THE FIRST ACT
A Performance at the Hôtel de Bourgogne
The Hall of the Hôtel de Bourgogne in 1640. A sort of Tennis Court,
arranged and decorated for Theatrical productions.
The Hall is a long rectangle; we see it diagonally, in such a way that
one side of it forms the back scene, which begins at the First
Entrance on the Right and runs up to the Last Entrance on the Left,
where it makes a right angle with the Stage which is seen
This Stage is provided on either hand with benches placed along the
wings. The curtain is formed by two lengths of Tapestry which can be
drawn apart. Above a Harlequin cloak, the Royal Arms. Broad steps lead
from the Stage down to the floor of the Hall. On either side of these
steps, a place for the Musicians. A row of candles serving as
footlights. Two tiers of Galleries along the side of the Hall; the
upper one divided into boxes.
There are no seats upon the Floor, which is the actual stage of our
theatre; but toward the back of the Hall, on the right, a few benches
are arranged; and underneath a stairway on the extreme right, which
leads up to the galleries, and of which only the lower portion is
visible, there is a sort of Sideboard, decorated with little tapers,
vases of flowers, bottles and glasses, plates of cake, et cetera.
Farther along, toward the centre of our stage is the Entrance to the
Hall; a great double door which opens only slightly to admit the
Audience. On one of the panels of this door, as also in other places
about the Hall, and in particular just over the Sideboard, are
Playbills in red, upon which we may read the title La
As the Curtain Rises, the Hall is dimly lighted and still empty. The
Chandeliers are lowered to the floor, in the middle of the Hall, ready
(Sound of voices outside the door. Then a
Cavalier enters abruptly.)
Halloa there!—Fifteen sols!
I enter free.
Soldier of the Household of the King!
(Turns to another Cavalier who has just
I pay nothing.
(To the Second)
The play begins at two. Plenty of time—
And here's the whole floor empty. Shall we try
(They fence with the foils which they have
—Pst! ... Flanquin! ...
(Already on stage)
(Showing games which he takes out of his
Cards. Dice. Come on.
(Sits on the floor)
Come on, old cock!
(Takes from his pocket a bit of candle, lights
it, sets it on the floor)
I have stolen
A little of my master's fire.
(To a flower girl who comes forward)
Of you, to come before they light the hall!
(Puts his arm around her)
(Receives a thrust of the foil)
(Pursuing the girl)
The Flower Girl
(Pushing away from him)
They'll see us!—
(Draws her into a dark corner)
(Sits on the floor, together with several others
who have brought packages of food)
When we come early, we have time to eat.
(Escorting his son, a boy of sixteen)
Sit here, my son.
Mark the Ace!
(Draws a bottle from under his cloak and sits
down with the others)
Here's the spot
For a jolly old sot to suck his Burgundy—
Here —in the house of the Burgundians!
(To his son)
Would you not think you were in some den of vice?
(Points with his cane at the drunkard)
(In stepping back, one of the cavaliers trips him
(He falls between the lackeys)
(Behind him as he rises, still struggling with
the Flower Girl)
(Draws his son quickly away)
Here!—And to think, my son, that in this hall
They play Rotrou!
Yes father—and Corneille!
(Dance in, holding hands and singing:)
You pages there—no nonsense!
(With wounded dignity)
Really! How could you?
(To the Second, the moment the Porter turns his
Pst!—a bit of string?
(Shows fishline with hook)
Yes—and a hook.
Up in the gallery,
And fish for wigs!
(Gathers around him several evil-looking young
Now then, you picaroons,
Perk up, and hear me mutter. Here's your bout—
Bustle around some cull, and bite his bung ...
(Calls to other pages already in the gallery)
Hey! Brought your pea-shooters?
And our peas, too!
(Blows, and showers them with peas)
What is the play this afternoon?
Who wrote that?
Balthasar Baro. What a play! ...
(He takes the Boy's arm and leads him upstage)
(To his pupils)
Lace now, on those long sleeves, you cut it off—
(Gesture with thumb and finger, as if using scissors)
(To another, pointing upward toward the
Ah, Le Cid! —Yes, the first night, I sat there—
(Gesture as of picking a pocket)
(Coming down with his son)
Great actors we shall see to-day—
(Gesture of holding the pocket with left hand,
and drawing out handkerchief with right)
(In the gallery)
Lights! Light the lights!
Bellerose, l'Epy, Beaupré, Jodelet—
(On the floor)
Here comes the orange girl.
The Orange Girl
Raspberry syrup, lemonade—
(Noise at the door)
A Falsetto Voice
What, the Marquis—on the floor?
(The Marquis enter in a little group.)
Only a few moments; they'll go and sit
On the stage presently.
(Seeing the hall half empty)
How now! We enter
Like tradespeople—no crowding, no disturbance!—
No treading on the toes of citizens?
Oh fie! Oh fie!
(He encounters two gentlemen who have already
(Looks around him.)
We are here before the candles.
Ah, be still!
You put me in a temper.
(Applauding the appearance of the
(A group gathers around the chandelier while he
lights it. A few people have already taken their place in the
gallery. Lignière enters the hall, arm in arm with Christian de
Neuvillette. Lignière is a slightly disheveled figure, dissipated and
yet distinguished looking. Christian, elegantly but rather
unfashionably dressed, appears preoccupied and keeps looking up at the
Still sober—at this hour?
May I present you?
Baron Christian de Neuvillette.
(Applauding as the lighted chandelier is hoisted
(Aside to Brissaille, looking at Christian)
A fine head, is it not? The profile ...
(Who has overheard)
(Presenting them to Christian)
Messieurs de Cuigy ... de Brissaille ...
(To the second)
He is not ill-looking; possibly a shade
Behind the fashion.
Monsieur is recently
From the Touraine.
Yes, I have been in Paris
Two or three weeks only. I join the Guards
(Watching the people who come into the boxes)
Look—Madame la Présidente
The Orange Girl
La ... la ...
(To Christian, calling his attention to the
An audience to-day!
A brilliant one.
Oh yes, all our own people—the gay world!
(They name the ladies who enter the boxes
elaborately dressed. Bows and smiles are exchanged.)
Madame de Guéméné ...
De Bois-Dauphin ...
Whom we adore—
Madame de Chavigny ...
Who plays with all our hearts—
Why, there's Corneille
Returned from Rouen!
(To his father)
Are the Academy
I see some of them ... there's Boudu—
Bourzeys—Bourdon—Arbaut— Ah, those great names,
Never to be forgotten!
Our Intellectuals! Barthénoide,
Urimédonte, Félixérie ...
How exquisite their surnames are! Marquis,
You know them all?
I know them all, Marquis!
(Draws Christian aside)
My dear boy, I came here to serve you— Well,
But where's the lady? I'll be going.
A little longer! She is always here.
Please! I must find some way of meeting her.
I am dying of love! And you—you know
Everyone, the whole court and the whole town,
And put them all into your songs—at least
You can tell me her name!
The First Violin
(Raps on his desk with his bow)
(Raises his bow)
The Orange Girl
Then she may be
One of those aesthetes ... Intellectuals,
You call them— How can I talk to a woman
In that style? I have no wit. This fine manner
Of speaking and of writing nowadays—
Not for me! I am a soldier—and afraid.
That's her box, on the right—the empty one.
(Starts for the door)
I am going.
Not I. There's a tavern
Not far away—and I am dying of thirst.
The Orange Girl
(Passes with her tray)
The Orange Girl
The Orange Girl
I'll stay a little.
(To the Girl)
Let me see
(He sits down by the sideboard. The Girl pours
out wine for him.)
(In the crowd about the door, upon the entrance
of a spruce little man, rather fat, with a beaming smile)
Poet and pastry-cook—a character!
(Dressed like a confectioner in his Sunday
clothes, advances quickly to Lignière)
Sir, have you seen Monsieur de Cyrano?
(Presents him to Christian)
Permit me ... Ragueneau, confectioner,
The chief support of modern poetry.
Oh—too much honor!
Patron of the Arts—
Maecenas! Yes, you are—
The poets gather round my hearth.
Himself a poet—
So they say—
It is true that for an ode—
You give a tart—
And for a triolet you give—
Bread and milk! And you love the theatre?
I adore it!
Well, pastry pays for all.
Your place to-day now— Come, between ourselves,
What did it cost you?
Four pies; fourteen cakes.
But— Cyrano not here? Astonishing!
Why— Montfleury plays!
Yes, I hear
That hippopotamus assumes the role
Of Phédon. What is that to Cyrano?
Have you not heard? Monsieur de Bergerac
So hates Montfleury, he has forbidden him
For three weeks to appear upon the stage.
(Who is, by this time, at his fourth glass)
(Strolls over to them)
Is what I came to see.
Who is he?
Oh, he is the lad with the long sword.
Sufficiently; he is in the Guards.
(Points to a gentleman who comes and goes about
the hall as though seeking for someone)
His friend Le Bret can tell you more.
(Calls to him)
(Le Bret comes down to them)
Looking for Bergerac?
Yes. And for trouble.
Is he not an extraordinary man?
The best friend and the bravest soul alive!
Such a remarkable appearance, too!
Truly, I should not look to find his portrait
By the grave hand of Philippe de Champagne.
He might have been a model for Callot—
One of those wild swashbucklers in a masque—
Hat with three plumes, and doublet with six points—
His cloak behind him over his long sword
Cocked, like the tail of strutting Chanticleer—
Prouder than all the swaggering Tamburlaines
Hatched out of Gascony. And to complete
This Punchinello figure—such a nose!—
My lords, there is no such nose as that nose—
You cannot look upon it without crying: "Oh, no,
Impossible! Exaggerated!" Then
You smile, and say: "Of course— I might have known;
Presently he will take it off." But that
Monsieur de Bergerac will never do.
He keeps it—and God help the man who smiles!
His sword is one half of the shears of Fate!
He will not come.
Will he not? Sir, I'll lay you
A pullet à la Ragueneau!
(Murmurs of admiration; Roxane has just appeared
in her box. She sits at the front of the box, and her Duenna takes a
seat toward the rear. Christian, busy paying the Orange Girl, does not
see her at first.)
(With little excited cries)
Oh! Oh! Sweet sirs, look yonder! Is she not
Bloom of the peach—
Blush of the strawberry—
So fresh—so cool,
That our hearts, grown all warm with loving her,
May catch their death of cold!
(Looks up, sees Roxane, and seizes Lignière by
There! Quick—up there—
In the box! Look!—
Quickly— Her name?
(Sipping his wine, and speaking between sips)
Madeleine Robin, called Roxane ... refined ...
No title ... rich enough ... an orphan ... cousin
To Cyrano ... of whom we spoke just now ...
(At this point, a very distinguished looking
gentleman, the Cordon Bleu
around his neck, enters the box, and stands a moment talking with
And the man? ...
(Beginning to feel his wine a little; cocks his
eye at them.)
Oho! That man? ... Comte de Guiche ...
In love with her ... married himself, however,
To the niece of the Cardinal—Richelieu ...
Wishes Roxane, therefore, to marry one
Monsieur de Valvert... Vicomte ... friend of his ...
A somewhat melancholy gentleman ...
But... well, accommodating! ... She says No ...
Nevertheless, de Guiche is powerful ...
Not above persecuting ...
(He rises, swaying a little, and very happy.)
I have written
A little song about his little game ...
Good little song, too ... Here, I'll sing it for you ...
Make de Guiche furious ... naughty little song ...
Not so bad, either— Listen! ...
(He stands with his glass held aloft, ready to
To Monsieur de Valvert!
Careful! The man's a swordsman ...
(Nods toward Roxane, who is watching
Looking at you—
(He forgets everything, and stands spellbound,
gazing toward Roxane. The Cut-Purse and his crew, observing him
transfixed, his eyes raised and his mouth half open, begin edging in
Oh! Very well,
Then I'll be leaving you ... Good day ... Good day! ...
(Christian remains motionless.)
Everywhere else, they like to hear me sing!—
Also, I am thirsty.
(He goes out, navigating carefully. Le Bret,
having made the circuit of the hall, returns to Ragueneau, somewhat
No sign anywhere
Wait and see!
Humph! I hope
He has not seen the bill.
The play!— The play!—
(Observing de Guiche, as he descends from
Roxane's box and crosses the floor, followed by a knot of obsequious
gentlemen, the Vicomte de Valvert among them.)
This man de Guiche—what ostentation!
Gascon, yes—but cold
And calculating—certain to succeed—
My word for it. Come, shall we make our bow?
We shall be none the worse, I promise you ...
(They go toward de Guiche.)
Beautiful ribbons, Count! That color, now,
What is it—"Kiss-me-Dear" or "Startled-Fawn"?
I call that shade "The Dying Spaniard".
And no false colors either—thanks to you
And your brave troops, in Flanders before long
The Spaniard will die daily.
Shall we go
And sit upon the stage? Come, Valvert.
(Starts at the name)
The Vicomte— Ah, that scoundrel! Quick—my glove—
I'll throw it in his face—
(Reaching into his pocket for his glove, he
catches the hand of the Cut-Purse)
(Holding fast to the man's wrist)
Who are you?
I was looking for a glove—
You found a hand.
Let me go— I can tell you something—
(Still holding him)
Lignière—that friend of yours—
Good as dead—
Understand? Ambuscaded. Wrote a song
About—no matter. There's a hundred men
Waiting for him to-night—I'm one of them.
A hundred? Who arranged this?
Where are they to be?
Porte de Nesle. On his way home. Tell him so.
Save his life.
(Releases the man)
Yes, but where am I to find him?
Go round the taverns. There's the Golden Grape,
The Pineapple, the Bursting Belt, the Two
Torches, the Three Funnels—in every one
You leave a line of writing—understand?
To warn him.
(Starts for the door)
I'll go! God, what swine—a hundred
Against one man! ...
(Stops and looks longingly at Roxane)
Leave her here!—
(Savagely, turning toward Valvert)
And leave him! —
I must save Lignière!
(De Guiche, Valvert, and all the Marquis have
disappeared through the curtains, to take their seats upon the
stage. The floor is entirely filled; not a vacant seat remains in the
gallery or in the boxes.)
The play! The play!
Begin the play!
(As his wig is hoisted into the air on the end of
a fishline, in the hands of a page in the gallery)
Cries of Joy
He's bald! Bravo,
You pages! Ha ha ha!
(Furious, shakes his fist at the boy)
Here, you young villain!
Cries of Laughter
(Beginning very loud, then suddenly
HA HA! Ha Ha! ha ha...
That sudden hush? ...
(A Spectator whispers in his ear.)
I was told on good authority ...
(Here and there)
What? ... Here? ... No ... Yes ... Look—in the latticed
The Cardinal! ... The Cardinal! ...
Now we shall all have to behave ourselves!
(Three raps on the stage. The audience becomes
The Voice of a Marquis
(From the stage, behind the curtains)
Snuff that candle!
(Puts his head out through the curtains.)
A chair! ...
(A chair is passed from hand to hand over the
heads of the crowd. He takes it, and disappears behind the curtains,
not without having blown a few kisses to the occupants of the
Hssh! ... Hssh! ...
(Again the three raps on the stage. The curtains
part. Tableau. The Marquis seated on their chairs to right and left of
the stage, insolently posed. Back drop representing a pastoral scene,
bluish in tone. Four little crystal chandeliers light up the
stage. The violins play softly.)
(In a low tone, to Ragueneau)
Montfleury enters now?
Opens the play.
Then Cyrano is not here!
I lose ...
So much the better!
(The melody of a Musette is heard. Montfleury
appears upon the scene, a ponderous figure in the costume of a rustic
shepherd, a hat garlanded with roses tilted over one ear, playing upon
a beribboned pastoral pipe)
Montfleury! ... Bravo! ...
(After bowing to the applause, begins the role of
"Thrice happy he who hides from pomp and power
In sylvan shade or solitary bower;
Where balmy zephyrs fan his burning cheeks—"
(From the midst of the hall)
Wretch. Have I not forbade you these three weeks?
(Sensation. Everyone turns to look. Murmurs)
What? ... Where? ... Who is it? ...
King of clowns! Leave the stage— at once!
You disobey me?
(From the floor, from the boxes)
Hsh! Go on—
Quiet!—Go on, Montfleury!—Who's afraid?—
(In a voice of no great assurance)
"Thrice happy he who hides from .. "
Well? Well? Well?...
Monarch of mountebanks! Must I come and plant
A forest on your shoulders?
(A cane at the end of a long arm shakes above the
heads of the crowd.)
(In a voice increasingly feeble)
(The cane is violently agitated.)
(Arises in the centre of the floor, erect upon a
chair, his arms folded, his hat cocked ferociously, his moustache
bristling, his nose terrible.)
Presently I shall grow angry!
(Sensation at his appearance)
(To the Marquis)
If you protect me—
If you dare breathe one balmy zephyr more,
I'll fan your cheeks for you!
Quiet down there!
Unless these gentlemen retain their seats,
My cane may bite their ribbons!
All the Marquis
(On their feet)
That will do!—
Fly, goose! Shoo! Take to your wings,
Before I pluck your plumes, and draw your gorge!
(Turns back his cuffs deliberately.)
Very good—then I enter— Left — with knife —
To carve this large Italian sausage.
(Desperately attempting dignity)
When you insult me, you insult the Muse!
(With great politeness)
Sir, if the Muse, who never knew your name,
Had the honor to meet you—then be sure
That after one glance at that face of yours,
That figure of a mortuary urn—
She would apply her buskin—toward the rear!
Montfleury! ... Montfleury! ... The play! The play!
(To those who are shouting and crowding about
Pray you, be gentle with my scabbard here—
She'll put her tongue out at you presently!—
(The circle enlarges.)
(Pushing in closer, and growling.)
Ahr! ... ahr! ...
(Turns upon them.)
Did someone speak?
(They recoil again.)
(In the back of the hall, sings.)
Monsieur de Cyrano
Must be another Caesar—
Let Brutus lay him low,
And play us "La Clorise"!
All the Crowd
"La Clorise!" "La Clorise!"
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
(In one of the boxes)
What an outrage!
What a game!
Woof! Woof! Baaa! Cockadoo!
I say be silent!—
(His voice dominates the uproar. Momentary
And I offer
One universal challenge to you all!
Approach, young heroes—I will take your names.
Each in his turn—no crowding! One, two, three—
Come, get your numbers—who will head the list—
You sir? No— You? Ah, no. To the first man
Who falls I'll build a monument! ... Not one?
Will all who wish to die, please raise their hands? ...
I see. You are so modest, you might blush
Before a sword naked. Sweet innocence! ...
Not one name? Not one finger? ... Very well,
Then I go on:
(Turning back towards the stage, where Montfleury
waits in despair.)
I'd have our theatre cured
Of this carbuncle. Or if not, why then—
(His hand on his sword hilt.)
(Descends from his chair, seats himself
comfortably in the centre of the circle which has formed around him,
and makes himself quite at home.)
Attend to me—full moon!
I clap my hands, three times—thus. At the third
You will eclipse yourself.
(From the boxes)
He'll go— He'll stay—
I really think,
Perhaps I had better—
(Montfleury disappears, as if through a
trapdoor. Tempest of laughter, hoots and hisses.)
Yah!—Coward— Come back—
(Beaming, drops back in his chair and crosses his
Let him—if he dare!
The Manager! Speech! Speech!
(Bellerose advances and bows.)
Most noble—most fair—
No! The Comedian—
(Advances, and speaks through his nose.)
Lewd fellows of the baser sort—
Ha! Ha! Not bad! Bravo!
No Bravos here!
Our heavy tragedian with the voluptuous bust
Was taken suddenly—
I mean ...
He had to be excused—
Call him back— No!—
After all, Monsieur, what reason have you
To hate this Montfleury?
(Graciously, still seated)
My dear young man,
I have two reasons, either one alone
Conclusive. Primo: A lamentable actor,
Who mouths his verse and moans his tragedy,
And heaves up— Ugh!—like a hod-carrier, lines
That ought to soar on their own wings. Secundo: —
Well—that's my secret.
The Old Citizen
But you close the play—
"La Clorise"—by Baro! Are we to miss
Our entertainment, merely—
(Respectfully, turns his chair toward the old
My dear old boy,
The poetry of Baro being worth
Zero, or less, I feel that I have done
(In the boxes)
My dear!—Who ever?—Ah, dieu! The idea!—
(Gallantly, turns his chair toward the boxes)
Fair ladies—shine upon us like the sun,
Blossom like the flowers around us—be 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!
