, 'faith!
THE DOORKEEPER (to another trooper who enters):
I pay nothing.
I am a musketeer.
FIRST TROOPER (to the second):
The play will not begin till two. The pit is empty. Come, a bout with the
foils to pass the time.
(They fence with the foils they have brought.)
A LACKEY (entering):
Pst. . .Flanquin. . .!
ANOTHER (already there):
Champagne?. . .
THE FIRST (showing him cards and dice which he takes from his doublet):
See, here be cards and dice.
(He seats himself on the floor):
THE SECOND (doing the same):
Good; I am with you, villain!
FIRST LACKEY (taking from his pocket a candle-end, which he lights, and sticks
on the floor):
I made free to provide myself with light at my master's expense!
A GUARDSMAN (to a shop-girl who advances):
'Twas prettily done to come before the lights were lit!
(He takes her round the waist.)
ONE OF THE FENCERS (receiving a thrust):
ONE OF THE CARD-PLAYERS:
THE GUARDSMAN (following the girl):
THE SHOP-GIRL (struggling to free herself):
THE GUARDSMAN (drawing her to a dark corner):
No fear! No one can see!
A MAN (sitting on the ground with others, who have brought their provisions):
By coming early, one can eat in comfort.
A BURGHER (conducting his son):
Let us sit here, son.
A MAN (taking a bottle from under his cloak,
and also seating himself on the floor):
A tippler may well quaff his Burgundy
in the Burgundy Hotel!
THE BURGHER (to his son):
'Faith! A man might think he had fallen in a bad house here!
(He points with his cane to the drunkard):
What with topers!
(One of the fencers in breaking off, jostles him):
(He stumbles into the midst of the card-players):
THE GUARDSMAN (behind him, still teasing the shop-girl):
Come, one kiss!
THE BURGHER (hurriedly pulling his son away):
By all the holies! And this, my boy, is the theater where they played
THE YOUNG MAN:
Ay, and Corneille!
A TROOP OF PAGES (hand-in-hand, enter dancing the farandole, and singing):
Tra' a la, la, la, la, la, la, la, lere. . .
THE DOORKEEPER (sternly, to the pages):
You pages there, none of your tricks!. . .
FIRST PAGE (with an air of wounded dignity):
Oh, sir!--such a suspicion!. . .
(Briskly, to the second page, the moment the doorkeeper's back is turned):
Have you string?
Ay, and a fish-hook with it.
We can angle for wigs, then, up there i' th' gallery.
A PICKPOCKET (gathering about him some evil-looking youths):
Hark ye, young cut-purses, lend an ear, while I give you your first lesson
SECOND PAGE (calling up to others in the top galleries):
You there! Have you peashooters?
THIRD PAGE (from above):
Ay, have we, and peas withal!
(He blows, and peppers them with peas.)
THE YOUNG MAN (to his father):
What piece do they give us?
THE YOUNG MAN:
Who may the author be?
Master Balthazar Baro. It is a play!. . .
(He goes arm-in-arm with his son.)
THE PICKPOCKET (to his pupils):
Have a care, above all, of the lace knee-ruffles--cut them off!
A SPECTATOR (to another, showing him a corner in the gallery):
I was up there, the first night of the 'Cid.'
THE PICKPOCKET (making with his fingers the gesture of filching):
Thus for watches--
THE BURGHER (coming down again with his son):
Ah! You shall presently see some renowned actors. . .
THE PICKPOCKET (making the gestures of one who pulls something stealthily,
with little jerks):
Thus for handkerchiefs--
Montfleury. . .
SOME ONE (shouting from the upper gallery):
Light up, below there!
. . .Bellerose, L'Epy, La Beaupre, Jodelet!
A PAGE (in the pit):
Here comes the buffet-girl!
THE BUFFET-GIRL (taking her place behind the buffet):
Oranges, milk, raspberry-water, cedar bitters!
(A hubbub outside the door is heard.)
A FALSETTO VOICE:
Make place, brutes!
A LACKEY (astonished):
The Marquises!--in the pit?. . .
Oh! only for a minute or two!
(Enter a band of young marquises.)
A MARQUIS (seeing that the hall is half empty):
What now! So we make our entrance like a pack of woolen-drapers!
Peaceably, without disturbing the folk, or treading on their toes!--Oh, fie!
(Recognizing some other gentlemen who have entered a little before him):
(Greetings and embraces.)
True to our word!. . .Troth, we are here before the candles are lit.
Ay, indeed! Enough! I am of an ill humor.
Nay, nay, Marquis! see, for your consolation, they are coming to light up!
ALL THE AUDIENCE (welcoming the entrance of the lighter):
Ah!. . .
(They form in groups round the lusters as they are lit. Some people have
taken their seats in the galleries. Ligniere, a distinguished-looking roue,
with disordered shirt-front arm-in-arm with christian de Neuvillette.
Christian, who is dressed elegantly, but rather behind the fashion, seems
preoccupied, and keeps looking at the boxes.)
The same. Christian, Ligniere, then Ragueneau and Le Bret.
Not drunk as yet?
LIGNIERE (aside to Christian):
I may introduce you?
(Christian nods in assent):
Baron de Neuvillette.
THE AUDIENCE (applauding as the first luster is lighted and drawn up):
CUIGY (to Brissaille, looking at Christian):
'Tis a pretty fellow!
FIRST MARQUIS (who has overheard):
LIGNIERE (introducing them to Christian):
My lords De Cuigy. De Brissaille. . .
Delighted!. . .
FIRST MARQUIS (to second):
He is not ill to look at, but certes, he is not costumed in the latest mode.
