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Cyrano de Bergerac
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Act III, Scene vi

Christian, Cyrano, two pages.
CHRISTIAN:
Come to my aid!
CYRANO:
Not I!
CHRISTIAN:
But I shall die,
Unless at once I win back her fair favor.
CYRANO:
And how can I, at once, i' th' devil's name,
Lesson you in. . .
CHRISTIAN (seizing his arm):
Oh, she is there!
(The window of the balcony is now lighted up.)
CYRANO (moved):
Her window!
CHRISTIAN:
Oh! I shall die!
CYRANO:
Speak lower!
CHRISTIAN (in a whisper):
I shall die!
CYRANO:
The night is dark. . .
CHRISTIAN:
Well!
CYRANO:
All can be repaired.
Although you merit not. Stand there, poor wretch!
Fronting the balcony! I'll go beneath
And prompt your words to you. . .
CHRISTIAN:
But. . .
CYRANO:
Hold your tongue!
THE PAGES (reappearing at back—to Cyrano):
Ho!
CYRANO:
Hush!
(He signs to them to speak softly.)
FIRST PAGE (in a low voice):
We've played the serenade you bade
To Montfleury!
CYRANO (quickly, in a low voice):
Go! lurk in ambush there,
One at this street corner, and one at that;
And if a passer-by should here intrude,
Play you a tune!
SECOND PAGE:
What tune, Sir Gassendist?
CYRANO:
Gay, if a woman comes,—for a man, sad!
(The pages disappear, one at each street corner. To Christian):
Call her!
CHRISTIAN:
Roxane!
CYRANO (picking up stones and throwing them at the window):
Some pebbles! wait awhile!
ROXANE (half-opening the casement):
Who calls me?
CHRISTIAN:
I!
ROXANE:
Who's that?
CHRISTIAN:
Christian!
ROXANE (disdainfully):
Oh! you?
CHRISTIAN:
I would speak with you.
CYRANO (under the balcony—to Christian):
Good. Speak soft and low.
ROXANE:
No, you speak stupidly!
CHRISTIAN:
Oh, pity me!
ROXANE:
No! you love me no more!
CHRISTIAN (prompted by Cyrano):
You say—Great Heaven!
I love no more?—when—I—love more and more!
ROXANE (who was about to shut the casement, pausing):
Hold! 'tis a trifle better! ay, a trifle!
CHRISTIAN (same play):
Love grew apace, rocked by the anxious beating. . .
Of this poor heart, which the cruel wanton boy. . .
Took for a cradle!
ROXANE (coming out on to the balcony):
That is better! But
An if you deem that Cupid be so cruel
You should have stifled baby-love in's cradle!
CHRISTIAN (same play):
Ah, Madame, I assayed, but all in vain
This. . .new-born babe is a young. . .Hercules!
ROXANE:
Still better!
CHRISTIAN (same play):
Thus he strangled in my heart
The. . .serpents twain, of. . .Pride. . .and Doubt!
ROXANE (leaning over the balcony):
Well said!
—But why so faltering? Has mental palsy
Seized on your faculty imaginative?
CYRANO (drawing Christian under the balcony, and slipping into his place):
Give place! This waxes critical!. . .
ROXANE:
To-day. . .
Your words are hesitating.
CYRANO (imitating Christian—in a whisper):
Night has come. . .
In the dusk they grope their way to find your ear.
ROXANE:
But my words find no such impediment.
CYRANO:
They find their way at once? Small wonder that!
For 'tis within my heart they find their home;
Bethink how large my heart, how small your ear!
And,—from fair heights descending, words fall fast,
But mine must mount, Madame, and that takes time!
ROXANE:
Meseems that your last words have learned to climb.
CYRANO:
With practice such gymnastic grows less hard!
ROXANE:
In truth, I seem to speak from distant heights!
CYRANO:
True, far above; at such a height 'twere death
If a hard word from you fell on my heart.
ROXANE (moving):
I will come down. . .
CYRANO (hastily):
No!
ROXANE (showing him the bench under the balcony):
Mount then on the bench!
CYRANO (starting back alarmed):
No!
ROXANE:
How, you will not?
CYRANO (more and more moved):
Stay awhile! 'Tis sweet,. . .
The rare occasion, when our hearts can speak
Our selves unseen, unseeing!
ROXANE:
Why—unseen?
CYRANO:
Ay, it is sweet! Half hidden,—half revealed—
You see the dark folds of my shrouding cloak,
And I, the glimmering whiteness of your dress:
I but a shadow—you a radiance fair!
Know you what such a moment holds for me?
If ever I were eloquent. . .
ROXANE:
You were!
CYRANO:
Yet never till to-night my speech has sprung
Straight from my heart as now it springs.
ROXANE:
Why not?
CYRANO:
Till now I spoke haphazard. . .
ROXANE:
What?
CYRANO:
Your eyes
Have beams that turn men dizzy!—But to-night
Methinks I shall find speech for the first time!
ROXANE:
'Tis true, your voice rings with a tone that's new.
CYRANO (coming nearer, passionately):
Ay, a new tone! In the tender, sheltering dusk
I dare to be myself for once,—at last!