Quite so!—and the mere money—possibly
You would like that returned— Yes?
You speak the first word of intelligence!
I will not wound the mantle of the Muse—
(Throws him a purse)
And hold your tongue.
(Deftly catches the purse, weighs it in his
You are hereby authorized to close our play
Every night, on the same terms.
Let us be booed together, you and I!
Kindly pass out quietly ...
(They begin to go out, while Cyrano looks about
him with satisfaction. But the exodus ceases presently during the
ensuing scene. The ladies in the boxes who have already risen and put
on their wraps, stop to listen, and finally sit down again.)
(Hurries up to Cyrano.)
But what a scandal! Montfleury—
The great Montfleury! Did you know the
Duc de Candale was his patron? Who is yours?
No one—no patron?
I said no.
What, no great lord, to cover with his name—
(With visible annoyance)
No, I have told you twice. Must I repeat?
No sir, no patron—
(His hand on his sword)
But a patroness!
And when do you leave Paris?
That's as may be.
The Duc de Candale has a long arm,
(Drawing his sword)
by three feet of steel.
But do you dream of daring—
I do dream
Of daring ...
You may go now.
You may go—
Or tell me why are you staring at my nose!
(Stepping up to him)
Does it astonish you?
Is it long and soft
And dangling, like a trunk?
I never said—
Or crooked, like an owl's beak?
A pimple ornaments the end of it?
Or a fly parading up and down?
What is this portent?
But I have been careful not to look—
Not, if you please?
It disgusts you, then?
My dear sir—
Does its color appear to you
Oh, by no means!
Or its form
Not in the least—
Then why assume
This deprecating manner? Possibly
You find it just a trifle large?
Small, very small, infinitesimal—
How? You accuse me of absurdity?
Small— my nose? Why—
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,
Virile, courageous—as I am—and such
As you—poor wretch—will never dare to be
Even in imagination. For that face—
That blank, inglorious concavity
Which my right hand finds—
(He strikes him.)
—on top of you,
Is as devoid of pride, of poetry,
Of soul, of picturesqueness, of contour,
Of character, of NOSE in short—as that
(Takes him by the shoulders and turns him around,
suiting the action to the word)
Which at the end of that limp spine of yours
My left foot—
Help! The Guard!
Take notice, all
Who find this feature of my countenance
A theme for comedy! When the humorist
Is noble, then my custom is to show
Appreciation proper to his rank—
More heartfelt ... and more pointed....
(Who has come down from the stage, surrounded by
This fellow will grow tiresome.
Oh, he blows
Well—will no one interfere?
Observe. I myself will proceed
To put him in his place.
(He walks up to Cyrano, who has been watching
him, and stands there, looking him over with an affected air.)
Ah ... your nose ... hem! ...
Your nose is ... rather large!
Is that all?
(Turns away with a shrug)
Well, of course—
Ah, no, young sir!
You are too simple. Why, you might have said—
Oh, a great many things! Mon dieu, why waste
Your opportunity? For example, thus:—
Aggressive: I, sir, if that nose were mine,
I'd have it amputated—on the spot!
Friendly: How do you drink with such a nose?
You ought to have a cup made specially.
Descriptive: 'Tis a rock—a crag—a cape—
A cape? say rather, a peninsula!
Inquisitive: What is that receptacle—
A razor-case or a portfolio?
Kindly: Ah, do you love the little birds
So much that when they come and sing to you,
You give them this to perch on? Insolent:
Sir, when you smoke, the neighbors must suppose
Your chimney is on fire. Cautious: Take care—
A weight like that might make you topheavy.
Thoughtful: Somebody fetch my parasol—
Those delicate colors fade so in the sun!
Pedantic: Does not Aristophanes
Mention a mythologic monster called
Surely we have here the original!
Familiar : Well, old torchlight! Hang your hat
Over that chandelier—it hurts my eyes.
Eloquent: When it blows, the typhoon howls,
And the clouds darken. Dramatic: When it bleeds—
The Red Sea! Enterprising: What a sign
For some perfumer! Lyric: Hark—the horn
Of Roland calls to summon Charlemagne!—
Simple: When do they unveil the monument?
Respectful: Sir, I recognize in you
A man of parts, a man of prominence—
Rustic: Hey? What? Call that a nose? Na na—
I be no fool like what you think I be—
That there's a blue cucumber! Military:
Point against cavalry! Practical: Why not
A lottery with this for the grand prize?
Or—parodying Faustus in the play—
"Was this the nose that launched a thousand ships
And burned the topless towers of Ilium?"
These, my dear sir, are things you might have said
Had you some tinge of letters, or of wit
To color your discourse. But wit,—not so,
You never had an atom—and of letters,
You need but three to write you down—an Ass.
Moreover,—if you had the invention, here
Before these folks to make a jest of me—
Be sure you would not then articulate
The twentieth part of half a syllable
Of the beginning! For I say these things
Lightly enough myself, about myself,
But I allow none else to utter them.
(Tries to lead away the amazed Valvert.)
Oh— These arrogant grand airs!—
A clown who—look at him—not even gloves!
No ribbons—no lace—no buckles on his shoes—
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 away—a conscience
Yellow with unpurged bile—an 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 name—no figure of a man,
But a soul clothed in shining armor, hung
With deeds for decorations, twirling—thus—
A bristling wit, and swinging at my side
Courage, and cm the stones of this old town
Making the sharp truth ring, like golden spurs!
But I have no gloves! A pity too!
I had one—the last one of an old pair—
And lost that. Very careless of me. Some
Gentleman offered me an impertinence.
I left it—in his face.
Dolt, bumpkin, fool,
Insolent puppy, jobbernowl!
(Removes his hat and bows.)
(Cries out as if suddenly taken with a
Well, what now?
(With grimaces of anguish)
I must do something to relieve these cramps—
This is what comes of lack of exercise—
What is all this?
My sword has gone to sleep?
So be it!
You shall die exquisitely.
Why yes, a poet, if you will;
So while we fence, I'll make you a Ballade
Yes. You know
What that is?
The Ballade, sir, is formed
Of three stanzas of eight lines each—
And a refrain of four.
One, while I fight with you; and at the end
Of the last line—thrust home!
"Ballade of the duel at the Hôtel de Bourgogne
Between de Bergerac and a Boeotian."
What do you mean by that?
Oh, that? The title.
Down in front!
(Tableau. A ring of interested spectators in the
centre of the floor, the Marquis and the Officers mingling with the
citizens and common folk. Pages swarming up on men's shoulders to see
better; the Ladies in the boxes standing and leaning over. To the
right, De Guiche and his following; to the left, Le Bret, Cuigy,
Ragueneau, and others of Cyrano's friends.)
(Closes his eyes for an instant.)
Stop ... Let me choose my rimes.... Now! Here we go—
(He suits the action to the word, throughout the
Lightly I toss my hat away,
Languidly over my arm let fall
The cloak that covers my bright array—
Then out swords, and to work withal!
A Launcelot, in his Lady's hall ...
A Spartacus, at the Hippodrome! ...
I dally awhile with you, dear jackal,
Then, as I end the refrain, thrust home!
(The swords cross — the fight is on.)
Where shall I skewer my peacock? ... Nay,
Better for you to have shunned this brawl!—
Here, in the heart, thro' your ribbons gay?
—In the belly, under your silken shawl?
Hark, how the steel rings musical!
Mark how my point floats, light as the foam,
Ready to drive you back to the wall,
Then, as I end the refrain, thrust home!
Ho, for a rime! ... You are white as whey—
You break, you cower, you cringe, you ... crawl!
Tac!—and I parry your last essay:
So may the turn of a hand forestall
Life with its honey, death with its gall;
So may the turn of my fancy roam
Free, for a time, till the rimes recall,
Then, as I end the refrain, thrust home!
(He announces solemnly.)
Prince! Pray God, that is Lord of all,
Pardon your soul, for your time has come!
Beat—pass—fling you aslant, asprawl—
Then, as I end the refrain ...
(He lunges; Valvert staggers back and falls into
the arms of his friends. Cyrano recovers, and salutes.)
(Shouts. Applause from the boxes. Flowers and
handkerchiefs come fluttering down. The Officers surround Cyrano and
congratulate him. Ragueneau dances for joy. Le Bret is unable to
conceal his enthusiasm. The friends of Valvert hold him up and help
(In one long cry)
(Thronging around Cyrano)
A Woman's Voice
Why, he's a hero!
(Advances quickly to Cyrano, with outstretched
Monsieur, will you
Permit me?—It was altogether fine!
I think I may appreciate these things—
Moreover, I have been stamping for pure joy!
(He retires quickly.)
What was that gentleman's name?
Oh ... D'Artagnan.
(Takes Cyrano's arm.)
Come here and tell me—
Let this crowd go first—
May we stay?
(With great respect)
(Cries and cat-calls off stage.)
(Comes down from the door where he has been
They are hooting him.
"Sic transit gloria!"
(Changes his tone and shouts to the Porter and
—Strike! ... Close the house! ... Leave the lights—We rehearse
The new farce after dinner.
(Jodelet and Bellerose go out after elaborately
You do not dine?
(The Porter turns away.)
(Changing his tone when he sees the Porter has
Because I have
(Gesture of tossing)
But—the purse of gold?
So you have, until
The first of next month—?
What a fool!—
But—what a gesture!
The Orange Girl
(Behind her little counter; coughs.)
(Cyrano and Le Bret look around; she advances
Pardon, monsieur ...
A man ought never to go hungry ...
(Indicating the sideboard)
I have everything here
My dear child,
I cannot bend this Gascon pride of mine
To accept such a kindness— Yet, for fear
That I may give you pain if I refuse,
I will take ...
(He goes to the sideboard and makes his
Oh, not very much! A grape ...
(She gives him the bunch; he removes a single
One only! And a glass of water ...
(She starts to pour wine into it; he stops
And ... half a macaroon!
(He gravely returns the other half.)
The Orange Girl
Please!— Nothing more?
Why yes— Your hand to kiss.
(He kisses the hand which she holds out, as he
would the hand of a princess.)
The Orange Girl
Thank you, sir.
(She goes out.)
Now, I am listening.
(Plants himself before the sideboard and arranges
thereon — )
(— the macaroon)
(— the glass of water)
(— the grape.)
There—now I'll sit down.
Lord, I was hungry! Abominably!
These fatheads with the bellicose grand airs
Will have you ruined if you listen to them;
Talk to a man of sense and hear how all
Your swagger impresses him.
(Finishes his macaroon)
Was he there?
He must have thought you—
He is himself
A playwright. He will not be too displeased
That I have closed another author's play.
But look at all the enemies you have made!
(Begins on the grape.)
How many—do you think?
Without the women,
Baro, de Guiche, the Vicomte, the Old Man,
All the Academy—
Enough! You make me
But where is all this leading you?
What is your plan?
I have been wandering—
Wasting my force upon too many plans.
Now I have chosen one.
To make myself in all things admirable!
Hmph!— Well, then, the real reason why you hate
Montfleury—Come, the truth, now!
Who cannot hold his belly in his arms,
Still dreams of being sweetly dangerous
Among the women—sighs and languishes,
Making sheeps' eyes out of his great frog's face—
I hate him ever since one day he dared
Oh, my friend, I seemed to see
Over some flower a great snail crawling!
What? Is it possible?—
(With a bitter smile)
For me to love? ...
(Changing his tone; seriously)
May I know? You have never said—
Whom I love? Think a moment. Think of me—
Me, whom the plainest woman would despise—
Me, with this nose of mine that marches on
Before me by a quarter of an hour!
Whom should I love? Why—of course—it must be
The woman in the world most beautiful.
In all this world—most sweet;
Also most wise; most witty; and most fair!
Who and what is this woman?
Mortally, without meaning; exquisite
Without imagining. Nature's own snare
To allure manhood. A white rose wherein
Love lies in ambush for his natural prey.
Who knows her smile has known a perfect thing.
She creates grace in her own image, brings
Heaven to earth in one movement of her hand—
Nor thou, O Venus! balancing thy shell
Over the Mediterranean blue, nor thou,
Diana! marching through broad, blossoming woods,
Art so divine as when she mounts her chair,
And goes abroad through Paris!
Oh, well—of course,
That makes everything clear!
Madeleine Robin—your cousin?
And why not? If you love her, tell her so!
You have covered yourself with glory in her eyes
This very day.
My old friend—look at me,
And tell me how much hope remains for me
With this protuberance! Oh I have no more
Illusions! Now and then—bah! I may grow
Tender, walking alone in the blue cool
Of evening, through some garden fresh with flowers
After the benediction of the rain;
My poor big devil of a nose inhales
April... and so I follow with my eyes
Where some boy, with a girl upon his arm,
Passes a patch of silver ... and I feel
Somehow, I wish I had a woman too,
Walking with little steps under the moon,
And holding my arm so, and smiling. Then
I dream—and I forget ...
And then I see
The shadow of my profile on the wall!
My friend! ...
My friend, I have my bitter days,
Knowing myself so ugly, so alone.
Oh, not that ever! No,
That would be too grotesque—tears trickling down
All the long way along this nose of mine?
I will not so profane the dignity
Of sorrow. Never any tears for me!
Why, there is nothing more sublime than tears,
Nothing!—Shall I make them ridiculous
In my poor person?
Love's no more than chance!
(Shakes his head.)
No. I love Cleopatra; do I appear
Caesar? I adore Beatrice; have I
The look of Dante?
But your wit—your courage—
Why, that poor child who offered you just now
Your dinner! She—you saw with your own eyes,
Her eyes did not avoid you.
That is true ...
Well then! Roxane herself, watching your duel,
Her lips parted, her hand
Thus, at her breast— I saw it! Speak to her
Through my nose? She might laugh at me;
That is the one thing in this world I fear!
(Followed by the Duenna, approaches Cyrano
A lady asking for Monsieur.
Mon dieu ...
(A sweeping curtsey)
A message for you:
From our good cousin we desire to know
When and where we may see him privately.
To see me?
(An elaborate reverence)
To see you. We have certain things
To tell you.
Mon dieu! ...
To-morrow, at the first flush of the dawn,
To hear Mass at St Roch. Then afterwards,
Where can we meet and talk a little?
(Catching Le Bret's arm)
I— Ah, mon dieu!... mon dieu! ...
I am thinking ...
And you think?
I... The shop of Ragueneau
Mon dieu! ...
Oh, yes ... Ah, mon dieu! ... Rue St.-Honoré.
We are agreed. Remember—seven o'clock.
I'll be there.
(The Duenna goes out.)
(Falls into the arms of Le Bret.)
Me ... to see me! ...
You are not quite so gloomy.
She knows that I exist—no matter why!
So now, you are going to be happy.
I—I am going to be a storm—a flame—
I need to fight whole armies all alone;
I have ten hearts; I have a hundred arms; I feel
Too strong to war with mortals—
(He shouts at the top of his voice.)
BRING ME GIANTS!
(A moment since, the shadows of the comedians
have been visible moving and posturing upon the stage. The violins
have taken their places.)
(From the stage)
Hey—pst—less noise! We are rehearsing here!
We are going.
(He turns up stage. Through the street door enter
Cuigy, Brissaille, and a number of officers, supporting Lignière, who
is now thoroughly drunk.)
What is it?
Here's your stray lamb!
Lignière—What's wrong with him?
He wants you.
He's afraid to go home.
(Showing a crumpled scrap of paper and speaking
with the elaborate logic of profound intoxication.)
This letter—hundred against one—that's me—
I'm the one—all because of little song—
Good song— Hundred men, waiting, understand?
Porte de Nesle—way home— Might be dangerous—
Would you permit me spend the night with you?
A hundred—is that all? You are going home!
(In a voice of thunder, indicating the lighted
lantern which the Porter holds up curiously as he regards the
Take that lantern!
(Lignière precipitately seizes the lantern.)
Forward march! I say
I'll be the man to-night that sees you home.
(To the officers)
You others follow—I want an audience!
A hundred against one—
Those are the odds
(The Comedians in their costumes are descending
from the stage and joining the group.)
But why help this—
There goes Le Bret
—This drunkard here?
(His hand on Le Bret's shoulder.)
Because this drunkard—
This tun of sack, this butt of Burgundy—
Once in his life has done one lovely thing:
After the Mass, according to the form,
He saw, one day, the lady of his heart
Take holy water for a blessing. So
This one, who shudders at a drop of rain,
This fellow here—runs headlong to the font
Bends down and drinks it dry!
I say that was
A pretty thought!
Ah, was it not?
(To the others)
Against one poor poet, a hundred men?
(To the officers)
And you gentlemen, remember now,
No rescue— Let me fight alone.
(Jumps down from the stage.)
I'm going to watch—
(Jumps down, speaks to a Comedian costumed as an
Come all of you—the Doctor, Isabelle,
Leandre—the whole company—a swarm
Of murmuring, golden bees—we'll parody
Italian farce and Tragedy-of-Blood;
Ribbons for banners, masks for blazonry,
And tambourines to be our rolling drums!
All the Women
(Jumping for joy.)
Bravo!—My hood— My cloak— Hurry!
(To the violins)
You violins—play us an overture—
(The violins join the procession which is
forming. The lighted candles are snatched from the stage and
distributed; it becomes a torchlight procession.)
Bravo!—Officers— Ladies in costume—
And twenty paces in advance ...
(He takes his station as he speaks.)
Alone, with glory fluttering over me,
Alone as Lucifer at war with heaven!
Remember—no one lifts a hand to help—
Ready there? One ... two ... three! Porter, the doors! ...
(The Porter flings wide the great doors. We see
in the dim moonlight a comer of old Paris, purple and
Look—Paris dreams—nocturnal, nebulous,
Under blue moonbeams hung from wall to wall—
Nature's own setting for the scene we play!—
Yonder, behind her veil of mist, the Seine,
Like a mysterious and magic mirror
And you shall see what you shall see!
To the Porte de Nesle!
(Erect upon the threshold)
To the Porte de Nesle!
(He turns back for a moment to the Soubrette)
Did you not ask, my dear, why against one
Singer they send a hundred swords?
(Quietly, drawing his own sword)
They know this one man for a friend of mine!
(He goes out. The procession follows: Lignière
zigzagging at its head, then the Comediennes on the arms of the
Officers, then the Comedians, leaping and dancing as they go. It
vanishes into the night to the music of the violins, illuminated by
the flickering glimmer of the candles.)
THE SECOND ACT
The Bakery of the Poets
The Shop of Ragueneau, Baker and Pastrycook: a spacious affair at the
corner of the Rue St.-Honoré and the Rue de l'Arbre Sec. The street,
seen vaguely through the glass panes in the door at the back, is gray
in the first light of dawn.
In the foreground, at the Left, a Counter is surmounted by a Canopy of
wrought iron from which are hanging ducks, geese, and white
peacocks. Great crockery jars hold bouquets of common flowers, yellow
sunflowers in particular. On the same side farther back, a huge
fireplace; in front of it, between great andirons, of which each one
supports a little saucepan, roast fowls revolve and weep into their
dripping-pans. To the Right at the First Entrance, a door. Beyond it,
Second Entrance, a staircase leads up to a little dining-room under
the eaves, its interior visible through open shutters. A table is set
there and a tiny Flemish candlestick is lighted; there one may retire
to eat and drink in private. A wooden gallery, extending from the head
of the stairway, seems to lead to other little dining-rooms.
In the centre of the shop, an iron ring hangs by a rope over a pulley
so that it can be raised or lowered; adorned with game of various
kinds hung from it by hooks, it has the appearance of a sort of
In the shadow under the staircase, ovens are glowing. The spits
revolve; the copper pots and pans gleam ruddily. Pastries in
pyramids. Hams hanging from the rafters. The morning baking is in
progress: a bustle of tall cooks and timid scullions and scurrying
apprentices; a blossoming of white caps adorned with cock's, feathers
or the wings of guinea fowl. On wicker trays or on great metal
platters they bring in rows of pastries and fancy dishes of various
Tables are covered with trays of cakes and rolls; others with chairs
placed about them are set for guests.
One little table in a corner disappears under a heap of papers. At the
Curtain Rise Ragueneau is seated there. He is writing poetry.
(Brings in a dish.)
Fruits en gelée!
(Brings roast peacock ornamented with
(Brings tray of cakes.)
Cakes and confections!
(Brings earthen dish.)
Beef en casserole!
(Raises his head; returns to mere earth.)
Over the coppers of my kitchen flows
The frosted-silver dawn. Silence awhile
The god who sings within thee, Ragueneau!