LIGNIERE (to Cuigy):
This gentleman comes from Touraine.
Yes, I have scarce been twenty days in Paris; tomorrow I join the Guards, in
FIRST MARQUIS (watching the people who are coming into the boxes):
There is the wife of the Chief-Justice.
Oranges, milk. . .
THE VIOLINISTS (tuning up):
CUIGY (to Christian, pointing to the hall, which is filling fast):
All the great world!
(They recognize and name the different elegantly dressed ladies who enter the
boxes, bowing low to them. The ladies send smiles in answer.)
Madame de Guemenee.
Madame de Bois-Dauphin.
Adored by us all!
Madame de Chavigny. . .
Who sports with our poor hearts!. . .
Ha! so Monsieur de Corneille has come back from Rouen!
THE YOUNG MAN (to his father):
Is the Academy here?
Oh, ay, I see several of them. There is Boudu, Boissat,
and Cureau de la Chambre, Porcheres, Colomby, Bourzeys,
Bourdon, Arbaud. . .all names that will live! 'Tis fine!
Attention! Here come our precieuses; Barthenoide, Urimedonte, Cassandace,
Felixerie. . .
Ah! How exquisite their fancy names are! Do you know them all, Marquis?
Ay, Marquis, I do, every one!
LIGNIERE (drawing Christian aside):
Friend, I but came here to give you pleasure. The lady comes not. I will
betake me again to my pet vice.
No, no! You, who are ballad-maker to Court and City alike, can tell me
better than any who the lady is for whom I die of love. Stay yet awhile.
THE FIRST VIOLIN (striking his bow on the desk):
(He raises his bow.)
Macaroons, lemon-drink. . .
(The violins begin to play.)
Ah! I fear me she is coquettish, and over nice and fastidious!
I, who am so poor of wit, how dare I speak to her--how address her?
This language that they speak to-day--ay, and write--confounds me;
I am but an honest soldier, and timid withal. She has ever her place,
there, on the right--the empty box, see you!
LIGNIERE (making as if to go):
I must go.
CHRISTIAN (detaining him):
I cannot. D'Assoucy waits me at the tavern, and here one dies of thirst.
THE BUFFET-GIRL (passing before him with a tray):
I will remain awhile.--Let me taste this rivesalte.
(He sits by the buffet; the girl pours some out for him.)
CRIES (from all the audience, at the entrance of a plump little man, joyously
LIGNIERE (to Christian):
'Tis the famous tavern-keeper Ragueneau.
RAGUENEAU (dressed in the Sunday clothes of a pastry-cook, going up quickly to
Sir, have you seen Monsieur de Cyrano?
LIGNIERE (introducing him to Christian):
The pastry-cook of the actors and the poets!
You do me too great honor. . .
Nay, hold your peace, Maecenas that you are!
True, these gentlemen employ me. . .
He is himself a poet of a pretty talent. . .
So they tell me.
--Mad after poetry!
'Tis true that, for a little ode. . .
You give a tart. . .
Brave fellow! He would fain fain excuse himself!
--And for a triolet, now, did you not give in exchange. . .
Some little rolls!
They were milk-rolls! And as for the theater, which you love?
Oh! to distraction!
How pay you your tickets, ha?--with cakes.
Your place, to-night, come tell me in my ear, what did it cost you?
Four custards, and fifteen cream-puffs.
(He looks around on all sides):
Monsieur de Cyrano is not here? 'Tis strange.
Ay, 'tis true that that old wine-barrel is to take Phedon's part to-night;
but what matter is that to Cyrano?
How? Know you not? He has got a hot hate for Montfleury, and so!--has
forbid him strictly to show his face on the stage for one whole month.
LIGNIERE (drinking his fourth glass):
Montfleury will play!
He can not hinder that.
Oh! oh! that I have come to see!
Who is this Cyrano?
A fellow well skilled in all tricks of fence.
Is he of noble birth?
Ay, noble enough. He is a cadet in the Guards.
(Pointing to a gentleman who is going up and down the hall as if searching for
But 'tis his friend Le Bret, yonder, who can best tell you.
(He calls him):
(Le Bret comes towards them):
Seek you for De Bergerac?
Ay, I am uneasy. . .
Is it not true that he is the strangest of men?
LE BRET (tenderly):
True, that he is the choicest of earthly beings!
And of how fantastic a presence!
Marry, 'twould puzzle even our grim painter Philippe de Champaigne to
portray him! Methinks, whimsical, wild, comical as he is, only Jacques
Callot, now dead and gone, had succeeded better, and had made of him the
maddest fighter of all his visored crew--with his triple-plumed beaver and
six-pointed doublet--the sword-point sticking up 'neath his mantle like an
insolent cocktail! He's prouder than all the fierce Artabans of whom Gascony
has ever been and will ever be the prolific Alma Mater! Above his Toby ruff
he carries a nose!--ah, good my lords, what a nose is his! When one sees it
one is fain to cry aloud, 'Nay! 'tis too much! He plays a joke on us!' Then
one laughs, says 'He will anon take it off.' But no!--Monsieur de Bergerac
always keeps it on.
LE BRET (throwing back his head):
He keeps it on--and cleaves in two any man who dares remark on it!
His sword--'tis one half of the Fates' shears!
FIRST MARQUIS (shrugging his shoulders):
He will not come!
I say he will! and I wager a fowl--a la Ragueneau.
THE MARQUIS (laughing):
(Murmurs of admiration in hall. Roxane has just appeared in her box. She
seats herself in front, the duenna at the back. Christian, who is paying the
buffet-girl, does not see her entrance.)
