Cyrano de Bergerac By Edmond Rostand Act I — Scene 4


THE BORE (staggered): I . . .

CYRANO (walking straight up to him): Well, what is there strange?

THE BORE (drawing back): Your Grace mistakes!

CYRANO: How now? Is't soft and dangling, like a trunk? . . .

THE BORE (same play): I never . . .

CYRANO: Is it crook'd, like an owl's beak?

THE BORE: I . . .

CYRANO: Do you see a wart upon the tip?

THE BORE: Nay . . .

CYRANO: Or a fly, that takes the air there? What Is there to stare at?

THE BORE: Oh . . .

CYRANO: What do you see?

THE BORE: But I was careful not to look — knew better.

CYRANO: And why not look at it, an if you please?

THE BORE: I was . . .

CYRANO: Oh! it disgusts you!


CYRANO: Its hue Unwholesome seems to you?


CYRANO: Or its shape?

THE BORE: No, on the contrary! . . .

CYRANO: Why then that air Disparaging? — perchance you think it large?

THE BORE (stammering): No, small, quite small — minute!

CYRANO: Minute! What now? Accuse me of a thing ridiculous! Small — my nose?

THE BORE: Heaven help me!

CYRANO: 'Tis enormous! Old Flathead, empty-headed meddler, know That I am proud possessing such appendice. 'Tis well known, a big nose is indicative Of a soul affable, and kind, and courteous, Liberal, brave, just like myself, and such As you can never dare to dream yourself, Rascal contemptible! For that witless face That my hand soon will come to cuff — is all As empty . . .

(He cuffs him.)


CYRANO: — of pride, of aspiration, Of feeling, poetry — of godlike spark Of all that appertains to my big nose, (He turns him by the shoulders, suiting the action to the word): As . . . what my boot will shortly come and kick!

THE BORE (running away): Help! Call the Guard!

CYRANO: Take notice, boobies all, Who find my visage's center ornament A thing to jest at — that it is my wont — An if the jester's noble — ere we part To let him taste my steel, and not my boot!

DE GUICHE (who, with the marquises, has come down from the stage): But he becomes a nuisance!

THE VISCOUNT DE VALVERT (shrugging his shoulders): Swaggerer!

DE GUICHE: Will no one put him down? . . .

THE VISCOUNT: No one? But wait! I'll treat him to . . . one of my quips! . . . See here! . . . (He goes up to Cyrano, who is watching him, and with a conceited air): Sir, your nose is . . . hmm . . . it is . . . very big!

CYRANO (gravely): Very!

THE VISCOUNT (laughing): Ha!

CYRANO (imperturbably): Is that all? . . .

THE VISCOUNT: What do you mean?

CYRANO: Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short! You might have said at least a hundred things By varying the tone . . . like this, suppose, . . . Aggressive: 'Sir, if I had such a nose I'd amputate it!' Friendly: 'When you sup It must annoy you, dipping in your cup; You need a drinking-bowl of special shape!' Descriptive: ''Tis a rock! . . . a peak! . . . a cape! — A cape, forsooth! 'Tis a peninsular!' Curious: 'How serves that oblong capsular? For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?' Gracious: 'You love the little birds, I think? I see you've managed with a fond research To find their tiny claws a roomy perch!' Truculent: 'When you smoke your pipe . . . suppose That the tobacco-smoke spouts from your nose — Do not the neighbors, as the fumes rise higher, Cry terror-struck: "The chimney is afire"?' Considerate: 'Take care, . . . your head bowed low By such a weight . . . lest head o'er heels you go!' Tender: 'Pray get a small umbrella made, Lest its bright color in the sun should fade!' Pedantic: 'That beast Aristophanes Names Hippocamelelephantoles Must have possessed just such a solid lump Of flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!' Cavalier: 'The last fashion, friend, that hook? To hang your hat on? 'Tis a useful crook!' Emphatic: 'No wind, O majestic nose, Can give THEE cold! — save when the mistral blows!' Dramatic: 'When it bleeds, what a Red Sea!' Admiring: 'Sign for a perfumery!' Lyric: 'Is this a conch? . . . a Triton you?' Simple: 'When is the monument on view?' Rustic: 'That thing a nose? Marry-come-up! 'Tis a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize turnip!' Military: 'Point against cavalry!' Practical: 'Put it in a lottery! Assuredly 'twould be the biggest prize!' Or . . . parodying Pyramus' sighs . . . 'Behold the nose that mars the harmony Of its master's phiz! blushing its treachery!' — Such, my dear sir, is what you might have said, Had you of wit or letters the least jot: But, O most lamentable man! — of wit You never had an atom, and of letters You have three letters only! — they spell Ass! And — had you had the necessary wit, To serve me all the pleasantries I quote Before this noble audience . . . e'en so, You would not have been let to utter one — Nay, not the half or quarter of such jest! I take them from myself all in good part, But not from any other man that breathes!

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