Lay down the lute—the oven calls for thee!
(Rises; goes to one of the cooks.)
Here's a hiatus in your sauce; fill up
(Measures on his finger.)
One more dactyl.
(Before the fireplace)
Veil, O Muse, thy virgin eyes
From the lewd gleam of these terrestrial fires!
(To First Pastrycook)
Your rolls lack balance. Here's the proper form—
An equal hemistich on either side,
And the caesura in between.
(To another, pointing out an unfinished pie)
Of crust should have a roof upon it.
(To another, who is seated on the hearth, placing
poultry on a spit)
Along the interminable spit, arrange
The modest pullet and the lordly Turk
Alternately, my son—as great Malherbe
Alternates male and female rimes. Remember,
A couplet, or a roast, should be well turned.
(Advances with a dish covered by a napkin.)
Master, I thought of you when I designed
This, hoping it might please you.
Ah! A lyre—
And the jewels—candied fruit!
And the strings, barley-sugar!
(Gives him money.)
Go and drink
St!—My wife— Circulate, and hide
(Shows the lyre to Lise, with a languid air.)
(She places on the counter a pile of paper
Paper bags? Thank you ...
(He looks at them.)
Ciel! My manuscripts!
The sacred verses of my poets—rent
Asunder, limb from limb—butchered to make
Base packages of pastry! Ah, you are one
Of those insane Bacchantes who destroyed
Your dirty poets left them here
To pay for eating half our stock-in-trade:
We ought to make some profit out of them!
Ant! Would you blame the locust for his song?
I blame the locust for his appetite!
There used to be a time—before you had
Your hungry friends—you never called me Ants—
No, nor Bacchantes!
What a way to use
Well, what is the use of it?
But, my dear girl, what would you do with prose?
(Two children enter.)
Three little patties.
There we are!
All hot and brown,
Would you mind wrapping them?
One of my paper bags!...
(Reads from the bag, as he is about to wrap the
patties in it.)
"Ulysses, when he left Penelope"—
Not that one!
(Takes another bag; reads.)
Not that one.
Well? They are waiting!
Very well, very well!—
The Sonnet to Phyllis ...
Yet—it does seem hard ...
Made up your mind—at last! Mph!—Jack-o'-Dreams!
(As her back is turned, calls back the children,
who are already at the door.)
Pst!—Children— Give me back the bag. Instead
Of three patties, you shall have six of them!
(Makes the exchange. The children go out. He
reads from the bag, as he smooths it out tenderly.)
A spot of butter on her name!—
What is the time?
Hour more ...
And for what?
Your victory! I saw it all—
At the Hôtel de Bourgogne.
The duel in Rime!
He talks of nothing else.
(Fencing and foining with a spit, which he
snatches up from the hearth.)
"Then, as I end the refrain, thrust home!"
"Then, as I end the refrain"—
Gods! What a line!
"Then, as I end"—
What time now, Ragueneau?
(Petrified at the full extent of a lunge, while
he looks at the clock.)
Five after six—
A Ballade, too!
(To Cyrano, who in passing has mechanically
shaken hands with her)
Your hand—what have you done?
Oh, my hand?—Nothing.
What danger now—
He is lying.
Why? Was I looking down my nose?
That must have been a devil of a lie!
(Changing his tone; to Ragueneau)
I expect someone. Leave us here alone,
When the times comes.
How can I? In a moment,
My poets will be here.
To break their ... fast!
Take them away, then, when I give the sign.
Ten minutes after.
Have you a pen?
(Offers him a pen.)
An eagle's feather!
(Enters, and speaks to Lise in a stentorian
Who is this?
My wife's friend. A terrific warrior,
So he says.
Ah— I see.
(Takes up the pen; waves Ragueneau away.)
Only to write—
To fold— To give it to her—and to go ...
(Throws down the pen.)
Coward! And yet—the Devil take my soul
If I dare speak one word to her ...
What time now?
A quarter after six.
(Striking his breast)
—One little word
Of all the many thousand I have here!
Whereas in writing ...
(Takes up the pen.)
Come, I'll write to her
That letter I have written on my heart.
Torn up, and written over many times—
So many times ... that all I have to do
Is to remember, and to write it down.
(He writes. Through the glass of the door appear
vague and hesitating shadows. The Poets enter, clothed in rusty black
and spotted with mud.)
Here come your scarecrows!
(Takes both Ragueneau's hands.)
My dear brother!
O Lord of Roasts, how sweet thy dwellings are!
Phoebus Apollo of the Silver Spoon!
Cupid of Cookery!
(Surrounded, embraced, beaten on the back.)
They put one at one's ease!
We were delayed
By the crowd at the Porte de Nesle.
All scarred and gory, scattered on the stones,
Villainous-looking scoundrels—eight of them.
(Looks up an instant.)
Eight? I thought only seven—
Do you know
The hero of this hecatomb?
I? ... No.
(To the Musketeer)
They say one man alone
Put to flight all this crowd.
Swords, daggers, pikes, bludgeons—
"Your eyes ..."
As the Quai des Orfevres, hats and cloaks—
Why, that man must have been the devil!
"Your lips .. "
Some savage monster might have done this thing!
"Looking upon you, I grow faint with fear ..."
What have you written lately, Ragueneau?
"Your Friend— Who loves you ..."
So. No signature;
I'll give it to her myself.
Read us your rimes!
Here's a brioche
Cocking its hat at me.
(He bites off the top of it.)
Look how those buns
Follow the hungry poet with their eyes—
Those almond eyes!
We are listening—
See this cream-puff—
Fat little baby, drooling while it smiles!
(Nibbling at the pastry lyre.)
For the first time, the lyre is my support.
(Coughs, adjusts his cap, strikes an
A Recipe in Rime—
(Gives First Poet a dig with his elbow.)
A Recipe for Making Almond Tarts
Beat your eggs, the yolk and white
Mingle with their creamy fluff
Drops of lime-juice, cool and green;
Then pour in
Milk of Almonds, just enough.
Dainty patty-pans, embraced
Have these ready within reach;
With your thumb and finger, pinch
Half an inch
Up around the edge of each—
Into these, a score or more,
All your store of custard; so
Take them, bake them golden-brown—
Now sit down! ...
Almond tartlets, Ragueneau!
Do you not see
Those fellows fattening themselves?—
I would not look—it might embarrass them—
You see, I love a friendly audience.
Besides—another vanity—I am pleased
When they enjoy my cooking.
(Slaps him on the back,)
Be off with you!—
(Ragueneau goes upstage.)
Good little soul!
(Calls to Lise)
(She leaves the Musketeer and comes down to
He is making love to you?
If any man
Offends my virtue—all I have to do
Is look at him—once!
(Looks at her gravely; she drops her eyes.)
I do not find
Those eyes of yours unconquerable.
(Raising his voice a little.)
Now listen— I am fond of Ragueneau;
I allow no one—do you understand?—
To ... take his name in vain!
I interrupt you.
(He salutes the Musketeer, who has heard without
daring to resent the warning. Lise goes to the Musketeer as he returns
You—you swallow that?—
You ought to have pulled his nose!
His nose?—His nose! ...
(He goes out hurriedly. Roxane and the Duenna
appear outside the door.)
(Nods to Ragueneau.)
(To the Poets)
Pst! ... Pst! ...
We shall be more
(He leads the Poets into inner room.)
Bring them along!
(They go out.)
If I can see the faintest spark of hope,
(Throws door open — bows.)
(Roxane enters, followed by the Duenna, whom
Pardon me—one word—
Have you a good digestion?
Good. Here are two sonnets, by Benserade—
Which I fill for you with eclairs.
Do you like cream-puffs?
Only with whipped cream,
Here are three ... six—embosomed in a poem
By Saint-Amant. This ode of Chapelin
Looks deep enough to hold—a jelly roll.
—Do you love Nature?
Mad about it.
Go out and eat these in the street. Do not
Until you finish them.
(Down to Roxane)
Blessed above all others be the hour
When you remembered to remember me,
And came to tell me ... what?
(Takes off her mask.)
First let me thank you
Because ... That man ... that creature, whom your sword
Made sport of yesterday— His patron, one—
—who thinks himself in love with me
Would have forced that man upon me for— a husband—
I understand—so much the better then!
I fought, not for my nose, but your bright eyes.
And then, to tell you—but before I can
Tell you— Are you, I wonder, still the same
Big brother—almost—that you used to be
When we were children, playing by the pond
In the old garden down there—
Every summer you came to Bergerac! ...
You used to make swords out of bulrushes—
Your dandelion-dolls with golden hair—
And those green plums—
And those black mulberries—
In those days, you did everything I wished!
Roxane, in short skirts, was called Madeleine.
Was I pretty?
Oh—not too plain!
When you had hurt your hand you used to come
Running to me—and I would be your mother,
And say— Oh, in a very grown-up voice:
(She takes his hand.)
"Now, what have you been doing to yourself?
Let me see—"
(She sees the hand — starts.)
Wait— I said, "Let me see!"
Still—at your age! How did you do that?
With the big boys, down by the Porte de Nesle.
(Sits at a table and wets her handkerchief in a
glass of water.)
Come here to me.
—Such a wise little mother!
And tell me, while I wash this blood away,
How many you—played with?
Oh, about a hundred.
No. Let me go. Tell me what you
Were going to tell me—if you dared?
(Still holding his hand)
I do dare—now. It seems like long ago
When I could tell you things. Yes—I dare ...
I ... love someone.
Someone who does not know.
At least—not yet
But he will know
A big boy who loves me too,
And is afraid of me, and keeps away,
And never says one word.
Let me have
Your hand a moment—why how hot it is!—
I know. I see him trying ...
Is that better?—
(She finishes bandaging the hand with her
Besides—only to think—
(This is a secret.) He is a soldier too,
In your own regiment—
Yes, in the Guards,
Your company too.
And such a man!—
He is proud—noble—young—brave—beautiful—
(Turns pale; rises.)
What's the matter?
My sore hand!
Well, I love him. That is all.
Oh—and I never saw him anywhere
Except the Comedie.
You have never spoken?—
Only our eyes ...
Why, then— How do you know?—
People talk about people; and I hear
Things ... and I know.
You say he is in the Guards:
Baron Christian de Neuvillette.
He is not in the Guards.
Yes. Since this morning.
Captain Carbon de Castel-Jaloux.
So soon we lose our hearts!—
But, my dear child,—
(Opens the door.)
I have eaten the cakes, Monsieur de Bergerac!
Good! Now go out and read the poetry!
(The Duenna disappears.)
—But, my dear child! You, who love only words,
Wit, the grand manner— Why, for all you know,
The man may be a savage, or a fool.
His curls are like a hero from D'Urfé.
His mind may be as curly as his hair.
Not with such eyes. I read his soul in them.
Yes, all our souls are written in our eyes!
But—if he be a bungler?
Then I shall die—
(After a pause)
And you brought me here to tell me this?
I do not yet quite understand, Madame,
The reason for your confidence.
That in your company— It frightens me—
You are all Gascons ...
And we pick a quarrel
With any flat-foot who intrudes himself
Whose blood is not pure Gascon like our own?
Is this what you have heard?
I am so afraid
(Between his teeth)
Not without reason!—
And I thought
You ... You were so brave, so invincible
Yesterday, against all those brutes!—If you,
Whom they all fear—
Oh well— I will defend
Your little Baron.
Will you? Just for me?
Because I have always been—your friend!
Of course ...
Will you be his friend?
I will be his friend.
And never let him fight a duel?
Oh, but you are a darling!—I must go—
You never told me about last night— Why,
You must have been a hero! Have him write
And tell me all about it—will you?
(Kisses her hand.)
I always did love you!— A hundred men
Against one— Well.... Adieu. We are great friends,
Are we not?
Of course ...
He must write to me—
A hundred— You shall tell me the whole story
Some day, when I have time. A hundred men—
(Salutes as she goes out.)
Oh ... I have done better since!
(The door closes after her. Cyrano remains
motionless, his eyes on the ground. Pause. The other door opens;
Ragueneau puts in his head.)
May I come in?
(Ragueneau and his friends re-enter. At the same
time, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux appears at the street door in uniform as
Captain of the Guards; recognizes Cyrano with a sweeping gesture.)
Here he is!—Our hero!
(Raises his head and salutes.)
We know! All our company
Come! They are waiting for you.
(Tries to lead him out.)
Only across the street— Come!
(Goes to the door and shouts in a voice of
Refuses! He is not feeling well to-day!
A Voice Outside
(Noise outside of swords and trampling feet
Here they come now!
(Entering the shop)
You are all Gascons?
(Takes both his hands.)
Come to my arms!
To mine!—To mine!.
Baron ... Baron ... Have mercy—
You are all Barons too?
Our coronets would star the midnight sky!
(Enters: Hurries to Cyrano.)
The whole town's looking for you! Raving mad—
A triumph! Those who saw the fight—
You have not told them where I—
(Rubbing his hands)
I told them!
(Enters, followed by a group.)
Listen! Shut the door!—Here comes
(The street outside fills with a shouting
crowd. Chairs and carriages stop at the door.)
(Aside to Cyrano, smiling)
The Crowd Outside
(A mob bursts into the shop. Shouts,
acclamations, general disturbance.)
(Standing on a table.)
My shop invaded— They'll break everything—
(Crowding about Cyrano)
My friend! ... My friend! ...
I did not have so many friends!
(Runs to Cyrano, with outstretched hands)
So? And how long
Have I been dear to you?
I have two ladies in my carriage here;
Let me present you—
Certainly! And first,
Who will present you, sir,—to me?
A Man of Letters
(With a portfolio)
May I have the details? ...
You may not.
(Plucking Cyrano's sleeve)
Of the Gazette—your reputation! ...
Your full name? I will compose
That will do!
(Movement. The crowd arranges itself. De Guiche
appears, escorted by Cuigy, Brissaille, and the other officers who
were with Cyrano at the close of the First Act.)
(Goes to Cyrano.)
Monsieur de Guiche!—
(Murmur. Everyone moves.)
A message from the Marshal
Who wishes to express
Through me his admiration. He has heard
Of your affair—
The Marshal speaks
As an authority.
He said just now
The story would have been incredible
Were it not for the witness—
Of our eyes!
(Aside to Cyrano)
What is it?
Something is wrong with you;
Are you in pain?
In pain? Before this crowd?
(His moustache bristles. He throws out his
I? In pain? You shall see!
(To whom Cuigy has been whispering.)
Your name is known
Already as a soldier. You are one
Of those wild Gascons, are you not?
Yes. A Cadet.
(In a voice of thunder)
One of ourselves!
Then all these gentlemen with the haughty air,
These are the famous—
Our troop being all present, be so kind
As to present them to the Comte de Guiche!
(With a gesture presenting the Cadets to De
The Cadets of Gascoyne—the defenders
of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux:
Free fighters, free lovers, free spenders—
The Cadets of Gascoyne—the defenders
Of old homes, old names, and old splendors—
A proud and a pestilent crew!
The Cadets of Gascoyne, the defenders
Of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux.
Hawk-eyed, they stare down all contenders—
The wolf bares his fangs as they do—
Make way there, you fat money-lenders!
(Hawk-eyed, they stare down all contenders)
Old boots that have been to the menders,
Old cloaks that are worn through and through—
Hawk-eyed, they stare down all contenders—
The wolf bares his fangs as they do!
Skull-breakers they are, and sword-benders;
Red blood is their favorite brew;
Hot haters and loyal befrienders,
Skull-breakers they are, and sword-benders.
Wherever a quarrel engenders,
They're ready and waiting for you!
Skull-breakers they are, and sword-benders;
Red blood is their favorite brew!
Behold them, our Gascon defenders
Who win every woman they woo!
There's never a dame but surrenders—
Behold them, our Gascon defenders!
Young wives who are clever pretenders—
Old husbands who house the cuckoo—
Behold them—our Gascon defenders
Who win every woman they woo!
(Languidly, sitting in a chair)
Poets are fashionable nowadays
To have about one. Would you care to join
No, sir. I do not follow.
Your duel yesterday amused my uncle
The Cardinal. I might help you there.
I suppose you have written a tragedy—
They all have.
(Aside to Cyrano)
Now at last you'll have it played—
Why not? Take it to him.
He is himself a dramatist;
Let him rewrite a few lines here and there,
And he'll approve the rest.
(His face falls again.)
My blood curdles to think of altering
Ah, but when he likes a thing
He pays well.
Yes—but not so well as I—
When I have made a line that sings itself
So that I love the sound of it—I pay
Myself a hundred times.
You are proud, my friend.
You have observed that?
(Enters with a drawn sword, along the whole blade
of which is transfixed a collection of disreputable hats, their plumes
draggled, their crowns cut and torn.)
Cyrano! See here—
Look what we found this morning in the street—
The plumes dropped in their flight by those fine birds
Who showed the white feather!
Spoils of the hunt—
Those rascals, he must be an angry man
Who was it? Do you know?
(The laughter ceases.)
I hired them to do the sort of work
We do not soil our hands with—punishing
A drunken poet ...
What shall we do with them?
They ought to be preserved before they spoil—
(Takes the sword, and in the gesture of saluting
De Guiche with it, makes all the hats slide off at his feet.)
Sir, will you not return these to your friends?
My chair—my porters here—immediately!
(To Cyrano violently)
—As for you, sir!—
(In the street)
The chair of Monseigneur
Le Comte de Guiche!—
(Who has recovered his self-control; smiling)
Have you read Don Quixote?
I have—and found myself the hero.
(Appears at the door.)
Be so good as to read once more
The chapter of the windmills.
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 up—among the stars!
(De Guiche goes out. We see him get into the
chair. The Officers follow murmuring among themselves. Le Bret goes up
with them. The crowd goes out.)
(Saluting with burlesque politeness, those who go
out without daring to take leave of him.)
(As the door closes, comes down, shaking his
clenched hands to heaven.)
You have done it now—
You have made your fortune!
There you go again,
At least this latest pose of yours—
Ruining every chance that comes your way—
Then I exaggerate!
Oh, you do!
On principle. There are things in this world
A man does well to carry to extremes.
Stop trying to be Three Musketeers in one!
Fortune and glory—
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 partner's 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!
Shall I go leaping into ladies' laps
And licking fingers?—or—to change the form—
Navigating with madrigals for oars,
My sails full of the sighs of dowagers?
No thank you! Publish verses at my own
Expense? No thank you! Be the patron saint
Of a small group of literary souls
Who dine together every Tuesday? No
I thank you! Shall I labor night and day
To build a reputation on one song,
And never write another? Shall I find
True genius only among Geniuses,
Palpitate over little paragraphs,
And struggle to insinuate my name
In the columns of the Mercury?
No thank you! Calculate, scheme, be afraid,
Love more to make a visit than a poem,
Seek introductions, favors, influences?—
No thank you! No, I thank you! And again
I thank you!—But...
To sing, to laugh, to dream,
To walk in my own way and be alone,
Free, with an eye to see things as they are,
A voice that means manhood—to cock my hat
Where I choose— At a word, a Yes, a No,
To fight—or write. To travel any road
Under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt
If fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne—
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 Caesar—in 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 be—but alone!
Alone, yes!—But why stand against the world?
What devil has possessed you now, to go
Everywhere making yourself enemies?
Watching you other people making friends
Everywhere—as a dog makes friends! I mark
The manner of these canine courtesies
And think: "My friends are of a cleaner breed;
Here comes—thank God!—another enemy!"
But this is madness!
Method, let us say.
It is my pleasure to displease. I love
Hatred. Imagine how it feels to face
The volley of a thousand angry eyes—
The bile of envy and the froth of fear
Spattering little drops about me— You—
Good nature all around you, soft and warm—
You are like those Italians, in great cowls
Comfortable and loose— Your chin sinks down
Into the folds, your shoulders droop. But I—
The Spanish ruff I wear around my throat
Is like a ring of enemies; hard, proud,
Each point another pride, another thorn—
So that I hold myself erect perforce
Wearing the hatred of the common herd
Haughtily, the harsh collar of Old Spain,
At once a fetter and—a halo!
(After a silence, draws Cyrano's arm through his
Tell this to all the world— And then to me
Say very softly that ... She loves you not.
(A moment since, Christian has entered and
mingled with the Cadets, who do not offer to speak to him. Finally, he
sits down alone at a small table, where he is served by Lise.)
(Rises from a table up stage, his glass in his
(He goes up, on the arm of Le Bret, talking to
him. The Cadet comes down stage.)