SECOND MARQUIS (with little cries of joy):
Ah, gentlemen! she is fearfully--terribly--ravishing!
When one looks at her one thinks of a peach smiling at a strawberry!
And what freshness! A man approaching her too near might chance to get a
bad chill at the heart!
CHRISTIAN (raising his head, sees Roxane, and catches Ligniere by the arm):
Ah! is it she?
Ay, tell me quick--I am afraid.
LIGNIERE (tasting his rivesalte in sips):
Magdaleine Robin--Roxane, so called! A subtle wit--a precieuse.
Woe is me!
Free. An orphan. The cousin of Cyrano, of whom we were now speaking.
(At this moment an elegant nobleman, with blue ribbon across his breast,
enters the box, and talks with Roxane, standing.)
Who is yonder man?
LIGNIERE (who is becoming tipsy, winking at him):
Ha! ha! Count de Guiche. Enamored of her. But wedded to the niece of
Armand de Richelieu. Would fain marry Roxane to a certain sorry fellow, one
Monsieur de Valvert, a viscount--and--accommodating! She will none of that
bargain; but De Guiche is powerful, and can persecute the daughter of a plain
untitled gentleman. More by token, I myself have exposed this cunning plan of
his to the world, in a song which. . .Ho! he must rage at me! The end hit
home. . .Listen!
(He gets up staggering, and raises his glass, ready to sing.)
Where go you?
To Monsieur de Valvert!
Have a care! It is he who will kill you
(showing him Roxane by a look):
Stay where you are--she is looking at you.
It is true!
(He stands looking at her. The group of pickpockets seeing him thus, head in
air and open-mouthed, draw near to him.)
'Tis I who am going. I am athirst! And they expect me--in the taverns!
(He goes out, reeling.)
LE BRET (who has been all round the hall, coming back to Ragueneau reassured):
No sign of Cyrano.
All the same. . .
A hope is left to me--that he has not seen the playbill!
The same, all but Ligniere. De Guiche, Valvert, then Montfleury.
A marquis (watching De Guiche, who comes down from Roxane's box, and crosses
the pit surrounded by obsequious noblemen, among them the Viscount de
He pays a fine court, your De Guiche!
Faugh!. . .Another Gascon!
Ay, but the cold, supple Gascon--that is the stuff success is made of!
Believe me, we had best make our bow to him.
(They go toward De Guiche.)
What fine ribbons! How call you the color, Count de Guiche? 'Kiss me, my
darling,' or 'Timid Fawn?'
'Tis the color called 'Sick Spaniard.'
'Faith! The color speaks truth, for, thanks to your valor, things will soon
go ill for Spain in Flanders.
I go on the stage! Will you come?
(He goes toward the stage, followed by the marquises and gentlemen. Turning,
Come you Valvert!
CHRISTIAN (who is watching and listening, starts on hearing this name):
The Viscount! Ah! I will throw full in his face my. . .
(He puts his hand in his pocket, and finds there the hand of a pickpocket who
is about to rob him. He turns round):
CHRISTIAN (holding him tightly):
I was looking for a glove.
THE PICKPOCKET (smiling piteously):
And you find a hand.
(Changing his tone, quickly and in a whisper):
Let me but go, and I will deliver you a secret.
CHRISTIAN (still holding him):
What is it?
Ligniere. . .he who has just left you. . .
CHRISTIAN (same play):
His life is in peril. A song writ by him has given offense in high places--
and a hundred men--I am of them--are posted to-night. . .
A hundred men! By whom posted?
I may not say--a secret. . .
CHRISTIAN (shrugging his shoulders):
THE PICKPOCKET (with great dignity):
. . .Of the profession.
Where are they posted?
At the Porte de Nesle. On his way homeward. Warn him.
CHRISTIAN (letting go of his wrists):
But where can I find him?
Run round to all the taverns--The Golden Wine Press, the Pine Cone, The Belt
that Bursts, The Two Torches, The Three Funnels, and at each leave a word that
shall put him on his guard.
Good--I fly! Ah, the scoundrels! A hundred men 'gainst one!
(Looking lovingly at Roxane):
Ah, to leave her!. . .
(looking with rage at Valvert):
and him!. . .But save Ligniere I must!
(He hurries out. De Guiche, the viscount, the marquises, have all disappeared
behind the curtain to take their places on the benches placed on the stage.
The pit is quite full; the galleries and boxes are also crowded.)
A BURGHER (whose wig is drawn up on the end of a string by a page in the upper
CRIES OF DELIGHT:
He is bald! Bravo, pages--ha! ha! ha!. . .
THE BURGHER (furious, shaking his fist):
LAUGHTER AND CRIES (beginning very loud, and dying gradually away):
Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!
LE BRET (astonished):
What means this sudden silence?. . .
(A spectator says something to him in a low voice):
I have just heard it on good authority.
MURMURS (spreading through the hall):
Hush! Is it he? No! Ay, I say! In the box with the bars in front! The
Cardinal! The Cardinal! The Cardinal!
The devil! We shall have to behave ourselves. . .
(A knock is heard upon the stage. Every one is motionless. A pause.)
THE VOICE OF A MARQUIS (in the silence, behind the curtain):
Snuff that candle!
ANOTHER MARQUIS (putting his head through the opening in the curtain):
(A chair is passed from hand to hand, over the heads of the spectators. The
marquis takes it and disappears, after blowing some kisses to the boxes.)
(Three knocks are heard on the stage. The curtain opens in the centre
Tableau. The marquises in insolent attitudes seated on each side of the
stage. The scene represents a pastoral landscape. Four little lusters light
the stage; the violins play softly.)
LE BRET (in a low voice to Ragueneau):
Montfleury comes on the scene?