(He stops, falters):
What say I? I know not!—Oh, pardon me—
It thrills me,—'tis so sweet, so novel. . .
ROXANE:
How?
So novel?
CYRANO (off his balance, trying to find the thread of his sentence):
Ay,—to be at last sincere;
Till now, my chilled heart, fearing to be mocked. . .
ROXANE:
Mocked, and for what?
CYRANO:
For its mad beating!—Ay,
My heart has clothed itself with witty words,
To shroud itself from curious eyes:—impelled
At times to aim at a star, I stay my hand,
And, fearing ridicule,—cull a wild flower!
ROXANE:
A wild flower's sweet.
CYRANO:
Ay, but to-night—the star!
ROXANE:
Oh! never have you spoken thus before!
CYRANO:
If, leaving Cupid's arrows, quivers, torches,
We turned to seek for sweeter—fresher things!
Instead of sipping in a pygmy glass
Dull fashionable waters,—did we try
How the soul slakes its thirst in fearless draught
By drinking from the river's flooding brim!
ROXANE:
But wit?. . .
CYRANO:
If I have used it to arrest you
At the first starting,—now, 'twould be an outrage,
An insult—to the perfumed Night—to Nature—
To speak fine words that garnish vain love-letters!
Look up but at her stars! The quiet Heaven
Will ease our hearts of all things artificial;
I fear lest, 'midst the alchemy we're skilled in
The truth of sentiment dissolve and vanish,—
The soul exhausted by these empty pastimes,
The gain of fine things be the loss of all things!
ROXANE:
But wit? I say. . .
CYRANO:
In love 'tis crime,—'tis hateful!
Turning frank loving into subtle fencing!
At last the moment comes, inevitable,—
—Oh, woe for those who never know that moment!
When feeling love exists in us, ennobling,
Each well-weighed word is futile and soul-saddening!
ROXANE:
Well, if that moment's come for us—suppose it!
What words would serve you?
CYRANO:
All, all, all, whatever
That came to me, e'en as they came, I'd fling them
In a wild cluster, not a careful bouquet.
I love thee! I am mad! I love, I stifle!
Thy name is in my heart as in a sheep-bell,
And as I ever tremble, thinking of thee,
Ever the bell shakes, ever thy name ringeth!
All things of thine I mind, for I love all things;
I know that last year on the twelfth of May-month,
To walk abroad, one day you changed your hair-plaits!
I am so used to take your hair for daylight
That,—like as when the eye stares on the sun's disk,
One sees long after a red blot on all things—
So, when I quit thy beams, my dazzled vision
Sees upon all things a blonde stain imprinted.
ROXANE (agitated):
Why, this is love indeed!. . .
CYRANO:
Ay, true, the feeling
Which fills me, terrible and jealous, truly
Love,—which is ever sad amid its transports!
Love,—and yet, strangely, not a selfish passion!
I for your joy would gladly lay mine own down,
—E'en though you never were to know it,—never!
—If but at times I might—far off and lonely,—
Hear some gay echo of the joy I bought you!
Each glance of thine awakes in me a virtue,—
A novel, unknown valor. Dost begin, sweet,
To understand? So late, dost understand me?
Feel'st thou my soul, here, through the darkness mounting?
Too fair the night! Too fair, too fair the moment!
That I should speak thus, and that you should hearken!
Too fair! In moments when my hopes rose proudest,
I never hoped such guerdon. Naught is left me
But to die now! Have words of mine the power
To make you tremble,—throned there in the branches?
Ay, like a leaf among the leaves, you tremble!
You tremble! For I feel,—an if you will it,
Or will it not,—your hand's beloved trembling
Thrill through the branches, down your sprays of jasmine!
(He kisses passionately one of the hanging tendrils.)
ROXANE:
Ay! I am trembling, weeping!—I am thine!
Thou hast conquered all of me!
CYRANO:
Then let death come!
'Tis I, 'tis I myself, who conquered thee!
One thing, but one, I dare to ask—
CHRISTIAN (under the balcony):
A kiss!
ROXANE (drawing back):
What?
CYRANO:
Oh!
ROXANE:
You ask. . .?
CYRANO:
I. . .
(To Christian, whispering):
Fool! you go too quick!
CHRISTIAN:
Since she is moved thus—I will profit by it!
CYRANO (to Roxane):
My words sprang thoughtlessly, but now I see—
Shame on me!—I was too presumptuous.
ROXANE (a little chilled):
How quickly you withdraw.
CYRANO:
Yes, I withdraw
Without withdrawing! Hurt I modesty?
If so—the kiss I asked—oh, grant it not.
CHRISTIAN (to Cyrano, pulling him by his cloak):
Why?
CYRANO:
Silence, Christian! Hush!
ROXANE (leaning over):
What whisper you?
CYRANO:
I chid myself for my too bold advances;
Said, 'Silence, Christian!'
(The lutes begin to play):
Hark! Wait awhile,. . .
Steps come!
(Roxane shuts the window. Cyrano listens to the lutes, one of which plays a
merry, the other a melancholy, tune):
Why, they play sad—then gay—then sad! What? Neither man nor woman?—oh!
a monk!
(Enter a capuchin friar, with a lantern. He goes from house to house, looking
at every door.)
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