The story of the combat! An example
(He stops by the table where Christian is
—this young tadpole here.
You narrow-gutted Northerner!
Monsieur de Neuvillette: You are to know
There is a certain subject—I would say,
A certain object—never to be named
Among us: utterly unmentionable!
And that is?
(In an awful voice)
Look at me! ...
(He strikes his nose three times with his finger,
Why, yes; the—
Sh! ... We never speak that word—
(Indicating Cyrano by a gesture)
To breathe it is to have to do with HIM!
(Speaks through his nose.)
He has exterminated several
Whose tone of voice suggested ...
(In a hollow tone; rising from under the table on
Would you die
Before your time? Just mention anything
Convex — or cartilaginous
(His hand on Christian's shoulder)
One syllable—one gesture—nay, one sneeze—
Your handkerchief becomes your winding-sheet!
(Silence. In a circle around Christian, arms
crossed, they regard him expectantly.)
(Rises and goes to Carbon, who is conversing with
an officer, and pretending not to see what is taking place.)
(Turns, and looks him over.)
What is the proper thing to do
When Gascons grow too boastful?
Prove to them
That one may be a Norman, and have courage.
(Turns his back.)
I thank you.
My story? Well ...
(They all draw up their stools and group
themselves around him, eagerly. Christian places himself astride of a
chair, his arms on the back of it.)
I marched on, all alone
To meet those devils. Overhead, the moon
Hung like a gold watch at the fob of heaven,
Till suddenly some Angel rubbed a cloud,
As it might be his handkerchief, across
The shining crystal, and—the night came down.
No lamps in those back streets— It was so dark—
Mordious! You could not see beyond—
(Silence. Every man slowly rises to his
feet. They look at Cyrano almost with terror. He has stopped short,
utterly astonished. Pause.)
Who is that man there?
(In a low voice)
(Takes a step toward Christian.)
(In a low voice)
His name is Christian
(He turns pale, flushes, makes a movement as if
to throw himself upon Christian.)
(Controls himself, and goes on in a choking
I see. Very well,
As I was saying—
(With a sudden burst of rage)
(He goes on in a natural tone.)
It grew dark,
You could not see your hand before your eyes.
I marched on, thinking how, all for the sake
Of one old souse
(They slowly sit down, watching him.)
who wrote a bawdy song
Whenever he took—
(Everyone rises. Christian balances himself on
two legs of his chair.)
—Took a notion.
Whenever he took a notion— For his sake,
I might antagonize some dangerous man,
One powerful enough to make me pay—
Through the nose—
(Wipes the sweat front his forehead.)
—Pay the Piper. After all,
I thought, why am I putting in my—
—My oar ... Why am I putting in my oar?
The quarrel's none of mine. However—now
I am here, I may as well go through with it.
Come Gascon—do your duty!—Suddenly
A sword flashed in the dark. I caught it fair—
On the nose—
On my blade. Before I knew it,
There I was—
(Pale and smiling)
With half a score at once. I handed one—
(Leaping at him)
(The Gascons tumble over each other to get a good
view. Arrived in front of Christian, who has not moved an inch, Cyrano
masters himself again, and continues.)
He went down;
The rest gave way; I charged—
Nose in the air—
I skewered two of them—disarmed a third—
Another lunged— Paf! And I countered—
TONNERRE! Out of here!—All of you!
(All the Cadets rush for the door.)
The old lion wakes!
All of you! Leave me here
Alone with that man!
(The lines following are heard brokenly in the
confusion of getting through the door.)
Bigre! He'll have the fellow
Chopped into sausage—
One of your pies!—
Am I pale? You look white
As a fresh napkin—
(At the door)
He'll never leave
Enough of him to—
Why, it frightens me
To think of what will—
(Closing the door)
Beyond imagination ...
(They are all gone: some through the street door,
some by the inner doors to right and left. A few disappear up the
staircase. Cyrano and Christian stand face to face a moment, and look
at each other.)
To my arms!
You have courage!
Oh, that! ...
You are brave—
That pleases me.
You mean? ...
Do you not know
I am her brother? Come!
Her ... brother? You?
(Hurries to him.)
Her cousin. Much the same.
And she has told you? ...
She loves me?
(Takes both his hands.)
My dear sir—more than I can say,
I am honored—
This is rather sudden.
(Holds him at arm's length, looking at him.)
Why, he is a handsome devil.
On my honor—if you knew
How much I have admired—
Yes, yes—and all
Those Noses which—
Please! I apologize.
(Change of tone)
Roxane expects a letter—
Not from me?—
Yes. Why not?
Once I write, that ruins all!
Because ... because I am a fool!
Stupid enough to hang myself!
You are no fool; you call yourself a fool,
There's proof enough in that. Besides, you did not
Attack me like a fool.
Bah! Any one
Can pick a quarrel. Yes, I have a sort
Of rough and ready soldier's tongue. I know
That. But with any woman—paralyzed,
Speechless, dumb. I can only look at them.
Yet sometimes, when I go away, their eyes ...
Why not their hearts, if you should wait and see?
No. I am one of those— I know—those men
Who never can make love.
Strange.... Now it seems
I, if I gave my mind to it, I might
Perhaps make love well.
Oh, if I had words
To say what I have here!
If I could be
A handsome little Musketeer with eyes!—
Besides—you know Roxane—how sensitive—
One rough word, and the sweet illusion—gone!
I wish you might be my interpreter.
I wish I had your wit—
Borrow it, then!—
Your beautiful young manhood—lend me that,
And we two make one hero of romance!
Would you dare repeat to her the words
I gave you, day by day?
Roxane shall have no disillusionment!
Come, shall we win her both together? Take
The soul within this learthern jack of mine,
And breathe it into you?
(Touches hint on the breast)
So—there's my heart
Under your velvet, now!
But— Christian, why not?
I am afraid—
Afraid that when you have her all alone,
You lose all. Have no fear. It is yourself
She loves—give her yourself put into words—
My words, upon your lips!
But... but your eyes! ...
They burn like—
Will you?... Will you?
Does it mean
So much to you?
(Recovers, changes tone.)
A situation for a poet! Come.
Shall we collaborate? I'll be your cloak
Of darkness, your enchanted sword, your ring
To charm the fairy Princess!
But the letter— I cannot write—
Oh yes, the letter.
(He takes from his pocket the letter which he has
What is this?
All there; all but the address.
Oh, you may send it. It will serve.
Have you done this?
I have amused myself
As we all do, we poets—writing vows
To Chloris, Phyllis—any pretty name—
You might have had a pocketful of them!
Take it, and turn to facts my fantasies—
I loosed these loves like doves into the air;
Give them a habitation and a home.
Here, take it— You will find me all the more
Eloquent, being insincere! Come!
There must be a few changes here and there—
Written at random, can it fit Roxane?
Like her own glove.
My son, have faith—
Faith in the love of women for themselves—
Roxane will know this letter for her own!
(Throws himself into the arms of Cyrano. They
(The door up stage opens a little. A Cadet steals
Nothing. A silence like the tomb ...
I hardly dare look—
(He sees the two.)
(The other Cadets crowd in behind him and
(Slaps his knee.)
Well, well, well!
Here's our devil ... Christianized!
Offend one nostril, and he turns the other.
Now we are allowed to talk about his nose!
Hey, Lise! Come here—
Snf! What a horrid smell!
What is it? ...
(Plants himself in front of Cyrano, and looks at
his nose in an impolite manner.)
You ought to know about such things;
What seems to have died around here?
(Knocks him backward over a bench.)
(Joy. The Cadets have found their old Cyrano
again. General disturbance.)
THE THIRD ACT
A little square in the old Marais: old houses, and a glimpse of narrow
streets. On the Right, The House of Roxane and her garden wall,
overhung with tall shrubbery. Over the door of the house a balcony and
a tall window; to one side of the door, a bench.
Ivy clings to the wall; jasmine embraces the balcony, trembles, and
By the bench and the jutting stonework of the wall one might easily
climb up to the balcony.
Opposite, an ancient house of the like character, brick and stone,
whose front door forms an Entrance. The knocker on this door is tied
up in linen like an injured thumb.
At the Curtain Rise the Duenna is seated on the bench beside the
door. The window is wide open on Roxane's balcony; a light within
suggests that it is early evening. By the Duenna stands Ragueneau
dressed in what might be the livery of one attached to the
household. He is by way of telling her something, and wiping his eyes
—And so she ran off with a Musketeer!
I was ruined—I was alone— Remained
Nothing for me to do but hang myself,
So I did that. Presently along comes
Monsieur de Bergerac, and cuts me down,
And makes me steward to his cousin.
I thought your pastry was a great success!
(Shakes his head.)
Lise loved the soldiers, and I loved the poets—
Mars ate up all the cakes Apollo left;
It did not take long....
(Calls up to window.)
Roxane! Are you ready?
We are late!
Voice of Roxane
Putting on my cape—
(To Ragueneau, indicating the house
Across the way receives on Thursday nights—
We are to have a psycho-colloquy
Upon the Tender Passion.
Ah—the Tender ...
(Calls up to window.)
Roxane!—Hurry, dear—we shall miss
The Tender Passion!
(Music of stringed instruments off-stage
The Voice of Cyrano
La, la, la!—
A serenade?—How pleasant—
No, no, no!—
F natural, you natural born fool!
(Enters, followed by two pages, carrying
No doubt your honor knows F natural
When he hears—
I am a musician, infant!—
A pupil of Gassendi.
(Plays and sings.)
Give me that—
(He snatches the instrument from the Page and
continues the tune.)
La, la, la, la—
(Appears on the balcony.)
Is that you,
I, who praise your lilies fair,
But long to love your ro...ses!
I'll be down—
(Goes in through window.)
Did you train these virtuosi?
I won them on a bet from D'Assoucy.
We were debating a fine point of grammar
When, pointing out these two young nightingales
Dressed up like peacocks, with their instruments,
He cries: "No, but I KNOW! I'll wager you
A day of music." Well, of course he lost;
And so until to-morrow they are mine,
My private orchestra. Pleasant at first,
But they become a trifle—
(To the Pages)
Here! Go play
A minuet to Montfleury—and tell him
I sent you!
(The Pages go up to the exit. Cyrano turns to the
I came here as usual
To inquire after our friend—
Play out of tune.
And keep on playing!
(The Pages go out. He turns to the Duenna)
Our friend with the great soul.
(Enters in time to hear the last words.)
He is beautiful and brilliant—and I love him!
Do you find Christian ... intellectual?
More so than you, even.
I am glad.
Ever so beautifully said those things—
Those pretty nothings that are everything.
Sometimes he falls into a reverie;
His inspiration fails—then all at once,
He will say something absolutely ... Oh! ...
How like a man! You think a man
Who has a handsome face must be a fool.
He talks well about ... matters of the heart?
He does not talk; he rhapsodizes ... dreams ...
(Twisting his moustache.)
He ... writes well?
Wonderfully. Listen now:
(Reciting as from memory.)
"Take my heart; I shall have it all the more;
Plucking the flowers, we keep the plant in bloom—"
"Knowing you have in store
More heart to give than I to find heart-room—"
First he has too much, then too little; just
How much heart does he need?
(Tapping her foot.)
You are teasing me!
You are jealous!
Of his poetry—
You poets are like that ...
And these last lines
Are they not the last word in tenderness?—
"There is no more to say: only believe
That unto you my whole heart gives one cry,
And writing, writes down more than you receive;
Sending you kisses through my finger-tips—
Lady, O read my letter with your lips!"
H'm, yes— those last lines ... but he overwrites!
Listen to this—
You know them all by heart?
(Twisting his moustache.)
I may call that flattering ...
He is a master!
A master—if you will!
(Comes down stage quickly.)
Monsieur de Guiche!—
(To Cyrano, pushing him toward the house.)
Go inside—If he does not find you here,
It may be just as well He may suspect—
—My secret! Yes; he is in love with me
And he is powerful. Let him not know—
One look would frost my roses before bloom.
(Going into house.)
Very well, very well!
(To De Guiche, as he enters)
We were just going—
I came only to say farewell.
Yes—for the front.
We have orders to besiege Arras.
Yes. My departure leaves you ... cold?
Oh! Not that.
It has left me desolate—
When shall I see you? Ever? Did you know
I was made Colonel?
Of the Guards.
(Catching her breath.)
Of the Guards?—
Your cousin, the mighty man of words !—
We may have an accounting!
Are you sure
The Guards are ordered?
Under my command!
(Sinks dawn, breathless, on the bench; aside)
What is it?
(Losing control of herself.)
To the war—perhaps
Never again to— When a woman cares,
Is that nothing?
(Surprised and delighted.)
You say this now—to me—
Now, at the very moment?—
(Recovers — changes her tone.)
Tell me something:
My cousin—You say you mean to be revenged
On him. Do you mean that?
Why? Would you care?
Not for him.
Do you see him?
Now and then.
He goes about everywhere nowadays
With one of the Cadets—de Neuve—Neuville—
A tall man?—
And a fool.
So he appears ...
But Cyrano? What will you do to him?
Order him into danger? He loves that!
I know what I should do.
Leave him here
With his Cadets, while all the regiment
Goes on to glory! That would torture him—
To sit all through the war with folded arms—
I know his nature. If you hate that man,
Strike at his self-esteem.
Who but a woman would have thought of this?
He'll eat his heart out, while his Gascon friends
Bite their nails all day long in Paris here.
And you will be avenged!
You love me then,
A little? ...
Making my enemies your own,
Hating them—I should like to see in that
A sign of love, Roxane.
Perhaps it is one ...
(Shows a number of folded despatches.)
Here are the orders—for each company—
Ready to send ...
So— This is for the Guards—
I'll keep that. Aha, Cyrano!
You play your little games, do you?
(Close to her, speaking hurriedly.)
And you!—Oh, I am mad over you!—
I leave to-night—but—let you through my hands
Now, when I feel you trembling?—Listen— Close by,
In the Rue d'Orléans, the Capuchins
Have their new convent. By their law, no layman
May pass inside those walls. I'll see to that—
Their sleeves are wide enough to cover me—
The servants of my Uncle-Cardinal
Will fear his nephew. So—I'll come to you
Masked, after everyone knows I have gone—
Oh, let me wait one day!—
If this be known,
The war—your duty—
(Blows away an imaginary feather.)
Only say yes!
I ought not
To let you ...
(Pretends to break down.)
(Aloud — heroically)
I must have you a hero—Antoine ...
So you can love—
One for whose sake I fear.
Will that content you?
(Kisses her hand.)
(He goes out.)
(As De Guiche disappears, making a deep curtsey
behind his back, and imitating Roxane's intense tone.)
(Quickly, close to her.)
Not a word to Cyrano—
He would never forgive me if he knew
I stole his war!
(She calls toward the house.)
(Cyrano comes out of the house; she turns to him,
indicating the house opposite.)
We are going over—
Alcandre speaks to-night—and Lysimon.
(Puts finger in her ear.)
My little finger says we shall not hear
Never mind me—
(Across the street)
The knocker tied tip in a napkin— Yes,
They muzzled you because you bark too loud
And interrupt the lecture—little beast!
(As the door opens)
If Christian comes, tell him to wait.
When he comes, what will you talk about?
You always know beforehand.
You will not tell him, will you?
I am dumb.
About nothing! Or about everything—
I shall say: "Speak of love in your own words—
Improvise! Rhapsodize! Be eloquent!"
Not a word!
(She goes in; the door closes.)
Thank you so much—
(Opens door and puts out her head.)
He must be unprepared—
(Goes in again.)
I have your theme—bring on your memory!—
Here is your chance now to surpass yourself,
No time to lose— Come! Look intelligent—
Come home and learn your lines.
Here for Roxane.
What lunacy is this?
No, I say! I have had enough—
Taking my words, my letters, all from you—
Making our love a little comedy!
It was a game at first; but now—she cares ...
Thanks to you. I am not afraid. I'll speak
For myself now.
Why not? I am no such fool—you shall see!
Besides—my dear friend—you have taught me much.
I ought to know something ... By God, I know
Enough to take a woman in my arms!
(Roxane appears in the doorway, opposite.)
There she is now ... Cyrano, wait! Stay here!
Speak for yourself, my friend!
(He goes out.)
(Taking leave of the company.)
Alcandre! ... Grémione! ...
I told you so—
We missed the Tender Passion!
(She goes into Roxane's house.)
(As the guests disappear down the street, she
turns to Christian.)
Is that you, Christian? Let us stay
Here, in the twilight. They are gone. The air
Is fragrant. We shall be alone. Sit down
(They sit on the bench.)
Now tell me things.
(After a silence)
I love you.
(Closes her eyes.)
Speak to me about love ...
I love you.
Be eloquent! ...
(Opens her eyes.)
You have your theme—
I love you so!
Of course. And then? ...
And then ... Oh, I should be
So happy if you loved me too! Roxane,
Say that you love me too!
(Making a face.)
I ask for cream
You give me milk and water. Tell me first
A little, how you love me.
Oh—tell me how you feel!
(Coming nearer, and devouring her with his
Your throat ... If only
I might ... kiss it—
I love you so!
(Makes as if to rise.)
(Desperately, restraining her.)
No, not again— I do not love you—
That is better ...
I adore you!
(Rises and moves away.)
I grow absurd.
And that displeases me
As much as if you had grown ugly.
Gather your dreams together into words!
I know; you love me. Adieu.
(She goes to the house.)
But wait—please—let me— I was going to say—
(Pushes the door open.)
That you adore me. Yes; I know that too.
No! ... Go away! ...
(She goes in and shuts the door in his face.)
A great success!
I cannot live unless
She loves me—now, this moment!
How the devil
Am I to teach you now—this moment?
(Catches him by the arm.)
Look! Up there!—Quick—
(The light shows in Roxane's window.)
I shall die!—
It does seem fairly dark—
Let us try what can be done;
It is more than you deserve—stand over there,
Idiot—there!—before the balcony—
Let me stand underneath. I'll whisper you
What to say.
She may hear—she may—
(The Pages appear up stage.)
(Finger to lips)
We serenaded Montfleury!—
Down to the corner of the street—
One this way—and the other over there—
If anybody passes, play a tune!
What tune, O musical Philosopher?
Sad for a man, or merry for a woman—
(The Pages disappear, one toward each corner of
(Gathers up a handful of pebbles.)
(Throws it at the window)
(Opens the window.)
Who is calling?
I had to tell you—
(Under the balcony)
Good— Keep your voice down.
No. Go away. You tell me nothing.
You do not love me any more—
(To whom Cyrano whispers his words)
Not any more— I love you ... evermore ...
And ever ... more and more!
(About to close the window — pauses.)
A little better ...
Love grows and struggles like ... an angry child ...
Breaking my heart ... his cradle ...
(Coming out on the balcony.)
But ... such a babe is dangerous; why not
Have smothered it new-born?
And so I do ...
And yet he lives ... I found ... as you shall find ...
This new-born babe ... an infant ... Hercules!
Strong enough ... at birth ... to strangle those
Two serpents—Doubt and ... Pride.
(Leans over balcony.)
Why, very well!
Tell me now why you speak so haltingly—
Has your imagination gone lame?
(Thrusts Christian under the balcony, and stands
in his place.)
This grows too difficult!
Your words to-night
(In a low tone, imitating Christian)
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. Moreover—yours
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 height—you crush me!
I'll come down—
(Points out the bench under the balcony.)
Stand you on the bench. Come nearer!
(Recoils into the shadow.)
And why—so great a No?
(More and more overcome by emotion.)
Let me enjoy
The one moment I ever—my one chance
To speak to you ... unseen!
Night, making all things dimly beautiful,
One veil over us both— You only see
The darkness of a long cloak in the gloom,
And I the whiteness of a summer gown—
You are all light— I am all shadow! ... How
Can you know what this moment means to me?
If I was ever eloquent—
—You have never heard till now
My own heart speaking!
I spoke through ...
—through that sweet drunkenness
You pour into the world out of your eyes!
But to-night... but to-night, I indeed speak
For the first time!
For the first time— Your voice,
Even, is not the same.
(Passionately; moves nearer.)
How should it be?
I have another voice—my own,
(He stops, confused; then tries to recover
Where was I? ... I forget! ...
Forgive me. This is all sweet like a dream ...
Strange—like a dream ...
Is it not so
To be myself to you, and have no fear
Of moving you to laughter?
(Struggling for an explanation)
Because ... What am I ... What is any man,
That he dare ask for you? Therefore my heart
Hides behind phrases. There's a modesty
In these things too— I come here to pluck down
Out of the sky the evening star—then smile,
And stoop to gather little flowers.