RAGUENEAU (also in a low voice):
Ay, 'tis he who begins.
Cyrano is not here.
I have lost my wager.
'Tis all the better!
(An air on the drone-pipes is heard, and Montfleury enters, enormously stout,
in an Arcadian shepherd's dress, a hat wreathed with roses drooping over one
ear, blowing into a ribboned drone pipe.)
THE PIT (applauding):
Bravo, Montfleury! Montfleury!
MONTFLEURY (after bowing low, begins the part of Phedon):
'Heureux qui loin des cours, dans un lieu solitaire,
Se prescrit a soi-meme un exil volontaire,
Et qui, lorsque Zephire a souffle sur les bois. . .'
A VOICE (from the middle of the pit):
Villain! Did I not forbid you to show your face here for month?
(General stupor. Every one turns round. Murmurs.)
Hey?--What?--What is't?. . .
(The people stand up in the boxes to look.)
LE BRET (terrified):
King of clowns! Leave the stage this instant!
ALL THE AUDIENCE (indignantly):
But. . .
Do you dare defy me?
DIFFERENT VOICES (from the pit and the boxes):
Peace! Enough!--Play on, Montfleury--fear nothing!
MONTFLEURY (in a trembling voice):
'Heureux qui loin des cours, dans un lieu sol--'
THE VOICE (more fiercely):
Well! Chief of all the blackguards, must I come and give you a taste of my
(A hand holding a cane starts up over the heads of the spectators.)
MONTFLEURY (in a voice that trembles more and more):
'Heureux qui. . .'
(The cane is shaken.)
Off the stage!
'Heureux qui loin des cours. . .'
CYRANO (appearing suddenly in the pit, standing on a chair, his arms crossed,
his beaver cocked fiercely, his mustache bristling, his nose terrible to see):
Ah! I shall be angry in a minute!. . .
The same. Cyrano, then Bellerose, Jodelet.
MONTFLEURY (to the marquises):
Come to my help , my lords!
A MARQUIS (carelessly):
Go on! Go on!
Fat man, take warning! If you go on, I
Shall feel myself constrained to cuff your face!
And if these lords hold not their tongue
Shall feel constrained to make them taste my cane!
ALL THE MARQUISES (rising):
Enough!. . .Montfleury. . .
If he goes not quick
I will cut off his ears and slit him up!
But. . .
Out he goes!
Yet. . .
Is he not gone yet?
(He makes the gesture of turning up his cuffs):
Good! I shall mount the stage now, buffet-wise,
To carve this fine Italian sausage--thus!
MONTFLEURY (trying to be dignified):
You outrage Thalia in insulting me!
CYRANO (very politely):
If that Muse, Sir, who knows you not at all,
Could claim acquaintance with you--oh, believe
(Seeing how urn-like, fat, and slow you are)
That she would make you taste her buskin's sole!
Montfleury! Montfleury! Come--Baro's play!
CYRANO (to those who are calling out):
I pray you have a care! If you go on
My scabbard soon will render up its blade!
(The circle round him widens.)
THE CROWD (drawing back):
CYRANO (to Montfleury):
Leave the stage!
THE CROWD (coming near and grumbling):
Did some one speak?
(They draw back again.)
A VOICE (singing at the back):
Monsieur de Cyrano
Displays his tyrannies:
A fig for tyrants! What, ho!
Come! Play us 'La Clorise!'
ALL THE PIT (singing):
'La Clorise!' 'La Clorise!'. . .
Let me but hear once more that foolish rhyme,
I slaughter every man of you.
Yes Samson! Will you lend your jawbone, Sir?
A LADY (in the boxes):
'Tis most annoying!
Fair good sport!
Kss!--Montfleury. . .Cyrano!
THE PIT (wildly excited):
Ho-o-o-o-h! Quack! Cock-a-doodle-doo!
I order silence, all!
And challenge the whole pit collectively!--
I write your names!--Approach, young heroes, here!
Each in his turn! I cry the numbers out!--
Now which of you will come to ope the lists?
You, Sir? No! You? No! The first duellist
Shall be dispatched by me with honors due!
Let all who long for death hold up their hands!
Modest? You fear to see my naked blade?
Not one name?--Not one hand?--Good, I proceed!
(Turning toward the stage, where Montfleury waits in an agony):
The theater's too full, congested,--I
Would clear it out. . .If not. . .
(Puts his hand on his sword):
The knife must act!
I. . .
CYRANO (leaves his chair, and settles himself in the middle of the circle
which has formed):
I will clap my hands thrice, thus--full moon! At the third clap, eclipse
THE PIT (amused):
CYRANO (clapping his hands):
I. . .
A VOICE (in the boxes):
He stays. . .he goes. . .he stays. . .
I think. . .Gentlemen,. . .
I think 'twere wisest. . .
(Montfleury disappears as through a trap. Tempest of laughs, whistling cries,
THE WHOLE HOUSE:
Coward. . .come back!
CYRANO (delighted, sits back in his chair, arms crossed):
Come back an if you dare!
Call for the orator!
(Bellerose comes forward and bows.)
Ah! here's Bellerose!
My noble lords. . .
No! no! Jodelet!
JODELET (advancing, speaking through his nose):
Ah! bravo! good! go on!
No bravos, Sirs!
The fat tragedian whom you all love
Felt. . .
. . .was obliged to go.
A YOUNG MAN (to Cyrano):
But pray, Sir, for what reason, say,
Hate you Montfleury?
CYRANO (graciously, still seated):
Youthful gander, know
I have two reasons--either will suffice.
Primo. An actor villainous! who mouths,
And heaves up like a bucket from a well
The verses that should, bird-like, fly! Secundo--
That is my secret. . .
THE OLD BURGHER (behind him):
Shameful! You deprive us
Of the 'Clorise!' I must insist. . .
CYRANO (turning his chair toward the burgher, respectfully):
The verses of old Baro are not worth
A doit! I'm glad to interrupt. . .
THE PRECIEUSES (in the boxes):
My dear! How dares he venture!. . .
CYRANO (turning his chair toward the boxes gallantly):
Radiate, bloom, hold to our lips the cup
Of dreams intoxicating, Hebe-like!
Or, when death strikes, charm death with your sweet smiles;
Inspire our verse, but--criticise it not!
We must give back the entrance fees!
CYRANO (turning his chair toward the stage):
You make the first intelligent remark!
Would I rend Thespis' sacred mantle? Nay!
(He rises and throws a bag on the stage):
Catch then the purse I throw, and hold your peace!
THE HOUSE (dazzled):
JODELET (catching the purse dexterously and weighing it):
At this price, you've authority
To come each night, and stop 'Clorise,' Sir!
Ho!. . .Ho! Ho!. . .
E'en if you chase us in a pack!. . .
Clear out the hall!. . .
Get you all gone at once!
(The people begin to go out, while Cyrano looks on with satisfaction. But the
crowd soon stop on hearing the following scene, and remain where they are.
The women, who, with their mantles on, are already standing up in the boxes,
stop to listen, and finally reseat themselves.)
LE BRET (to Cyrano):
'Tis mad!. . .
A BORE (coming up to Cyrano):
The actor Montfleury! 'Tis shameful!
Why, he's protected by the Duke of Candal!
Have you a patron?
No patron?. . .
What! no great lord to shield you with his name?
No, I have told you twice! Must I repeat?
No! no protector. . .
(His hand on his sword):
A protectress. . .here!
But you must leave the town?
Well, that depends!
The Duke has a long arm!
But not so long
As mine, when it is lengthened out. . .
(Shows his sword):
You think not to contend?
'Tis my idea!
But. . .
Show your heels! now!
But I. . .
Or tell me why you stare so at my nose!
THE BORE (staggered):
I. . .
CYRANO (walking straight up to him):
Well, what is there strange?
THE BORE (drawing back):
Your Grace mistakes!
How now? Is't soft and dangling, like a trunk?. . .
THE BORE (same play):
I never. . .
Is it crook'd, like an owl's beak?
I. . .
Do you see a wart upon the tip?
Nay. . .
Or a fly, that takes the air there? What
Is there to stare at?
Oh. . .
What do you see?
But I was careful not to look--knew better.
And why not look at it, an if you please?
I was. . .
Oh! it disgusts you!
Unwholesome seems to you?
Or its shape?
No, on the contrary!. . .
Why then that air
Disparaging?--perchance you think it large?
THE BORE (stammering):
No, small, quite small--minute!
Minute! What now?
Accuse me of a thing ridiculous!
Heaven help me!
Old Flathead, empty-headed meddler, know
That I am proud possessing such appendice.
'Tis well known, a big nose is indicative
Of a soul affable, and kind, and courteous,
Liberal, brave, just like myself, and such
As you can never dare to dream yourself,
Rascal contemptible! For that witless face
That my hand soon will come to cuff--is all
As empty. . .
(He cuffs him.)
--of pride, of aspiration,
Of feeling, poetry--of godlike spark
Of all that appertains to my big nose,
(He turns him by the shoulders, suiting the action to the word):
As. . .what my boot will shortly come and kick!
THE BORE (running away):
help ! Call the Guard!
Take notice, boobies all,
Who find my visage's center ornament
A thing to jest at--that it is my wont--
An if the jester's noble--ere we part
To let him taste my steel, and not my boot!
DE GUICHE (who, with the marquises, has come down from the stage):
But he becomes a nuisance!
THE VISCOUNT DE VALVERT (shrugging his shoulders):
Will no one put him down?. . .
No one? But wait!
I'll treat him to. . .one of my quips!. . .See here!. . .
(He goes up to Cyrano, who is watching him, and with a conceited air):
Sir, your nose is. . .hmm. . .it is. . .very big!
THE VISCOUNT (laughing):
Is that all?. . .
What do you mean?
Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short!
You might have said at least a hundred things
By varying the tone. . .like this, suppose,. . .
Aggressive: 'Sir, if I had such a nose
I'd amputate it!' Friendly: 'When you sup
It must annoy you, dipping in your cup;
You need a drinking-bowl of special shape!'
Descriptive: ''Tis a rock!. . .a peak!. . .a cape!
--A cape, forsooth! 'Tis a peninsular!'
Curious: 'How serves that oblong capsular?
For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?'
Gracious: 'You love the little birds, I think?
I see you've managed with a fond research
To find their tiny claws a roomy perch!'
Truculent: 'When you smoke your pipe. . .suppose
That the tobacco-smoke spouts from your nose--
Do not the neighbors, as the fumes rise higher,
Cry terror-struck: "The chimney is afire"?'
Considerate: 'Take care,. . .your head bowed low
By such a weight. . .lest head o'er heels you go!'
Tender: 'Pray get a small umbrella made,
Lest its bright color in the sun should fade!'
Pedantic: 'That beast Aristophanes
Must have possessed just such a solid lump
Of flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!'
Cavalier: 'The last fashion, friend, that hook?
To hang your hat on? 'Tis a useful crook!'
Emphatic: 'No wind, O majestic nose,
Can give THEE cold!--save when the mistral blows!'
Dramatic: 'When it bleeds, what a Red Sea!'