Not sweet, those little flowers?
Not enough sweet
For you and me, to-night!
You never spoke
To me like this...
Little things, pretty things—
Arrows and hearts and torches—roses red,
And violets blue—are these all? Come away,
And breathe fresh air! Must we keep on and on
Sipping stale honey out of tiny cups
Decorated with golden tracery,
Drop by drop, all day long? We are alive;
We thirst— Come away, plunge, and drink, and drown
In the great river flowing to the sea!
I have made rimes for you—
Not now— Shall we insult Nature, this night,
These flowers, this moment—shall we set all these
To phrases from a letter by Voiture?
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 Nature's end ends meaningless!
But ... Poetry?
Love hates that game of words!
It is a crime to fence with life— I tell you,
There comes one moment, once—and God help those
Who pass that moment by!—when Beauty stands
Looking into the soul with grave, sweet eyes
That sicken at pretty words!
If that be true—
And when that moment comes to you and me—
What words will you? ...
All those, all those, all those
That blossom in my heart, I'll fling to you—
Armfuls of loose bloom! Love, I love beyond
Breath, beyond reason, beyond love's own power
Of loving! Your name is like a golden bell
Hung in my heart; and when I think of you,
I tremble, and the bell swings and rings—
"Roxane!" ... along my veins, "Roxane!"
All small forgotten things that once meant You—
I remember last year, the First of May,
A little before noon, you had your hair
Drawn low, that one time only. Is that strange?
You know how, after looking at the sun,
One sees red suns everywhere—so, for hours
After the flood of sunshine that you are,
My eyes are blinded by your burning hair!
Yes ... that is ... Love—
Yes, that is Love—that wind
Of terrible and jealous beauty, blowing
Over me—that dark fire, that music ...
Love seeketh not his own! Dear, you may take
My happiness to make you happier,
Even though you never know I gave it you—
Only let me hear sometimes, all alone,
The distant laughter of your joy! ...
Look at you, but there's some new virtue born
In me, some new courage. Do you begin
To understand, a little? Can you feel
My soul, there in the darkness, breathe on you?
—Oh, but to-night, now, I dare say these things—
I... to you ... and you hear them! ... It is too much!
In my most sweet unreasonable dreams,
I have not hoped for this! Now let me die,
Having lived. It is my voice, mine, my own,
That makes you tremble there in the green gloom
Above me—for you do tremble, as a blossom
Among the leaves— You tremble, and I can feel,
All the way down along these jasmine branches,
Whether you will or no, the passion of you
(He kisses wildly the end of a drooping spray of
Yes, I do tremble ... and I weep ...
And I love you ... and I am yours ... and you
Have made me thus!
(After a pause; quietly)
What is death like, I wonder?
I know everything else now ...
I have done
This, to you—I, myself ...
Only let me
Ask one thing more—
(Under the balcony)
You ask me
I... Yes, but—I mean—
You go too far!
She is willing!— Why not make the most of it?
I did ask ... but I know I ask too much ...
Only one— Is that all?
All!—How much more
Than all!—I know—I frighten you—I ask ...
I ask you to refuse—
But why? Why? Why?
Christian, be quiet!
What is that you say
I am angry with myself
Because I go too far, and so I say
To myself: "Christian, be quiet!"—
(The theorbos begin to play.)
(Roxane closes her window. Cyrano listens to the
theorbos, one of which plays a gay melody, the other a mournful
A sad tune, a merry tune—
Man, woman—what do they mean?—
(A Capuchin enters; he carries a lantern, and
goes from house to house, looking at the doors.)
(To the Capuchin)
What is this new game of Diogenes?
I am looking for the house of Madame—
What does he want?
(To the Capuchin; points out a street.)
To the right—keep to the right—
I thank you, sir!—
I'll say my beads for you to the last grain.
Good fortune, father, and my service to you!
(The Capuchin goes out)
Win me that kiss!
Sooner or later—
That is true ... Soon or late, it will be so
Because you are young and she is beautiful—
Since it must be, I had rather be myself
(The window re-opens. Christian hides under the
The cause of ... what must be.
(Out on the balcony)
Are you still there?
We were speaking of—
A kiss. The word is sweet—
What will the deed be? Are your lips afraid
Even of its burning name? Not much afraid—
Not too much! Have you not unwittingly
Laid aside laughter, slipping beyond speech
Insensibly, already, without fear,
From words to smiles... from smiles to sighs... from sighing,
Even to tears? One step more—only one—
From a tear to a kiss—one step, one thrill!
And what is a kiss, when all is done?
A promise given under seal—a vow
Taken before the shrine of memory—
A signature acknowledged—a rosy dot
Over the i of Loving—a secret whispered
To listening lips apart—a 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!
Why, what shame?—
There was a Queen of France, not long ago,
And a great lord of England—a queen's gift,
A crown jewel!
Indeed, like him,
I have my sorrows and my silences;
Like her, you are the queen I dare adore;
So I am—I forgot that!
Then— Come; ... Gather your sacred blossom
Your crown jewel
Your old new song
No— Would you?—not yet—
Your moment made
Climb up, animal!
(Christian springs on the bench, and climbs by
the pillars, the branches, the vines, until he bestrides the balcony
(He takes her in his arms and bends over
Ah! ... Roxane! ...
I have won what I have won—
The feast of love—and I am Lazarus!
Yet ... I have something here that is mine now
And was not mine before I spoke the words
That won her—not for me! ... Kissing my words
My words, upon your lips!
(The theorbos begin to play.)
A merry tune—
A sad tune— So! The Capuchin!
(He pretends to be running, as if he had arrived
from a distance; then calls up to the balcony.)
Who is it?
I. Is Christian there with you?
Good morrow, Cousin!
Cousin,... good morrow!
I am coming down.
(She disappears into the house. The Capuchin
enters up stage.)
She lives here,
You said RO-LIN.
(Appears on the threshold of the house, followed
by Ragueneau with a lantern, and by Christian.)
What is it?
Some matter profitable to the soul—
A very noble lord gave it to me!
It will not be for long;
When he learns that I love you ...
(By the light of the lantern which Ragueneau
holds, she reads the letter in a low tone, as if to herself.)
The drums are beating, and the regiment
Arms for the march. Secretly I remain
Here, in the Convent. I have disobeyed;
I shall be with you soon. I send this first
By an old monk, as simple as a sheep,
Who understands nothing of this. Your smile
Is more than I can bear, and seek no more.
Be alone to-night, waiting for one who dares
To hope you will forgive ... —" etcetera—
(To the Capuchin)
Father, this letter concerns you ...
(The others gather around her. She pretends to
read from the letter, aloud.)
Will have his way, although against your will;
That is why I am sending this to you
By a most holy man, intelligent,
Discreet. You will communicate to him
Our order to perform, here and at once
The rite of ...
(Turns the page)
—Holy Matrimony. You
And Christian will be married privately
In your house. I have sent him to you. I know
You hesitate. Be resigned, nevertheless,
To the Cardinal's command, who sends herewith
His blessing. Be assured also of my own
Respect and high consideration— signed,
Your very humble and—etcetera—"
A noble lord! I said so—never fear—
A worthy lord!—a very worthy lord!—
Am I a good reader of letters?
(Motions toward the Capuchin.)
(In a tragic tone)
Oh, this is terrible!
(Turns the light of his lantern on Cyrano)
You are to be—
I am the bridegroom!
(Turns his lantern upon Christian; then, as if
some suspicion crossed his mind, upon seeing the young man so
Oh—why, you ...
Give to the Convent in my name
One hundred and twenty pistoles"—
Think of it!
A worthy lord—a worthy lord! ...
(To Roxane, solemnly)
Daughter, resign yourself!
(With an air of martyrdom)
I am resigned ...
(While Ragueneau opens the door for the Capuchin
and Christian invites him to enter, she turns to Cyrano.)
De Guiche may come. Keep him out here with you.
Do not let him—
(To the Capuchin)
Will you be?—
Oh, a quarter of an hour.
(Hurrying them into the house.)
Hurry — I'll wait here—
(They go into the house.)
Now then, to make
His Grace delay that quarter of an hour ...
I have it!—up here—
(He steps on the bench, and climbs up the wall
toward the balcony. The theorbos begin to play a mournful melody.)
Sad music— Ah, a man! ...
(The music pauses on a sinister tremolo.)
Oh—very much a man!
(He sits astride of the railing and, drawing
toward him a long branch of one of the trees which border the garden
wall, he grasps it with both hands, ready to swing himself down.)
So—not too high—
(He peers down at the ground.)
I must float gently through the atmosphere—
(Enters, masked, groping in the dark toward the
Where is that cursed, bleating Capuchin?
What if he knows my voice?—the devil!—Tic-tac
Bergerac—we unlock our Gascon tongue;
A good strong accent—
Here is the house—all dark—
Damn this mask!—
(As he is about to enter the house, Cyrano leaps
from the balcony, still holding fast to the branch, which bends and
swings him between De Guiche and the door; then he releases the branch
and pretends to fall heavily as though from a height. He lands flatly
on the ground, where he lies motionless, as if stunned. De Guiche
What is that?
(When he lifts his eyes, the branch has sprung
back into place. He can see nothing but the sky; he does not
Why ... where did this man
(Sits up, and speaks with a strong accent.)
From the moon, the moon!
I fell out of the moon!
The fellow is mad—
Where am I?
What time is it? What place
Is this? What day? What season?
I am stunned!
My dear sir—
Like a bomb—a bomb—I fell
From the moon!
Now, see here—
(Rising to his feet, and speaking in a terrible
I say, the moon!
Very well—if you say so—
(Advancing upon him.)
I am not speaking metaphorically!
A hundred years—an hour ago—
I really cannot say how long I fell—
I was in yonder shining sphere—
Please let me pass.
Where am I? Tell the truth—
I can bear it. In what quarter of the globe
Have I descended like a meteorite?
I could not choose my place to fall—
The earth spun round so fast— Was it the Earth,
I wonder?—Or is this another world?
Another moon? Whither have I been drawn
By the dead weight of my posterior?
Sir. I repeat—
(With a sudden cry, which causes De Guiche to
His face! My God—black!
(Carries his hand to his mask.)
Are you a native? Is this Africa?
Are we in Venice? Genoa?
(Tries to pass him.)
A lady is waiting for me.
(Quite happy again)
So this is Paris!
(Smiling in spite of himself.)
This fool becomes amusing.
Ah! You smile?
I do. Kindly permit me—
Dear old Paris—
(Wholly at his ease, smiles, bows, arranges his
Excuse my appearance. I arrive
By the last thunderbolt—a trifle singed
As I came through the ether. These long journeys—
You know! There are so few conveniences!
My eyes are full of star-dust. On my spurs,
Some sort of fur ... Planet's apparently ...
(Plucks something from his sleeve.)
Look—on my doublet— That's a Comet's hair!
(He blows something from the back of his
(As De Guiche is about to push past, thrusts his
leg in the way.)
Here's a tooth, stuck in my boot,
From the Great Bear. Trying to get away,
I tripped over the Scorpion and came down
Slap, into one scale of the Balances—
The pointer marks my weight this moment...
(De Guiche makes a sudden movement. Cyrano
catches his arm.)
Be careful! If you struck me on the nose,
It would drip milk!
From the Milky Way!
(Crossing his arms.)
Curious place up there—
Did you know Sirius wore a nightcap? True!
The Little Bear is still too young to bite.
My foot caught in the Lyre, and broke a string.
Well—when I write my book, and tell the tale
Of my adventures—all these little stars
That shake out of my cloak—I must save those
To use for asterisks!
That will do now—
Yes, yes—I know—
To learn from my own lips the character
Of the moon's surface—its inhabitants
(Loses patience and shouts.)
I desire no such thing! I—
You wish to know by what mysterious means
I reached the moon?—well—confidentially—
It was a new invention of my own.
Drunk too—as well as mad!
I scorned the eagle
Of Regiomontanus, and the dove
A learned lunatic!—
I imitated no one. I myself
Discovered not one scheme merely, but six—
Six ways to violate the virgin sky!
(De Guiche has succeeded in passing him, and
moves toward the door of Roxane's house. Cyrano follows, ready to use
violence if necessary.)
(With increasing volubility)
As for instance—Having stripped myself
Bare as a wax candle, adorn my form
With crystal vials filled with morning dew,
And so be drawn aloft, as the sun rises,
Drinking the mist of dawn!
(Takes a step toward Cyrano.)
Yes—that makes one.
(Draws back to lead him away from the door;
speaks faster and faster.)
Or, sealing up the air in a cedar chest,
Rarefy it by means of mirrors, placed
In an icosahedron.
(Takes another step.)
I might construct a rocket, in the form
Of a huge locust, driven by impulses
Of villainous saltpetre from the rear,
Upward, by leaps and bounds.
(Interested in spite of himself, and counting on
Smoke having a natural tendency to rise,
Blow in a globe enough to raise me.
(Same business, more and more astonished.)
Or since Diana, as old fables tell,
Draws forth to fill her crescent horn, the marrow
Of bulls and goats—to anoint myself therewith.
(Has by this time led him all the way across the
street, close to a bench.)
Finally—seated on an iron plate,
To hurl a magnet in the air—the iron
Follows—I catch the magnet—-throw again—
And so proceed indefinitely.
All excellent,—and which did you adopt?
Why, none of them.... A seventh.
An interesting idiot, this!
(Imitates the sound of waves with his voice, and
their movement by large, vague gestures.)
Hoo! ... Hoo! ...
Have you guessed it yet?
What hour its rising tide seeks the full moon,
I laid me on the strand, fresh from the spray,
My head fronting the moonbeams, since the hair
Retains moisture—and so I slowly rose
As upon angels' wings, effortlessly,
Upward—then suddenly I felt a shock!—
And then ...
(Overcome by curiosity, sits down on the
(Changes abruptly to his natural voice.)
The time is up!—
Fifteen minutes, your Grace!—You are now free;
And—they are bound—in wedlock.
Am I drunk?
That voice ...
(The door of Roxane's house opens; lackeys
appear, bearing lighted candles. Lights up. Cyrano removes his
And that nose!—Cyrano!
This very moment, they have exchanged rings.
(He turns up stage. Tableau: between the lackeys,
Roxane and Christian appear, hand in hand. The Capuchin follows them,
smiling. Ragueneau holds aloft a torch. The Duenna brings up the rear,
in a negligee, and a pleasant flutter of emotion.)
My sincere compliments!
You also, my inventor of machines!
Your rigmarole would have detained a saint
You must not fail to write that book some day!
Sir, I engage myself to do so.
(Leads the bridal pair down to De Guiche and
strokes with great satisfaction his long white beard.)
The handsome couple you—and God—have joined
(Regarding him with a frosty eye.)
(Turns to Roxane)
Madame, kindly bid
Your ... husband farewell.
Leaves to-night, sir. Report at once!
For the front? The war?
The Cadets were not going—
Oh yes, they are!
(Taking out the despatch from his pocket.)
Here is the order—
Baron! Deliver this.
(Throws herself into Christian's arms.)
(To Cyrano, sneering)
The bridal night is not so near!
Somehow that news fails to disquiet me.
Your lips again ...
There ... That will do now— Come!
(Still holding Roxane)
You do not know how hard it is—
(Tries to drag him away.)
(The beating of drums is heard in the
The regiment—on the march!
(As Cyrano tries to lead Christian away, follows,
and detains them.)
Take care of him
Promise me never to let him do
I'll do my best—
I cannot promise—
Make him be careful!
Be sure to keep him dry and warm!
Yes, yes—if possible—
(Same business; confidentially, in his ear)
See that he remains Faithful!—
Of course! If—
And have him write to me
Every single day!
That, I promise you!
THE FOURTH ACT
The Cadets of Gascoyne
The Post occupied by the Company of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux at The
Siege of Arras.
In the background, a Rampart traversing the entire scene; beyond this,
and apparently below, a Plain stretches away to the horizon. The
country is cut up with earthworks and other suggestions of the
siege. In the distance, against the sky-line, the houses and the walls
Tents; scattered Weapons; Drums, et cetera. It is near daybreak, and
the East is yellow with approaching dawn. Sentries at
Curtain Rise discovers the Cadets asleep, rolled in their
cloaks. Carbon de Castel-Jaloux and Le Bret keep watch. They are both
very thin and pale. Christian is asleep among the others, wrapped in
his cloak, in the foreground, his face lighted by the flickering
Why, yes. All of that.
(Gesture toward the sleeping Cadets)
Swear gently— You might wake them.
Go to sleep—
(To Le Bret)
Who sleeps dines.
I have insomnia.
God! What a famine.
(Firing off stage.)
Curse that musketry!
They'll wake my babies.
(To the men)
Go to sleep!—
No—only Cyrano coming home.
(The heads which have been raised sink back
Halt! Who goes there?
Voice of Cyrano
The Sentry on the Parapet
Halt! Who goes?—
(Appears on the parapet.)
(Goes to meet him.)
Thank God again!
(Signs to him not to wake anyone.)
No— They always miss me—quite
A habit by this time!
Yes— Go right on—
Risk your life every morning before breakfast
To send a letter!
(Stops near Christian.)
I promised he should write
Every single day ...
(Looks down at him.)
Hm— The boy looks pale
When he is asleep—thin too—starving to death—
If that poor child knew! Handsome, none the less ...
Go and get some sleep!
Now, now—you old bear,
No growling!—I am careful—you know I am—
Every night, when I cross the Spanish lines
I wait till they are all drunk.
You might bring
Something with you.
I have to travel light
To pass through— By the way, there will be news
For you to-day: the French will eat or die,
If what I saw means anything.
I am not sure—we shall see!
What a war,
When the besieger starves to death!
Fine situation! We besiege Arras—
The Cardinal Prince of Spain besieges us—
And—here we are!
Someone might besiege him.
A hungry joke!
Yes, you can laugh—
Risking a life like yours to carry letters—
Where are you going now?
(At the tent door)
To write another.
(Goes into tent.)
(A little more daylight. The clouds redden. The
town of Arras shows on the horizon. A cannon shot is heard, followed
immediately by a roll of drums, far away to the left. Other drums beat
a little nearer. The drums go on answering each other here and there,
approach, beat loudly almost on the stage, and die away toward the
right, across the camp. The camp awakes. Voices of officers in the
Those drums!—another good nourishing sleep
Gone to the devil.
(The Cadets rouse themselves.)
(Sits up, yawns.)
God! I'm hungry!
Up with you!
Not another step!
Not another movement!
Look at my tongue—
I said this air was indigestible!
My coronet for half a pound of cheese!
I have no stomach for this war—I'll stay
In my tent—like Achilles.
May as well die;
Come out here!—You know how to talk to them.
Get them laughing—
(Rushes up to First Cadet who is eating
What are you gnawing there?
Gun wads and axle-grease. Fat country this
I have been out hunting!
Went fishing, in the Scarpe!
(Leaping up and surrounding the newcomers.)
Any fish? Any game? Perch? Partridges?
Let me look!
One fat... sparrow.
Ah!—See here, this—mutiny!—
Come and help!
(Enters from tent.)
(Silence. To the First Cadet who is walking away,
with his chin on his chest.)
You there, with the long face?
I have something on my mind that troubles me.
What is that?
So have I.
You enjoy this!
(Tightens his belt.)
It keeps me looking young.
My teeth are growing rusty.
My belly sounds as hollow as a drum.
Beat the long roll on it!
My ears are ringing.
Liar! A hungry belly has no ears.
Oh for a barrel of good wine!
(Offers him his own helmet.)
I'll swallow anything!
(Throws him the book which he has in his
Try the "Iliad."
The Cardinal, he has four meals a day—
What does he care!
Ask him; he really ought
To send you ... a spring lamb out of his flock,
Yes, and a bottle—
(Exaggerates the manner of one speaking to a
If you please,
Richelieu—a little more of the Red Seal ...
Ah, thank you!
And the salad—
I am as hungry as a wolf.
(Tosses him a cloak,)
Your sheep's clothing.
(With a shrug)
Always the clever answer!
Always the answer—yes! Let me die so—
Under some rosy-golden sunset, saying
A good thing, for a good cause! By the sword,
The point of honor—by the hand of one
Worthy to be my foeman, let me fall—
Steel in my heart, and laughter on my lips!
Voices Here and There
All very well— We are hungry!
Bah! You think
Of nothing but yourselves.
(His eye singles out the old fifer in the
You were a shepherd once— Your pipe now! Come,
Breathe, blow,— Play to these belly-worshippers
The old airs of the South—
"Airs with a smile in them,
Airs with a sigh in them, airs with the breeze
And the blue of the sky in them—"
Small, demure tunes
Whose every note is like a little sister—
Songs heard only in some long silent voice
Not quite forgotten— Mountain melodies
Like thin smoke rising from brown cottages
In the still noon, slowly— Quaint lullabies,
Whose very music has a Southern tongue—
(The old man sits down and prepares his
Now let the fife, that dry old warrior,
Dream, while over the stops your fingers dance
A minuet of little birds—let 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 days ...
(The fifer begins to play a Provençal
Listen, you Gascons! Now it is no more
The shrill fife— It is the flute, through woodlands far
Away, calling—no longer the hot battle-cry,
But die cool, quiet pipe our goatherds play!
Listen—the forest glens ... the hills ... the downs ...
The green sweetness of night on the Dordogne ...
Listen, you Gascons! It is all Gascoyne! ...
(Every head is bowed; every eye cast down. Here
and there a tear is furtively brushed away with the back of a hand,
the corner of a cloak.)
(Softly to Cyrano)
You make them weep—
For homesickness—a hunger
More noble than that hunger of the flesh;
It is their hearts now that are starving.
But you melt down their manhood.
(Motions the drummer to approach.)
You think so?
Let them be. There is iron in their blood
Not easily dissolved in tears. You need
(He makes a gesture; the drum beats.)
(Spring up and rush toward their weapons.)
What's that? Where is it?—What?—
Let Mars snore in his sleep once—and farewell
Venus—sweet dreams—regrets—dear thoughts of home—
All the fife lulls to rest wakes at the drums!
(Looks up stage.)
Aha— Monsieur de Guiche!
(Mutter among themselves.)
He makes me weary!
With his collar
Of lace over his corselet—
Like a ribbon
Tied round a sword!
Bandages for a boil
On the back of his neck—
A courtier always!
The Cardinal's nephew!
None the less—a Gascon.
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!
He looks pale.
Oh, he can be hungry too,
Like any other poor devil—but he wears
So many jewels on that belt of his
That his cramps glitter in the sun!
To see us looking miserable? Quick—
(They all hurriedly begin to play, on their
stools, on the drums, or on their cloaks spread on the ground,
lighting their long pipes meanwhile.)
As for me, I read Descartes.
(He walks up and down, reading a small book which
he takes from his pocket. Tableau: De Guiche enters, looking pale and
haggard. All are absorbed in their games. General air of
contentment. De Guiche goes to Carbon. They look at each other
askance, each observing with satisfaction the condition of the
He looks yellow.
He is all eyes.
(Looks at the Cadets.)
What have we here? Black looks? Yes, gentlemen—
I am informed I am not popular;
The hill-nobility, barons of Béarn,
The pomp and pride of Périgord—I learn
They disapprove their colonel; call him courtier,
Politician—they take it ill that I
Cover my steel with lace of Genoa.
It is a great offense to be a Gascon
And not to be a beggar!
(Silence. They smoke. They play.)
Well—Shall I have
Your captain punish you? ... No.
As to that,
It would be impossible.
I am free;
I pay my company; it is my own;
I obey military orders.
That will be quite enough.
(To the Cadets)
I can afford
Your little hates. My conduct under fire
Is well known. It was only yesterday
I drove the Count de Bucquoi from Bapaume,
Pouring my men down like an avalanche,
I myself led the charge—
(Without looking up from his book.)
And your white scarf?
(Surprised and gratified)
You heard that episode? Yes—rallying
My men for the third time, I found myself
Carried among a crowd of fugitives
Into the enemy's lines. I was in danger
Of being shot or captured; but I thought
Quickly—took off and flung away the scarf
That marked my military rank—and so
Being inconspicuous, escaped among
My own force, rallied them, returned again
And won the day! ...
(The Cadets do not appear to be listening, but
here and there the cards and the dice boxes remain motionless, the
smoke is retained in their cheeks.)
What do you say to that?
Presence of mind—yes?
Henry of Navarre
Being outnumbered, never flung away
His white plume.
(Silent enjoyment. The cards flutter, the dice
roll, the smoke puffs out.)
My device was a success,
(Same attentive pause, interrupting the games and
Possibly ... An officer
Does not lightly resign the privilege
Of being a target.
(Cards, dice, and smoke fall, roll, and float
away with increasing satisfaction.)
Now, if I had been there—
Your courage and my own differ in this—
When your scarf fell, I should have put it on.
Boasting? Lend it to me
To-night; I'll lead the first charge, with your scarf
Over my shoulder!
Gasconnade once more!
You are safe making that offer, and you know it—
My scarf lies on the river bank between
The lines, a spot swept by artillery
Impossible to reach alive!
(Produces the scarf from his pocket.)
Yes. Here ...
(Silence. The Cadets stifle their laughter behind
their cards and their dice boxes. De Guiche turns to look at
them. Immediately they resume their gravity and their game. One of
them whistles carelessly the mountain air which the fifer was
(Takes the scarf.)
Thank you! That bit of white is what I need
To make a signal. I was hesitating—
You have decided me.
(He goes up to the parapet, climbs upon it, and
waves the scarf at arm's length several times.)
What is he doing?—
The Sentry on the Parapet
There's a man down there running away!
A Spaniard. Very useful as a spy
To both sides. He informs the enemy
As I instruct him. By his influence
I can arrange their dispositions.
(Folding the scarf.)
A traitor, yes; but useful ...
We were saying? ...
Oh, yes— Here is a bit of news for you:
Last night we had hopes of reprovisioning
The army. Under cover of the dark,
The Marshal moved to Dourlens. Our supplies
Are there. He may reach them. But to return
Safely, he needs a large force—at least half
Our entire strength. At present, we have here
Merely a skeleton.
The Spaniards do not know that.
Oh, yes; they know
They will attack.
From that spy of mine
I learned of their intention. His report
Will determine the point of their advance.
The fellow asked me what to say! I told him:
"Go out between the lines; watch for my signal;
Where you see that, let them attack there."
(To the Cadets)
(All rise. Noise of sword belts and breastplates
being buckled on.)
You may have perhaps an hour.
Oh:— An hour!
(They all sit down and resume their games once
The great thing is to gain time.
Any moment the Marshal may return.
And to gain time?
You will all be so kind
As to lay down your lives!
Ah! Your revenge?
I make no great pretence of loving you!
But—since you gentlemen esteem yourselves
Invincible, the bravest of the brave,
And all that—why need we be personal?
I serve the king in choosing ... as I choose!
Sir, permit me to offer—all our thanks.
(Returns the salute.)
You love to fight a hundred against one;
Here is your opportunity!
(He goes up stage with Carbon.)
(To the Cadets)
We shall add now to our old Gascon arms
With their six chevrons, blue and gold, a seventh—
(De Guiche talks in a low tone to Carbon up
stage. Orders are given. The defense is arranged. Cyrano goes to
Christian who has remained motionless with folded arms.)
(Lays a hand on his shoulder.)
(Shakes his head.)
I should like
To say farewell to her, with my whole heart
Written for her to keep.
I thought of that—
(Takes a letter from his doublet.)
I have written your farewell.
To read it?
(He takes the letter; begins to read, looks up
What is it?
This little circle—
(Takes back the letter quickly, and looks
So it is! ... Well—a poet while he writes
Is like a lover in his lady's arms,
Believing his imagination—all
Seems true—you understand? There's half the charm
Of writing— Now, this letter as you see
I have made so pathetic that I wept
While I was writing it!
Because ... it is a little thing to die,
But—not to see her ... that is terrible!
And I shall never—
(Christian looks at him.)
We shall never—
(Snatches the letter.)
Give me that!
(Noise in the distance on the outskirts of the
Voice of a Sentry
Halt—who goes there?
(Shots, shouting, jingle of harness)
What is it?—
The Sentry on the Parapet
Why, a coach.
(They rush to look.)
What? In the Camp?
A coach? Coming this way— It must have driven
Through the Spanish lines—what the devil— Fire!—
No— Hark! The driver shouting—what does he say?
Wait— He said: "On the service of the King!"
(They are all on the parapet looking over. The
jingling comes nearer.)
Of the King?
(They come down and fall into line.)
Hats off, all!
(Speaks off stage.)
The King! Fall in,
(The coach enters at full trot. It is covered
with mud and dust. The curtains are drawn. Two foot-men are seated
behind. It stops suddenly.)
Beat the assembly—
(Roll of drums. All the Cadets uncover.)
Two of you,
Lower the steps—open the door—
(Two men rush to the coach. The door opens.)
(Comes out of the coach.)
(At the sound of a woman's voice, every head is
On the King's service— You?
Yes— my own king —
God is merciful ...
(Hastens to her.)
You! Why have you—
Your war lasted so long!
I wonder if I dare to look at her ...
You cannot remain here!
Roll that drum here, somebody ...
(She sits on the drum, which is brought to
Thank you— There!
Would you believe—they fired upon us?
Looks like the pumpkin in the fairy tale,
Does it not? And my footmen—
(She throws a kiss to Christian.)
How do you do?
(She looks about.)
How serious you all are! Do you know,
It is a long drive here—from Arras?
I am glad to see you!
Oh— How did you come?
How did I find you? Very easily—
I followed where the country was laid waste
—Oh, but I saw such things! I had to see
To believe. Gentlemen, is that the service
Of your King? I prefer my own!
Did you come through?
Why, through the Spanish lines
They let you pass?—
What did you say?
How did you manage?
Yes, that must have been
No— I simply drove along.
Now and then some hidalgo scowled at me
And I smiled back—my best smile; whereupon,
The Spaniards being (without prejudice
To the French) the most polished gentlemen
In the world—I passed!
Certainly that smile
Should be a passport! Did they never ask
Your errand or your destination?
Frequently! Then I dropped my eyes and said:
"I have a lover ..." Whereupon, the Spaniard
With an air of ferocious dignity
Would close the carriage door—with such a gesture
As any king might envy, wave aside
The muskets that were levelled at my breast,
Fall back three paces, equally superb
In grace and gloom, draw himself up, thrust forth
A spur under his cloak, sweeping the air
With his long plumes, bow very low, and say:
I said "a lover"—but you understand—
Forgive me!—If I said "I am going to meet
My husband", no one would believe me!
You must leave this place.
In half an hour ...
Or these quarters
It might be better ...
If you ...
You are going to fight. I remain here.
He is my husband—
(Throws herself in Christian's arms.)
I will die with you!
Your eyes!... Why do you?—
You know why ...
Is, we are ordered—
(To De Guiche)
Oh—you wish to make
A widow of me?
On my word of honor—
No matter. I am just a little mad—
I will stay. It may be amusing.
A heroine—our intellectual?
Monsieur de Bergerac, I am your cousin!
We'll fight now! Hurrah!
(More and more excited)
I am safe with you—my friends!
The whole camp breathes of lilies!—
And I think,
This hat would look well on the battlefield! ...
(Looks at De Guiche.)
The Count ought to leave us. Any moment
Now, there may be danger.
This is too much!
I must inspect my guns. I shall return—
You may change your mind— There will yet be time—
(De Guiche goes out.)
(To the rest)
She stays here!
(Rushing about, elbowing each other, brushing off
Soap!—Here's a hole in my— A needle!—Who
Has a ribbon?—Your mirror, quick!—My cuffs—
(To Cyrano, who is still urging her)
No! I shall not stir one step!
(Having, like the others, tightened his belt,
dusted himself, brushed off his hat, smoothed out his plume and put on
his lace cuffs, advances to Roxane ceremoniously.)
In that case, may I not present to you
Some of these gentlemen who are to have
The honor of dying in your presence?
(She waits, standing, on the arm of Christian,
Baron de Peyrescous de Colignac!
Baron de Casterac
De Cahuzac—Vidame de Malgouyre
Estressac Lésbas d'Escarabiot—
Baron Hillot de Blagnac-Saléchan
Names you all have!
Open the hand
That holds your handkerchief.
(Opens her hand; the handkerchief falls.)
(The whole company makes a movement toward
(Picks it up quickly.)
Was in want of a banner. We have now
The fairest in the army!
(Fastens the handkerchief to his lance.)
(To the others)
With her smiling on me,
I could die happy, if I only had
Something in my—
(Turns upon him)
Shame on you! Feast your eyes
And forget your—
It must be this fresh air—
I am starving! Let me see ...
Pastry, a little white wine—that would do.
Will some one bring that to me?
Will some one!—
Where the devil are we to find—
In my carriage.
All you have to do
Is to unpack, and carve, and serve things.
Notice my coachman; you may recognize
An old friend.
(Rush to the coach.)
(Follows them with her eyes.)
Poor fellows ...
(Kisses her hand.)
Our good fairy!
(Standing on his box, like a mountebank before a
The Spaniards, basking in our smiles,
Smiled on our baskets!
(Aside, to Christian)
The Fair, and missed—
(He takes from under the seat a dish, which he
(Applause. The dish is passed from hand to
(As before, to Christian)
Charmed their eyes, while Adonis quietly
(Brandishing a ham.)
Brought home the Boar!
(Applause; the ham is seized by a score of hands
Pst— Let me speak to you—
(As the Cadets return, their arms full of
Spread them out on the ground
Christian! Come here;
Make yourself useful.
(Christian turns to her, at the moment when
Cyrano was leading him aside. She arranges the food, with his aid and
that of the two imperturbable footmen.)
Peacock, aux truffes!
(Comes down, cutting a huge slice of the
We are not going to die without a gorge—
(Sees Roxane; corrects himself hastily.)
(Tossing out the cushions of the carriage.)
Open these—they are full
(Tumult; laughter; the cushions are
(Throws out bottles of red wine.)
Flasks of ruby—
(And of white)
Flasks of topaz—
(Throws a tablecloth at the head of Cyrano.)
Come back out of your dreams!
Unfold this cloth—
(Takes off one of the lanterns of the carriage,
and flourishes it.)
Our lamps are bonbonnières!
I must see you before you speak with her—
(More and more lyrical)
My whip-handle is one long sausage!
(Pouring wine; passing the food.)
Being about to die, first let us dine!
Never mind the others—all for Gascoyne!
And if De Guiche comes, he is not invited!
(Going from one to another.)
Plenty of time—you need not eat so fast—
Hold your cup—
What's the matter?
You are so good
To us ...
There, there! Red or white wine?
For Monsieur de Carbon!—Napkins— A knife—
Pass your plate— Some of the crust? A little more—
Light or dark?—Burgundy?—
(Follows her with an armful of dishes, helping to
(Goes to Christian.)
What would you like?
Oh, but you must!—
A little wine? A biscuit?
Tell me first
Why you came—
By and by. I must take care
Of these poor boys—
(Who has gone up stage to pass up food to the
sentry on the parapet, on the end of a lance.)
Quick!—Dishes, bottles, tablecloth—
You there! Up on your box—
—Everything out of sight?—
(In a twinkling, everything has been pushed
inside the tents, hidden in their hats or under their cloaks, De
Guiche enters quickly, then stops, sniffing the air. Silence.)
It smells good here.
(Humming with an air of great unconcern.)
Sing ha-ha-ha and ho-ho-ho—
(Stares at him; he grows embarrassed.)
What are you blushing for?
Stirs at the thought of battle.
Pom ... pom ... pom! ...
(Turns upon him.)
What is that?
Only song—only little song—
You appear happy!
Oh yes—always happy
Before a fight—
(Calls to Carbon, for the purpose of giving him
(Stops and looks at him.)
What the devil—
You are looking happy too!—
(Pulls a long face and hides a bottle behind his
One gun remaining. I have had it placed
(He points off stage.)
There—in that corner—for your men.
(Same business; burlesque)
I believe you are both drunk—
To guns—take care of the recoil!
(Goes up to him, furious.)
How dare you?
A Gascon's gun never recoils!
(Shakes him by the arm.)
You are drunk—
With the smell of powder!
(Turns away with a shrug.)
Madame, have you decided?
I stay here.
You have time to escape—
Someone give me a musket!
Sir, you show courage!
In spite of all that lace!
Must I run
Away, and leave a woman?
(To First Cadet)
We might give him
Something to eat—what do you say?
(All the food re-appears, as if by magic.)
(His face lights up.)
Here a little, there a little—
(Recovers his self-control; haughtily.)
Do you think
I want your leavings?
I can fight as I am!
Listen to him—
He has an accent!
Have I so?
A Gascon, after all!
(They all begin to dance.)
(Who has disappeared for a moment behind the
parapet, reappears on top of it.)
I have placed my pikemen
(Indicates a row of pikes showing above the
(Bows to Roxane.)
We'll review them; will you take my arm?
(She takes his arm; they go up on the
parapet. The rest uncover, and follow them up stage.)
(Goes hurriedly to Cyrano.)
(At the moment when Roxane appears on the parapet
the pikes are lowered in salute, and a cheer is heard. She bows.)
What is it?
If Roxane ...
Speaks about your letters ..
Do not make the mistake of showing ...
I must tell you! ...
It is quite simple—I had forgotten it
Until just now. You have ...
Have written oftener than you think.
I took upon me to interpret you;
And wrote—sometimes ... without..
My knowing. Well?
Oh yes, perfectly!—
For a month, we have been blockaded here!—
How did you send all these letters?
Daylight, I managed—
I see. That was also
—So I wrote to her,
How many times a week? Twice? Three times? Four?
Yes—every day ...
Every single day ...
And that wrought you up
Into such a flame that you faced death—
(Sees Roxane returning.)
Not before her!
(He goes quickly into the tent. Roxane comes up
(Takes her hands.)
Tell me now
Why you came here—over these ruined roads—
Why you made your way among mosstroopers
And ruffians—you—to join me here?
Your letters ...
It was your own fault
If I ran into danger! I went mad—
Mad with you! Think what you have written me,
How many times, each one more wonderful
Than the last!
All this for a few absurd
Hush—absurd! How can you know?
I thought I loved you, ever since one night
When a voice that I never would have known
Under my window breathed your soul to me ...
But—all this time, your letters—every one
Was like hearing your voice there in the dark,
All around me, like your arms around me ...
I came. Anyone would! Do you suppose
The prim Penelope had stayed at home
Embroidering,—if Ulysses wrote like you?
She would have fallen like another Helen—
Tucked up those linen petticoats of hers
And followed him to Troy!
I read them
Over and over. I grew faint reading them.
I belonged to you. Every page of them
Was like a petal fallen from your soul—
Like the light and the fire of a great love,
Sweet and strong and true—
Sweet... and strong ... and true ...
You felt that, Roxane?—
You know how I feel! ...
So—you came ...
Oh, my Christian, oh my king,
Lift me up if I fall upon my knees—
It is the heart of me that kneels to you,
And will remain forever at your feet—
You cannot lift that!—
I came here to say
'Forgive me'—(It is time to be forgiven
Now, when we may die presently)—forgive me
For being light and vain and loving you
Only because you were beautiful.
Afterwards I knew better. Afterwards
(I had to learn to use my wings) I loved you
For yourself too—knowing you more, and loving
More of you. And now—
It is yourself
I love now: your own self.
You must have suffered; for you must have seen
How frivolous I was; and to be loved
For the mere costume, the poor casual body
You went about in—to a soul like yours,
That must have been torture! Therefore with words
You revealed your heart. Now that image of you
Which filled my eyes first—I see better now,
And I see it no more!
You still doubt
You cannot perfectly believe in me—
A love like this—
I want no love like this!
I want love only for—
Only for what
Every woman sees in you? I can do
Better than that!
No—it was best before!
You do not altogether know me ... Dear,
There is more of me than there was—with this,
I can love more of you—more of what makes
You your own self—Truly! ... If you were less
—Less charming—ugly even—
I should love you still.
You mean that?
Yes. Even then!
Oh ... God! ..,
Now are you happy?
What is it?
(Pushes her away gently.)
Nothing ... one moment...
(Gesture toward the Cadets)
I am keeping you
From those poor fellows— Go and smile at them;
They are going to die!
(She goes up among the Gascons who gather round
(Comes out of the tent, armed for the
What is wrong? You look—
She does not
Love me any more.
You think not?
She loves only my soul.
That means you. And you love her.
That is true ...
More than that.
Tell her so!
Why—look at me!
She would love me if I were ugly.
Yes. Now then!
(Half to himself)
It was good of her
To tell you that...