Admiring: 'Sign for a perfumery!'
Lyric: 'Is this a conch?. . .a Triton you?'
Simple: 'When is the monument on view?'
Rustic: 'That thing a nose? Marry-come-up!
'Tis a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize turnip!'
Military: 'Point against cavalry!'
Practical: 'Put it in a lottery!
Assuredly 'twould be the biggest prize!'
Or. . .parodying Pyramus' sighs. . .
'Behold the nose that mars the harmony
Of its master's phiz! blushing its treachery!'
--Such, my dear sir, is what you might have said,
Had you of wit or letters the least jot:
But, O most lamentable man!--of wit
You never had an atom, and of letters
You have three letters only!--they spell Ass!
And--had you had the necessary wit,
To serve me all the pleasantries I quote
Before this noble audience. . .e'en so,
You would not have been let to utter one--
Nay, not the half or quarter of such jest!
I take them from myself all in good part,
But not from any other man that breathes!
DE GUICHE (trying to draw away the dismayed viscount):
Come away, Viscount!
THE VISCOUNT (choking with rage):
Hear his arrogance!
A country lout who. . .who. . .has got no gloves!
Who goes out without sleeve-knots, ribbons, lace!
True; all my elegances are within.
I do not prank myself out, puppy-like;
My toilet is more thorough, if less gay;
I would not sally forth--a half-washed-out
Affront upon my cheek--a conscience
Yellow-eyed, bilious, from its sodden sleep,
A ruffled honor,. . .scruples grimed and dull!
I show no bravery of shining gems.
Truth, Independence, are my fluttering plumes.
'Tis not my form I lace to make me slim,
But brace my soul with efforts as with stays,
Covered with exploits, not with ribbon-knots,
My spirit bristling high like your mustaches,
I, traversing the crowds and chattering groups
Make Truth ring bravely out like clash of spurs!
But, Sir. . .
I wear no gloves? And what of that?
I had one,. . .remnant of an old worn pair,
And, knowing not what else to do with it,
I threw it in the face of. . .some young fool.
Base scoundrel! Rascally flat-footed lout!
CYRANO (taking off his hat, and bowing as if the viscount had introduced
Ah?. . .and I, Cyrano Savinien
Hercule de Bergerac
THE VISCOUNT (angrily):
CYRANO (calling out as if he had been seized with the cramp):
THE VISCOUNT (who was going away, turns back):
What on earth is the fellow saying now?
CYRANO (with grimaces of pain):
It must be moved--it's getting stiff, I vow,
--This comes of leaving it in idleness!
Aie!. . .
What ails you?
The cramp! cramp in my sword!
THE VISCOUNT (drawing his sword):
You shall feel a charming little stroke!
THE VISCOUNT (contemptuously):
Poet!. . .
Ay, poet, Sir! In proof of which,
While we fence, presto! all extempore
I will compose a ballade.
Belike you know not what a ballade is.
But. . .
CYRANO (reciting, as if repeating a lesson):
Know then that the ballade should contain
Three eight-versed couplets. . .
THE VISCOUNT (stamping):
CYRANO (still reciting):
And an envoi
Of four lines. . .
You. . .
I'll make one while we fight;
And touch you at the final line.
The duel in Hotel of Burgundy--fought
By De Bergerac and a good-for-naught!
What may that be, an if you please?
THE HOUSE (in great excitement):
Give room!--Good sport!--Make place!--Fair play!--No noise!
(Tableau. A circle of curious spectators in the pit; the marquises and
officers mingled with the common people; the pages climbing on each other's
shoulders to see better. All the women standing up in the boxes. To the
right, De Guiche and his retinue. Left, Le Bret, Ragueneau, Cyrano, etc.)
CYRANO (shutting his eyes for a second):
Wait while I choose my rhymes. . .I have them now!
(He suits the action to each word):
I gayly doff my beaver low,
And, freeing hand and heel,
My heavy mantle off I throw,
And I draw my polished steel;
Graceful as Phoebus, round I wheel,
Alert as Scaramouch,
A word in your ear, Sir Spark, I steal--
At the envoi's end, I touch!
Better for you had you lain low;
Where skewer my cock? In the heel?--
In the heart, your ribbon blue below?--
In the hip, and make you kneel?
Ho for the music of clashing steel!
--What now?--A hit? Not much!
'Twill be in the paunch the stroke I steal,
When, at the envoi, I touch.
Oh, for a rhyme, a rhyme in o?--
You wriggle, starch-white, my eel?
A rhyme! a rhyme! The white feather you SHOW!
Tac! I parry the point of your steel;
--The point you hoped to make me feel;
I open the line, now clutch
Your spit, Sir Scullion--slow your zeal!
At the envoi's end, I touch.
(He declaims solemnly):
Prince, pray Heaven for your soul's weal!
I move a pace--lo, such! and such!
What ho! You reel?
(The viscount staggers. Cyrano salutes):
At the envoi's end, I touch!
(Acclamations. Applause in the boxes. Flowers and handkerchiefs are thrown
down. The officers surround Cyrano, congratulating him. Ragueneau dances for
joy. Le Bret is happy, but anxious. The viscount's friends hold him up and
bear him away.)
THE CROWD (with one long shout):
A pretty stroke!
THE CROWD (presses round Cyrano. Chorus of):
Bravo! Let me congratulate!. . .Quite unsurpassed!. . .
A WOMAN'S VOICE:
There is a hero for you!. . .
A MUSKETEER (advancing to Cyrano with outstretched hand):
Naught could be finer--I'm a judge I think;
I stamped, i' faith!--to show my admiration!
(He goes away.)
CYRANO (to Cuigy):
Who is that gentleman?
LE BRET (to Cyrano, taking his arm):
A word with you!. . .
Wait; let the rabble go!. . .
May I stay?
(Cries are heard outside.)
JODELET (who has looked out):
They hoot Montfleury!
Sic transit!. . .
(To the porters):
Sweep--close all, but leave the lights.
We sup, but later on we must return,
For a rehearsal of to-morrow's farce.
(Jodelet and Bellerose go out, bowing low to Cyrano.)
THE PORTER (to Cyrano):
You do not dine, Sir?
(The porter goes out.)
Because. . .
(Changing his tone as the porter goes away):
I have no money!. . .
LE BRET (with the action of throwing a bag):
How! The bag of crowns?. . .
Paternal bounty, in a day, thou'rt sped!
How live the next month?. . .
I have nothing left.
But what a graceful action! Think!
THE BUFFET-GIRL (coughing, behind her counter):
(Cyrano and Le Bret turn. She comes timidly forward):
Sir, my heart mislikes to know you fast.
(Showing the buffet):
See, all you need. Serve yourself!
CYRANO (taking off his hat):
Although my Gascon pride would else forbid
To take the least bestowal from your hands,
My fear of wounding you outweighs that pride,
And bids accept. . .
(He goes to the buffet):
A trifle!. . .These few grapes.
(She offers him the whole bunch. He takes a few):
Nay, but this bunch!. . .
(She tries to give him wine, but he stops her):
A glass of water fair!. . .
And half a macaroon!
(He gives back the other half.)
Take something else!
I take your hand to kiss.
(He kisses her hand as though she were a princess.)
Thank you, kind Sir!
(She goes out.)
Cyrano, Le Bret.
CYRANO (to Le Bret):
Now talk--I listen.
(He stands at the buffet, and placing before him first the macaroon):
Dinner!. . .
(then the grapes):
Dessert!. . .
(then the glass of water):
Wine!. . .
(he seats himself):
So! And now to table!
Ah! I was hungry, friend, nay, ravenous!
These fops, would-be belligerent,
Will, if you heed them only, turn your head!. . .
Ask people of good sense if you would know
The effect of your fine insolence--
CYRANO (finishing his macaroon):
The Cardinal. . .
The Cardinal--was there?
Must have thought it. . .
Original, i' faith!
But. . .
He's an author. 'Twill not fail to please him
That I should mar a brother-author's play.
You make too many enemies by far!
CYRANO (eating his grapes):
How many think you I have made to-night?
Forty, no less, not counting ladies.
Montfleury first, the bourgeois, then De Guiche,
The Viscount, Baro, the Academy. . .
Enough! I am o'erjoyed!
But these strange ways,
Where will they lead you, at the end? Explain
I in a labyrinth
Was lost--too many different paths to choose;
I took. . .
Oh! by far the simplest path. . .
Decided to be admirable in all!
LE BRET (shrugging his shoulders):
So be it! But the motive of your hate
To Montfleury--come, tell me!
Big-bellied, coarse, still deems himself a peril--
A danger to the love of lovely ladies,
And, while he sputters out his actor's part,
Makes sheep's eyes at their boxes--goggling frog!
I hate him since the evening he presumed
To raise his eyes to hers. . .Meseemed I saw
A slug crawl slavering o'er a flower's petals!
LE BRET (stupefied):
How now? What? Can it be. . .?
CYRANO (laughing bitterly):
That I should love?. . .
(Changing his tone, gravely):
And may I know?. . .You never said. . .
Come now, bethink you!. . .The fond hope to be
Beloved, e'en by some poor graceless lady,
Is, by this nose of mine for aye bereft me;
--This lengthy nose which, go where'er I will,
Pokes yet a quarter-mile ahead of me;
But I may love--and who? 'Tis Fate's decree
I love the fairest--how were't otherwise?
The fairest?. . .
Ay, the fairest of the world,
Most brilliant--most refined--most golden-haired!
Who is this lady?
She's a danger mortal,
All unsuspicious--full of charms unconscious,
Like a sweet perfumed rose--a snare of nature,
Within whose petals Cupid lurks in ambush!
He who has seen her smile has known perfection,
--Instilling into trifles grace's essence,
Divinity in every careless gesture;
Not Venus' self can mount her conch blown sea-ward,
As she can step into her chaise a porteurs,
Nor Dian fleet across the woods spring-flowered,
Light as my Lady o'er the stones of Paris!. . .
Sapristi! all is clear!
Your cousin, Madeleine Robin?
Well, but so much the better! Tell her so!
She saw your triumph here this very night!
Look well at me--then tell me, with what hope
This vile protuberance can inspire my heart!
I do not lull me with illusions--yet
At times I'm weak: in evening hours dim
I enter some fair pleasance, perfumed sweet;
With my poor ugly devil of a nose
I scent spring's essence--in the silver rays
I see some knight--a lady on his arm,
And think 'To saunter thus 'neath the moonshine,
I were fain to have my lady, too, beside!'
Thought soars to ecstasy. . .O sudden fall!
--The shadow of my profile on the wall!
LE BRET (tenderly):
My friend!. . .
My friend, at times 'tis hard, 'tis bitter,
To feel my loneliness--my own ill-favor. . .
LE BRET (taking his hand):
No, never! Think, how vilely suited
Adown this nose a tear its passage tracing!
I never will, while of myself I'm master,
let the divinity of tears--their beauty
Be wedded to such common ugly grossness.
Nothing more solemn than a tear--sublimer;
And I would not by weeping turn to laughter
The grave emotion that a tear engenders!