(Change of tone)
Nonsense! Do you believe
Any such madness—
It was good of her
To tell you....
Do not take her at her word!
Go on—you never will be ugly— Go!
She would never forgive me.
That is what
We shall see.
Let her choose between us!—
Tell her everything!
No—you torture me—
Shall I ruin your happiness, because
I have a cursed pretty face? That seems
And am I to ruin yours
Because I happen to be born with power
To say what you—perhaps—feel?
Do not try me too far!
I am tired of being
My own rival!
Our secret marriage—
No witnesses—fraudulent—that can be
Do not try me—
I want her love
For the poor fool I am—or not at all!
Oh, I am going through with this! I'll know,
One way or the other. Now I shall walk down
To the end of the post. Go tell her. Let her choose
One of us.
It will be you.
God—I hope so!
(He turns and calls.)
(Hurries down to him.)
Has news for you—important.
(She turns to Cyrano. Christian goes out.)
He is gone ...
Nothing—only Christian thinks
You ought to know—
I do know. He still doubts
What I told him just now. I saw that.
(Takes her hand.)
True—what you told him just now?
It was true!
I said that I should love him even ..
Comes hard—before me?
Even if he were ...
I shall not be hurt!—Ugly?
I should love him.
(A few shots, off stage, in the direction in
which Christian disappeared.)
Hark! The guns—
How could he ever be grotesque—
But you could love him so,
As much as?—
It is true!—true!—
Perhaps—God! This is too much happiness ...
(Enters quickly; calls to Cyrano in a low
(Whispers a few words to him.)
(Lets fall Roxane's hand.)
What is it?
(Half stunned, and aside)
All gone ...
What is it? Oh,
They are fighting!—
(She goes up to look off stage.)
All gone. I cannot ever
Tell her, now ... ever ...
(Starts to rush away.)
What has happened?
(Several Cadets enter. They conceal something
which they are carrying, and form a group so as to prevent Roxane from
seeing their burden.)
Come away ...
(He leads her away from the group.)
You were telling me
Oh, that? Nothing....
I swear to you
That the spirit of Christian—that his soul
(Corrects himself quickly.)
That his soul is no less great—
(Catches at the word.)
(She rushes among the men, and scatters
All gone ...
(Sees Christian lying upon his cloak.)
At the first volley.
(Roxane throws herself upon the body of
Christian. Shots; at first scattered, then increasing. Drums. Voices
(Sword in hand)
(Followed by the Cadets, he climbs over the
parapet and disappears.)
Come on, there, You!
Measure your fuse!
(Ragueneau hurries up, carrying a helmet full of
(Low and quick, in Christian's ear, while Roxane
is dipping into the water a strip of linen torn from her dress.)
I have told her; she loves you,
(Christian closes his eyes.)
(Turns to Christian.)
Draw your ramrods!
He is not dead? ...
Open your charges!
I can feel his cheek
Growing cold against mine—
Over his heart—
(She opens it.)
My letter ...
(Musketry, cries and groans. Din of battle.)
(Trying to withdraw his hand, which Roxane, still
upon her knees, is holding.)
But Roxane—they are fighting—
Wait a little ...
He is dead. No one else knew him but you ...
(She weeps quietly.)
Was he not a great lover, a great man,
A poet, unknown,
A fine mind?
A heart deeper than we knew—
A soul magnificently tender?
(Sinks down upon the breast of Christian.)
He is dead now ...
(Aside; draws his sword.)
Why, so am I—
For I am dead, and my love mourns for me
And does not know ...
(Trumpets in distance)
(Appears on the parapet, disheveled, wounded on
the forehead, shouting.)
The signal—hark—the trumpets!
The army has returned— Hold them now!—Hold them!
On his letter—blood ... and tears.
This place is dangerous!—
(To De Guiche)
Take her away—I am going—
(Kisses the letter; faintly.)
His blood ... his tears ...
(Leaps down from the coach and runs to her.)
She has fainted—
(On the parapet; savagely, to the Cadets)
Voice Off Stage
Lay down your arms!
(To De Guiche)
Sir, you have proved yourself— Take care of her.
(Hurries to Roxane and takes her up in his
As you will—we can win, if you hold on
A little longer—
(Calls out to Roxane, as she is carried away,
fainting, by De Guiche and Ragueneau.)
(Tumult, outcries. Several Cadets come back
wounded and fall on the stage. Cyrano, rushing to the fight, is
stopped on the crest of the parapet by Carbon, covered with
We are breaking—I am twice wounded—
(Shouts to the Gascons.)
Reculez pas, Drollos!
(To Carbon, holding him up.)
I have two deaths to avenge now—Christian's
And my own!
(They come down, Cyrano takes from him the lance
with Roxane's handkerchief still fastened to it.)
Float, little banner, with her name!
(He plants it on the parapet; then shouts to the
Toumbé dessus! Escrasas lous!
(To the fifer)
(Fife plays. The wounded drag themselves to their
feet. Other Cadets scramble over the parapet and group themselves
around Cyrano and his tiny flag. The coach is filled and covered with
men, bristling with muskets, transformed into a redoubt.)
(Reels backward over the wall, still fighting.
They are climbing over!—
(And falls dead.)
Let them come!— A salute now—
(The parapet is crowned for an instant with a
rank of enemies. The imperial banner of Spain is raised aloft.)
(Among the ranks of the enemy)
(Murderous counter-fire; the Cadets fall on every
A Spanish Officer
Who are these men who are so fond of death?
(Erect amid the hail of bullets, declaims)
The Cadets of Gascoyne, the defenders
Of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux—
Free fighters, free lovers, free spenders—
(He rushes forward, followed by a few
The Cadets of Gascoyne ...
(The rest is lost in the din of battle.)
THE FIFTH ACT
Fifteen years later, in 1655: The Park of the Convent occupied by the
Ladies of the Cross, at Paris.
Magnificent foliage. To the Left, the House upon a broad Terrace at
the head of a flight of steps, with several Doors opening upon the
Terrace. In the centre of the scene an enormous Tree alone in the
centre of a little open space. Toward the Right, in the foreground,
among Boxwood Bushes, a semicircular Bench of stone.
All the way across the Background of the scene, an Avenue overarched
by the chestnut trees, leading to the door of a Chapel on the Right,
just visible among the branches of the trees. Beyond the double
curtain of the trees, we catch a glimpse of bright lawns and shaded
walks, masses of shrubbery; the perspective of the Park; the sky.
A little side door of the Chapel opens upon a Colonnade, garlanded
with Autumnal vines, and disappearing on the Right behind the
It is late October. Above the still living green of the turf all the
foliage is red and yellow and brown. The evergreen masses of Box and
Yew stand out darkly against this Autumnal coloring. A heap of dead
leaves under every tree. The leaves are falling everywhere. They
rustle underfoot along the walks; the Terrace and the Bench are half
covered with them.
Before the Bench on the Right, on the side toward the Tree, is placed
a tall embroidery frame and beside it a little Chair. Baskets filled
with skeins of many-colored silks and balls of wool. Tapestry
unfinished on the Frame.
At the Curtain Rise the nuns are coming and going across the Park;
several of them are seated on the Bench around Mother Marguérite de
Jesus. The leaves are falling.
(To Mother Marguérite)
Sister Claire has been looking in the glass
At her new cap; twice!
(To Sister Claire)
It is very plain;
And Sister Marthe stole a plum
Out of the tart this morning!
(To Sister Marthe)
That was wrong;
Oh, but such a little look!
Such a little plum!
I shall tell Monsieur
De Cyrano, this evening.
No! Oh, no!—
He will make fun of us.
He will say nuns
Are so gay!
And so greedy!
And so good ...
It must be ten years, Mother Marguérite,
That he has come here every Saturday,
Is it not?
More than ten years; ever since
His cousin came to live among us here—
Her worldly weeds among our linen veils,
Her widowhood and our virginity—
Like a black dove among white doves.
Else ever turns that happy sorrow of hers
Into a smile.
All the Nuns
He is such fun!—He makes us
Almost laugh!—And he teases everyone—
And pleases everyone— And we all love him—
And he likes our cake, too—
I am afraid
He is not a good Catholic.
We shall convert him.
Let him be;
I forbid you to worry him. Perhaps
He might stop coming here.
You need not
Be afraid. God knows all about him.
But every Saturday he says to me,
Just as if he were proud of it: "Well, Sister,
I ate meat yesterday!"
He tells you so?
The last time he said that, he had not eaten
Anything, for two days.
He is poor;
Who said so?
Monsieur Le Bret.
Why does not someone help him?
He would be
Angry; very angry ...
(Between the trees up stage, Roxane appears, all
in black, with a widow's cap and long veils. De Guiche, magnificently
grown old, walks beside her. They move slowly. Mother Marguérite
Let us go in—
Madame Madeleine has a visitor.
(To Sister Claire)
The Duc de Grammont, is it not? The Marshal?
(Looks toward De Guiche.)
I think so—yes.
He has not been to see her
He is busy—the Court!—the Camp!—
The world! ...
(They go out. De Guiche and Roxane come down in
silence, and stop near the embroidery frame. Pause.)
And you remain here, wasting all that gold—
For ever in mourning?
And still faithful?
And still faithful...
(After a pause)
Have you forgiven me?
(Simply, looking up at the cross of the
I am here.
Was Christian ... all that?
If you knew him.
Ah? We were not precisely ... intimate ...
And his last letter—always at your heart?
It hangs here, like a holy reliquary.
Dead—and you love him still!
Sometimes I think
He has not altogether died; our hearts
Meet, and his love flows all around me, living.
(After another pause)
You see Cyrano often?
My old friend takes the place of my Gazette,
Brings me all the news. Every Saturday,
Under that tree where you are now, his chair
Stands, if the day be fine. I wait for him,
Embroidering; the hour strikes; then I hear,
(I need not turn to look!) at the last stroke,
His cane tapping the steps. He laughs at me
For my eternal needlework. He tells
The story of the past week—
(Le Bret appears on the steps.)
There's Le Bret!—
(Le Bret approaches.)
How is it with our friend?
(To De Guiche)
Oh, he exaggerates!
Just as I said—
Loneliness, misery—I told him so!—
His satires make a host of enemies—
He attacks the false nobles, the false saints,
The false heroes, the false artists—in short,
But they fear that sword of his—
No one dare touch him!
(With a shrug)
H'm—that may be so.
It is not violence I fear for him,
But solitude—poverty—old gray December,
Stealing on wolf's feet, with a wolf's green eyes,
Into his darkening room. Those bravoes yet
May strike our Swordsman down! Every day now,
He draws his belt up one hole; his poor nose
Looks like old ivory; he has one coat
Left—his old black serge.
That is nothing strange
In this world! No, you need not pity him
(With a bitter smile)
My lord Marshal! ...
I say, do not
Pity him overmuch. He lives his life,
His own life, his own way—thought, word, and deed
My lord Duke! ...
Yes, I know—I have all;
He has nothing. Nevertheless, to-day
I should be proud to shake his hand ...
I will go with you.
(De Guiche salutes Le Bret, and turns with Roxane
toward the steps.)
(Pauses on the steps, as she climbs.)
Yes— I envy him
Now and then ...
Do you know, when a man wins
Everything in this world, when he succeeds
Too much—he 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.
Does you honor.
Oh, yes ...
Monsieur Le Bret!—
You pardon us?—
(He goes to Le Bret, and speaks in a low
One moment— It is true
That no one dares attack your friend. Some people
Dislike him, none the less. The other day
At Court, such a one said to me: "This man
Cyrano may die—accidentally."
You may thank me. Keep him at home
All you can. Tell him to be careful.
(Shaking his hands to heaven.)
He is coming here. I'll warn him—yes, but I ...
(Still on the steps, to a Nun who approaches
I am—what is it?
Wishes to see you.
Bring him here.
(To Le Bret and De Guiche)
For sympathy—having been first of all
A Poet, he became since then, in turn,
(He sees Le Bret.)
First tell your troubles
To Le Bret for a moment.
(She goes out, with De Guiche, not hearing
him. Ragueneau comes to Le Bret.)
After all, I had rather— You are here—
She need not know so soon— I went to see him
Just now— Our friend— As I came near his door,
I saw him coming out I hurried on
To join him. At the corner of the street,
As he passed— Could it be an accident?—
I wonder!—At the window overhead,
A lackey with a heavy log of wood
Let it fall—
I ran to him—
God! The cowards!
I found him lying there—
A great hole in his head—
Is he alive?
Alive—yes. But... I had to carry him
Up to his room—Dieu! Have you seen his room?—
Is he suffering?
Call a doctor?
One came—for charity.
Poor Cyrano!—We must not tell Roxane
All at once ... Did the doctor say?—
Fever, and lesions of the— I forget
Those long names— Ah, if you had seen him there,
His head all white bandages!—Let us go
Quickly—there is no one to care for him—
All alone— If he tries to raise his head,
He may die!
(Draws him away to the Right,)
This way— It is shorter—through
(Appears on the stairway, and calls to Le -Bret
as he is going out by the colonnade which leads to the small door of
Monsieur Le Bret!—
(Le Bret and Ragueneau rush off without
When I call to him? Poor dear Ragueneau
Must have been very tragic!
(She comes slowly down the stair, toward the
What a day! ...
Something in these bright Autumn afternoons
Happy and yet regretful—an old sorrow
Smiling ... as though poor little April dried
Her tears long ago—and remembered ...
(She sits down at her work. Two Nuns come out of
the house carrying a great chair and set it under the tree.)
The old chair, for my old friend!—
The best one
In our best parlor!—
Thank you, Sister—
(The Nuns withdraw.)
(She begins embroidering. The clock strikes.)
The hour!—He will be coming now—my silks—
All done striking? He never was so late
Before! The sister at the door—my thimble ...
Here it is—she must be exhorting him
To repent all his sins ...
He ought to be
Converted, by this time— Another leaf—
(A dead leaf falls on her work; she brushes it
Certainly nothing could—my scissors—ever
Keep him away—
(Appears on the steps.)
Monsieur de Bergerac.
What was I saying? ... Hard, sometimes, to match
These faded colors! ...
(While she goes on working, Cyrano appears at the
top of the steps, very pale, his hat drawn over his eyes. The Nun who
has brought him in goes away. He begins to descend the steps leaning
on his cane, and holding himself on his feet only by an evident
effort. Roxane turns to him, with a tone of friendly banter.)
After fourteen years,
Late—for the first time!
(Reaches the chair, and sinks into it; his gay
tone contrasting with his tortured face.)
I was detained by—
(Carelessly, still sewing)
Was your visitor
Why, hardly that—inopportune,
Let us say—an old friend of mine—at least
A very old acquaintance.
Did you tell him
To go away?
For the time being, yes.
I said: "Excuse me—this is Saturday—
I have a previous engagement, one
I cannot miss, even for you— Come back
An hour from now."
Your friend will have to wait;
I shall not let you go till dark.
A little before dark, I must go ...
(He leans back in the chair, and closes his
eyes. Sister Marthe crosses above the stairway. Roxane sees her,
motions her to wait, then turns to Cyrano.)
Somebody waiting to be teased.
(Quickly, opens his eyes.)
(In a big, comic voice)
(Sister Marthe glides toward him.)
Beautiful downcast eyes!—
(Looks up, smiling.)
(She sees his face.)
(Resumes his burlesque tone.)
I ate meat again!
Yes, I know.
That is why
He looks so pale ...
(To him: low and quickly)
In the refectory,
Before you go—come to me there—
I'll make you
A great bowl of hot soup—will you come?
Will I come!
You are quite reasonable
Has she converted you?
Not for the world!—
Why, now I think of it,
That is so— You, bursting with holiness,
And yet you never preach! Astonishing
I call it ...
(With burlesque ferocity)
Ah—now I'll astonish you—
I am going to—
(With the air of seeking for a good joke and
—let you pray for me
To-night, at vespers!
Look at her—
Absolutely struck dumb!
I did not wait
For you to say I might.
(She goes out.)
(Returns to Roxane, who is bending over her
Now, may the devil
Admire me, if I ever hope to see
The end of that embroidery!
It was time you said that.
(A breath of wind causes a few leaves to
(Raises her head and looks away through the
Perfect Venetian red! Look at them fall.
Yes—they know how to die. A little way
From the branch to the earth, a little fear
Of mingling with the common dust—and yet
They go down gracefully—a fail that seems
Then let the leaves fall. Tell me now
The Court news—my gazette!
Let me see—
(More and more pale, struggling against pain)
Saturday, the nineteenth; the King fell ill,
After eight helpings of grape marmalade.
His malady was brought before the court,
Found guilty of high treason; whereupon
His Majesty revived. The royal pulse
Is now normal. Sunday, the twentieth:
The Queen gave a grand ball, at which they burned
Seven hundred and sixty-three wax candles. Note:
They say our troops have been victorious
In Austria. Later: Three sorcerers
Have been hung. Special post: The little dog
Of Madame d'Athis was obliged to take
Four pills before—
Monsieur de Bergerac,
Will you kindly be quiet!
Monday ... nothing.
Lygdamire has a new lover.
(His face more and more altered)
The Twenty-second: All the court has gone
To Fontainebleau. Wednesday: The Comte de Fiesque
Spoke to Madame de Montglat; she said No.
Thursday: Mancini was the Queen of France
Or—very nearly! Friday: La Montglat
Said Yes. Saturday, twenty-sixth....
(His eyes close; his head sinks back;
(Surprised at not bearing any more, turns, looks
at him, and rises, frightened.)
He has fainted—
(She runs to him, crying out.)
(Opens his eyes.)
What ... What is it? ...
(He sees Roxane leaning over him, and quickly
pulls his hat down over his head and leans back away from her in the
It is nothing—truly!
My old wound—
At Arras—sometimes—you know.
My poor friend!
Oh it is nothing; it will soon be gone....
(Forcing a smile)
There! It is gone!
(Standing close to him)
We all have our old wounds—
I have mine—here ...
(Her hand at her breast)
under this faded scrap
Of writing.... It is hard to read now—all
But the blood—and the tears....
(Twilight begins to fall.)
His letter! ... Did you
Not promise me that some day ... that some day....
You would let me read it?
His letter?—You ...
I do wish it—to-day.
(Gives him the little silken bag from around her
May I ... open it?
Open it, and read.
(She goes back to her work, folds it again,
rearranges her silks.)
(Unfolds the letter; reads.)
"Farewell Roxane, because to-day I die—"
(Looks up, surprised.)
"I know that it will be to-day,
My own dearly beloved—and my heart
Still so heavy with love I have not told,
And I die without telling you! No more
Shall my eyes drink the sight of you like wine,
Never more, with a look that is a kiss,
Follow the sweet grace of you— "
How you read it—
"I remember now the way
You have, of pushing back a lock of hair
With one hand, from your forehead—and my heart
His letter ... and you read it so ...
(The darkness increases imperceptibly.)
"Cries out and keeps crying: 'Farewell, my dear,
In a voice....
"—My own heart's own,
My own treasure—"
In such a voice, ...
—As I remember hearing ...
(She comes near him, softly, without his seeing
her; passes the chair, leans over silently, looking at the letter. The
"—I am never away from you. Even now,
I shall not leave you. In another world,
I shall be still that one who loves you, loves you
Beyond measure, beyond— "
(Lays her hand on his shoulder.)
How can you read
Now? It is dark....
(He starts, turns, and sees her there close to
him. A little movement of surprise, almost of fear; then he bows his
head. A long pause; then in the twilight now completely fallen, she
says very softly, clasping her hands)
And all these fourteen years,
He has been the old friend, who came to me
To be amusing.
It was you.
No, no, Roxane, no!
And I might have known,
Every time that I heard you speak my name! ...
No— It was not I—
It was ... you!
I understand everything now: The letters—
That was you ...
And the dear, foolish words—
That was you...
And the voice ... in the dark....
That was ... you!
On my honor—
And ... the Soul!—
That was all you.
I never loved you—
You loved me.
No— He loved you—
You love me!
(His voice weakens.)
And why ... so great a "No"?
No, no, my own dear love, I love you not! ...
How many things have died ... and are newborn! ...
Why were you silent for so many years,
All the while, every night and every day,
He gave me nothing—you knew that— You knew
Here, in this letter lying on my breast,
Your tears— You knew they were your tears—
(Holds the letter out to her.)
Why do you break that silence now,
Why? Oh, because—
(Le Bret and Ragueneau enter, running.)
I knew it! He is here!
(Smiling, and trying to rise)
Well? Here I am!
He has killed himself, Madame, coming here!