Never be sad! What's love?--a chance of Fortune!
CYRANO (shaking his head):
Look I a Caesar to woo Cleopatra?
A Tito to aspire to Berenice?
Your courage and your wit!--The little maid
Who offered you refreshment even now,
Her eyes did not abhor you--you saw well!
Well, how then?. . .I saw Roxane herself
Was death-pale as she watched the duel.
Her heart, her fancy, are already caught!
Put it to th' touch!
That she may mock my face?
That is the one thing on this earth I fear!
THE PORTER (introducing some one to Cyrano):
Sir, some one asks for you. . .
CYRANO (seeing the duenna):
God! her duenna!
Cyrano, Le Bret, the duenna.
THE DUENNA (with a low bow):
I was bid ask you where a certain lady
Could see her valiant cousin--but in secret.
THE DUENNA (courtesying):
Ay, Sir! She has somewhat to tell.
Somewhat?. . .
THE DUENNA (still courtesying):
Ay, private matters!
Ah, my God!
To-morrow, at the early blush of dawn,
We go to hear mass at St. Roch.
CYRANO (leaning against Le Bret):
After--what place for a few minutes' speech?
Where? Ah!. . .but. . .Ah, my God!. . .
I reflect!. . .
At--the pastry-house of Ragueneau.
Where lodges he?
The Rue--God!--St. Honore!
THE DUENNA (going):
Good. Be you there. At seven.
(The duenna goes out.)
Cyrano, Le Bret. Then actors, actresses, Cuigy, Brissaille, Ligniere, the
porter, the violinists.
CYRANO (falling into Le Bret's arms):
A rendezvous. . .from her!. . .
You're sad no more!
Ah! Let the world go burn! She knows I live!
Now you'll be calm, I hope?
CYRANO (beside himself for joy):
Calm? I now calm?
I'll be frenetic, frantic,--raving mad!
Oh, for an army to attack!--a host!
I've ten hearts in my breast; a score of arms;
No dwarfs to cleave in twain!. . .
No! Giants now!
(For a few moments the shadows of the actors have been moving on the stage,
whispers are heard--the rehearsal is beginning. The violinists are in their
A VOICE FROM THE STAGE:
Hollo there! Silence! We rehearse!
(He moves away. By the big door enter Cuigy, Brissaille, and some officers,
holding up Ligniere, who is drunk.)
Well, what now?
A lusty thrush
They're bringing you!
CYRANO (recognizing him):
Ligniere!. . .What has chanced?
He seeks you!
He dare not go home!
LIGNIERE (in a husky voice, showing him a crumpled letter):
This letter warns me. . .that a hundred men. . .
Revenge that threatens me. . .that song, you know--
At the Porte de Nesle. To get to my own house
I must pass there. . .I dare not!. . .Give me leave
To sleep to-night beneath your roof! Allow. . .
A hundred men? You'll sleep in your own bed!
CYRANO (in a terrible voice, showing him the lighted lantern held by the
porter, who is listening curiously):
Take the lantern.
(Ligniere seizes it):
Let us start! I swear
That I will make your bed to-night myself!
(To the officers):
Follow; some stay behind, as witnesses!
A hundred!. . .
Less, to-night--would be too few!
(The actors and actresses, in their costumes, have come down from the stage,
and are listening.)
But why embroil yourself?
Le Bret who scolds!
That worthless drunkard!--
CYRANO (slapping Ligniere on the shoulder):
Wherefore? For this cause;--
This wine-barrel, this cask of Burgundy,
Did, on a day, an action full of grace;
As he was leaving church, he saw his love
Take holy water--he, who is affeared
At water's taste, ran quickly to the stoup,
And drank it all, to the last drop!. . .
Indeed, that was a graceful thing!
Ay, was it not?
THE ACTRESS (to the others):
But why a hundred men 'gainst one poor rhymer?
(To the officers):
Gentlemen, when you shall see me charge,
Bear me no succor, none, whate'er the odds!
ANOTHER ACTRESS (jumping from the stage):
Oh! I shall come and see!
ANOTHER (jumping down--to an old actor):
And you?. . .
Come all--the Doctor, Isabel, Leander,
Come, for you shall add, in a motley swarm,
The farce Italian to this Spanish drama!
ALL THE WOMEN (dancing for joy):
Bravo!--a mantle, quick!--my hood!
Play us a march, gentlemen of the band!
(The violinists join the procession, which is forming. They take the
footlights, and divide them for torches):
Brave officers! next, women in costume,
And, twenty paces on--
(He takes his place):
I all alone,
Beneath the plume that Glory lends, herself,
To deck my beaver--proud as Scipio!. . .
--You hear me?--I forbid you succor me!--
One, two three! Porter, open wide the doors!
(The porter opens the doors; a view of old Paris in the moonlight is seen):
Ah!. . .Paris wrapped in night! half nebulous:
The moonlight streams o'er the blue-shadowed roofs;
A lovely frame for this wild battle-scene;
Beneath the vapor's floating scarves, the Seine
Trembles, mysterious, like a magic mirror,
And, shortly, you shall see what you shall see!
To the Porte de Nesle!
CYRANO (standing on the threshold):
Ay, to the Porte de Nesle!
(Turning to the actress):
Did you not ask, young lady, for what cause
Against this rhymer fivescore men were sent?
(He draws his sword; then, calmly):
'Twas that they knew him for a friend of mine!
(He goes out. Ligniere staggers first after him, then the actresses on the
officers' arms--the actors. The procession starts to the sound of the violins
and in the faint light of the candles.)
Cyrano de Bergerac: Characters | Act I | Act II | Act III | Act IV | Act V
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