He— Oh, God.... And that faintness ... was that?—
Nothing! I did not finish my Gazette—
Saturday, twenty-sixth: An hour or so
Before dinner, Monsieur de Bergerac
Died, foully murdered.
(He uncovers his head, and shows it swathed in
Oh, what does he mean?—
Cyrano!— What have they done to you?—
By the sword of a hero, let me fall—
Steel in my heart, and laughter on my lips!"
Yes, I said that once. How Fate loves a jest!—
Behold me ambushed—taken in the rear—
My battlefield a gutter—my noble foe
A lackey, with a log of wood! ...
Too logical— I have missed everything,
Even my death!
(Takes his hand.)
What are you writing nowadays,
(Through his tears)
I am not a poet now;
I snuff the—light the candles—for Molière!
Yes, but I am leaving him
To-morrow. Yesterday they played "Scapin"—
He has stolen your scene—
The whole scene—word for word!
Yes: "What the devil was he doing there"—
And Molière stole it all from you—
Bah— He showed good taste....
Went well? ...
Ah, monsieur, they laughed—and laughed—
How they did laugh!
Yes—that has been my life....
Do you remember that night Christian spoke
Under your window? It was always so!
While I stood in the darkness underneath,
Others climbed up to win the applause—the kiss!—
Well—that seems only justice— I still say,
Even now, on the threshold of my tomb—
"Molière has genius—Christian had good looks—"
(The chapel bell is ringing. Along the avenue of
trees above the stairway, the Nuns pass in procession to their
They are going to pray now; there is the bell.
(Raises herself and calls to them)
(Holding on to her hand)
No,—do not go away—
I may not still be here when you return....
(The Nuns have gone into the chapel. The organ
begins to play.)
A little harmony is all I need—
You shall not die! I love you!—
That is not in the story! You remember
When Beauty said "I love you" to the Beast
That was a fairy prince, his ugliness
Changed and dissolved, like magic.... But you see
I am still the same.
And I—I have done
This to you! All my fault—mine!
You? Why no,
On the contrary! I had never known
Womanhood and its sweetness but for you.
My mother did not love to look at me—
I never had a sister— Later on,
I feared the mistress with a mockery
Behind her smile. But you—because of you
I have had one friend not quite all a friend—
Across my life, one whispering silken gown! ...
(Points to the rising moon which begins to shine
down between the trees.)
Your other friend is looking at you.
(Smiling at the moon)
I never loved but one man in my life,
And I have lost him—twice....
Le Bret—I shall be up there presently
In the moon—without having to invent
Any flying machines!
What are you saying? ...
The moon—yes, that would be the place for me—
My kind of paradise! I shall find there
Those other souls who should be friends of mine—
No! No! No!
It is too idiotic—too unfair—
Such a friend—such a poet—such a man
To die so—to die so!—
There goes Le Bret,
(Half raises himself, his eye wanders.)
The Cadets of Gascoyne,
The Defenders.... The elementary mass—
Ah—there's the point! Now, then ...
And all that learning—
On the other hand,
We have Copernicus—
(More and more delirious)
But what the devil was he doing there?—
What the devil was he doing there, up there?" ...
Philosopher and scientist,
Poet, musician, duellist—
He flew high, and fell back again!
A pretty wit—whose like we lack—
A lover ... not like other men, ...
Here lies Hercule-Savinien
De Cyrano de Bergerac—
Who was all things—and all in vain!
Well, I must go—pardon— I cannot stay!
My moonbeam comes to carry me away....
(He falls back into the chair, half fainting. The
sobbing of Roxane recalls him to reality. Gradually his mind comes
back to him. He looks at her, stroking the veil that hides her
I would not have you mourn any the less
That good, brave, noble Christian; but perhaps—
I ask you only this—when the great cold
Gathers around my bones, that you may give
A double meaning to your widow's weeds
And the tears you let fall for him may be
For a little—my tears....
Oh, my love! ...
(Suddenly shaken as with a fever fit, he raises
himself erect and pushes her away.)
Not lying down! ...
(They spring forward to help him; he motions them
Let no one help me—no one!—
Only the tree....
(He sets his back against the trunk. Pause.)
It is coming ... I feel
Already shod with marble ... gloved with lead ...
Let the old fellow come now! He shall find me
On my feet—sword in hand—
(Draws his sword.)
I can see him there—he grins—
He is looking at my nose—that skeleton —
What's that you say? Hopeless?—Why, very well!—
But a man does not fight merely to win!
No—no—better to know one fights in vain! ...
You there— Who are you? A hundred against one—
I know them now, my ancient enemies—
(He lunges at the empty air.)
Falsehood! ... There! There! Prejudice— Compromise—
What's that? No! Surrender? No!
Ah, you too, Vanity!
I knew you would overthrow me in the end—
No! I fight on! I fight on! I fight on!
(He swings the blade in great circles, then
pauses, gasping. When he speaks again, it is in another tone.)
Yes, all my laurels you have riven away
And all my roses; yet in spite of you,
There is one crown I bear away with me,
And to-night, when I enter before God,
My salute shall sweep all the stars away
From the blue threshold! One thing without stain,
Unspotted from the world, in spite of doom
(He springs forward, his sword aloft.)
And that is ...
(The sword escapes from his hand; he totters, and
falls into the arms of Le Bret and Ragueneau .)
(Bends over him and kisses him on the
—That is ...
(Opens his eyes and smiles up at her.)
My white plume....
About This Edition
This translation of Cyrano de Bergerac into blank verse by the
American poet Brian Hooker was first published in 1923. It was
prepared for the American actor Walter Hampden, who played the role on
Broadway in several productions between 1923 and 1936. José Ferrer
took over the Broadway role in 1946; he appeared in two live
television productions of the play as well as the 1950 film adaptation
for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Ralph Richardson
also used Hooker's translation in a London production around the same
For many years, Hooker's version was the most commonly-used of the
English translations, both for performance on the stage and for
reading and study as literature. Up until now, however, there has
been no e-book version of this translation available from any source;
as of 2016, it is still in copyright in the United States, and no
commercial edition has been published.
This e-book edition, prepared for publication in countries such as
Australia with less restrictive copyright laws, was produced using a
1971 printing of the Bantam paperback edition as the source of the
text. The text was retyped and reformatted by hand to preserve the
layout of the verse dialogue. Scene markings (as present in the
original French version but not the source text) have been added,
along with footnotes to explain references to historical persons and
events, difficult passages in the translation, and the like, which may
be confusing to a general reader.
Readers interested in learning more about the historical Savinien de
Cyrano de Bergerac will find a vast amount of material through
Internet search, although much of it is only available in French. In
particular, the French-language Wikipedia article includes an
extensive bibliography and provides an excellent starting point for
navigating both historical source documents and modern scholarship,
and was helpful in researching many of the notes included here.
From the 1950 film adaptation: Cyrano (José Ferrer)
promises Valvert (Albert Cavens) that he will die exquisitely
NOTES ON THE TEXT
Benoît-Constant Coquelin (1841-1909) was one of the most famous
actors of his time. Rostand wrote Cyrano de Bergerac specifically
for Coquelin, and it became his best-known role. He played at least
410 performances at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin in Paris,
and also toured in North America in the role. In 1900, Coquelin made a short
sound film of the duel scene from the First Act, which has been preserved.
- Cyrano de Bergerac
Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655) was a soldier, duellist,
and writer. Rostand borrowed many incidents of the real Cyrano's life
in this play, but in some cases without regard to chronology.
Note that the real Cyrano was a very young man in 1640—only 21
years old—compared to the 56-year-old actor Coquelin for whom the
role was written, so some of the rearrangement of events was likely
deliberately crafted to present the fictional Cyrano as an older
and more mature hero than the real-life man.
- Christian de Neuvillette
Based on Christophe de Champagne, Baron de Neuvillette, who was married
to Cyrano's cousin. He served as a captain of light horse and died
at the Siege of Arras in 1640.
- Comte de Guiche
Antoine de Gramont (1604-1678), comte de Guiche, became
Marshal of France in 1641 for his military service during the
Thirty Years War, and received the title of Duke of Gramont in 1643.
As Lignière describes in the First Act, the real de Guiche was married
to Richelieu's niece.
- Le Bret
Henri Le Bret was a real person, a friend of Cyrano from his youth.
Le Bret's biographical preface to Cyrano's posthumously-published
A Voyage to the Moon is one of the primary sources of
information about him.
- Carbon de Castel-Jaloux
Also a historical person, named by Le Bret as the commander of the
company of Guards in which he and Cyrano enlisted. This was apparently
a private company, raised at Castel-Jaloux's own expense, and
under his personal command.
- A Marquis
Rostand does not use "Marquis" in the literal sense of a noble title.
Instead, a "Marquis" is a stock character type, a foppish nobleman.
Stage name of Zacharie Jacob (d. 1667), a French actor and playwright
who was a favorite of Richelieu.
Stage name of Pierre Le Messier (d. 1670), another well-known actor.
He was director of the Comédiens du Roi, the resident theatre company
at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, from 1634 to 1647.
"Roxane" is a nickname, as discussed below.
She is modelled on the historical Cyrano's cousin Madeleine Robineau
(1610-1657), who was married to the Baron de Neuvillette in 1635.
As she was several years older than the historical Cyrano and already
married by the time he came of age, it seems unlikely that there was
ever any romantic attachment between them.
- La Clorise
Play (1632) by Balthazar Baro (1596-1650).
- the house of the Burgundians!
The Hôtel de Bourgogne theatre, built in 1548, occupied a site
that was formerly part of the residence of the Dukes of Burgundy.
Jean Rotrou (1609-1650), who became chief playwright to the
Comédiens du Roi in 1632. By 1640 he had left Paris, although he
continued to write plays until his death.
Pierre Corneille (1606-1684), considered one of the greatest
17th-century French dramatists. His plays Médée
and Le Cid had been performed at the rival Théâtre du Marais,
but at least one of his earlier works had its premiere at the
Hôtel de Bourgogne.
- the Academy
The Académie française, established by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635 to
formalize the French language. The individuals subsequently named
were among its first members.
- such a nose!
Contemporary woodcut portraits of the real Cyrano do show
him as having a prominent nose, but of the droopy hooked variety
rather than the clown-like upturned one seen on most stage Cyranos.
An anecdote published in 1715 claims that Cyrano was so sensitive about
his nose that he killed at least ten people over it.
In the original French, précieuses. These were women
who affected a particularly refined style of language and behavior,
participated in pretentious literary salons, etc. Even their names
were affectations; for instance, "Barthénoide" was the name taken
by la Marquise de Boudreno. "Roxane" is a similar nickname.
Rostand again uses précieuse and Hooker "Intellectual" in
introducing her. Some other translations of the play render this
word as "blue-stocking" instead, while Anthony Burgess uses
"ladies of wit and fashion".
A Maecenas is a patron of the arts; after Gaius Cilnius Maecenas
(68 BC - 8 BC), who supported both Virgil and Horace.
- He has forbidden him ... to appear upon the stage.
The real Cyrano circulated a pamphlet Contre le gras Montfleury
("Against the fat Montfleury") in 1647, and story that he forbade him
to appear on stage long predates Rostand's play. Montfleury was indeed
grossly obese, as Rostand describes him.
- Champagne ... Callot
Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674) painted religious subjects and
portraits and may be best known for his several portraits of Cardinal
Richelieu. Jacques Callot (c.1592-1635), on the other
hand, was a print-maker. The image Ragueneau goes on to imagine
resembles some of the drawings in Callot's "grotesque dwarves"
- the Cordon Bleu
The decoration of the Order of the Holy Spirit, the senior order of
knighthood in France. It is a Maltese cross worn on a blue ribbon.
- Duc de Candale
Rostand probably refers here to Bernard de Nogaret de La Valette,
Comte de Candale, who inherited the title Duc d'Épernon in 1642.
- Misunderstands ... trunk
These two lines of the Meddler and Cyrano are an untranslatable pun
in the original French; the word trompe is used to mean both
"misunderstands" and "trunk".
- parodying Faustus in the play
Helen of Troy famously had the "face that launched a thousand ships"
in Christopher Marlowe's play "Doctor Faustus". This is Hooker's
substitution for a reference to Théophile de Viau's
1621 play Les Amours tragiques de Pyrame et Thisbé in the
- a Boeotian
In ancient Greece, inhabitants of Boeotia were stereotyped as
doltish or dull-witted. This classical allusion is Hooker's,
as Rostand instead refers to Valvert as un belître
("a scoundrel") here.
- Launcelot ... Spartacus
In the original French, Rostand instead drew similar comparisons
to Céladon and Scaramouche—fictional characters from the
popular culture of Cyrano's time.
In the French ballade form, the refrain or envoi was
conventionally addressed to a prince, often imaginary as in this
In Greek mythology, Silenus was the mentor and foster father of
Dionysus, often depicted in art as an old man with a pot belly.
- the Porte de Nesle
Cyrano's battle against the hundred ruffians at the Porte de Nesle
was apparently a real incident, or at least was attributed to him during
his lifetime. It is mentioned by Le Bret in his biographical sketch.
Turkey, as in the bird (la dinde), not the country.
François de Malherbe (1555-1628) was a poet better known for developing
the rules of the "Classical" style of French poetry than for the quality
of his own verses.
- a hero from D'Urfé
Honoré D'Urfé (1568-1625) wrote an immensely long novel L'Astrée
published in 6 parts between 1607 and 1627. It is a pastoral romance
including lengthy discussions of courtly love, which was a popular
theme with the précieuses.
- pure Gascon
Although Rostand repeatedly describes Cyrano as a Gascon, the historical
Cyrano de Bergerac was born in Paris and spent his childhood in
the Vallée de Chevreuse, only 40km or so outside of Paris.
- Marshal de Gassion
Jean, comte de Gassion (1609-1647), a Gascon military commander.
He did not receive the rank of Marshal of France until 1643, due
to his role commanding the cavalry at the Battle of Rocroi.
In later life, the real Cyrano did enter the service of a patron,
Louis, duc d'Arpajon (1601-1679). Cyrano's play
La Morte d'Agrippine ("The Death of Agrippina") was produced
and published during this period, in early 1654.
- learthern jack
"Leather jacket". Rostand's French phrase is pourpoint de buffle,
literally "doublet of buffalo".
Another of the historical précieuses, whose real name was
Mlle. Clesson, Constance-Françoise de Bretagne.
- carrying theorbos
The theorbo is a musical instrument of the lute family, with extra
unstopped bass strings on an extended neck. Historical concert
theorbos were very large, up to about 2m long. Rostand
may have intended a visual joke here with the boy pages carrying
instruments larger than they were, or he may have been picturing
some smaller variant of the instrument.
Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) was a French philosopher, astronomer, and
mathematician. He also wrote on the theory of music. The
real-life Cyrano may very well have attended Gassendi's informal
lectures on philosophy or been familiar with his writings on mathematics
and astronomy, but Gassendi did not arrive in Paris until 1641, after
Cyrano had left military service and turned to more intellectual
Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy (1605-1677) was a poet and musician.
He both gave lessons—including on the theorbo— and
composed songs and music for the theatre. D'Assoucy was a friend
and possibly homosexual lover of the historical Cyrano in the 1640s,
but by 1650 the two were engaged in a public feud, publishing a
series of attacks and satires against each other. D'Assoucy was
notorious for collecting adolescent boys whom he trained as
"musical pages", and later served time in prison, apparently on
Vincent Voiture (1597-1648), a poet and prose writer whose
letters were widely admired for their wit.
- a great lord of England
The Duke of Buckingham, who is named explicitly in the original French.
His romance with the French queen Anne of Austria is also a plot
element of The Three Musketeers.
- The moon!
The real Cyrano's best-known work,
L'Autre Monde: ou les États et Empires de la Lune
(Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon, often
called simply A Voyage to the Moon in English),
was published posthumously in 1657; it is one of the earliest examples
of science fiction.
- the eagle Of Regiomontanus, and the dove Of Archytas
Purported early flying automatons. Regiomontanus (Johannes Müller
von Königsberg, 1436-1476) was a mathematician and astronomer who
also built a mechanical eagle which supposedly was capable of
flight. (It was more likely to have been a clockwork figure that
flapped its wings.) Archytas of Tarantum (428-347 BC) was described
five centuries after his death as having built a flying wooden dove
propelled by an internal current of air.
- crystal vials filled with morning dew...
In A Voyage to the Moon, the narrator attempts this method to
reach the moon, but lands in New France (Canada) instead.
- The Siege of Arras
This battle was part of the Thirty Years' War, in which France joined
the Protestant side against the Habsburgs.
Arras is the capital of Artois, which at that time was part of the
Spanish Netherlands under Habsburg control.
In June of 1640, the French began an offensive campaign against
Spain by investing Arras with a huge force of 23,000 infantry and
9000 cavalry under the command of Marshal de Châtillon and Marshal
de La Meilleraye. The Spanish attempted to relieve the city by
cutting the French supply lines, but a supply convoy of 1500 wagons
reached the starving French troops on August 2nd. With the tables turned,
the beseiged Spanish force made a last-ditch sortie against the French
on August 8; it is this battle which forms the background for Act Four.
- Cardinal Prince of Spain
Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, Spanish commander at Arras.
He was the younger brother of King Philip IV of Spain.
- I drove the Count de Bucquoi from Bapaume
This would be Charles Albert de Longueval, Count of Bucquoy
(1607-1663), not his more famous father, who died in 1621. As natives
of the Netherlands, they both fought on the Habsburg side in
the Thirty Years' War. Bapaume is about 20km south of Arras.
- Henry of Navarre
Henry IV, King of France from 1589 to 1610.
Just prior to the Battle of Ivry in 1590, he famously pointed to
to his own plumed helmet and told his troops "If the ensigns fail you,
rally to my white plume; you will always find it in the path of honor
This is probably a mistake for Doullens, about 35km southwest of Arras.
Richelieu was in Doullens, and it was from here that he wrote to the
Marshals that "You will answer with your heads if you do not take Arras."
A dish of fattened songbirds, drowned and marinated in brandy, then
roasted and eaten whole.
- Hardi! Reculez pas, Drollos!
Cyrano is speaking in the Gascon dialect. Charles Renauld
translates this order as "Steady there! Hold fast, you rascals!".
- Toumbé dessus! Escrasas lous!
Renauld's translation is "Fall upon them now! Crush them!"
- His cousin came to live among us
The real-life Baronne de Neuvillette did take up a religious life
after the death of her husband. A lengthy biography detailing her
piety and works of charity, by Roger Cyprien de la Nativité de la Vierge,
appeared in 1660.
- He may die!
The account of Cyrano's death in this act is highly fictionalized.
The accident with the falling log or timber occurred in January, 1654,
17 months before his death on 28 July 1655, at the home of his cousin
Pierre de Cyrano in Sannois.
- They say our troops have been victorious in Austria
This is a mistranslation. Rostand's original line in French is
Nos troupes ont battu, dit-on, Jean l'Austrichien;
"Our troups have beaten, they say, John the Austrian."
John of Austria the Younger (1629-1679), known in Spanish as
Don Juan José de Austria, was a bastard son of Philip IV.
In 1655 he was leading the Spanish forces in the border war
- Four pills
Hooker is being excessively polite in his translation. The French has
un clystère—"an enema"—which makes Roxane's
response much more understandable.
Another one of the précieuses, the Duchess de Longueville.
The five Mancini sisters were nieces of Cardinal Mazarin, advisor to
Louis XIV. Cyrano is probably referring to Marie Mancini (1639-1715),
with whom the young Louis had an unconsummated romance. Louis was
infatuated enough to want to marry her, but Mazarin and Louis's mother
(who as acting as Regent during Louis's minority) refused to countenance
- My old wound
According to Le Bret, Cyrano's wound at Arras was a sword cut to his
throat. He had also been injured by a musket shot at the siege
of Mouzon in 1639.
Molière did use a scene from Cyrano's Le Pedant joué
in his farce Les Fourberies de Scapin, but this was not
written until 1671, long after Cyrano's death. In Scapin,
Molière makes implicit reference to Cyrano's head injury by having
Scapin appear at the end of the play with his head bandaged, after
having been struck by a falling stonemason's hammer.
- My white plume
Hooker chose to translate the French word panache literally, both
here and in the Fourth Act scene referencing Henry of Navarre. By
the time his translation appeared, though, earlier versions of the play
had already firmly established the word "panache" in English in its
other meaning of flamboyant manner and reckless courage.
Cyrano de Bergerac.